Seeing anything beautiful really makes me appreciate Detroit.
Despite the harsh reality that southeast Michigan is known for its gray skies and frigid temps, sun-starved locals draw their energy from the region’s art community and lively events year-round.
Southwest Detroit native Manny Merino recalls his earliest memories of life on Vernor Highway, one of the main throughways that winds through the Mexicantown district. The neighborhood is dotted with graphic murals and quaint retailers offering leather goods and gilded tchotchkes handcrafted by local artisans.
“My favorite memory would have to be going to parades when I was younger,” Merino says. “The city was full of life. Everybody out cruising, families walking around, vendors out.”
Today, Merino says a similar vibe exists where Vernor meets Clark Avenue. “Right next to the gas station at Clark and Vernor, I just feel the love. Seeing all the art, the stores that have been there for 10-20 years, and the people who still go to those local businesses — that’s probably my favorite spot.”
But Merino says this lively energy extends beyond Southwest. “Campus Martius, the boardwalk, The Belt and the Z parking lot downtown with all of the art,” he says, continuing to rattle off must-visit spots that contribute to the vibrancy of the region. “The Russell Industrial Center, local monuments, and historical buildings that everyone knows. There are so many places.”
Simply put, to invigorate your inner creative, look to the city’s streets.
Celebrate Creativity at These Arts & Entertainment Spots
Spirit of Detroit
This iconic statue sits in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center and overlooks Woodward Avenue. Standing at 26 feet tall, the statue is a must-see for Detroit natives and tourists alike. 2 Woodward Ave., Detroit; historicdetroit.org
Known for its impressive winter events, Campus Martius also has much to offer on a summer day. Visitors can enjoy lunch with their toes in the sand at The Beach Bar and Fountain Detroit, or snap photos of the seasonal tulips that bloom each year. 800 Woodward Ave., Detroit; downtowndetroitparks.com
Dancing in the Street Park
After 48 years of vacancy, the lot that once held Motown Records’ offices and studio has been filled. Dancing in the Street Park is a part of the Motown Museum’s $50 million expansion and will host events for the public throughout the summer. 2648 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; motownmuseum.org
Woodward Dream Cruise
The 25th annual Woodward Dream Cruise showcases everything from vintage Volkswagens to customized muscle cars. Whether you’re there with your own set of wheels or just feel like lounging on the sidelines, there is something for everyone. Visit woodwarddreamcruise.com for locations
Murals in the Market
With over 100 murals in Eastern Market alone, the city of Detroit is bursting with street art. This annual festival beginning on Sept. 14, hosts panel discussions, artist dinners, and nightlife events. Eastern Market, 2905 Beaufait St., Detroit; muralsinthemarket.com
Open Streets Detroit
In an effort to utilize street space in a new way, Open Streets Detroit invites participants to run, walk, bike, or rollerblade their way through Corktown and Southwest Detroit. Michigan Avenue and West Vernor Highway, Detroit; Visit openstreetsdet.org for dates
Russell Industrial Center
Home to dozens of artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs, the Russell Industrial Center is always in motion. As the largest arts community in the Midwest, it is the ideal spot to find creative inspiration.1600 Clay St., Detroit; russellindustrialcenter.com
Located in the former downtown garment district, The Belt is a public art display that houses murals and installations by local and international artists. This alley was established by curators behind the Detroit exhibition space, Library Street Collective, in an attempt to transform the underutilized area. 1260 Library St., Detroit; lscgallery.com
Spanning over three miles, the RiverWalk hosts family-friendly events year-round. Visitors can walk, run, bike, and lounge alongside the river, all while enjoying a view of the Canadian shore line. 1340 Atwater St., Detroit; detroitriverfront.org
Z Parking Garage
Packed with murals crafted by artists from all over the world, The Z is not your average parking structure. The 10-story structure holds 1,300 parking spots and its top floor provides an incredible view of downtown. 1234 Library St., Detroit; lscgallery.com