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Memorial Day weekend 2019: What to see and do in Detroit

Whether you’re staying in town or getting the heck out, here’s your guide to the weekend

The Riverwalk
Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Summer is back in Detroit, and the city is gearing up for one of its biggest weekends of the year. Temperatures should be in the 60s and 70s, with rain expected on Saturday.

Sticking around? Getting the heck out of town? Here are a few ideas on where to go and what to do in and around Detroit for Memorial Day weekend.

Traffic

Obviously traffic is going to be rough most of the weekend, particularly on Friday and Monday when Michiganders are expected to break records for travel in the state.

Parts of I-94 between the Lodge and I-75 are closed off completely—that freeway is probably best avoided. There are some lane closures on I-75 between Eight Mile Road and I-94. The Lodge has some lane closures as well from Tireman Avenue to Mack Avenue, but delays shouldn’t be much longer than normal.

If you’re in the city and going downtown, we recommend not using a car at all because parking will be tough. MoGo bikes, the QLine, the People Mover, SMART, and DDOT buses are all great choices. To note: DDOT will be running on a Sunday schedule on the holiday Monday.

Also, DDOT and SMART recently instituted a new fare system that allows riders to purchase four-hour and day passes that eliminate transfer fees.

Movement

Detroit’s annual electronic music festival takes place downtown this weekend at Hart Plaza. The jam-packed lineup starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday and runs through Monday night. Hart Plaza is gated off for the event, but the Riverwalk can still be accessed through the areas around it.

Tickets and schedules for the music festival can be found here. Many say the late-night after parties are the real attraction. Last year, The Metro Times published a cover story on the history of techno in Detroit, and the Neighborhoods has a playlist from techno legend Kevin Saunderson to get you through the weekend.

Holiday activities

Parades to commemorate Memorial Day will be held throughout the metro Detroit area, including Dearborn, Ferndale, Royal Oak, and many more.

Greenfield Village has their annual Civil War Remembrance event all weekend. This year, they have new artifacts and presentations to tell the stories of the era.

Explore the city and beyond

Staying in the city this weekend? Create your own cultural or architectural tour. Our pocket guide includes museums, galleries, and parks to visit as the days get warmer. The Secret Detroit map—and book—includes plenty of places off the beaten path. And if you’re wondering about the many buildings downtown, we have an Architectural walking tour map for that.

Of course, there are plenty of places to take the kids in and around the Motor City, including Mt. Elliott Park, the Henry Ford, and Eastern Market.

Belle Isle is a hot spot for visitors so be prepared. While the west end of the island is loaded with Grand Prix construction, the east end is open for visitors to explore the beach, lighthouse, Conservatory, and Great Lakes Museum.

The exterior of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb conservatory building. The building has a dome top. There are trees and grass in front of the building. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

There’s some cool activities to participate in downtown, including Los Trompos at Beacon Park, a playscape with large-scale spinning tops brought from artists in Mexico City.

Detroit City FC plays a game this Friday at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck against rival AFC Ann Arbor. Learn more about the team and catching a match with our comprehensive guide to DCFC.

Looking to get away from it all, but only for a few hours? Check out our guides to hiking trails and places to swim around the metro area.

And if you want to get far, far away, we understand. Here are our favorite small towns to visit Up North.

Is there an event you’re looking forward to this weekend? Let us know in the comments or on the tip line.