Making your way to Motown? Whether you’re headed there for work, fun, or a little bit of both, here are our tips for making the most of your time in Detroit.
Where to fly in
Detroit metro area is served by Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), located 20 miles west of downtown Detroit. One of the top-20 busiest airports in the US, Detroit Metro is split into two terminals—McNamara Terminal and North Terminal—with nearly 150 gates.
As for your ground transportation options, cabs and ride shares are available upon arrival at the airport. Alternatively, travelers can travel by bus to reach their final destination. Check the SMART bus schedule to plan your onward journey.
Where to stay
Detroit offers design-forward hotels, complete with world-class restaurants and after-dark scenes to definitely be seen. For starters, the Detroit Foundation Hotel is the kind of place that you’d visit whether you were staying overnight or not. Whether you grab a drink at the lobby bar, catch a local musician performing or snag a coveted ticket to a Chef’s Table event in The Apparatus Room, the vibe here is undeniably magnetic. Furnished with modern decor, the spacious rooms feel even more generous thanks to 12-foot ceilings and an open design.
The Siren Hotel brings new life to the historic Wurlitzer Building. Compared to the Foundation Hotel, rooms are more reminiscent of Manhattan-sized digs. But what sleeping accommodations lack in space, the hotel makes up for in charm. By night, guests can opt for a drink in the decadent Candy Bar, located immediately off the lobby. More of an early bird? Caffeinated drinks are served at Populace Coffee’s lobby outpost.
Meanwhile, business travelers looking for a different set of amenities will find many hotels in Detroit that meet their specific needs. Here are our picks for the best hotels to stay in during your next business trip:
- If a hotel in a prime Detroit location is what you’re after, look no further than the Element Detroit at the Metropolitan. By day, you’re walking distance to downtown Detroit and a quick ride to the Financial District. By night, you’re just steps away from the Detroit Opera House and Ford Field.
- In need of event space? The MGM Grand Detroit offers 14,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a conference center.
- If you’re attending an event at the Cobo Center, you can’t beat the convenience of the Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Riverfront. You’re just a few steps away from the convention center, plus the hotel features a 24-hour business center for any of your work-related needs.
How to get around
Uber and Lyft are available in Detroit and are likely your best options for getting around the city in a jiffy—this is Motor City, after all. Plus, if you manage your travel and expenses with Concur or Concur Hipmunk, your Uber trip receipt will automatically populate into your expense report.
Prefer to take public transportation? Download the Detroit Department of Transportation app to help you navigate the local bus system. Traversing around Downtown or Midtown? The city’s new QLINE tram system can help you get from A to B. Plan your ride with their interactive map.
Alternatively, MoGo, Detroit’s public bike share program, provides an eco-friendly way to get around town.
Pro tip: Use TripIt’s Navigator feature to search transportation options available to you. It will show you the estimated costs and travel times for each option, so you can decide which works best. You can find Navigator within your flight, hotel and rental car details screens. Plus, if you add a restaurant reservation to your itinerary (more on where to eat below), Navigator also helps you find the best transportation options for getting to your table.
Where to eat
Have breakfast on the brain? Located in a Flatiron-esque building, Parks & Rec offers locally-sourced ingredients and house-made, well, just about everything. It’s a small space, so expect to wait. If you can temper your hanger, you’ll be happy you stuck around.
If you only have time for one meal in Detroit, make it at Wright & Company. Trendy decor, second story street views, shareable plates, and knowledgeable bar staff make even popping in for a drink worth a few hours of your time in Detroit. Note that the restaurant doesn’t accept reservations, so plan to wait if you’re heading there for a meal, especially on weekend nights.
Staying at the Detroit Foundation Hotel? You won’t have to go far for one of the best meals in the city. Named for the space where firetrucks and their apparatus were historically kept, The Apparatus Room is more of a focal point of the hotel than an amenity. Michigan-born chef Thomas Lents returned to his home state to create his version of a New American cuisine using ingredients sourced from the Midwest. The result has locals and tourists alike flocking to his restaurant. Be sure to make a reservation as soon as you confirm your travel plans.
A hybrid restaurant and butcher shop, Marrow takes sustainability seriously. With a “farm-to-fork” mentality, Marrow sources a majority of its spring and summer menu ingredients from within five miles of the restaurant. Head there for dinner, brunch, or grab a cocktail. You won’t be disappointed.
Finally, leave room for dessert at Sister Pie. Located in Detroit’s West Village, Sister Pie is the bakery you wish you had on your street corner. Showcasing local produce from around Michigan, owner (and James Beard Award nominee) Lisa Ludwinski founded Sister Pie “to celebrate the seasons through pie.” We suggest you join the celebrations ASAP.
What to do
If this is your first time visiting Detroit, start your clock at Eastern Market. At the largest outdoor farmers market in the country, you can peruse the stalls of local vendors selling everything from fruits and fresh flowers to authentic French crepes and local art. Eastern Market is open on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, and, during the summer, every third Thursday night. Also located in the Eastern Market District (and across much of Detroit, for that matter) is a stunning collection of murals known as Murals in the Market. Artists from all over the world, including those local to Detroit, have transformed the walls of the district into a must-see public art destination. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping and murals, head to Eastern Market Brewing Company or Detroit City Distillery for a locally-made adult beverage—both are just a ten minute walk from the market.
If your family tagged along on your business trip, there are plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Detroit. Head to Belle Isle for a beach day with a view to Canada. Or, check out the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and nearby Belle Isle Aquarium, the country’s oldest aquarium. Kids will also love the 125-acre Detroit Zoo, home to the Polk Penguin Conservation Center and more than 75 penguins.
Adults-only? By day, peruse the shops of Midtown Detroit. By night, stop in at Kiesling in Milwaukee Junction to enjoy a handcrafted cocktail on their bistro light-covered patio. Visiting on a cold or rainy day? Choose from their plentiful selection of board games and cozy up in one of their comfortable nooks.