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Date ideas in Detroit for architecture and design lovers

Here are 21 great ways to take in the city’s built environment and have fun

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Going on a date for Valentine’s Day (or otherwise) and looking to impress your partner with your appreciation of architecture and design? Then you’ve come to the right place.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of beautiful sights in Detroit designed by some of the world’s great architectural minds. And while staring in awe at good design is pleasurable enough—and a great way to stimulate conversation on a date—there’s often other fun activities to partake in at the locations on this list.

Here are 21 great ways to enjoy architecture and design in Detroit.

Note: Locations are ordered from west to east.

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Old Redford

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There’s lots of unique design stops in this northwestern Detroit neighborhood. Take in a classic film at the Redford Theatre (which has an original Barton Theatre Pipe Organ) or check out some impressive murals at Artist Village Detroit. If the time is right, attend Sidewalk Detroit, a performance and interactive art festival that takes place on the neighborhood’s streets.

While you’re here, grab a cup of coffee at Motor City Java House or a chess pie at Sweet Potato Sensations.

Ford Drive-In Theater

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Though it’s showing signs of age, the original Art Moderne tower to the “largest drive-in theater in the world” is a sight to behold. After you’re done admiring, you then get to see a movie in an old-fashioned way, by sitting in your car.

Palmer Woods

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Take a stroll or drive through this neighborhood to see the dense and unique collection of houses from a variety of eras. Then, cross 7 Mile Road and take a stroll through Palmer Park, where you’ll see an equally eclectic mix of multi-family buildings.

Dabl’s MBAD African Bead Museum

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Taking up nearly a block next to Grand River Avenue, this outdoor installation is awe-inspiring for its expansiveness, meticulous curation, and imaginative design. Going here is sure to spark some fascinating conversation. Also check out the bead store and recently opened exhibition space inside.

Fisher Building

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There’s so much to appreciate at “Detroit’s Largest Art Object,” the Art Deco masterpiece designed by Albert Kahn. Take in the grand arcade with its Geza R. Maroti–designed murals and frescoes, the wild chandeliers and fixtures, the gold paneling, and much more. Maybe you can schedule a time to meet your date for a tour of the building or just grab a cup of coffee.

Other design-worthy locations you might want to check out in New Center include Cadillac Place, the Argonaut Building, and the Motown Museum.

A long hallway with arched ceilings and walls with gold inlays. People walk around with light streaming in through the main entrance’s windows. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Gullen Mall

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Take a stroll through this pedestrian-only path cutting through Wayne State University to get a tour of Minoru Yamasaki’s greatest hits in Detroit (minus One Woodward Avenue). Here you can see the McGregor Conference Center and reflecting pool, the cast concrete wonders of the College of Education and Prentis Building, as well as eye-catching rectangular Helen L. DeRoy Auditorium.

You could also check out the Museum of Contemporary Art nearby.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

The Schvitz

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How well do you know your date? Comfortable enough to wear just a bathing suit (or nothing) and get in a steamy room together? Then you’ll want to spend an afternoon or evening at this North End health club, which now has coed times. Sweat in the old-timey steam room, then relax amongst the wood paneling, paintings, and checkered floors in the redesigned lounge.

The Schvitz now has other programming as well, so be sure to check its website.

Detroit Institute of Arts

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At all times of year, the DIA is one of the best places for a date in the city. There’s the Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera, Kresge Court, the expanded Asian Galleries, Friday Night Live events, movies at the C. Howard Crane–designed Detroit Film Theatre. Multiple date nights are definitely warranted.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

The Whitney

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For a fancy night out, grab a cocktail or meal at this Romanesque Revival mansion built in 1894. The sumptuous atmosphere is the most enjoyable feature of dining at this historic mansion.

Charles H. Wright Museum

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There’s many reasons you should visit “The Wright,” including to see the museum’s soaring glass atrium. But if you want to have a more serious and reflective date, this is one of the best options in town. Few things are more powerful than the “And Still We Rise” permanent exhibition, which features a life-sized replica below deck in a slave ship.

The interior of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The floor is painted with a colorful pattern. The ceiling is a dome shape and is glass. There are various flags hanging from the ceiling and attached to the wall. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Garden Bowl

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Bowling is always a great option. Bowling in a historic Art Deco building with a Googie-influenced design aesthetic is even better.

Cliff Bell's

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Definitely one of the coolest places you could choose to take a date. This downtown jazz club designed by Charles N. Agree has some slick wood cladding on the outside around its classic marquee. Inside, take in some music while sipping cocktails and admiring the Art Deco–style design.

David Whitney Building

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One of the most impressive redevelopments in Detroit’s history, the historic skyscraper designed by Daniel H. Burnam & Co. got a $92 million redevelopment in 2014 that restored many of its original details, including the stunning lobby and skylight. Admire the building, then grab a cocktail at the bar.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Westin Book Cadillac Hotel

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A classic date option is going to happy hour at Roast, a restaurant in this Neo-Renaissance masterpiece designed by Louis Kamper. Get a deal on drink and food, and feel extra-classy while spending slightly less in this opulent setting.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Metropolitan Building

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Another stunning redevelopment, this building came back from the brink in early 2019 after being vacant for 40 years. Check out the impressive design in the lobby, then head to the rooftop cocktail bar to check out all of downtown’s architecture.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Guardian Building

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An Art Deco masterpiece, this landmark downtown skyscraper has one of the most unique interiors in the world. Getting a cup of coffee amongst the Aztec-patterned tiles while gazing at the finance-themed mural of Michigan is an impressive setting for a date.

Pure Detroit also gives tours of the building.

Eastern Market

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There’s so much to do at Eastern Market for design lovers. Walk around and buy some groceries in the historic sheds on a Saturday. Go on a tour of the dozens murals throughout the district. Walk or bike up the Dequindre Cut. Check out contemporary furnituremaker Floyd’s showroom. Grab some coffee at Germack or Cairo or Anthology, get some pizza at Supino’s, get brunch at Trinosophes. There’s endless date options here.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Lafayette Park

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Design lovers will at some point want to check out the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–designed near downtown. Perfect for a quick stroll through the midcentury modern townhomes and high-rises on your way to Eastern Market.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Detroit Riverwalk

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A perfect date idea is taking an extended walk through the redesigned Riverwalk. Start at the Isamu Noguchi–designed fountain at Hart Plaza, then head towards the towering Renaissance Center, all the while taking in the skylines of Detroit and Windsor.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

The Heidelberg Project

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Want a more contemplative setting for a date? Head to this outdoor installation on the east side which is at turns beautiful and disquieting.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Belle Isle

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There’s countless things to do on Belle Isle. Places of noteworthy architecture to visit include the conservatory, aquarium, casino, and James Scott Memorial Fountain. You could drive or bike around the island, enjoying things along the way, then take a dip at the beach and get a great view of downtown’s skyline.

Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Old Redford

There’s lots of unique design stops in this northwestern Detroit neighborhood. Take in a classic film at the Redford Theatre (which has an original Barton Theatre Pipe Organ) or check out some impressive murals at Artist Village Detroit. If the time is right, attend Sidewalk Detroit, a performance and interactive art festival that takes place on the neighborhood’s streets.

While you’re here, grab a cup of coffee at Motor City Java House or a chess pie at Sweet Potato Sensations.

Ford Drive-In Theater

Though it’s showing signs of age, the original Art Moderne tower to the “largest drive-in theater in the world” is a sight to behold. After you’re done admiring, you then get to see a movie in an old-fashioned way, by sitting in your car.

Palmer Woods

Take a stroll or drive through this neighborhood to see the dense and unique collection of houses from a variety of eras. Then, cross 7 Mile Road and take a stroll through Palmer Park, where you’ll see an equally eclectic mix of multi-family buildings.

Dabl’s MBAD African Bead Museum

Taking up nearly a block next to Grand River Avenue, this outdoor installation is awe-inspiring for its expansiveness, meticulous curation, and imaginative design. Going here is sure to spark some fascinating conversation. Also check out the bead store and recently opened exhibition space inside.

Fisher Building

A long hallway with arched ceilings and walls with gold inlays. People walk around with light streaming in through the main entrance’s windows. Photo by Michelle Gerard

There’s so much to appreciate at “Detroit’s Largest Art Object,” the Art Deco masterpiece designed by Albert Kahn. Take in the grand arcade with its Geza R. Maroti–designed murals and frescoes, the wild chandeliers and fixtures, the gold paneling, and much more. Maybe you can schedule a time to meet your date for a tour of the building or just grab a cup of coffee.

Other design-worthy locations you might want to check out in New Center include Cadillac Place, the Argonaut Building, and the Motown Museum.

A long hallway with arched ceilings and walls with gold inlays. People walk around with light streaming in through the main entrance’s windows. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Gullen Mall

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Take a stroll through this pedestrian-only path cutting through Wayne State University to get a tour of Minoru Yamasaki’s greatest hits in Detroit (minus One Woodward Avenue). Here you can see the McGregor Conference Center and reflecting pool, the cast concrete wonders of the College of Education and Prentis Building, as well as eye-catching rectangular Helen L. DeRoy Auditorium.

You could also check out the Museum of Contemporary Art nearby.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

The Schvitz

How well do you know your date? Comfortable enough to wear just a bathing suit (or nothing) and get in a steamy room together? Then you’ll want to spend an afternoon or evening at this North End health club, which now has coed times. Sweat in the old-timey steam room, then relax amongst the wood paneling, paintings, and checkered floors in the redesigned lounge.

The Schvitz now has other programming as well, so be sure to check its website.

Detroit Institute of Arts

Photo by Michelle Gerard

At all times of year, the DIA is one of the best places for a date in the city. There’s the Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera, Kresge Court, the expanded Asian Galleries, Friday Night Live events, movies at the C. Howard Crane–designed Detroit Film Theatre. Multiple date nights are definitely warranted.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

The Whitney

For a fancy night out, grab a cocktail or meal at this Romanesque Revival mansion built in 1894. The sumptuous atmosphere is the most enjoyable feature of dining at this historic mansion.

Charles H. Wright Museum

The interior of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The floor is painted with a colorful pattern. The ceiling is a dome shape and is glass. There are various flags hanging from the ceiling and attached to the wall. Photo by Michelle Gerard

There’s many reasons you should visit “The Wright,” including to see the museum’s soaring glass atrium. But if you want to have a more serious and reflective date, this is one of the best options in town. Few things are more powerful than the “And Still We Rise” permanent exhibition, which features a life-sized replica below deck in a slave ship.

The interior of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The floor is painted with a colorful pattern. The ceiling is a dome shape and is glass. There are various flags hanging from the ceiling and attached to the wall. Photo by Michelle Gerard

Garden Bowl

Bowling is always a great option. Bowling in a historic Art Deco building with a Googie-influenced design aesthetic is even better.

Cliff Bell's

Definitely one of the coolest places you could choose to take a date. This downtown jazz club designed by Charles N. Agree has some slick wood cladding on the outside around its classic marquee. Inside, take in some music while sipping cocktails and admiring the Art Deco–style design.

David Whitney Building

Photo by Michelle Gerard

One of the most impressive redevelopments in Detroit’s history, the historic skyscraper designed by Daniel H. Burnam & Co. got a $92 million redevelopment in 2014 that restored many of its original details, including the stunning lobby and skylight. Admire the building, then grab a cocktail at the bar.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Westin Book Cadillac Hotel

Photo by Michelle Gerard

A classic date option is going to happy hour at Roast, a restaurant in this Neo-Renaissance masterpiece designed by Louis Kamper. Get a deal on drink and food, and feel extra-classy while spending slightly less in this opulent setting.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Metropolitan Building

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Another stunning redevelopment, this building came back from the brink in early 2019 after being vacant for 40 years. Check out the impressive design in the lobby, then head to the rooftop cocktail bar to check out all of downtown’s architecture.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Guardian Building

An Art Deco masterpiece, this landmark downtown skyscraper has one of the most unique interiors in the world. Getting a cup of coffee amongst the Aztec-patterned tiles while gazing at the finance-themed mural of Michigan is an impressive setting for a date.

Pure Detroit also gives tours of the building.

Eastern Market

Photo by Michelle Gerard

There’s so much to do at Eastern Market for design lovers. Walk around and buy some groceries in the historic sheds on a Saturday. Go on a tour of the dozens murals throughout the district. Walk or bike up the Dequindre Cut. Check out contemporary furnituremaker Floyd’s showroom. Grab some coffee at Germack or Cairo or Anthology, get some pizza at Supino’s, get brunch at Trinosophes. There’s endless date options here.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Lafayette Park

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Design lovers will at some point want to check out the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–designed near downtown. Perfect for a quick stroll through the midcentury modern townhomes and high-rises on your way to Eastern Market.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Detroit Riverwalk

Photo by Michelle Gerard

A perfect date idea is taking an extended walk through the redesigned Riverwalk. Start at the Isamu Noguchi–designed fountain at Hart Plaza, then head towards the towering Renaissance Center, all the while taking in the skylines of Detroit and Windsor.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

The Heidelberg Project

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Want a more contemplative setting for a date? Head to this outdoor installation on the east side which is at turns beautiful and disquieting.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Belle Isle