What to Do in Detroit? Visit Campus Martius
Outside of Metro Detroit, few know of all the wonders and activities the city has to offer. There are constant restaurant openings, several specialty stores popping up, and an endless number of events going on in the city.
This post features an attraction that is unique to Detroit: Campus Martius Park. Campus Martius is right in the heart of downtown Detroit situated between Woodward Avenue and Michigan Avenue.
This area is mile marker zero for Metro Detroit’s mile roads, meaning 8 Mile Road lies exactly eight miles north of Campus Martius Park. The Detroit Historical Society says the area was first developed in 1847 and the park was revitalized between 1999 and 2004. In 2010, Campus Martius Park became the first winner of the Urban Land Institute’s Urban Space Award.
Winter Ice Rink, Summer Beach
Campus Martius Park has an atmosphere to match the season, making it a place to frequent all year long. For about four months you can enjoy the ice rink at the park—opening day aligns with Detroit’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, usually in mid-November.
The ice rink remains open until around the last week of February or first week of March. The Downtown Detroit Partnership calls it the region’s most popular ice-skating rink.
If you’re more for sunshine weather, the park offers a sandy beach right in the middle of the city during the summer. Though there’s no water for swimming, the urban beach does offer brightly colored lounge chairs and an outdoor restaurant that has open-air dining with a full restaurant and bar.
Another restaurant—Parc—is open year-round and located right inside Campus Martius Park. The beach opens in May and is a staple in the city through the summer months, up until September. During this time the park offers a number of weekly events including beach parties and live music nights.
Campus Martius Events
One of the biggest events at the park is Detroit’s Annual Tree Lighting ceremony. Campus Martius is home to the city’s giant Christmas Tree and the Tree Lighting always pulls a huge crowd. This event also signifies the opening of an outdoor market across from the park at Cadillac Square.
The market runs through January and includes a heated tent at the end of Cadillac Square that offers food and drink purchases. This is a great spot for holiday shopping or warming up after skating the ice rink. In the summer, Cadillac Square is home to several food trucks, often frequented by professionals working in the area.
Another popular winter event in the park is Winter Blast Weekends. This winter festival in Detroit spans over a few weekends and includes live entertainment, family-friendly seasonal activities, and an ice sculpture garden.
If you prefer adventuring in the summer, Campus Martius doesn’t disappoint. The urban beach is the perfect setting for some summertime favorites. Since 2018, local DJs have performed at the beach once a month during the summer.
A live music series is also held at Campus Martius Park on Fridays throughout the summer. The ongoing series features local Caribbean and reggae bands. There are always different events going on at the park! You can check out the weekly schedule on the park’s events page.
Markers & Monuments
Aside from being surrounded by Detroit’s skyline, the park is home to a few historical Detroit monuments. Most notably, the Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which honors the Michigan troops who fought in the Civil War.
As mentioned in the intro, there’s also a marker in Campus Martius Park naming it as Detroit’s Point of Origin. A few other features to look out for in the park include the Woodward Fountain and the numerous artistic sculptures.
What will you do?
As Detroit’s signature public urban space, Campus Martius Park is one place you don't want to miss when visiting the city. Known as “Detroit’s Gathering Place”, the park offers activities all year around and is a symbol of the city’s rebirth. Is there anywhere in the city you recommend checking out? Comment to let us know!
Written and Published by Jessica – Writer at HMS Mfg. Co. for the Stola™ brand
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