Downtown Activities

Establishment neighborhood
Fox Theatre
2211 Woodward Ave., Downtown
It doesn't really matter what's playing at the Fox—while they get great shows, it's mostly worth buying tickets so you can just spend an evening in the stunning historic theatre. Opened in 1928 by William Fox (the movie executive whose company, which sold in 1930, still bears his name), it was designed by Detroit native Charles Howard Crane in the style of many grand theaters at that time, with all the old-school flourishes: grand lobby, check, Indian and Asian design influences, check, splashy marquee, check. It underwent a major restoration in 1987, and has been beautifully kept up since then. It's also worth checking the schedule at the Redford, another historic theatre that shows classic films and local musical numbers.
Detroit Opera House
1526 Broadway St., Downtown
Opened in 1922 (it was then called the Capitol Theater), the Detroit Opera house is one of the city's architectural jewels—homegrown designer C. Howard Crane was also behind the stunning Fox Theater, and this space is every bit as grand, if a bit more classic, with painted frescoes, dramatic chandeliers, and draping red curtains hanging from the ceiling at every entrance. During most of the year, the building hosts shows by Michigan Opera Theatre, which was founded by artistic director David DiChiera in 1971—2016/2017 is his farewell season. The theatre itself also hosts visiting ballet ensembles, plays, and touring musicals—this season, they're hosting both the Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera.
Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
Detroit Riverwalk, Downtown
The riverfront in Detroit stretches about five miles long (still somewhat a work-in-progress project for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, which has been connecting the east and west sides to add to the path's appeal). After checking out the Guardian Building, continue walking down Griswold toward the water. The wide path along the Detroit River is made for jogging, biking, and casually strolling alike. One cool thing is that you can see across to Canada from here—Windsor is just on the other side of the water. The impossible-to-miss GM Renaissance Center, seven looming skyscrapers, is just off the path into downtown, and the included corner restaurant, Joe Muer Seafood, overlooks the riverfront. From this area, you can also head up to the Dequindre Cut Greenway, which runs parallel to St. Aubin Street toward Eastern Market. This mostly below-level greenway has become known for its urban art and graffiti.
Self-Guided Architecture Tour
Detroit is a fascinating landscape for architecture aficionados, and arguably one of the main draws of the city. But regardless of why you find yourself in Detroit, you don't have to go out of your way to get a taste of the striking diversity of buildings here—you'll naturally come across many of the highlights (as well as the notorious ruins) just as you get around town. This is particularly true of Downtown Detroit, which has some of the country's coolest skyscrapers. Beyond skyscrapers, though, walking around Downtown, you'll quickly appreciate the range that is packed into this dense area. (It's pretty crazy, for one, that the opera house is right next to both Comerica Park, home of the Tigers, and the Detroit Lions's Ford Field.) The big Art Deco treasure downtown is the Guardian Building, which was completed in 1929 for the banking group, Union Trust Company (which was saved when the market crashed that year). The brick-granite exterior is impressive but do go inside the lobby and up the stairs to the long banking hall (the vaulted ceiling, mural-, mosaic-, and tile-work is likewise stunning). Other notable buildings…