Look, we’ve all been there. You want to get out of the house, but you think there’s not enough money to leave to the house. But you still want to have fun, right? Or find a good deal and enjoy Detroit? Fear not, we have 25 cheap, inexpensive and/or free things to do in Detroit and the surrounding area to make sure that even though you’re close to broke you can still have a good time.

1. Bike The Expanded Dequindre Cut

It’s a really fun ride now 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.

2. Early Bird Breakfast Special At Rose’s

This place was featured in a bunch of food magazines and the prices are usually a bit on the higher side. But Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. they have $5 specials. Facebook – 10551 E. Jefferson, Detroit

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

3. 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

4. Grab Coneys

$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.

Lafayette: 118 West Lafayette Boulevard, Detroit

American: 114 West Lafayette Boulevard, Detroit

Duly’s: 5458 West Vernor, Detroit

Colombo’s: 5414 West Vernor, Detroit

5. 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

6. 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.

7. 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

8. 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 Conservatory9. 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

10. 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

11. 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

12. 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

13. 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

14. 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

15. 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

16. Rockin’ On The Riverfront Concerts

There are six between July and August right by the GM Rencen and this year include Grand Funk Railroad, Starship, and Blue Oyster Cult. Hey, they’re free.

17. Exhibitions 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

18. River Days

The three day festival from June 24-29 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

19. Detroit Soup

If you want to get dinner AND help a great cause, then Detroit Soup is your answer. There is a main “Soup” and soups around the city. The basic idea is the event is free but the $5 goes to the elected winner after a series of pitches for neighborhood or creative projects. The food is potluck, so no menu – but hey, it’s $5 and a great way to meet people at interesting places all over the city! Website – Various locations

20. 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

21. 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


22. Detroit Sports Zone

Although there are some camps that cost money, you can get a quick game in or some competition in 9 a.m. – 9.pm. daily on the open courts. Website – Next to Campus Martius Park

23. 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

24. The Palmer Park Splash Park

Targeted to open June 24, 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.

25. Sit On The Beach At Campus Martius

Look, one of the things Detroit doesn’t have a lot of is beaches. It’d be great if our waterfront was opened up more from those ugly steel barriers, but it is what it is. 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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