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Our Definitive Guide to the Detroit RiverWalk

The Detroit RiverWalk is a 3.5-mile route along the Detroit River with beautiful views of the water and city skyline. There are various things to do and see while visiting, from annual events to sites you can visit daily. Attractions include parks, pathways, green space, and more, all connected so you can easily enjoy every one of these attractions. Here are a few of the activities that Goodman Acker suggests to do on the Detroit RiverWalk.

Cullen Plaza

Scenic View of Detroit Michigan from Vantage Point of RiverWalk
Image via Flickr by Bernt Rostad.

One of our favorite areas, and a main highlight of the RiverWalk, is Cullen Plaza. Highlights include a granite map of the Detroit River, the Cullen Family Carousel, a playscape for children, and fountains. You’ll also find the Wheelhouse Detroit, a bike shop that offers bike rentals and tours, and the RiverWalk Cafe. The Diamond Jack also docks here and offers private charters on the Detroit River.

The Outdoor Adventure Center

Another great space to visit at the RiverWalk is the Outdoor Adventure Center. This easily recognizable structure is located at Harbor and the William G. Milliken State Park and gives you a look at the outdoors from the center of the city. Outdoor activities include a waterfall you can touch and walk behind, a massive bur oak tree you can explore and climb, and an area where you can fish from a boat. You can also explore trails on a snowmobile or mountain bike, check out a real airplane, and watch the creatures swim by in the aquarium.

Parks and Outdoor Spaces

The Detroit RiverWalk is home to several fantastic green spaces to get out and enjoy. With plenty to do and lush scenery, you’ll want to add these parks to your list of places to visit.

RiverWalk Garden Rooms

At the RiverWalk Garden Rooms, you find beautiful landscaping and urban artworks that are great for photos. Mt. Elliot Park is a great place to take the family in the warm summer months. There’s a Great Lakes themed water feature with motion-activated water cannons to enjoy. There are also walkways, fishing piers, and walkways.

Gabriel Richard Park

Another local favorite is Gabriel Richard Park, located east of the MacArthur Bridge. This area has a pavilion and plaza that are a great place to enjoy lunch amongst the lush landscaping. You can take your time and enjoy the fountain and butterfly gardens as well.

Robert C. Valada Park

The newest of the Riverfront parks is the Robert C. Valada Park. It offers a sandy beach with umbrellas and chairs, spaces for barbecues, and a musical children’s garden to enjoy in the summer. You can check out the spaces with outdoor fireplaces and marshmallow roasting, sleds for snowy days, and hot drinks in the winter months.

Milliken State Park and Harbor

For a large 31-acre green space right in the center of downtown Detroit,v visit the Milliken State Park and Harbor. The park has a beautiful 63-foot Tawas Point replica lighthouse, harbor with 52 boat slips, and several picnic areas. There’s also a space with informative displays, bike paths, and more. This park is a wonderful place to enjoy any time of year.

Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park

While the Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park is still under development, the plans have the Goodman Acker team excited for it to open. You can expect to see a man-made lake to help restore the local fish habitat, a sport house for basketball and other activities, a large playground for area children to enjoy, and several areas where the water can be enjoyed year-round. We’re hoping to see swimming areas, spaces for ice skating, and walkways to enjoy.

The Aretha Franklin Amphitheater

This City of Detroit venue is a 6,000-seat amphitheater on the shores of the Detroit River. The Aretha Franklin Amphitheater graces the Top 100 Concert Venues in the World list and can be found at 2600 Atwater St. They host over 40 concerts and events each season with visits from more than 150,000 people. If you haven’t visited yet, you should. You can enjoy music from a variety of genres at the amphitheater. Historical guests include Aretha Franklin herself, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder.

Annual RiverWalk Activities

In 2021, the RiverWalk is hoping to welcome everyone back for their annual events and activities. Proceeds from these events go back into the community and help to keep Detroit RiverWalk a safe, clean space for all to enjoy.

Detroit River Days

One such event is the Detroit River Days celebration. This annual event is a celebration of the RiverWalk itself with both water activities and plenty to do on land. You can see live music, eat some delicious food, and even watch some fun jet-ski demonstrations.

Riverfront Run

The Riverfront Run is another annual event that takes place at the RiverWalk. You can join in for either a 5k or 10k for a good cause. Proceeds from the race are put right back into the RiverWalk and its greenspaces through the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

Reading and Rhythm on the Riverfront (3R)

In 2021, the RiverWalk will host its 11th annual Reading and Rhythm on the Riverfront (3R) event. This early literacy program offers a unique opportunity for children to hear stories, receive a book, and see live entertainment for a day of fun. There are also healthy treats provided. This activity is a six-week event designed to represent a city that cares so much about its youth.

The West Riverfront

The team at Goodman Acker is looking forward to the completion of the West RiverWalk area, a 5.5-mile walkway along the riverfront ranging from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park. The good news is that Phase One is almost complete and spans from Joe Louis Arena to Gabriel Richard Park. Ultimately, there will be three walkways with lots of green space for running, biking, and even fishing. You can feel safe on your visit thanks to security cameras, ample lighting, and call boxes for any emergencies.

Reach Out to Us

These are a few of the Goodman Acker team’s favorite things to do and see at the Detroit RiverWalk. This great outdoor area offers some fresh air and places to enjoy the weather, and with the future of the site looking promising, we hope this area becomes one of your favorite Detroit spots as well. If you’ve got anything you think we missed or think we should see, contact us to let us know your favorite things to do at the RiverWalk so we can add it to the list.

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