|GM Renaissance Center. Photo courtesy of Vito Palmissano.|
1) Detroit Historical Society With so much to see and do, it’s surprising this recently revamped 80-year-old downtown museum doesn’t charge admission. (You will, however, pay $5 to park in the adjacent lot.) Although most displays focus on local history and nostalgia—a Motown tribute, a Lionel Trains exhibit, an Underground Railroad vignette and a re-created 20th-century Detroit streetscape—additions like the interactive Kid Rock music lab are sure to build a new fan base among younger generations. (313) 833-7935; detroithistorical.org
2) GM Renaissance Center Detroit’s most iconic landmark, the multi-use “Ren Cen” skyscraper complex (and General Motors headquarters) commands 14 acres of prime downtown real estate on the Detroit River. Free one-hour tours detail GM’s symbiotic relationship with the city, with stops at the tropical Wintergarden atrium, the GM showroom, boutique shops and the Circulation Ring glass panels that connect four of the statuesque towers. The piece de resistance? Drinking in the skyline views from the 72nd floor of the Detroit Marriott at the end of the journey. (313) 567-3126; gmrencen.com
3) D:Hive walking tours Get an insider’s point of view on the recent developments taking place downtown and along the Woodward Corridor. D:Hive hosts free two-hour walking/People Mover tours on Saturday afternoons that will leave you in the know about Detroit fixtures like Campus Martius Park, the Theater District and the Guardian Building. If you don’t feel like walking, the “practically free” bus tour covers the same ground and then some on the fourth Saturday of each month for $10. (313) 962-4590; dhivedetroit.org
4) Detroit Eastern Market Teeming with sights, smells and tastes, the historic public market (dating to 1891) boasts six acres of open-air vendors. The food selection is impressive—cheeses, chocolates, produce, meats, wine, baked goods and the like—but you’ll also find artisan crafts, pottery, jewelry, flowers, antiques and more. Wear comfortable shoes, and bring shopping bags (possibly a cart or wagon) for your purchases. The market’s open on Saturdays all year long and Tuesdays through the summer. (313) 833-9300; detroiteasternmarket.com
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