Christmas in Detroit

Christmas in Detroit: Holiday Festivities at Campus Martius Park

There are certain places known as holiday destinations.  With their beautiful Christmas markets, places like New York City and Vienna, Austria are holiday travel hot spots.  But there’s another city vying to put itself on the map of fantastic holiday destinations.  Detroit!  Making a vibrant comeback, the city of Detroit is becoming an exciting place to visit all year long- but it’s especially wonderful around the holiday season and each year the holiday displays downtown just keep getting bigger and better.  From the giant tree towering over the Campus Martius ice rink to the numerous pop-up markets, igloos, and holiday lounges- Detroit is simply bursting with holiday cheer and cozy places to celebrate with family and friends.  Come check out what it’s like to celebrate Christmas in Detroit!

Getting There

If you’re visiting the city of Detroit, chance are you’re going to rent a car.  While Uber and Lyft abound, we don’t have a great public transportation system that connects the city to the suburbs and that’s not a mistake.  In the Motor City- it’s best to get around by car!

I’ve got to be honest, the only thing one could consider frustrating about our evening trip downtown to check out the holiday festivities this year was the parking.  When we first started exploring Detroit with our boys seven years ago, the city was still a ghost town.  Practically empty even on the weekends, we could park literally anywhere we pleased.  Now it’s gosh darn difficult to find a place to park- which would be frustrating except that we know it means the city is thriving!  Between the new chic hotels, the fantastic shopping on Woodward, and the holiday festivities-  the streets are packed with people enjoying Detroit.  It’s quite an exciting sight- even if it means we had to park a ways away.

If you want to avoid parking in the heart of the city, consider parking farther out and taking the new Q Line into the festivities.  While the Q Line is limited to certain locations within the city, it does reach all of the main hot spots- including Campus Martius Park- making it a great option within the city limits.

Cadillac Square Marketplace

We started our evening at the Cadillac Square Marketplace just across from Campus Martius Park.  The marketplace is full of beautiful rustic holiday decorations and bright with white Christmas lights criss-crossing their way between rows of tiny little glass pop-up shops.  The little shops are absolutely adorable, adorned with lights and jingle bells and full of a wide variety of made-in-Detroit items that epitomize the entrepreneurial spirit of Detroit.

The Cadillac Lounge

At the end of the marketplace sits the Cadillac Lounge, a giant tent transformed into a stunning winter wonderland.  With plenty of seating, the lounge continues with the rustic holiday theme.  Old ice skates, vintage snow sleds, and nearly a dozen frosted Christmas trees line the lodge.  There is plenty of seating- and not just any seating- warm, cozy seating that makes you want to snuggle up to the one you love!  Brown leather couches are piled high with pillows and blankets.  Large tables are stocked with old fashioned wooden board game boards- chess, Scrabble and giant Jenga blocks.  Our boys settled into a little cove decorated with a tiny Christmas tree and cozy plaid pillows for a couple of games of chess while they sipped their hot cocoa from the bar.

The bar also serves alcohol for the adult crowd, but the one thing you’ll want to be sure to order is the s’mores kit!  Each kit contains a giant marshmallows, wooden skewer, Hershey’s chocolate and graham cracker.  In the back of the lounge you can head outside to the large open pit fires to roast your marshmallows and make your s’mores!  There’s plenty of outdoor seating- tall red stools line the fire pits while long wooden tables sit under canopies lined with twinkling white lights.

 

Campus Martius Park

After our boys had finished three games of chess and their roasted marshhallows, we headed back outside- through the marketplace and over towards Campus Martius Park to see the giant 60 foot Christmas tree and ice rink.  Every tree in the park is wrapped from top to bottom in white sparkly lights, with the giant tree standing in the middle of the park adorned in colored lights and ornaments.  Even on a weekday, the line for the ice rink was wrapped around the park and the rink was packed.  Though it was freezing, it warmed my heart to see Detroit so busy and full of life!

The Campus Martius Ice Rink is open Monday through Thursday from 11am to 11pm, Friday from 11am to midnight, Saturday 10am to midnight and Sunday 12pm to 10pm. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children 12.   You can bring your own skates or rent skates right next to the rink for $5 a pair!

Enchanted holiday carriage rides are also available on Fridays and Saturdays from mid-November through Christmas.  Carriages run from 6pm until midnight, taking off from the Woodwards Esplanade, directly south of Campus Martius Park.  Rides are 15 to 20 minutes long and cost $10 person or $40 for a private group.  A carriage ride is a great way to see all that is exciting and new in the city of Detroit as well as all of the holiday lights beyond Campus Martius Park.

 

The Spirit of Detroit

Before heading home we took a quick drive towards Woodward Avenue where there is another small holiday pop-up…  a galley of giant swings line the walk way leading to the igloo domes set up in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue.  The domes are brightly lit with Christmas lights and inside you’ll find more board games for a cozy place to hang out and warm up.  It’s a short walk from Campus Martius Park, but a nice cozy place to get away from some of the crowds while still enjoying the ambiance of the holiday festivities.  And there’s just something about those old fashioned board games!  They gently coax you to put your phone down and enjoy a simple kind of fun with friends and family!

While we only had a few hours to explore, we could have easily spend an entire day downtown enjoying the holiday markets and festivities.  Our boys are eager to head back this weekend for one more afternoon of chess and cocoa before Santa packs his sleigh and heads off into the starry night on Christmas Eve!

So if you’re looking for a weekend holiday getaway, it’s time to consider the city of Detroit.  The city is putting itself back on the map in remarkable ways- and Christmas in Detroit is becoming something quite special!  Every time we head into the city the energy is simply electric and each and every year the holiday festivities grow bigger and brighter.  If there’s one thing I can say about Detroit, it’s that I’m pretty certain it’s this…

Detroit

 

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Christmas in Detroit

55 comments

  1. Arunima Dey

    Cadillac Square Marketplace looks straight out of a dream, I could probably spend hours there. All the holiday pop ups look pretty interesting too. It’s a shame that it doesn’t have good public transport as it makes it harder for those who don’t drive.

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      The city is improving public transportation- but because we are the heart and home of the American automobile, most people here have cars!

      Reply

  2. Laurence

    I hope to visit that park in Detroit, looks great, the shops, which are present during holiday. But I want to do ice skating and eat s’mores afterwards, wow. Nice treat for kids.

    Reply

  3. mlynn2017

    The campus ice skating looks like so much fun! I have never been to Detroit but it does look quite festive for the holidays. I never thought to visit there but this is making me want to go

    Reply

  4. Rosalyne

    I have only ever visited the United States once. My family and I went to California. This article has now whet my appetite for a second visit, this time to Detroit! I’ve never thought of visiting there before! Thanks for widening my vision!!!

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      Most people haven’t considered Detroit as a travel destination. But it’s really become quite an amazing city to explore! We hope you make it here someday!

      Reply

  5. Nina Out and About

    I never would have considered Detroit for Christmas before, but that photo of the tree (and probably the smores) convinced me. This look wonderful!

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      The s’mores were a pretty awesome touch!

      Reply

  6. likeherdingcatsblog

    Detroit looks like a great yes to e place to visit

    Reply

  7. gmsmith1980

    I would love to visit Detroit during the Christmas season. Your pictures are just beautiful! Not sure I would want to drive though. Usually once I park a car in a new city, I’m happier on foot.

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      Detroit is becoming more walk-able! At first it was hard because the neighborhoods that were being revitalized were so spread out with lots of really bad areas in between. But there has been so much growth that many of the up and coming areas are connecting now, so there’s lots you can walk. We are the same way- when we’re in NYC we walk everywhere because that’s how we experience the whole city!

      Reply

  8. ladysyrah

    I love your photos, very colorful and beautiful.

    Reply

  9. Ashley Firth

    I have never been to Detroit! It sounds like an amazing place, I love it already! I really need to visit the Cadillac Lounge! The s’mores kit sounds delightful! Just what is needed to complete an amazing winter wonderland adventure! The photos are fabulous!

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      I could spend from now until Christmas in that lounge!!! We’re going to go back this weekend so we can play more games- it was so cozy!!

      Reply

  10. Adventures with Crystal

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE Christmas markets. There’s so much energy in each place and I enjoy how everyone is thinking about the season of giving and trying to find the perfect present for everyone. I also liked how this market actually seems warm! There’s so many holiday and christmas markets in New York City that are freezing outdoors and don’t have spots, so it sort of makes me try and get in and out quickly

    Reply

  11. alison

    That’s so great that there is no parking, I mean bad for you, but great for the city. My husband keeps joking he’s going to move us to Detroit and it will just make Baltimore look that much better. I don’t know if he’s so right anymore after reading this post!!

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      You would love it here!! I know most people still find it hard to believe- but Detroit is incredible!

      Reply

  12. arinsolangeathome

    how fun are all these little activities!! I love that little couch section all set up!

    Reply

  13. Kate Findley (@katefindley)

    Beautiful photos! And great descriptions, too. You really capture the ambiance of Detroit, and I’m glad to hear that the city is thriving again. And you’re right, Cadillac Lounge does look really cozy!

    Reply

  14. Su Bha Sun

    This market seems to be an interesting place to explore. Your photographs are so beautiful and wants me to be there right now. Lovely kids you have. 🙂

    Reply

  15. Stine Mari

    When I think of Christmas markets, Detroit wouldn’t pop out first for sure. But thanks for putting it on my map, because this looks wonderful!

    Reply

  16. rioribaya

    Seems like you really picked a good holiday travel spot! Nice photos 🙂

    Reply

  17. Rae Argallon

    The Cadillac Lounge looks stunning and truly cozy, I would enjoy a hot cocoa there as well! And a perfect way to end is is with the Campus Martius Ice Rink!

    Reply

  18. nightwisprav3n

    I have to admit, Detroit is definitely not a place I would have considered visiting for the holidays until now. I’m glad Detroit is doing this and working hard to bring their city to life in this way. 🙂

    Reply

  19. Jeremy L Smith

    Detroit…historically NOT known for it’s Christmas celebrations. But, I think that might be changing based on your post. Looks like there is something cool going on there. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  20. Sinjana

    Nice to read about Chirstimas traditions around the world. Your Detroit post is very insightful

    Reply

  21. sophhearts

    I’d love to visit Detroit- all these places look gorgeous, especially the Cadillac Lounge. Those s’mores look amazing too!

    Soph – https://sophhearts.com x

    Reply

  22. Miss Blogs-A-Bit

    Wow, I didn’t realise there was so much lovely Christmassy stuff to see and do in Detroit! When you hear about Christmas in the US (I’m in the UK), you only tend to hear about New York, which is amazing of course. But this post was great and a real eye opener! Your photos are fabulous too 😊

    http://www.missblogsabit.com

    Reply

  23. Sarah

    Very informative. I would love to visit different places around Christmas and this looks like a great place to go. So many great things to do and see.

    Reply

  24. carpe diem Eire

    Love the Christmas market buzz that Detroit has captured. A great way to spend a day and I’m longing for those marshmallows l. I always suffer longing for Christmas markets it’s the one month of the year I can’t travel, so I’ve never been. Love posts like this.

    Reply

  25. Co | Travel with Co

    I have to admit that Detroit is not on top of my list when I travel to the USA. But your pics look amazing and I can imagine Christmas time is magical in this city!

    Reply

  26. Alex Trembath

    Since we spent Christmas outside the UK for the first time ever last year, we’ve been looking for other places to spend the festivities. Detroit sounds like an awesome option! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      Detroit is a pretty awesome place to be! Let me know if you guys ever make it here!

      Reply

  27. Anjali Chawla

    Detroit seems like a great place to celebrate Christmas. You have rightly captured the festive vibes in your photographs. It’s beautiful the way a festival brings warmth, love and light to give comfort in the otherwise cold and gloomy weather.

    Reply

  28. Chandni

    This looks so magical. Cadillac Square Marketplace makes me want to visit it right now!

    Reply

  29. Yukti

    Chistmas in Detroit looks beautiful with lovely decorations. Cadillac Square looks beautiful with those Christmas decorations and Christmas Lounge is a nice place to relax on.

    Reply

  30. Sam

    it is SO COOL to see detroit in such a positive light, it is so often the centre of news stories that make you not want to visit. Cadillac Square Marketplace looks like somewhere i could go again and again – Thanks so much for this awesome piece!

    Reply

  31. bye:myself

    I never thought of Detroit as a Christmas destination – very inspiring. The smores look sooo good – I wish I had one right now.

    Reply

  32. Jim Whittemore

    Loved seeing how nice it looks for the christmas time in Detroit. I’ve been frequenting there in the springtime every year for the past 5 years and absolutely love how nice it’s becoming!

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      Love to hear that you’ve been here and are enjoying it!!!

      Reply

  33. rhiydwi

    Looks like a great alternative Christmas destination beyond the usual! Is the Cadillac Lounge there year-round or just a Christmas specific pop-up?! It looks exactly how I imagine Santa’s house to look like.

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      The lounge is just for the Christmas pop-up. But Campus Martius Park is there year round and there is ALWAYS fun stuff there. In the summer they turn it into a beach. There’s a bar, lots of food trucks, and big outdoor games like giant chess and jenga. It’s a really cool place all year long!

      Reply

  34. Emilio Marcos Sierra

    I love christmas so much so really enjoyed reading this. Being from the UK I had no idea Detroit was such a good place to spend christmas!

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      It hasn’t been until recently- but now it’s fantastic!

      Reply

  35. Ryan Kretch

    Love the efforts going into regenerating Detroit, and this is definitely just one good example of how the city is bringing the community back together. Definitely going next year and getting a Smores kit (and maybe a little booze) 🙂

    Reply

  36. Nitasha Bharech

    First of all, I love that T-shirt “Best is yet to come”. Can you courier it to me ? :))
    The Cadillac Square Marketplace and Cadillac lounge looks great in Christmas. It’s strange how the same city looks totally different during this time of the year. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      It’s from Zara but they only made kid sizes! I know- I wanted one too!!!!

      Reply

  37. Paul Healy

    Detroit looks like a beautiful place to spend Christmas. I must admit, it’s not the first place in the world of thought of for Christmas, but it looks like it could be a lot of fun.

    Reply

  38. Claire

    Who new Detroit could be so much fun?! It is time to give it a second chance, that city went through so much it deserve 15 minutes of fame!

    Reply

  39. Farah Al Zadjaly

    I have not been to that side of the world, but this really makes me want to visit for Christmas. Its colourful and festive.

    Reply

  40. Fly Away Godddess

    So glad to see this i haven’t been back to Michigan in so long this just made me want to take a road trip.

    Reply

  41. Britt | Alternatively Speaking

    If you haven’t already, you should pop over the border to Windsor and check out the Bright Lights Windsor display, it’s gorgeous, and just a stone’s throw away!
    The other festive thing I love about Windsor/Detroit is all the holiday concerts we can enjoy – I was just in Detroit this past week for the Straight No Chaser concert which is a festive tradition for my friends and I
    Britt | http://alternativelyspeaking.ca

    Reply

    1. Lissa

      Thank you!!!! We often go over the bridge- but never at Christmas. We will totally go check it out!

      Reply

  42. lexieanimetravel

    Wow! I can feel the spirit of Christmas here in Detroit. The Cadillac Square Marketplace looks pretty nice and ideal to visit with the whole family and kids as well.

    Reply

  43. Artisan Traveller

    That looks amazing, I love the igloo’s and the ice rink – beautiful at Christmas.

    Reply

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