Detroit is one of the Midwest’s oldest cities, first being incorporated in 1701, so it should come as no surprise that it’s also a city with many hidden secrets. A good portion of those secrets are also treasures just waiting to be discovered by the residents of the city. Some of these great unknown locations are known to some, but to the great many of the city, and to those residents living in southeastern Michigan who might not get down to the Motor City quite enough, they remain hidden destinations just waiting to be discovered. Here are some of the top hidden destinations to visit in Detroit this year.
The Heidelberg Project

The crown jewel of Detroit’s underground art scene, the Heidelberg Project is the brain child of artist Tyree Guyton, who has spent the last few decades creating his art project and protecting its legacy. This tiny neighborhood in Detroit is home to a number of houses that have been completely revamped, decorated, and strewn about with some of the most creative and interesting art in the city. A few years ago, the Heidelberg Project was under attack from arsonists who decided to burn down a few of the installations, but thanks to the concentrated efforts of a volunteer staff and support from the neighborhood, the Heidelberg Project is back on top and ready to wow new visitors who might never have had the chance to visit it.

The area near the Eastern Market in Detroit.

Eastern Market

Designated as a national historic site back in 1974, but first coming into being back in 1841, the Eastern Market in Detroit is the largest and one of the oldest public markets in the United States. Locals in the area have made it a regular Saturday place to visit for everything from fresh farm produce, homemade crafts, and Detroit-made goods that can only be found here. But for those who have come to visit, the Eastern Market provides something new: a place that continues to grow, rightfully, everyday in Detroit lore.

John K. King Bookstore

If you’re a book lover, and live anywhere near Detroit, then you are surely in for a wonderful treat. The John K. King Bookstore is one of the largest bookstores in America, stocked throughout with some of the rarest and most strange books that you’ve every seen. Comprised of two whole buildings on the southeast of downtown Detroit, there are four floors of books for customers to explore, with many more books available in their storage areas, as well. If you’re a book lover looking for that odd or rare book that has always eluded you, chances are that John K. King Books can help.

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Belle Isle Aquarium 

When it closed in 2005, the Belle Isle Aquarium had been the longest continually-operating aquarium in the country (101 years after having first-opened in 1904). Now, in 2016, the aquarium is once again open and better than ever! Thanks to the support of donors and many volunteers, the Belle Isle Conservancy oversees the operations at the aquarium and is completely devoted to the restoration of the beauty and reputation of one of Detroit’s most treasured memories: the island itself. The aquarium is one of a kind and has lost none of its early 20th century charm and the storied interiors are truly a sight to behold.

The Russell Industrial Center

Driving up I-75, you’ll notice a massive complex to the north of downtown covered in unique art and that irreplaceable charm that can only be found in Detroit known as the Russel Industrial Center. This massive complex of buildings, shops, and studio space are a completely unique thing to behold; part bazaar, part art studio space, part musician’s hangout, the Russell Center certainly is nothing like it seems to be from the outside. There are plans to continue to renovate the building and even talk of lofts coming into the mix, so in order to see one of Detroit’s most well-loved artist treasures, be sure to visit soon.

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Michael Ferro is freelance writer and a graduate of Michigan State University where he majored in Creative Writing and received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. Born and bred in Detroit, he currently resides in rural Ann Arbor. Additional writing can be found at