10 things to do this summer in Detroit

While the pandemic has put some of our favorite seasonal activities on hold, summer in Detroit isn’t canceled — we rounded up some of the best virtual and in-person events (with proper physical distancing of course) to add to your bucket list.


Detroit Cultural Center to reopen

The Detroit Cultural Center and the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is reopening to the public on Friday, July 10, with new safety precautions, including hand-sanitation dispensers throughout the institutions, mask requirements, limited hours and reduced occupancy, and other safety measures in line with CDC guidelines. This includes all of the Detroit museums, like The Carr Center, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Historical Museum, Hellenic Museum of Michigan, Michigan Science Center, and The Scarab Club.


Movies under the stars

Watching the latest blockbuster in an air-conditioned theater is one of the quintessential summer things to do, but you can still watch your movie and eat your popcorn too thanks to local independent theaters. Cinema Detroit will have a drive-in showing of “Purple Rain” at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 11 at the Herman Kiefer Complex, 1151 Taylor St. Tickets cost $12. For those who want the theater experience at home, Cinema Detroit is offering streaming options for stay-in movie nights. Film Lab Detroit is also offering films virtually as well as screening popular summer flicks such as “Jaws” and “Lost Boys” on its new Outdoor Patio Cinema.


Down by the water

East and West Riverfront, The Dequindre Cut, Cullen Plaza, and the other public locations along the Detroit River are open to the public, but the playscapes and carousel are closed down. The RiverWalk is still available for people to enjoy, and the Riverfront Conservatory has created a virtual program for patrons until they relaunch their normal programs, like yoga and literacy, later this summer.



Yoga lovers can get their downward dog on during free sessions in Scripps Park every Saturday until Aug. 29 from 10-11 a.m. Even though mats will need to remain 6 feet apart, participants of all levels can start their morning mindfully. Patrons will need to bring their own mats and props, and masks are highly recommended. Gyms are still closed for the time being, but fitness centers like Citizen Yoga, Detroit Body Garage, and Jabs Gym in Eastern Market are offering outdoor workouts.


Cool off

Belle Isle is still open for the public to enjoy. Swimming, suntanning, and enjoying a riverfront walk are just some of the things the “jewel of Detroit” is famous for. Looking for more places to go for a swim? Check out this list (call ahead to make sure they are still open).


Come out and play

Need a way to work off all the pounds you gained in quarantine? Adult sports leagues like Come Play Detroit are starting back up in July. From kickball to tennis, individuals or a full team can register for a league. Activities are held at Belle Isle.


Fly a kite

This year, the Detroit Kite Festival will look a little different as people are encouraged to still fly kites on July 12 (the original date for the fourth annual event), but in a dispersed fashion across Southeast Michigan and adhering to physical distancing.

Aside from heading out to your own backyard, organizers suggest the following parks for kite flying:

Belle Isle

Gabriel Richard Park

Eliza Howell Park

Balduck Park

Rouge Park

Chandler Park

Palmer Park

Alfred Ford Brush Park

Jayne Field


Support local businesses

From restaurants to retail, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit small businesses hard. These community staples are the lifeblood of the local economy, keeping local dollars in the community, and employing residents. Show your support by taking advantage of the fleeting outdoor dining season (the City Council recently fast-tracked permitting for outdoor dining) or ordering delivery (may we suggest Black and Mobile, the city’s first delivery system that features all Black-owned restaurants?), picking up provisions from local grocery stores and restaurants’ market pantries for tonight’s dinner (hey, we’re all master chefs by now, right?) and buying gifts from local retail shops.


Sight-see from your couch

The Detroit Experience Factory has been hosting virtual tours highlighting the city’s neighborhoods, architecture, and history, including a recent tour on the city’s history of racism in housing policy. Want to see the sights in person? Tickets are available for in-person walking tours of some of downtown’s most famous spots including Campus Martius, the Theater District, and the Hudson’s site — make sure to bring a fully charged phone, a mask, and your curiosity.


Postponed/still on

Detroit’s Concert of Colors has been postponed from its usual summertime slot to October 7-10. It will be held at the Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA and live-streamed on public TV, radio, and online. The full lineup has yet to be announced, but headliner Don Was All Star Revue promises a tribute to radio legend Ed Love. Summer music fest staples from Charivari to The Detroit Jazz Festival are also still on; check the respective websites for the most up to date information.



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