The best outdoor spaces, art, and historical exhibits in Detroit for Summer 2017
Note: This map was originally posted on July 3 and updated July 21 with more info on Beacon Park, which is now open.
Summer is here and it’s time to get outside and explore the city. For this season’s Pocket Guide, we’re including some of our favorite outdoor locations and historical sites to enjoy the weather. We’re also including many museums who are hosting special exhibits to commemorate the 1967 Detroit Rebellion. There’s a lot to see in Detroit right now, but we narrowed it down to 26 places to visit and things to do while in the Motor City.
1 James Scott Memorial Fountain
Although the man who commissioned it wasn’t so popular in his time, the James Scott Memorial Fountain is one of the most beautiful places in the city and on Belle Isle.
If you’re looking for a canopy of trees, green space, and history, Elmwood Cemetery is a certified arboretum. The historic cemetery covers 86 acres and is the final resting place of governors, mayors, prominent businessmen, and abolitionists.
A carousel, volleyball courts, deck chairs, nature trails, and more, the Riverfront is one of the best public spaces in the city and always one of the best choices for where to go to get some fresh air.
Once a Grand Trunk Railroad Line, the Dequindre Cut Greenway is now a paved path for bike riders, walkers, joggers, and art lovers. Murals and paintings cover much of the concrete in the underpasses, leading many to slow down and enjoy the view. The path spans from the Riverfront all the way through Eastern Market to Mack.
9 Charles H Wright Museum of African American History
The Charles H. Wright Museum will have a two-part exhibit starting July 23 called “Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion.” The first will be outside near Charles McGee’s “United We Stand” statue and feature large photographs and quotes about the 1967 Rebellion. Inside, the museum will display politically and socially informed works from over 40 artists in response to injustice over the past decades.
The DIA is always one of our favorite places to visit in the city, from the Detroit Industry murals by Diego Rivera to the Kresge Court. Starting July 23, the DIA will commemorate the 1967 Detroit Rebellion with the exhibit “Art of Rebellion: Black Art of the Civil Rights Movement,” featuring 34 photos, paintings, installations, and sculptures from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 70s.
The Detroit 67: Perspectives exhibit is now open at the Detroit Historical Museum. The Detroit Historical Society has been collecting oral histories for the past two years, and combined with historic scholarship, the exhibit offers visitors a glimpse into the 67 rebellion, what it meant to the city, and what it means moving forward.
The McGregor Memorial Conference Center on the Wayne State campus is a serene oasis. Designed by Minoru Yamasaki in 1958, McGregor has a beautiful reflecting pool and sunken garden to sit and relax. It’s located on a pedestrian-only stretch, so you can check out the nearby Yamasaki-designed buildings, including the Prentis Building, Deroy Auditorium, and the College of Education Building.
On Canfield between Second and Third, you’ll find grand, preserved Victorians along a beautiful street. The district is on the National Register of Historic Places in the early 1980s, and walking down the street, you get a feel of what Detroit used to be.
Detroit’s Largest Art Object continues to impress as Detroit’s most iconic skyscraper. Built in 1928 by the Fisher Brothers as a gift to the city and designed by Albert Kahn, this stands out as Kahn’s masterpiece. The mosaics and frescoes were designed by Geza R. Maroti and represent transportation, commerce, music, and drama. The gold top can be seen in the night sky as a beacon in New Center. Home to the Fisher Theatre, you can wander through the lobby anytime. Pure Detroit offers guided tours on the weekends.
Looking to get outside? Palmer Park has miles of trails around and through the park. Stop by to see the Mounted Police, appreciate the restored Log Cabin, and gaze at the Merrill Fountain. We can imagine it will run again.
The Redford Theatre has been in operation since it opened in January 1928. It has a full-size stage, grand foyer, and a Barton organ. It runs now through volunteers and shows old movies and special showings. And down the street, you can see the Artist Village, a creative hub for artists, students, business owners, and neighbors living and working in the heart of Old Redford. Upcoming movies include The Big Lebowski, The Wizard of Oz, and Evil Dead, hosted by Bruce Campbell.
The Senate Theater on Michigan Avenue is home to the Detroit Theater Organ Society and they’re working on restoring their marquis and fixing up some of the interior. The centerpiece of the theater is a huge Wurlitzer organ, and the volunteer-run theater is playing old movies on some weekends, along with organ concerts and special events.
Taking up nearly a block off of Grand River, Dabl’s MBAD African Bead Museum has 18 outdoor installations, plus a gallery and beads for sale indoors. Visitors can learn about history, culture, and the human condition through this incredible destination.