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Michelle & Chris Gerard

The 26 essential things to do in Detroit right now

Check out the best places to visit this winter

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Curbed Detroit’s guide for winter includes many of our favorite spaces in the city: museums, a giant bookstore, parks, the largest Masonic Temple in the world, Art Deco treasures, and more.

And here even more suggestions for ways to enjoy the Motor City.

Walking around downtown? Don't miss our walking guide on essential Downtown architecture.

Want to check out some free art? We have a map of Detroit's public art essentials.

Looking for some shopping? Check out our map of the best furniture and antique stores or the best vintage clothing stores.

Looking for things to do with your kids? Here's a list of family-friendly places to check out in Detroit.

Note: Locations are listed west to east.

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Northland Roller Rink

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Ditch ice skates for some roller skates. Or just check out some the incredible skill on display at Detroit’s oldest roller rink. 

Redford Theatre

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The Redford Theatre and its classic marquee have been in operation since opening in January 1928. It’s a great place to watch some class films, a stage performance, or listen to the unique sounds of the theater’s Barton organ.

Down the street, you can see the Artist Village, a creative hub for artists, students, business owners, and neighbors living and working in the heart of Old Redford. 

Senate Theater

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Step back in time to one of Detroit’s classic movie theaters, which owns an incredible sounding Wurlitzer organ. This winter the Senate will be showing Miracle on 34th Street, silent short films, and a David Bowie documentary as part of its annual “Stardust at the Senate” event.

Photo by Aaron Mondry

Fort Wayne

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Built in the 1840s, this historic fort has been slowly opening its doors to the public. Now, there’s guided tours every weekend, battle reenactments, and other events. There’s also been a push to restore Fort Wayne and turn it into a national park.

Mexicantown / Southwest Detroit

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In Southwest Detroit, you can find some absolutely fantastic Mexican food (as well as offerings from El Salvador, Honduras, and other Latin American countries) at the neighborhood’s sit-down restaurants, bakeries, and taco trucks. Also spend some time in Clark Park, one of the city’s best maintained and most pleasant parks.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Motown Museum

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The Motown Museum is about to undergo a $50 million expansion, but you can still stop by to learn more about the music, the artists, and how it all started—where it all started.

Fisher Building

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Detroit's Largest Art Object continues to impress as Detroit's most iconic skyscraper. Built in 1928 by the Fisher Brothers as a gift to the city and designed by Albert Kahn, this stands out as Kahn's masterpiece. The mosaics and frescoes were designed by Geza R. Maroti and represent transportation, commerce, music, and drama.

The gold top can be seen in the night sky as a beacon in New Center. Home to the Fisher Theatre, you can wander through the lobby anytime. Pure Detroit offers guided tours on the weekends.

A light fixture hanging from an elaborately designed ceiling with mosaics. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Ste. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church

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Located in Southwest Detroit near the Ambassador Bridge, Ste. Anne de Detroit is one of the most impressive structures in the city, inside and out. It has some of the most beautiful and oldest stained glass windows in the city.

Detroit Public Library

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The main branch of the Detroit Public Library features some of the most beautiful interiors in the city. It’s the perfect place to curl up with a book or search through various archives to learn more about Detroit history.

You can also typically an exhibit on display. Through March 2, check out painted portraits of public icons like Stevie Wonder by artist Desiree Kelly.

Detroit Institute of Arts

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At all times of year, the DIA is one of the best places in the city to visit. From the Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera to the Kresge Court to the expanded Asian Galleries, there’s so much to take in.

Planet Ant Theatre

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Co-founded by Detroit’s own Keegan-Michael Key, Plant Ant has been showcasing great comedy (both improv and scripted) for over 25 years. It recently expanded its offerings by renovating the Ant Hall and Ghost Light bar across the street. The theater also offers improv classes year round.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

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There’s many reasons you should visit “The Wright.” Designed by Sims-Varner and Associates, the 125,000 square-foot museum has striking architectural features, including the soaring glass atrium.

With over 35,000 artifacts on the African-American experience, as well as permanent and rotating exhibitions, there’s a lot check out. But perhaps none is more powerful than “And Still We Rise,” 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

Masonic Temple

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The largest Masonic Temple in the world hosts concerts, events, and tours throughout the year. There’s countless hidden gems and oddities inside this iconic structure that justify multiple visits.

The exterior of a temple building. The entrance is elaborately designed and the facade is white. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

John K. King Used & Rare Books

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Located in an old glove factory, John K. King Used & Rare Books is one of the largest (and coolest, in our opinion) used book stores in the world. Explore the four floors of books, and check out the rare book room behind the building.

A factory building. There are words on the top of exterior walls that read: King used and rare books. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

The People Mover

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While maybe not the most useful transit option ever created, for 75 cents you can access some of the most unique views of downtown and the river in a heated car. There’s also some under-appreciated art at the stations.

An elevated train platform next to train tracks. In the distance is a city skyline with tall buildings. Michelle Gerard

Metropolitan Building/Wurlitzer Building/Shinola Hotel

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Detroit has a hotel district. The Siren Hotel opened in the once-crumbling Wurlitzer Building last spring. The Metropolitan Building recently opened its doors for the first time in nearly 40 years, with the Element Detroit Hotel opening as the only extended-stay hotel in the city. And the Shinola Hotel, which takes over most of the block across the street, is also open. Check out Parker’s Alley, along with the new restaurant and retail offerings in and around the hotel.

A street leading up to various city buildings including the Shinola Hotel. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Campus Martius

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Campus Martius Park has been around in some shape or form since it was a military training ground in 1788. Located in the heart of downtown, the park has a different activity set up all year round. The park is known as the Point of Origin for Detroit, as all major avenues radiate from there. Now visitors can easily walk from the park to the Riverfront from the esplanade along Woodward and the Spirit of Detroit plaza.

In the foreground is a large fountain. In the distance are various tall city buildings. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

The Guardian Building

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An Art Deco masterpiece, this landmark downtown skyscraper has one of the most unique interiors in the world. Nicknamed the Cathedral of Finance, the building was designed by Wirt Rowland and opened in 1929. Pure Detroit (which has a shop on the first floor) holds tours of the building.

Eastern Market

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The historic public market district is open year round. Pick up some fresh food, wander the district checking out the murals, and pop into the local businesses in one of the most vibrant districts in Detroit.

The annual October Beer Festival featuring the best beers from around the state takes place in Eastern Market on October 25 and 26.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Dequindre Cut

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Once a Grand Trunk Railroad Line, the Dequindre Cut Greenway is now a paved path for bike riders, walkers, joggers, and art lovers. Murals and paintings cover much of the concrete in the underpasses, leading many to slow down and enjoy the view. The path spans from the Riverfront all the way through Eastern Market to Mack. It’s one of the best public spaces to enjoy in Detroit.

A path. There is grass and trees on both sides of the path. On one side of the path is a building structure with colorful graffiti. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

The Riverfront

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The Detroit Riverfront, from Mt. Elliott Park to the Joe Louis Arena, is one of the best public spaces in the city and always a great option to get some fresh air, no matter the season.

A woman walks on a cement path along the river. Behind her is a ferry boat and in the distance is a blue bridge. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Elmwood Cemetery

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One of Michigan’s oldest cemeteries is the perfect place to take a winter stroll. There’s 86 acres to explore in a surprisingly peaceful setting, and tours can be easily arranged.

Detroit City Fieldhouse

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With the season over for Detroit City FC and the neighborhood league, where’s someone supposed to get their soccer fix? The Detroit City Fieldhouse. With indoor leagues for both youth and adults, drop-in soccer games, and a clubhouse bar that’s always broadcasting the best matches from around the globe, there’s no better place for soccer during the colder months.

Sunset Point

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Looking for some peace and quiet? The western tip of Belle Isle offers many places for those who want to sit and watch the freighters go by; it also has some of the best skyline views in the city.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum

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Another fun museum with free admission. The Dossin Great Lakes Museum includes the bow anchor from the Edmund Fitzgerald, a “Pilot House” overlooking the Detroit River, and the grand interior of the smoking lounge from the SS City of Detroit III. It recently announced a nearly $5 million renovation but will be open during construction.

Cadieux Cafe

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A classic Belgian bar on Detroit’s east side, the Cadieux Cafe has hosted feather bowling since the early 1900s and claims to have the only authentic lanes in the United States. It also offers steamed mussels, live music, and a great atmosphere.

Bowling lanes in a bar in Detroit. Photo by Michelle Gerard

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Northland Roller Rink

Ditch ice skates for some roller skates. Or just check out some the incredible skill on display at Detroit’s oldest roller rink. 

Redford Theatre

The Redford Theatre and its classic marquee have been in operation since opening in January 1928. It’s a great place to watch some class films, a stage performance, or listen to the unique sounds of the theater’s Barton organ.

Down the street, you can see the Artist Village, a creative hub for artists, students, business owners, and neighbors living and working in the heart of Old Redford. 

Senate Theater

Photo by Aaron Mondry

Step back in time to one of Detroit’s classic movie theaters, which owns an incredible sounding Wurlitzer organ. This winter the Senate will be showing Miracle on 34th Street, silent short films, and a David Bowie documentary as part of its annual “Stardust at the Senate” event.

Photo by Aaron Mondry

Fort Wayne

Built in the 1840s, this historic fort has been slowly opening its doors to the public. Now, there’s guided tours every weekend, battle reenactments, and other events. There’s also been a push to restore Fort Wayne and turn it into a national park.

Mexicantown / Southwest Detroit

Photo by Michelle Gerard

In Southwest Detroit, you can find some absolutely fantastic Mexican food (as well as offerings from El Salvador, Honduras, and other Latin American countries) at the neighborhood’s sit-down restaurants, bakeries, and taco trucks. Also spend some time in Clark Park, one of the city’s best maintained and most pleasant parks.

Photo by Michelle Gerard

Motown Museum

The Motown Museum is about to undergo a $50 million expansion, but you can still stop by to learn more about the music, the artists, and how it all started—where it all started.

Fisher Building

A light fixture hanging from an elaborately designed ceiling with mosaics. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Detroit's Largest Art Object continues to impress as Detroit's most iconic skyscraper. Built in 1928 by the Fisher Brothers as a gift to the city and designed by Albert Kahn, this stands out as Kahn's masterpiece. The mosaics and frescoes were designed by Geza R. Maroti and represent transportation, commerce, music, and drama.

The gold top can be seen in the night sky as a beacon in New Center. Home to the Fisher Theatre, you can wander through the lobby anytime. Pure Detroit offers guided tours on the weekends.

A light fixture hanging from an elaborately designed ceiling with mosaics. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Ste. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church

Located in Southwest Detroit near the Ambassador Bridge, Ste. Anne de Detroit is one of the most impressive structures in the city, inside and out. It has some of the most beautiful and oldest stained glass windows in the city.

Detroit Public Library

The main branch of the Detroit Public Library features some of the most beautiful interiors in the city. It’s the perfect place to curl up with a book or search through various archives to learn more about Detroit history.

You can also typically an exhibit on display. Through March 2, check out painted portraits of public icons like Stevie Wonder by artist Desiree Kelly.

Detroit Institute of Arts

At all times of year, the DIA is one of the best places in the city to visit. From the Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera to the Kresge Court to the expanded Asian Galleries, there’s so much to take in.

Planet Ant Theatre

Co-founded by Detroit’s own Keegan-Michael Key, Plant Ant has been showcasing great comedy (both improv and scripted) for over 25 years. It recently expanded its offerings by renovating the Ant Hall and Ghost Light bar across the street. The theater also offers improv classes year round.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

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.” Designed by Sims-Varner and Associates, the 125,000 square-foot museum has striking architectural features, including the soaring glass atrium.

With over 35,000 artifacts on the African-American experience, as well as permanent and rotating exhibitions, there’s a lot check out. But perhaps none is more powerful than “And Still We Rise,” 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

Masonic Temple

The exterior of a temple building. The entrance is elaborately designed and the facade is white. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

The largest Masonic Temple in the world hosts concerts, events, and tours throughout the year. There’s countless hidden gems and oddities inside this iconic structure that justify multiple visits.

The exterior of a temple building. The entrance is elaborately designed and the facade is white. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

John K. King Used & Rare Books

A factory building. There are words on the top of exterior walls that read: King used and rare books. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Located in an old glove factory, John K. King Used & Rare Books is one of the largest (and coolest, in our opinion) used book stores in the world. Explore the four floors of books, and check out the rare book room behind the building.

A factory building. There are words on the top of exterior walls that read: King used and rare books. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

The People Mover

An elevated train platform next to train tracks. In the distance is a city skyline with tall buildings. Michelle Gerard

While maybe not the most useful transit option ever created, for 75 cents you can access some of the most unique views of downtown and the river in a heated car. There’s also some under-appreciated art at the stations.

An elevated train platform next to train tracks. In the distance is a city skyline with tall buildings. Michelle Gerard

Metropolitan Building/Wurlitzer Building/Shinola Hotel

A street leading up to various city buildings including the Shinola Hotel. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Detroit has a hotel district. The Siren Hotel opened in the once-crumbling Wurlitzer Building last spring. The Metropolitan Building recently opened its doors for the first time in nearly 40 years, with the Element Detroit Hotel opening as the only extended-stay hotel in the city. And the Shinola Hotel, which takes over most of the block across the street, is also open. Check out Parker’s Alley, along with the new restaurant and retail offerings in and around the hotel.

A street leading up to various city buildings including the Shinola Hotel. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Campus Martius