Nightlife in Detroit: Best Bars, Clubs, & More

Detroit skyline at night
Linda Goodhue Photography / Getty Images

Michigan’s largest city does not go dark after the sun sets. Instead, this is when Motor City truly lights up, whether it’s kicking back with cocktails at a trendy bar—or dive bar if that's more your speed—or grooving to the beat at a club. Detroit’s many breweries also host nighttime events and, if you’re lucky, your favorite rock star might be performing at one of the city’s top live-music venues.

Bars

Whether it’s hip-and-trendy Corktown, bustling Midtown, or downtown after a Tigers or Pistons game, each of Detroit’s neighborhoods features a distinct personality. Exploring them after dark, which might include chatting up locals, will only deepen your Motor City experience.

For excellent craft cocktails head to these places.

  • Mutiny Tiki Bar, in Southwest Detroit, where locals warm up from the cold with a little aloha and Tiki-fied drinks under a thatched-hut roof at the bar, or jam to karaoke tunes on Thursdays in the wood-paneled interior
  • Corktown’s The Sugar House has impressed visitors since its opening in 2011 appeared on several “best of” cocktail-bar lists around the country. From the classics (like Manhattans and mint juleps) to a menu that rotates with the seasons, cocktail snobs love this place, particularly for Whiskey Wednesday specials.
  • Bad Luck Bar, despite its name, is a positively fueled bar in downtown’s Capitol Park Historic District with inventive drinks carrying names like “The Hunter” and “Metamorphosis.” The back-lit, floor-to-ceiling bar is definitely a glam touch.
  • Castalia at Sfumato is one of those cocktail-concept bars you’re not going to find anywhere else. Tucked into a Victorian Midtown mansion, the experience is all about scent. Every drink on the menu is inspired by aroma and features a pairing from sister company Sfumato Fragrances’ fragrance line.

Craving a dive bar? Check out these spots for cheap drinks and oodles of atmosphere.

  • Corktown favorite, LJ’s Lounge on Michigan Avenue, down the street from Slows Bar BQ, pours cheap beer and invites you to karaoke.
  • Abick’s has been in business for seven generations by now (since 1907) and occupies a nondescript brick building on a Southwest Detroit corner. A pool table and wood paneling dial it back to the '70s. This bar is cash-only.
  • The windowless Donovan’s Pub, also in Southwest Detroit, blares tunes from the jukebox and serves burgers with your beer.

Night Clubs

Don’t go to bed just yet! Detroit’s clubs are rocking until the early-morning hours—and you should, too.


  • Level Two
    in Greektown features nearly a dozen TVs so you won’t miss the game, plus a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • Bleu Detroit in downtown Detroit features bottle service, and guest DJs spinning hip hop and electronic tunes.
  • The 10,000-square-foot 3Fifty Terrace is where you go when it’s warm as this is an outdoor rooftop bar with VIP-booth seating. Look for it on the seventh floor of the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Want to see Detroit from the top? Exodos Rooftop puts on a fun light show and offers a full food menu.

Live Music and Performances

A stop on most tours, Detroit entices with a mix of intimate clubs and large-scale arenas. The Fillmore, a 1925 historic theater, hosts singer-songwriters, tribute bands and nationally known artists like Snoop Dogg. Downtown’s Fox Theatre, also dating back to the 1920s, welcomes everything from comedy shows to Riverdance. Catch an intimate show with well-known performers—such as “30 Rock” actor Judah Friedlander—at Saint Andrew’s Hall, a former church. Little Caesars Arena tends to be where huge acts like Blake Shelton, Harry Styles and Elton John perform. Ford Field—home field for the Detroit Lions—hosts the occasional concert, from Garth Brooks to Kenny Chesney.

Festivals

Detroit continues to serve as a hub for music festivals. Every Memorial Day weekend in Hart Plaza (downtown), Movement features a lineup of techno artists that celebrates Detroit as the birthplace of techno. The two-day MoPop in late July is hosted in West Riverfront Park; past acts include The National, Solange, Billie Eilish. and Father John Misty. Detroit Jazz Festival, over Labor Day weekend, brings together acts from New Orleans and Michigan, plus nationally touring artists, across five stages.

Tips for Going Out in Detroit

  • Most of Detroit is fairly compact but come winter you’ll appreciate the warmth of an Uber or Lyft, in lieu of walking.
  • Last call is 2 a.m. in Detroit: consider yourself warned.
  • DDOT buses can get you there quickly and affordably—last year the system rolled out a few 24-hour routes, although most routes stop running at 12:30 a.m.
  • Don’t knock the local beers when perusing drink lists because Michigan is a hot-spot for craft beer.
  • Detroit is a boutique-hotel renaissance, with equally cool bars at Detroit Foundation Hotel (Apparatus Room), Shinola Hotel (Evening Bar) and The Siren Hotel (Candy Bar) that are perfect for Instagram.
  • Casinos are great spots to experience nightlife—gambling, slot machines and live music—in Detroit. Consider Greektown Casino, MotorCity Casino Hotel and MGM Grand Detroit
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