In many ways, Campus Martius Detroit is the heart of the City of Detroit. Situated in the center of the city’s revitalized downtown area, this park is more than just a community gathering space — it’s the premier spot for many of the best activities, events, and attractions throughout the entire year.
Campus Martius Park is not only beloved by locals who call the city home. It’s also a favorite place for those visiting Detroit to experience the energizing pulse of the community.
Campus Martius Park: Detroit’s Gathering Place
In the heart of Downtown Detroit and surrounded by glittering office buildings and retail developments is the beautiful Campus Martius Park. This public square was created in 2004 at the city’s point of origin, and it has quickly become known as Detroit’s Gathering Place.
True to its urban roots, Campus Martius Park is a place where city residents, local workers, and visitors from afar can rest, relax, and enjoy the best that Detroit has to offer. It’s anchored by a cascading fountain that’s enjoyed by people throughout the entire year.
The fountain is surrounded by tables, chairs and benches. So, it’s the perfect place to watch the world go by around you.
One of Detroit’s most iconic memorials — The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument — towers over the park. Because of that, it’s easy for anyone to find Campus Martius Detroit if they’re exploring the city.
This monument was erected in 1967 as a Civil War Monument and has been located in the same spot since long before the park was developed. In 1984, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
A Beautiful Sight
If you’re searching for a place to go in Detroit where you can feel the buzz of the city around you and experience the true beauty of this community, Campus Martius should definitely be included on your itinerary.
This breathtaking park is teeming with life throughout the entire year. It will easily become one of your favorite spots!
The History of Campus Martius Detroit
The Campus Martius Park that exists today is actually a reconfigured and re-imagined park that sits in the same spot as a historic gathering space. After the great fire of 1805 ravaged the newly-settled City of Detroit, Augustus Woodward set out to redesign and reinvent the city.
He configured the entire city around this point of origin at 0 Mile. The space at Woodward and Michigan Avenues was designed as a sprawling park for city residents to enjoy.
The 19th & 20th Centuries
In the 19th century, this space consisted of several acres, and it was a place of commerce, leisure, and recreation.
Throughout the 20th century, the City of Detroit went through several transformations. Urban sprawl and vehicular traffic caused the gathering spot in the heart of the city to be reduced in size and capacity.
As roads and thoroughfares cut through the city, the park was all but eliminated from Detroit. At the time, in the latter half of the 20th century, Hart Plaza was redesigned to be the heart and soul of the city.
The 21st Century & Now
In the early 21st century, city planners decided to reclaim the space and create a park that would attract people from both inside and outside the city. The new Campus Martius Park quickly became a hub of activity and a treasured spot among anyone who came to Detroit.
Today, visitors arrive at the intersection of Woodward and Michigan Avenues to discover a bustling urban epicenter where there’s space to relax, have fun, and enjoy the area in unique and inviting ways. In 2021, Campus Martius Park was chosen by USA Today as the Top Public Square in the country.
Campus Martius Park Rules & Policies
Campus Martius is maintained by the city’s parks and recreation department, and there are several rules, policies, and procedures in place to make sure that it remains a special place where everyone can gather.
Ultimately, the Downtown Detroit Parks are designed to be inclusive, safe, and clean. These policies ensure that the parks stay in pristine condition. Some worth noting include:
- The public is welcome to visit Campus Martius Park between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily.
- Feeding wildlife is not permitted.
- Skateboards, bicycles, segways, hoverboards, and rollerblades aren’t permitted in the park.
- Motorized scooters and electric scooters are prohibited in the park. You may not operate or park them on the premises.
- Alcohol and smoking are prohibited.
These are just a few of the rules. It’s important to be aware of all the policies before you arrive at Campus Martius Detroit to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable visit.
Campus Martius in the Springtime
Spring is perhaps the most relaxing season at Campus Martius. The flurry of activity that takes place in the park throughout the winter months has died down, and the summer crowds have yet to arrive.
The Blooms in View
When you come to Campus Martius Park in April or May, you’ll be greeted by beautiful blooms that have been perfectly planted in the area. The city’s parks department goes to great lengths to ensure that the park is beautifully landscaped. The view can be enjoyed by all who arrive during the spring.
Passing the Time
Perhaps you want to sit by the Woodward Fountain and enjoy the relaxing sound of the water’s spray as you soak up the springtime city views. Or, maybe you want to grab a meal at the upscale Parc restaurant to take a break from the cool breezes.
Either way, it’s worthwhile to spend a relaxing day at Campus Martius in the spring.
Summertime Fun at Campus Martius
Campus Martius is located at one of its busiest intersections in Detroit. But, many people don’t realize that it’s the best place to relax and play in the sand during summer.
The Beach at Campus Martius is an innovative public works project. It transforms a section of the park each summer into a sand-filled space for people of all ages to enjoy.
The Beach was installed in the park in the summer of 2013 — around the same time that Detroit declared bankruptcy. It was living proof that the city could and would recover, and it gave local residents a sense of hope knowing that there were still good things to come.
Today, people can visit The Beach, kick off their shoes, and play in the sand. It’s a favorite spot among families because young children can dig in the sand and build their own sandcastles while the adults relax in nearby lounge chairs or tables — complete with brightly-colored umbrellas.
Food & Events
In addition, the Beach Bar and Grille serves up snacks, drinks, and delicious meals for those who are enjoying the park.
Throughout the summer, you’ll find a variety of exciting events and activities taking place at Campus Martius. These include live musical performances, sand castle building competitions, and fitness classes.
Experience Fall at Campus Martius
While other nearby parks in Downtown Detroit host fall gatherings and festive events in September and October, Campus Martius is a peaceful retreat. You may be able to sneak in a few peaks of that brilliant Michigan color as you enjoy the best of what Detroit has to offer.
The park is usually decorated for fall with seasonal decor, such as hay bales, pumpkins, scarecrows, and mums. It’s a beautiful spot to sip a pumpkin spice latte and enjoy crisp fall breezes before the hectic holiday season arrives in earnest.
Campus Martius at Christmas: The Merriest Time of the Year
If you can only get to Campus Martius once, you should definitely visit during the holiday season. The city hosts an annual tree lighting ceremony each year in the middle of November.
Residents and visitors alike gather around the city’s official tree — which can tower more than 65 feet — to watch it be lit for the first time. Once the tree is lit, the holiday season at Campus Martius Park begins in earnest.
The outdoor Michigan ice rink is available for people to enjoy, and there’s always festive music blaring overhead. If you’re looking for a space where you can experience the merry buzz of the city during the holidays, this is it.
While The Rink at Campus Martius is a popular spot over the holidays, this fun, family-friendly winter attraction is open through March each year. If you stop by after the holidays are over, you may find that it’s a quieter time to glide along the ice and listen to the sounds of the city.
Frequently Asked Questions About Campus Martius
Where can you park near Campus Martius Detroit?
There’s ample public parking near Campus Martius. In addition to streetside parking, you may be able to find a post at One Campus Martius Garage.
Is there an entrance fee for Campus Martius Park?
No, there’s not an entrance fee to enter the public square. However, some seasonal events and activities require paid entrance, including ice skating at The Rink.
Are there dining options in Campus Martius Park?
Yes. Visitors can enjoy year-round dining at Parc, an upscale restaurant with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that allow you to feel surrounded by the park.
In the summer, the Beach Bar and Grill is open. Also, visitors can bring their own food to enjoy at the tables in the park surrounding the Woodward Fountain.
More Things to Do in Detroit
Despite how much it offers, Campus Martius Detroit is only a small part of the many things to do in Detroit throughout the year. For instance, there’s plenty more to experience in Metro Detroit during winter.