Detroit-Focused Walking Tours Highlight City Sights

By: Karen Dybis | July 8, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Preservation Detroit.

Detroit is a city filled with world-class architecture, huge city parks and impressive residential neighborhoods that feature unique details that you’d miss if you were simply cruising by in a car, bike or board. That is why walking tours run by city locals or Detroit history experts are an ideal way to learn more about the Motor City, its 300-plus years of events and the interested people who have loved it and called it home. 

Recently, revered Preservation Detroit announced its award-winning Detroit historical walking tours will return for 2021. The tour season kicked off in June, offering metro Detroiters and visitors alike a way to safely get out of the house and experience the Motor City. 

Last year’s tours were cancelled because of COVID-19. Now, with more Michiganders getting vaccinated and restrictions being lifted, Detroit’s oldest preservation organization – and longest-running nonprofit tour organization – will once again be offering its celebrated walking tours. The two- to two-and-a-half-hour tours allow guests to explore Detroit’s vibrant history and experience the city from a new perspective, all the while helping benefit Preservation Detroit in its fight to preserve the city’s history and built environment. 

“After a year of quarantining at home, Preservation Detroit is thrilled to be resuming our award-winning walking tour program – with the safety of our guests and guides being our highest priority,” said Devan Anderson, president of the organization’s board of directors.

Whether you're going out on a fishing trip, discovering new hiking spots, or or heading out for a weekend of camping, the All-New Trailblazer is an ideal companion for your active lifestyle.

“Like the thousands of people who take our tours every year, Preservation Detroit was disappointed that we had to cancel last year’s tour season, but now we’re back, and our dedicated volunteers have been hard at work planning some truly phenomenal tours,” Anderson said. “We thank those who take our tours and our volunteers who run our tour program, our organization’s main source of fund-raising revenue.”

The tours share our city’s rich architectural and cultural history through the passion of knowledgeable volunteer tour guides. Tour-takers will feel a renewed love and interest for our city while learning all about our collective heritage. Guests will enjoy a new take on National Historic Landmarks like the Guardian and Penobscot buildings, and also visit corners of our city they didn’t know existed. Custom-curated private tours are also offered.

As the tour program resumes in 2021, tours will initially be given on Saturdays in four historic districts in Detroit. These include the Cultural Center, where participants will uncover the stories behind Detroit’s great cultural institutions, as well as the gorgeous homes of the Ferry Street neighborhood, which Preservation Detroit helped to save from the wrecking ball. A once-a-month tour also affords a look at public art in the district.

The second focuses on downtown. There, you can explore the plan for the city from the ground up. Historic high-rises, towering monuments, grand boulevards, parks and plazas are all part of this groundbreaking tour.

The final two are in Eastern Market, where you experience the sights, sounds, and smells of America’s oldest and largest outdoor farmers market as you walk among reminders of its 125-year history, and Midtown, home to some of Detroit’s most dramatic changes in recent years. From its days on the farm to today’s vibrant urban neighborhood, Midtown is full of distinctly Detroit stories.

Individual tours are $15 for Preservation Detroit members and $18 for non-members. A season pass for all of the tours is $50 for members and $60 for nonmembers. To book a tour, history-seekers must book in advance through its website

Here are a few other Detroit-centric tours you may want to try.

Detroit Experience Factory

Detroit Experience Factory (DXF) was founded in 2006 on the idea that all you needed in Detroit was a friend to show you what you didn’t know you were looking for. For example, one of its walking tours takes you downtown through the area’s architectural giants, including the Spirit of Detroit and experience the grandeur of the majestic Guardian Building.

City Tour Detroit

Its longtime tour guides are perfect accompaniments to understanding Detroit then and now. In its See the D downtown tour, your guides deliver memorable tours of Detroit, a historic city that has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past few years and continues to evolve today. This popular walking tour offers visitors and locals an exciting opportunity to see Detroit up close and personal.

Detroit History Tours

Get ready for a tour where you’ll walk and gape at the great storytelling in one event. An example of its walking tours is the path from Detroit’s founding to its statehood. According to the tour’s description, “you’ll discover the city’s French founders, Native American populations, British soldiers, forts, various immigration waves, population booms and crashes, connections to slavery and abolition, and so much more as we weave the story from our city’s founding to Michigan’s statehood in 1837.”