Plan a Day of Summer Fun at the Detroit Riverfront

By: Kate Chidester | June 21, 2013
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Over the last decade, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has worked diligently to make their vision of developing 5 ½ miles of accessible riverfront from the Ambassador Bridge to just east of the Belle Isle Bridge a reality.

Their plan includes a continuous riverwalk throughout those 5 ½ miles, with plazas, pavilions and greenery along the way. The mission of the Conservancy is to create a safe, exciting, picturesque riverfront, so that the face of the city can become a gathering place for people from all over the world.

After becoming more familiar with the Conservancy and their plans I found myself wondering, what exactly is there to do at the Detroit Riverfront? Well as it turns out, there’s a lot!

As mentioned above, the Riverfront boasts a beautiful riverwalk. Strapping on your running shoes or heading out for a casual stroll are just a few of the ways to spend your time there. If you’re in the mood to bike but your 1980’s 10-speed has a flat tire and rusted brakes, you’re in luck! Wheelhouse Detroit offers bike rentals and tours and is conveniently located in Rivard Plaza.

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After expending all of your energy you can hit one of two Riverwalk Café locations, Rivard Plaza or Gabriel Richard Park Plaza, for a caffeinated beverage or some delicious Michigan made Stroh’s ice cream. Yum! If you’re in need of something a little more hearty, the cafes also serve several specialty hot dog options as well as yogurt parfaits, wrap sandwiches and fresh fruit.

For those of us who prefer to brown bag it, Milliken State Park and Harbor is an excellent place to plop down for a picnic. The park also features wildlife observation trails, a 63-foot Tawas Point lighthouse replica and a memorial dedicated to Detroit River advocate and philanthropist, Peter Stroh.

If you happen to enjoy the peaceful hobby that is fishing, the Detroit Riverfront offers some great places for you to cast a line at Milliken State Park and Mt. Elliott Park.

In order to enjoy the water itself, consider taking a boat ride with Diamond Jack’s River Tours. Located at Rivard Plaza, Diamond Jack’s offers a two hour long narrated tour along the world’s busiest international waterway. Beer and wine are also available for purchase on the tours (along with soft drinks and snacks). I feel like I can speak for the vast majority when I say that any time a beer and a boat are involved, I’m sold.

Each summer along the Riverfront, visitors can enjoy the GM River Days Festival. This year’s festival will take place this weekend, Friday, June 21 through Sunday, June 23. Attending the festival is a great way to take part in activities on both land AND water! With live music, sand sculptures and great food, this unique festival is a fun way to officially kick off summer.

The Detroit Riverfront is an excellent place to spend a day taking in the fresh air and enjoying the outdoors. For help planning your day at the river, visit and check out this helpful map of the area and its attractions.