The Best Time to Visit Detroit

Detroit

Detroit’s worked overtime in recent years to re-establish itself as a prime tourism destination, and all it takes is a quick look around to see just how much progress the Motor City has made. With a never-ending slate of events, shows, and festivals, there’s something fun going on here all year long.

May to September is the best time to visit from a weather perspective when warm temperatures and summer sunshine encourage visitors to get out and explore. Fall and spring are more temperate, but still plenty nice enough to be outside. Winter in Detroit is not for the faint of heart with harsh snows and frigid temperatures, but Detroit makes up for inhospitable weather with seasonal activities, indoor attractions and, inviting restaurants.

Weather in Detroit

Detroit offers four distinct seasons, each with its own unique allure. Temperatures swing from hot summers topping out at averages above 80 degrees F in July and August to chilly, snowy winters that drop down to average temperatures in the 30-degree range and below. The city’s position on the Detroit River between Lake Erie and Lake Huron sometimes lends itself to fringe lake-effect snow, although it’s not directly situated on a Great Lake. With more moderate temperatures, spring and fall strike a pleasant balance between, and each showcases its own seasonal scenery.

Year-Round Attractions

Some attractions are definite must-sees no matter what time of year you visit. The Henry Ford embodies Detroit’s enterprising spirit, offering a three-in-one attraction that includes the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, the Greenfield Village living history site, and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. And, of course, you’ll want to pay tribute to Detroit’s musical heritage with a tour of the Motown Museum, humble home of Hitsville U.S.A., celebrating its 60th birthday in 2019.

The architecture of Detroit is easy to appreciate during a guided or DIY downtown walking tour (don't miss the Guardian Building!). And keep your eyes open—vibrant public art and colorful street murals lend a touch of beauty to urban neighborhoods throughout the city.

Popular Festivals and Events

Detroit keeps hopping with a year-long lineup of festivals and events catering to all interests, holidays, and demographics. Here’s a month-by-month rundown:

January

Pack boots, gloves, and a winter coat—with below-freezing temperatures and blustery winds, winter in Detroit isn’t for the faint of heart, but the snow does lend a certain charm and beauty to the local landscape.

Events to check out:

  • Celebrate the “Duel in the D” during the Great Lakes Invitational college hockey tournament, pitting the University of Michigan Wolverines against the Michigan State University Spartans at Little Caesars Arena in a spirited clash of home-state loyalties.
  • The Plymouth Ice Festival sparkles and shines with interactive ice sculptures on display, chainsaw carving competitions, and family fun.

February

The Detroit weather outside may be frightful. Just consider it an excellent excuse to hole up in one of the city’s beautifully restored boutique hotels and cuddle with your Valentine.

Events to check out:

  • Embrace the season by checking out free Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekends, radiating out from Campus Martius Park and Cadillac Square with food trucks, hot chocolate, marshmallow toasting stations, ice skating, live music and more.
  • Detroit’s Polish community commemorates Mardi Gras in Hamtramck with Paczki Day, one last opportunity to feast on traditional fried doughnuts stuffed with sweet fillings before Lent begins in February or early March.

March

In like a lion, out like a lamb—maybe? You never know quite what temperamental March weather might bring to Detroit, and snow isn’t uncommon; check the forecast frequently and pack accordingly.

Events to check out:

  • Explore Michigan’s cinematic side at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, a weeklong showcase of experimental independent film that includes screenings, meet-and-greets with the filmmakers, and other events.
  • Slainte! Detroit’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade through the Corktown district brings the city’s influential Irish culture and community front and center.

April

Yay—Spring is on the way! Cold late-winter temperatures finally start to segue into more comfortable 50s and 60s F, ushering in many exciting events in Detroit.

Events to check out:

  • Hardcore baseball fans wouldn’t dream of missing Detroit Tigers Opening Day, a fun-filled excuse to party it up at Comerica Park.
  • Akin to a regional Grammys, the Detroit Music Awards held annually at the Fillmore honor the sounds and artists that define the Motor City with live performances and appearances by local music legends. 

May

April showers have rolled through, and flowers are starting to burst into bloom and temperatures are on the rise, making May an appealing time of year to pay a visit to Detroit.

Events to check out:

  • Traditionally held on the first Sunday following Mother’s Day, Eastern Market’s Flower Day welcomes spring with a fragrant day-long sale of annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, and other flora.
  • Get your motor running—the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix takes over picturesque Belle Isle Park at the end of the month for a thrilling weekend of street racing and related events. 

June

Summer’s quickly settling in and making herself right at home with warmer temperatures, bringing Detroit natives and visitors alike outside to play.

Events to check out:

  • The North American International Auto Show is a highlight of the Motor City’s annual calendar, showcasing nearly $10 million worth of vehicles from around the world displayed across almost 2 million square feet of event space.
  • Motor City Pride attracts 40,000 attendees to celebrate the region’s LGBTQ+ community with a weekend of fun that includes a parade, a street festival, food, and live entertainment.
  • Venture downtown for Detroit River Days to explore Detroit by land, air, and water, along with access to food trucks, live music, and kids’ activities. 

July

Summer sizzles in Detroit as the local scene heats up. The dog days of summer have arrived, bringing humid conditions and temperatures reaching into the 70s and 80s F.

Events to check out:

  • "Ooh and aah" at the spectacular Ford Fireworks display over the Detroit River, visible from both the United States and Canada.
  • The Concours d’Elegance of America rolls into Plymouth, giving jealous attendees a glimpse at some of the world’s most coveted cars.

August

The hot temperatures and humidity continue to stick around, but that shouldn’t discourage anyone from getting out and about in Detroit.

Events to check out:

  • The Highland Games infuses Livonia with Scottish spirit and culture through athletic competitions, dancing, food, whiskey, fashion, and festivity.
  • The skies come alive during the Thunder Over Michigan Air Show in Ypsilanti, featuring thrilling acrobatic flight performances and warbird appearances. 

September

There’s a whiff of fall in the air, but Detroit’s events calendar stays hot all autumn. Dress in layers to face any weather Mother Nature might decide to bring.

Events to check out:

  • Music aficionados congregate in Campus Martius Park each Labor Day weekend for the highly acclaimed Detroit Jazz Festival, a once-a-year chance to enjoy hundreds of performances across multiple stages during four days.
  • Kick off football season in style with the Detroit Lions home opener at Ford Field.
  • The annual Tour de Troit ride wheels bikers through more than 25 miles of the city’s historic neighborhoods with snacks and stops along the way. 

October

It’s sweater weather and time to tailgate! Temperatures become a little crisper, and colorful foliage frames a calendar full of Detroit’s fall events.

Events to check out:

  • Fire up your running shoes to take on the Detroit Free Press Chemical Bank Marathon, a 26-mile trek across the Ambassador Bridge and back through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and around town.
  • Hardcore Detroit hockey fans bleed red and white; the Detroit Red Wings skate into the season at Little Caesars Arena in The District Detroit development with the team’s home-opening bout in October. 

November

Temperatures are falling in Detroit, and there’s a good chance you’ll see the city’s first snow of the winter season in November.

Events to check out:

  • Macy’s who? Detroit hosts the larger-than-life America’s Thanksgiving Parade along Woodward Avenue on Turkey Day morning, complete with balloons, bands, and celebrity sightings.
  • Lace up some skates and take to the rink at downtown’s Campus Martius Park, then stick around for the annual tree lighting ceremony that ushers in the holiday season. 

December

Bundle up and ring in the holidays in Detroit with festive holiday fun. Detroit's QLine and downtown People Mover make it easy to get around if you're nervous about driving in the snow.

Events to check out:

  • The Henry Ford’s living history site dons its best seasonal finery during Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village, taking on a special lantern-lit glow for ice skating and caroling.
  • Noel Night in Midtown welcomes guests to an expansive open-house event that takes in more than 100 participating venues, shops, eateries, museums, and galleries.
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