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Detroit Riverfront Tour

Detroit River Scene -- Detroit Riverfront Conservancy


Tour Overview

The dawn of a vibrant Riverfront is one of the most exciting initiatives under way in Detroit today.  The city boasts nearly 14 miles of frontage along the fascinating Detroit River, 5 1/2 miles of which are the focus of massive development investment.  Ultimately, the entire stretch will include a continuous Riverwalk with green spaces, children's playscapes, art fairs, outdoor dining, fishing areas, historical markers, and awe-inspiring views of Belle Isle, Windsor (Canada), and the occasional ocean freighter!  Much of the East Riverfront between the Renaissance Center and Belle Isle is open to the public.  The West Riverfront is in progress and will include an exciting new Port Authority and Public Dock, providing a gateway to the region for cruise ships passengers from around the world.  But this area of the Riverfront is only part of the intrigue.  Do not miss this fantastic tour.


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Fort Wayne -- Detroit News

Fort Wayne [A]

6325 West Jefferson Avenue, Detroit



Hard to imagine war with Canada!  Not in the 1840s, however, when tensions ran high with our British-controlled neighbor to the north and Detroiters demanded a stronghold to protect them from attack.  The threat of war with Canada eventually faded, but the importance of the Fort increased.  Fort Wayne played major roles in the Civil War and both World Wars.  The Fort is open to the public on weekends only, so make sure to plan accordingly.  A great historical destination!





DSC_0097-06Hart Plaza [B]

1 Hart Plaza, Detroit



Hart Plaza is situated in the heart of the City along Jefferson Avenue, opposite the Financial District and adjacent to the Renaissance Center.  This mostly hard-surfaced 14-acre park was opened in 1955 to provide a new gathering place and focal point for the City.  Hart Plaza occupies 14 scenic acres on the riverfront and has a capacity of 40,000, making it an ideal host for numerous cultural and ethnic festivals throughout Spring, Summer, and Fall.  Notable events held here include the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, Detroit International Freedom Festival, and Detroit International Jazz Festival.


Riverfront Promenade -- General Motors (John FRenaissance Center Riverfront Promenade [C]

100 Renaissance Center, Detroit


When touring the Riverfront, it's basically impossible to miss the tallest building in Michigan and Detroit's most recognizable icon.  Opened in 1976 with the hopes of re-energizing Detroit's economy, the Renaissance Center, or "Ren-Cen", is again at the forefront of Detroit's redevelopment efforts.  General Motors moved its headquarters to the Renaissance Center in 1996 and spearheaded extensive renovations completed in early 2005.  The renovations not only modernized the facility but made it more accessible and welcoming to the public from Jefferson Avenue.  The Ren-Cen and its 6 cylindrical towers previously offered mainly office space and few public attractions.  Now, the building's interior treats visitors to a brilliant new Wintergarden that provides views of the Detroit River, a suspended glass circulation ring that helps improve pedestrian flow inside the building's maze-like interior, a GM-sponsored showroom of historic vehicles, a first-run movie theater, a 1,298-room hotel located in the 73-story center tower, and several prominent restaurants and retailers.  The exterior of the facility was also redeveloped.  The Ren-Cen's Riverfront Promenade is the first step and centerpiece of Detroit's overall riverfront redevelopment.


Tri-Centennial Park -- Detroit Riverfront ConservancyWilliam G. Milliken State Park and Harbor [D]

1900 Atwater Street, Detroit



This "green oasis" is the only urban state park in Michigan.  Opened in 2005 at the location of the St. Aubins Marina, the park draws land-dwellers and boaters alike.  Spanning nearly 31 acres, the park includes open green spaces, a 52-slip marina, and a 62 foot replicate of the lighthouse at Tawas Point State Park in northern Michigan on Lake Huron.  The park is ideal for picnics, fishing, or for simply taking in great views of the river, Belle Isle, and  the Detroit and Windsor skylines.  As an added bonus, bring your bike or rollerblades for a great workout on the unique Dequindre Cut Greenway accessed just north of the park.


Belle_isle_detroit_fullBelle Isle

Douglas MacArthur Bridge off of Jefferson Avenue

Full Tour Page


Belle Isle is a 982-acre island and park in the Detroit River managed by the Detroit Department of Parks and Recreation.  The island has been subjected to significant budget cuts recently, resulting in the closing of America's oldest public aquarium (opened in 1904).  Nevertheless, Belle Isle still has many excellent attractions to offer, including the Belle Isle Nature Zoo , the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum to name a few.  Consider packing a lunch and enjoy great views of Detroit and Windsor while you relax on Belle Isle's half-mile beach (the only beach in the City).


Tour Map

Number of Destinations:  5

Overall Tour Time:  1 day



Continue the Tour!!!

The allure of the Riverfront doesn't end at Belle Isle!  Visit our Grosse Pointe & Nautical Mile Driving Tour and Michigan Thumb Tour pages to find out more…





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