4 Types of Detroit Tours You'll Want to Experience

Guest blogger Dan Fuoco gives us some tips for exploring the city with these four types of Detroit tours.

The Spirit of Detroit sculpture in downtown Detroit
The Spirit of Detroit | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

Share This

Detroit tours are not cookie-cutter or identical – they are custom, one-of-a-kind, jam-packed journeys that will transform your notion of Detroit and leave you thirsting for more knowledge and curious enough to explore on your own. Here are the four major types of tours to help you explore the city.

1. Historical Tours

The American Revolution. The Underground Railroad. Birthplace of the automobile. The Civil Rights movement. If you didn't already realize it, these Detroit tours are a goldmine for history geeks. Historians adore The Henry Ford Museum mainly because of its popular artifacts which include Abraham Lincoln's rocking chair (from the night of his assassination) and the bus where Detroiter Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, sparking the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Also a must-stop location on your Detroit tour itinerary, the Detroit Historical Museum is one of the oldest and largest museums dedicated to metropolitan history in the U.S., encompassing more than three centuries of metro Detroit history. A self-guided Detroit tour is the best way to soak up just the right amount of history.

2. Musical Tours

Every Detroit tour must include a visit to Motown Historical Museum where you will literally walk the hallways once frequented by Motown legends Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, The Temptations and The Supremes, to name a few. Enter Studio A and relive the humming, snapping and foot-tapping that swept the nation.

3. Free Tours

Did You Know? The “Mo” in Motown was derived from “Motor City” which pays homage to the ultra-obvious notion that Detroit is the car capital of the world! Detroit and its metro area are the world headquarters to all three major U.S. automakers: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. Every tour of Detroit should stop at the world headquarters and the iconic building in Detroit’s skyline, the GM Renaissance Center. Free tours of the GM Renaissance Center take visitors through the automaker’s showroom, highlighting vintage, new and concept vehicles. The grand finale is a glass elevator ride to the 72nd floor of the Detroit Marriott Hotel.

Keeping on the architecture trail, Detroit Experience Factory offers a free weekly Art & Architecture Walking Tour. On the tour, you’ll discover the city’s rich history, grand buildings and vibrant art in public places. Stand on Detroit’s Point of Origin in Campus Martius Park, pose with the Spirit of Detroit and adore the art deco in the ceiling of the majestic Guardian Building, a National Historic Landmark.

4. Outdoor Tours

Fisher Building
Fisher Building | Photo Courtesy of Instagram Fan nick_escape



Detroit has been called the Paris of the Midwest because of its attention to fine architecture; it is one of the only cities in the country so faithfully emblematic of this architectural style. A Detroit tour focused on architecture should include visiting works from Albert Kahn, George D. Mason and Wirt C. Rowland. Minoru Yamasaki, who later designed the World Trade Center, also got his start in Detroit, where he designed buildings including One Woodward Avenue.

Other must-sees include the historic Westin Book Cadillac Detroit hotel, built in the 1900s; the Chicago style-influenced Penobscot Building, designed by Rowland and Detroit sculptor Corrado Parducci; the art deco Guardian Building; and the Fisher and General Motors Building (Cadillac Place), both designed by Kahn and located in Detroit's New Center area.

5. Bonus Tour

Detroit has been home to the filming of many Hollywood movies, but maybe none as action-packed as 2016's Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. What’s more, smartphone users have the chance to download the Batman v Superman Tour app and go on a tour of the historic Motor City locations that were featured in the movie. The app features content, extras and cool freebies that become available as you check in at the 12 respective Detroit locations.

About the Author: Dan Fuoco is the former Interactive Marketing Manager for the VisitDetroit and was responsible for building and engaging with VisitDetroit’s social media and blog communities.  You can find him geeking out over social media infographics, muscle cars, and Detroit.