Whether you call it – The Motor City, Motown, the D, or Détroit (pronounced in an uppity French accent) – we can agree that Detroit is one of the most complicated and talked about cities in the United States. Located along the Detroit River just a stone’s throw from Canada, it is no wonder the city has attracted newcomers for over 300 years. There is so much to explore and space to cover, which is why the #1 form of transportation in Detroit has always been the automobile. It might be hard to believe, but Detroit’s land area could fit the cities of San Francisco, Boston, and Manhattan inside of it! While the city of Detroit seems to go on and on and on…it is easy to take in the beauty of this industrial capital by foot (and even train car). As you guessed, much of the city’s views consist of skyscrapers and architectural treasures, but you might be surprised to find that views of nature, 19th century homes, and street art – so fresh that it hasn’t even had time to dry – have also made our list. Get ready – this is Detroit.
If you’re looking for fine cuisine paired with an unobstructed view of the Detroit River and the iconic General Motors building, we’ve found it. Top of the Pontch restaurant inside the Crown Plaza Hotel has one of the best views in Detroit. Michigan weather is anything but predictable, so this is a perfect place to take in classic Detroit – rain, snow, or shine.
2. The Detroit Opera House Skydeck
You can almost hear Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington when you’re seated atop this ornate building. The original architect planned for the rooftop to be a public garden space, but until the summer of 2015 this space’s serious potential was wasted. Now revamped and welcoming to all ages, the sky deck at The Detroit Opera House offers a view that rivals any major U.S. city.
3. Belle Isle Park
This 982-acre island park, lying just between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is the location of one of Detroit’s most serene getaways. A visit to Belle Isle Park inspires images of this city in its turn of the century heyday. Once you cross its short bridge, you are greeted by the Gatsby-esque grandeur of the Detroit Yacht Club, Belle Isle Conservancy, Aquarium, and the James Scott Memorial Fountain. Once you’re done admiring what’s on the island, be sure to notice that you have a clear view of Detroit and Canada from this magical island.
4. Comerica Park
Access to this view will cost you just 1 ticket to a Tigers game (or to one of the many concerts that occur throughout the year). Don’t let the fact that this is a baseball stadium fool you. This park’s views are unbelievable on a clear summer day. And the best part? You can sit down and eat a hot dog while taking in the skyline.
5. People Mover
We’ll admit it. The name of Detroit’s above ground transportation system is hard to take seriously. Operating on a single track (2.94 miles) that circles around downtown, the People Mover isn’t the most efficient or practical choice, but when you are looking outside its windows you’ll see the city in a personal way that you just won’t get any other way.
6. Ambassador Bridge
The suspension bridge that connects Detroit to Windsor, Canada is the busiest international border crossing in North America. While on the bridge, take in the city and our northern neighbor from a completely different vantage point.
7. Detroit Princess Riverboat
Not every U.S. city can boast that it is north of Canada. So while exploring this special city, enjoy a trip through international waters. This charming riverboat offers a unique experience that includes dining, dancing, and rooftop views of Detroit while cruising down the Detroit River.
8. Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
Stretching 3 1⁄2 miles from Gabriel Richard Park to Joe Louis arena, this riverfront walk is the perfect way to slow down, smell the wild flowers, and maybe even burn a few calories. While enjoying a walk down the riverfront, you can stop at Phil Hart Plaza to snap a photo of the Spirit of Detroit or the infamous Joe Louis fist.
9. Graffiti Art
Detroit street art is arguably one of the city’s most relevant and eye-catching views. Recently, Detroit has become one of the most vibrant centers of street art in the country. Hundreds of authorized murals created by renowned artists grace downtown, southwest Detroit, Eastern Market, and even the Detroit Public Library. These works are definitely a nod to Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry fresco and the city’s history of art and innovation in the 20th century.
10. Greenfield Village
Located not far from the original Ford Motor Company, Greenfield Village provides a view into the city and country’s historical past. Henry Ford, an avid collector, bought the homes and workshops of geniuses such as Thomas Edison, Orville and Wilbur Wright, George Washington Carver, and more to create a museum unlike any other. Enjoy the view of century-old buildings by foot – or Model T. Either way, you are guaranteed to see the city of Detroit as you would if you’d gone inside a time machine.
Does Detroit have a lot more to offer than you thought? It is impossible to compare this city to any other – it is truly a city that sets itself apart. Some of Detroit’s appeal is being able to see it through the eyes of the history upon which it was built. Let us know what some of your favorite views are in Detroit in the comments.