25 Surreal Places In Detroit You Won't Believe Really Exist
A city full of character and inspiration.
Detroit AKA Motor City is the biggest urban hub in the entire state of Michigan. This city is so rich in history and culture, that even those who have never been there already have a sense of what to expect when visiting this urban center.
Famously known as the birthplace of techno and Motown, Detroit's cultural influence has such a wide global impact, you can go across the world and find music fans that will eagerly tell you how much they love and romanticize the Motor City.
Also known for its art and architecture, Detroit's skyline balances the old and new. Filled with hauntingly beautiful abandoned buildings, yet also punctuated by the new and shiny building of the future, Detroit is never lacking in character and is full of surreal and fascinating places to see and get inspired by.
Where: 8952 Grand River Avenue, Detroit
This theatre started as a jazz hall back in the 1920s and was also a counter-culture hub for rock and roll lovers in the 60s. The building has been abandoned since the late 70s but still remains as a place to explore and step into the past and Detroit's rich history.
Where: corner of LaSalle Gardens and Rosa Parks Blvd
Visiting this abandoned church will most definitely be a memorable experience. This was once a thriving Catholic church with its own all-girls high school and is now a haunting ruin perfect for people who are looking for "alternative" attractions in the city.
Where: 3680 Heidelberg St, Detroit
Local artists have taken forgotten artifacts of Detroit's past such as stuffed animals, knick-knacks, and children's toys and transformed abandoned homes into full-scale art installations that are open to the public. Only in cities like Detroit will you be able to find a unique expression of creativity like the Heidelberg Project.
Where: 3 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit
Built way back in 1902, this is not only an aquarium but the oldest one in the country. The interior of the aquarium will literally transport you to another time. Since it's re-opening in 2012, the popularity of the aquarium has exploded and new fish and aquariums are consistently being added to the already existing exhibits.
Where: 1600 Clay St, Detroit
Architects, clothing designers, glass blowers, wood craftsmen, graphic designers, painters, and metal sculptors — artists of these types and more all call the Russell Industrial Center home. This is a multi-disciplinary art space where creatives come to work and display their art.
Where: Wyoming neighborhood, Detroit
There is a lot of controversial history behind this wall which was originally built to segregate the black community in Detroit from the neighboring white community. Now this wall which still stands in its original place serves as a historical site and reminder of the past.
Where: 3647 Heidelberg St, Detroit
Is it a house? Is it art? Maybe it's something in between. This outdoor sculpture garden was created by artist Tim Burke and is made from Detroit's demolished historical buildings.
Where: Ira Wilson & Sons Dairy Building // Mack Ave. & Lenox St.
This massive cow's head was featured in the movie Eight Mile. Plopped on top an ice cream stand which has been closed for many, many years, the head was given a facelift for its acting debut alongside Eminem. Since then, the cow head has become an alternative attraction for people from around the city.
Where: 2648 West Grand Blvd, Detroit
Music and culture are inextricably linked. In other words, you can tell a lot about a culture and place by listening to the music that originated there. If you love music and music history, do not forget to check out the Motown Museum, one of Southeast Michigan’s most popular tourist destinations.
Where: 4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit
Of course, a visit to any museum of contemporary art is going to have some level of surrealism to it. After all, isn't that what contemporary art should evoke? The building itself is left raw and unfinished, definitely a place that will be appreciated by those who have an eye for design.
Where: 500 Griswold St, Detroit
This orange-hued building is not just a landmark of the city, but of the entire country! It's not just any building though, it's a skyscraper that soars above the city. Stepping into the interior, you almost feel like you've been transported to Italy.
Where: Hart Plaza, Detroit
There isn't just a giant cow's head that's a must-visit in this city — there's also a big hand. A giant hanging arm is another popular landmark in downtown Detroit. It's an homage to Joe Louis, a native Detroiter, and boxing champion. It also serves as the perfect backdrop to any photo.
Where: 1340 E Atwater St
The Detroit International Riverfront, open night and day, is a popular tourist attraction and landmark in the city. The riverfront is constantly hosting tons of great public and free events. You can check out their Facebook page to stay tuned to current events!
Where: 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit
The outside of this museum almost looks like a concrete spaceship, once inside, this museum houses the largest permanent exhibit of African-American culture in the entire world! Yes, the world.
Where: 1100 Lake Shore Rd, Grosse Pointe Shores
Experience the surrealism of stepping into Detroit's past by visiting this grand mansion, which was the home of the son of Henry Ford. Visiting the home tells the story of this prominent American family — the Fords.
Where: 900 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit
This massive greenhouse and botanical gardens are as stunning and surreal on the outside as it is on the inside. Located in the beautiful Belle Isle park, you'll feel like you've been transported miles away from the busy city — when in reality, you're just right next door.
Where: 380 Lone Pine Road, Bloomfield Hills
Right outside of town lies this magical and mystical Alice in Wonderland style garden that you can spend all afternoon getting lost in. You can also tour the inside of the oldest manor home in Detroit or just spend the day wandering the beautiful gardens and admiring the stunning fountains.
Where: 15129 Kercheval Avenue, Grosse Pointe Park
Sweeties Ice Cream & Candy lives by the motto, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The interior of this old-timey ice cream parlor looks like it hasn't changed since the day it opened. Stepping in here for an ice cream feels like a trip back in time — a very sweet trip with some fantastic dessert to enjoy, too!
Where: 1 Hart Plaza, Detroit
Hart Plaza is part of the Detroit Riverfront and the home of some iconic and surreal structures that define the city. At night, the UFO-like structures glow against the financial district's soaring skyline. It's a unique sight to see and a beautiful place to capture some special memories on camera.
Where: 1900 Atwater St, Detroit
This stunning oasis is right in the middle of downtown Detroit — you would never believe it at first glance. A beautiful lighthouse and marina, it almost looks like the shores of New England, definitely not something you'd think you'd see in the middle of Michigan. Take a long bike ride or a romantic walk around the riverfront for the best experience.
Where: 1340 Atwater St.
Another iconic landmark of the Detroit Riverfront is the quiet and magical Cullen Plaza. With a retro and functioning carousel and beautiful views of the water and skyline, this spot is always popular with tourists and locals alike.
Where: 20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn
This factory tour isn't just reserved for car buffs. It's for anyone who is fascinated by the history of innovation and technology. A visit can be enjoyed by everyone, especially kids!
Where: 5458 W Vernor Hwy
Anthony Bourdain paid a visit to this iconic diner during a visit to Detroit for an episode of Parts Unknown. This unassuming family-run eatery hasn't changed one bit since it's opened and has now become a landmark of traditional and casual dining in Detroit. If you're looking to enjoy a classic Michigan-style chili dog, look no further.
Where: 2211 Woodward Ave
If you're in Detroit for a few days, try to catch a show at the Fox Theatre. This metropolitan opera house is one of the most beautiful interiors you will find in the city. This theatre's programming regularly includes anything from a symphonic performance to popular Broadway shows and even wrestling matches. Make sure to stay tuned to their upcoming programming!
Where: 6559 Grand River Avenue
Taking up almost an entire city block, this half outdoor half indoor museum houses 18 outdoor installations, like the one pictured above, along with the African Bead Gallery, N'kisi House, and the African Language Wall.