Metro Detroit covers nearly 2,000 square miles, a vast patchwork of incredibly varied neighborhoods. We’ve primarily focused on central Detroit, where most of the region’s biggest attractions are concentrated. Though it’s been through hard times in recent decades, Detroit is now a city on the rise, with artists, small-batch producers, breweries and community gardens springing up in between abandoned buildings and grassed-over lots.
Though Downtown Detroit is the traditional heart of the city and home to its major stadiums and nightlife, Detroit’s premier museum’s lie in Midtown (with Motown Records in nearby New Center). Neighborhoods like Eastern Market and Corktown, just outside Downtown, are becoming eating and drinking destinations in their own right.
While it’s relatively easy to explore Downtown on foot, the People Mover elevated train makes a loop around all the main sights, while the QLine Streetcar runs up Woodward Avenue to Midtown. Though buses fan out beyond here to other neighborhoods, it’s easier and faster to take taxis (easily available) or drive to explore the rest of the city. Detroit is much safer than it used to be, but solo travelers should avoid public transport at night.
The Best Places to Stay in Detroit
Best Luxury Hotels in Detroit
The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit • Hotel at The Detroit Club • Element Detroit at the Metropolitan • The Cochrane House • The Henry
Best Boutique Hotels in Detroit
Detroit Foundation Hotel • El Moore Lodge • Siren Hotel • Trumbull & Porter
Best 3-Star/4-Star Hotels in Detroit
Aloft Detroit • The Inn on Ferry Street • The Inn at 97 Winder
Best Cheap Hotels in Detroit
Hamtramck Hostel • Hostel Detroit
Best Neighborhood to Stay for First Timers: Downtown Detroit
An obvious choice. Downtown offers the widest range of accommodation, easy access to the rest of the city, the best nightlife and some of the best places to eat. It’s home to the landmark GM Renaissance Center and Detroit’s handsome stock of Art Deco skyscrapers, as well as its primary stadiums: Comerica Park (home of baseball’s Detroit Tigers), and Ford Field (home of football’s Detroit Lions).
The Detroit Riverwalk here offers views across to Canada, through landscaped parks and gardens, while the museums of Midtown are just a short QLine Streetcar or taxi ride away.
Best Neighborhood for Culture: Midtown
A couple of miles north of Downtown on Woodward Avenue (and linked by the efficient QLine Streetcar), Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood is the city’s cultural hub. All the big museums are here; the world class Detroit Institute of Arts (famed for its giant Diego Rivera mural; www.dia.org), the Museum of Contemporary Art (mocadetroit.org), Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (www.thewright.org), the Detroit Historical Museum (detroithistorical.org), and Michigan Science Center (www.mi-sci.org). The district encompasses the campus of Wayne State University, and contains numerous art galleries, quirky stores and excellent restaurants (The Whitney is one of the city’s best; www.thewhitney.com). Adjacent New Center, just north of I-94, is home to the iconic Motown Museum (www.motownmuseum.org) and the original Ford Piquette Avenue Plant (www.fordpiquetteplant.org). There’s not a lot of choice when it comes to accommodation, though El Moore Lodge and Inn on Ferry Street are two of the best hotels in the city.
Best Neighborhood for Nightlife: Downtown/Greektown
Detroit’s premier Entertainment District lies in the northern section of Downtown, where bars and clubs lie close to Grand Circus Park. Our favorite spots include Queens Bar Detroit (www.queensbardetroit.com), the craft brews at Detroit Beer Co (www.detroitbeerco.com), the cocktails at Candy Bar (www.candybardetroit.com), and the karaoke at Sid Gold’s Request Room (sidgolds.com/Detroit). Monroe Street in Greektown is another lively (and generally safe) strip on the east side of Downtown, home to Greektown Casino (www.greektowncasino.com), Firebird Tavern (www.firebirdtavern.com) and more.
Best Neighborhood for Food and Restaurants: Eastern Market/Corktown
The Eastern Market (easternmarket.org) neighborhood, just northeast of Downtown, is foodie heaven, with a diverse range of options in addition to its famed farmers’ market stalls on Saturdays (Sundays is more arts and crafts). Sample local specialty Coney Island hot dogs at Zeff’s (easternmarket.org/district/zeffs-coney-island), Polish street food at Pietrzyk Pierogi (www.pietrzykpierogi.com), ribs at Bert’s Marketplace (www.bertsentertainmentcomplex.com), and amazing sandwiches at Eastern Market Seafood Co (easternmarket.org/district/eastern-market-seafood). There are no hotels here, but there is a large number of spacious loft rentals available (on airbnb and other apartment rental websites).
Corktown (see below), west of Downtown, is another foodie hotspot, with lauded restaurants such as Folk (www.folkdetroit.com), Lady of the House (www.ladyofthehousedetroit.com), and Chef Mike Ransom’s Ima (imanoodles.com).
Best Neighborhood for Shopping: Eastern Market
It’s hard to beat Eastern Market – again – for indie stores and unique gifts. Tucked away here is Savvy Chic (www.savvychictrends.com), a cool lifestyle and fashion store, plus unique homegrown labels Detroit Hustles Harder (divisionstreetboutique.com) and Detroit Vs Everybody (vseverybody.com). Cheap Charlie’s (easternmarket.org/district/cheap-charlies) is a vintage work clothes store. Signal-Return (www.signalreturnpress.org) and Salt & Cedar (www.saltandcedar.com) are old-fashioned print shops (selling handmade prints, posters and cards), while Vintage Eastern Market (www.vintageem.com) is home for all things antique.
Best Neighborhood for Local Vibe: Hamtramck
Some five miles north of Downtown, Hamtramck is one of Detroit’s most diverse and fascinating neighborhoods. Once a Polish-dominated enclave, today there are also large communities of Albanians, Bangladeshis, Bosnians, Pakistanis and Yemenis (try the Yemen Café at 8740 Joseph Campau Ave). It’s also known for its indie music venues (Small’s, The Sanctuary, and Ant Hall among them), and the quirky art installation known as Hamtramck Disneyland (www.hatchart.org/hamtramck-disneyland). The neighborhood’s Polish roots are showcased at the Polish Art Center (www.polartcenter.com), restaurants such as Polish Village Café (www.polishvillagecafe.us), and stores such as Srodek’s (www.srodek.com). There’s also the Ukrainian American Archives & Museum (www.ukrainianmuseumdetroit.org). Though most folks visit from Downtown (by car, bus or taxi), there are plenty of apartment rentals in the neighborhood, and one decent hostel option: Hamtramck Hostel (www.hamtramckhostel.com), the city’s best budget option.
Unsafe Areas of Detroit
Downtown Detroit is much safer that it might seem, though the usual precautions should be taken at night and early mornings – don’t go into parking lots or streets alone if no one is around. It’s best to take taxis or drive at night, and avoid buses and trains. Detroit’s high-crime areas are all quite a way from tourist neighborhoods: the area east of Hamtramck (especially between Gratiot Ave and Kelly Rd) and Poletown East (between Hamtramck and Midtown), for example.
1 Downtown Detroit
Life is slowly returning to Downtown Detroit after several decades of hard times, its elegant skyscrapers, boulevards and theatres entwined with bars, restaurants and stores. The neighborhood is anchored by Woodward Avenue, which links Hart Plaza and the vast GM Renaissance Center on the waterfront, with Campus Martius Park and Grand Circus Park at the district’s northern end (home to the Detroit Opera House). The northern part of Downtown also contains the city’s premier Entertainment District, as well as the Comerica Park and Ford Field stadiums. Giant MGM Grand Detroit (mgmgranddetroit.mgmresorts.com) casino and resort dominates the west side, while Greektown lies on the east side of Downtown (see below). The People Mover (www.thepeoplemover.com) elevated train makes a loop around Downtown and costs just 75 cents.
The Best Hotels in Downtown Detroit
Aloft Detroit • Hotel phone: +1 313 237 1700
Detroit Foundation Hotel • Hotel phone: +1 313 800 5500
Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center • Hotel phone: +1 313 568 8000
Element Detroit at the Metropolitan • Hotel phone: +1 313 306 2400
Hotel at The Detroit Club • Hotel phone: +1 313 338 3222
Shinola Hotel • Hotel phone: +1 313 356 1400
Siren Hotel • Hotel phone: +1 313 277 4736
The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit • Hotel phone: +1 313 442 1600
Greektown is the far eastern part of Downtown, but with it’s own unique vibe, anchored by Monroe Street and the Greektown People Mover Station. Monroe Street is especially vibrant at night, when it fills with revelers shuttling between its closely packed bars and restaurants. Greektown Casino (www.greektowncasino.com) provides plenty of entertainment, along with authentic Greek eateries such as Pegasus Taverna (pegasustavernas.com) and Astoria Pastry Shop (astoriapastryshop.com). There’s not much in the way of must-see sights, though Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church (oldstmarysdetroit.com) and Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral (www.annunciationcathedral.org) are both incredibly ornate.
The Best Hotels in Greektown
Atheneum Suite Hotel • Hotel phone: +1 313 962 2323
Greektown Casino-Hotel • Hotel phone: +1 313 223 2999
Hotel Hilton Garden Inn Detroit Downtown • Hotel phone: +1 313 967 0900
3 The District
The neighborhood in-between Downtown and Midtown has been dubbed “The District”, a once neglected area slated to be transformed into parks, restaurants, bars and event destinations in the next few years. It’s already home to Little Caesars Arena (the base of hockey’s Detroit Red Wings and basketball’s Detroit Pistons), as well as microbreweries such as Founders Brewing Co (foundersbrewing.com) and Saucy Brew Works (www.saucybrewworks.com), and popular restaurants like Bakersfield (www.bakersfieldtacos.com). For now, hotels in this area are clustered in the old Brush Park neighborhood, offering a quieter stay but within easy reach of Downtown and Midtown.
The Best Hotels in The District
234 Winder St Inn • Hotel phone: +1 313 831 4091
The Cochrane House • Hotel phone: +1 313 2300 398
Inn at 97 Winder • Hotel phone: +1 313 832 4348
Just west of Downtown Detroit, Corktown is an old industrial neighborhood turned hipster hangout, boasting some of the best bars and restaurants in the city. Once predominantly Irish (the name comes from the city of Cork, in Ireland), today its stock of clapboard and shingle homes feature a diverse community given a boost by Ford Motor’s latest plan to build a new campus here – the once grand but famously derelict Michigan Central Station is slated to be part of it. Corktown is home to cool eateries such as Slow’s Bar BQ (slowsbarbq.com), and local craft beer makers like Batch Brewing Co (www.batchbrewingcompany.com).
The Best Hotels in Corktown
Honor & Folly • Email: [email protected]; Website: www.honorandfolly.com [no phone given]
Hostel Detroit (North Corktown) • Hotel phone: +1 313 451 0333
Trumbull & Porter • Hotel phone: +1 313 496 1400
Mexicantown is a primarily residential neighborhood, around five miles southwest of Downtown. Mexican-Americans have been settling here since the 1920s, and today Vernor Highway anchors one of Detroit’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Authentic Mexican restaurants provide the chief allure. Taqueria Lupitas (3443 Bagley St) knocks out great tacos, part of a small strip of superb Mexican joints on Bagley Street: Evie’s Tamales (no. 3454), Xochimilco (no.3409), and Los Galanes (no.3362) among them. On Vernor itself there’s Taqueria El Rey (4730 Vernor Hwy) and MexicanTown Bakery (4300 Vernor Hwy), as well as Ice Cream La Michoacana (4336 Vernor Hwy). Other than apartment rentals, there are no decent hotels in MexicanTown – take a taxi or drive there from Downtown or Corktown.
Of Metro Detroit’s many satellite neighborhoods, Dearborn is by far the most interesting for visitors, and also boasts a decent selection of hotels. Dearborn’s premier attraction is the Henry Ford (www.thehenryford.org), comprising the vast Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, open-air Greenfield Village and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. Fair Lane, the former home of Clara and Henry Ford (www.henryfordfairlane.org) is nearby. Dearborn is also known for its vibrant Arab-American community, showcased at the Arab American National Museum (arabamericanmuseum.org), and at countless restaurants and bakeries along Michigan Avenue and the surrounding streets. Our favorites include bakery Nizam Pastry (nizampastry.com) and Lebanese restaurant Zaytoona (5700 Mercury Drive).
The Best Hotels in Dearborn
The Henry • Hotel phone: +1 313 441 2000
The Dearborn Inn • Hotel phone: +1 313 271 2700
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Detroit – Dearborn • Hotel phone: +1 313 336 3340
Hampton Inn by Hilton Detroit Dearborn • Hotel phone: +1 313 562 0000
Staybridge Suites Dearborn • Hotel phone: +1 313 565 1500
TownePlace Suites by Marriott Detroit Dearborn • Hotel phone: +1 313 271 0200