The best bars, live music, and nightclubs in Detroit prove that local Detroiters certainly know how to have a good time when the sun goes down. You have a choice of trendy rooftop bars, legendary live music venues, grand old movie palaces-turned music halls, dive bars, and jazz clubs.

    Most of the places are in and around Downtown Detroit. So, if you plan on exploring the city's nightlife, you may want to consider staying in or nearby this central neighbourhood. Ready for some serious fun? Read on to discover our curated list of the best nightlife spots in Detroit. A perk is that the majority of places we've listed have a casual dress code.

    1

    The Sugar House

    A sleek bar offering classic and original cocktails

    The Sugar House is a cocktail bar that has helped revive Detroit's cocktail scene. Step inside and the bar's moody decor, atmosphere, and beverages menu will transportation you to the pre-Prohibition era in the 1920s. The menu features a good variety of beers and an impressive selection of craft and classic cocktails, many of which are made with fresh, local ingredients.

    On the spirits list, you'll find several hand-picked single barrel bourbons and American whiskeys. The Sugar House is in Detroit's historic Corktown neighbourhood, less than 2 miles from Downtown.

    Location: 2130 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 5 pm to midnight, Friday from 4 pm to 2 am, Saturday from 3 pm to 2 am, Sunday from 3 pm to midnight

    Phone: +1 313-962-0123

    Map
    2

    Motor City Wine

    A Detroit mainstay for good wine and an eclectic crowd

    Motor City Wine in Detroit is where wine lovers of all ages have frequented for over 10 years. At this unpretentious drinking spot and retail store, wine tends to be approachable, organic, sustainably sourced, and reasonably priced. You can pick up an interesting bottle of wine from around the world. Then, you can stay and drink your wine for a small corkage fee.

    Alternately, you can order by glass or bottle from the bar. The best seats in the house are on the outdoor patio, which oozes character and good vibes. The patio also occasionally hosts DJs and live music.

    Location: 1949 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216, USA

    Open: Sunday–Monday from 4 pm to midnight, Wednesday–Saturday from 2 pm to midnight (closed on Tuesdays)

    Phone: +1 313-483-7283

    Map
    3

    The Old Miami

    An iconic live music venue hosting national and international artists

    The Old Miami is a legendary music-venue-meets-drinking-den in Detroit’s Cass Corridor neighbourhood. The homey atmosphere and backyard with mismatched patio furniture are perfect for meeting up with friends. The bar first opened in 1975 as a hangout spot for Vietnam veterans – military memorabilia and Vietnam-era posters still line the walls.

    Since then, the dive bar has morphed into a legendary live music venue where people from all walks of life socialize, play pool, or enjoy live performances. Some of Detroit’s most prominent musicians have played here, including Eminem, The White Stripes, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, and many Motown performers.

    Location: 3930 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

    Open: Daily from midday to 2 am

    Phone: +1 313-831-3830

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    4

    Fox Theater

    Historic 1920s movie palace

    The Fox Theater is a spectacular historic venue in Downtown Detroit that dates back to 1928. The theater is housed in a beautifully restored Art Deco building with gorgeous architecture and decor. It regularly hosts some of the biggest names in show business.

    Past artists who have graced the stage include Elvis Presley, Cher, Bob Dylan, Kanye West, and Jerry Seinfeld. You can also watch interactive stage shows, vacation favorites, and award-winning Broadway musicals. The best seats in the house are the center stage mezzanine seating.

    Location: 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

    Phone: +1 313-471-7000

    Map

    photo by Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    5

    The Raven Lounge & Restaurant

    A live music lounge hosting authentic blues

    The Raven Lounge & Restaurant in Detroit oozes charm, soul, and history. As one of the city's oldest blues clubs, the live music lounge opened in the 1960s and quickly became a popular spot for locals looking for good music and a low-key, dimly lit ambience. 60 years later, the venue is still thriving.

    Stop by any night between Thursday and Saturday, and rest assured you can enjoy the irresistible, foot-tapping sounds of a Blues and Jazz band on stage. There's usually free entrance on Thursday nights, but there may be a small cover fee on Fridays and Saturdays.

    Location: 5145 Chene, Detroit, MI 48211, USA

    Open: Thursday–Saturday from 9 pm to 2 am (closed Sundays to Wednesdays)

    Phone: +1 313-924-7133

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    6

    Saint Andrew's Hall

    A legendary performance venue dating back to 1950

    Saint Andrew's Hall is a famous live music and concert venue in Bricktown, close to the Detroit River. The historic venue was originally constructed in 1907 as a home for the St. Andrew's Scottish Society of Detroit. During the 1950s, it began hosting musical performances. Some of the biggest artists who have performed here include Adele, Paul Simon, and Nirvana.

    Saint Andrew's Hall offers 3 unique spaces. The main ballroom has a dance floor, a 35-ft-long bar, and a V.I.P. balcony. The Shelter is a smaller venue beneath the building and offers a more private, intimate feel. There's The Burns Room on the upper level, equipped with lounge furniture, a raised stage, and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Downtown Detroit.

    Location: 431 E Congress St, Detroit, MI 48226, USA

    Phone: +1 313-961-8961

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    7

    Aretha's Jazz Cafe

    Where cool kids of Detroit hang out after dinner

    Aretha's Jazz Cafe is a central downtown venue at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts. Named after the 'Queen of Soul' – Aretha Franklin – the club hosts up-and-coming Detroit talent in blues, soul, jazz, and rock 'n roll. There are also impromptu jazz jelly sessions, poetry evenings, musical theater, and dance performances.

    Besides the smooth sounds of soul music, Aretha's Jazz Cafe offers a good food menu of sandwiches, burgers, salads, spicy chicken wings, and cheesy fries.

    Location: 350 Madison St, Detroit, MI 48226, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Saturday from 6 pm to 11 pm, Sunday from 6 pm to 10 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +1 313-887-8532

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    8

    El Club

    An all-age spot for indie concerts

    El Club is one of Detroit's top concert venues for music lovers of all ages to enjoy a host of live performances. From hip hop stars and punk legends to pop and country singers, it brings the best homegrown and national talent to its medium-sized venue.

    El Club has won several awards over the years, including 'best rock club' and 'best venue' in Detroit. It was also labeled one of the top 10 music venues in the USA by Rolling Stone magazine.

    Location: 4114 W, 4114 Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48209, USA

    Phone: +1 313-757-7942

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    9

    Exodos Rooftop Lounge

    A year-round rooftop bar and nightclub

    Make a beeline for Exodos Rooftop Lounge if you’re in the mood for cityscape skyline views, thumping music, and a lively atmosphere in Detroit. Sitting above the Golden Fleece Restaurant in Greektown, the indoor/outdoor rooftop spot offers a spacious open-air dancefloor and sweeping views of Downtown Detroit’s skyscrapers.

    Exodos Rooftop Lounge is considered one of the city's hottest nightclubs. It regularly hosts popular local DJs, who spin a wide variety of music from electro to old-school hip hop. On some evenings, the club hosts local jazz bands. While the club is classy, its casual dress code draws in a diverse clientele.

    Location: 529 Monroe St, Detroit, MI 48226, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Wednesday from 9 pm to 1 am, Thursday from 8 pm to 1 am, Friday–Saturday from 6 pm to 2 am, Sunday from 7 pm to 11 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 313-962-1300

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    10

    Bleu Detroit

    A classy, 21+ nightclub with live electronic and hip-hop DJs

    Bleu Detroit is a sophisticated, Vegas-style nightclub in Downtown Detroit. Due to its lavish V.I.P. area, plush couches, and trendy vibe, you’ll want to dress up for this upscale spot. 

    The club has a sizeable dancefloor (which can quickly full up) and one of Detroit's best sound systems and LED lighting rigs. Visuals are projected onto state-of-the-art screens. Expect great live music and DJs, plus attentive bar service. Reservations are highly encouraged if you’re keen on checking out its V.I.P. lounge.

    Location: 1540 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, USA

    Open: Thursday–Saturday from 10 pm to 2 am (closed Sundays to Wednesdays)

    Phone: +1 313-974-7799

    Map

    photo by Deb Nystrom (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Jacqui de Klerk | Contributing Writer

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