Summer is here and this is the season when Detroit has the most things to do. Don’t let fear of not having enough money for fun prevent you from getting out of the house and having fun!

Updated for the summer of 2017, use these 30 cheap, inexpensive and/or free ideas of things to do in the city of Detroit to make sure that even though you’re close to broke you can still have a good time.

1. Ride the Carousel

It’s on the beautiful Riverfront and it’s only a dollar to ride the Cullen Family Carousel. More here.

2. Bike the Expanded Dequindre Cut

It’s a really fun ride and has been extended all the way to Eastern Market. Pick it up either at Milliken State Park or at the Wilkins Street Plaza just east of Russell Street in Detroit. If you go all the way to the end, you’ll end up at Mack Avenue.

3. Log Cabin Day on June 24

Okay, this is a one-day thing, but it’s worth mentioning because of the historic nature of the 130 year old Log Cabin in Palmer Park. There’s a ton of history in this place, and there’s everything from tours to ice cream socials. More here.

Nancy Whiskey patio, via Nancy Whiskey Facebook page
Nancy Whiskey patio, via Nancy Whiskey Facebook page

4. Dollar Beer Wednesdays at Nancy Whiskey

This North Corktown place has a new patio and everything, but on Wednesdays, it’s $1 PBR beers. There’s jenga, too. Website – 2644 Harrison Street, Detroit

5. People Watch with an Iced Coffee at Roasting Plant

Now owned by some star power that’s moving to Detroit, Hill Harper, the patio of the Roasting Plant is a great place to people watch. They also have a new chilled iced coffee machine that makes a drink that’s on point. And who knows – maybe you’ll see a star come through. $4. – 660 Woodward, Detroit

6. Grab Coneys

Duly’s Coney Island

$2.35 each at Lafayette. Around the same price at the other place (American). Also highly recommend the other pair of dueling coneys, Duly’s or Columbo’s, if you’re feeling more adventurous. If you need a place to set you right with some late night (or early morning) breakfast, Duly’s will set you right with the world.

Lafayette: 118 West Lafayette Boulevard, Detroit

American: 114 West Lafayette Boulevard, Detroit

Duly’s: 5458 West Vernor, Detroit

Colombo’s: 5414 West Vernor, Detroit

7. The Detroit Institute of Arts

If you live in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb County, you can get general admission into great museum for free. Website – 5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit

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8. Picnic and Watch the Skyline from Belle Isle

It’s really cool and peaceful – a good thinking spot to take a look at the city. If you bike, bus or walk on the island, it’s free – otherwise, you will need a state pass for your car. That’s more than $5, but you’ll use it over and over again, not to mention the access to the free stuff on the island – and you might have already paid for it when you renewed your plates.

8.5: A second picnic option is over on the east side of the island over by the Livingstone Lighthouse. There’s a big area with some small hills. The third is at the Detroit beach (see above Insta time lapse).

9. Dossin Great Lakes Museum

If you’re already on the island, there are three cool things to check out that are free (though, if you have a buck, throw it in the box). You can see the bridge of the frieghter William Clay Ford, a room from a steamship the U.S.S. Detroit, and more. Website – 100 Strand Drive, Detroit

10. The Aquarium

At one point America’s oldest continuously running aquarium, it was shut down for awhile but it’s finding new life thanks to a great group of volunteers. Only open on Saturdays and Sundays. Website – 900 Inselruhe, Detroit

Belle Isle Conservatory11. Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory

This is a historic and beautiful cornucopia of plants from around the world. It’s like a tropical trip without the airfare. Well, kinda. Website – 7000 Inselruhe, Detroit

12. Drive and see the awesome houses of a neighborhood or two

Try Sherwood Forest, Grandmont Rosedale, or Indian Village for some awesome, architecturally neat houses. Various locations

13. The DNR Outdoor Adventure Center

This place is wonderful, especially for kids or those who spend a lot of time in the city, to learn about Michigan’s natural resources in a fun way. More here.

14. Check Out A Pure Detroit Architectural Tour

They’re free on the weekends and you get your choice of a Guardian Building, Corrado Parducci, or a Fisher Building tour. Facebook events – Various locations

15. All The Things At New Center Park

Their programming is completely free and has everything from theatrical acts to movie nights. – Website – 2998 West Grand Boulevard

16. Hit The Awesome Backyard Of The Old Miami (when there isn’t a show)

Go a time there isn’t a cover, grab yourself an inexpensive beer or well drink and sit and enjoy one of the tucked away gems of Detroit. The patio is best in the warm afternoons anyway. 3930 Cass Avenue, Detroit

17. Go For A Walk Or A Bike Ride In A Historic Cemetery

Our suggestions off the bat for the novice would be Woodmere or Elmwood, both having all kinds of people from Detroit’s past.

Woodmere: 9400 West Fort, Detroit

Elmwood: Website – 1200 Elmwood, Detroit

Photo via Detroit Historical Museum
Photo via Detroit Historical Museum

18. Check Out The Old Streets Of Detroit At The Detroit Historical Museum

Speaking of history, step in a time machine and hit the Detroit Historical Museum. In the basement, they have an entire setup of the old streets of Detroit. It’s kind of amazing. There’s the rest of the museum to check out, too. Website – 5401 Woodward, Detroit

19. Rockin’ on the Riverfront Concerts

There are six between July and August right by the GM Rencen and this year include the Gin Blossoms, Everclear and Loverboy. And hey, they’re free. More info.

20. Exhibitions and Concerts at the Scarab Club

If you want to be cultured but the DIA is too mainstream for you (or you’re looking for something different), this is one of Detroit’s oldest creative institutions, and you can check out their gallery for free Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. Their next exhibition is Whitney Snow, starting June 29. Some of their other events area also free. Website – 217 Farnsworth, Detroit

21. River Days

The three day festival from June 23-25 this year and has everything from performances to an air show. It’s just $3 before 3 p.m. and $5 after 3 p.m. to support the non-profit Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. Some of the things inside it may cost, though. Website – The Riverwalk

22. Concert of Colors

This is the 25th year for the Concert of Colors, with most of the events in Midtown but there are things happening around the region. The event runs July 12-16 and has a ton of free events in great venues. More here.

23. Catch’em all

There are a few great places to catch Pokemon in Detroit, including the GM Renaissance Center, the riverfront, Campus Martius, Grand Circus and Capitol Park. You can get all kinds of rare water types while sitting back on a cabana chair, and there’s a lot of Pokestops.

24. Select Detroit Experience Factory Tours

So these tours aren’t of a factory; they’re of the sights and scenes of Detroit. On weekends, their Best of Downtown tour is free at 2 p.m. and on Mondays there is an art and architecture tour at 6 p.m. Website – 123 Monroe Street, Detroit

25. The Heidelberg Project

It’s on a public street on the east side – and it’s a crazily creative, open air art exhibition to see. It’s one of Detroit’s most popular tourist attractions, we’re told. Summertime is the best time to see this because it’s nice out. Website – 3600 Heidelberg in Detroit

26. Quicken Loans Sports Zone

The Sports Zone in downtown Detroit.

Although there is the ability to reserve the volleyball or basketball courts for money, you can get a basketball game in from 9 a.m. – daily on the pair of open courts. Website – Next to Campus Martius Park, open until October 13.


27. Events At The MOCAD

The Museum Of Contemporary Art and Detroit has a ton of events happening – and when they open up the big garage doors of the space, it’s a breezy fun experience. Website – 4454 Woodward, Detroit

28. The Palmer Park Splash Park

The Palmer Park Splash Park is a fun way to cool off in the summer. Open 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Website – Located on Merrill Plaisance, between McNichols (6 Mile) and 7 Mile Roads.

29. Seven Point Two Tour Free Tours

You get your choice of Detroit riverfront or downtown Detroit yours. Free (but tip Calvin if you can). Website.

30. Sit On The Beach At Campus Martius

Look, one of the things Detroit doesn’t have a lot of is beaches (although there are plans for a a beach near the river in the works). Enjoy the sun and lay out on the Campus Martius Beach in the middle of the city. Often, there are free concerts going on as well. Website – Woodward at Michigan avenues, Detroit

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