Top Five Ways to Experience Detroit
Over the last decade, Detroit has been rebuilding its reputation as a Midwest gem. More than a layover city, Detroit is filled with pride and soul. Plan a trip for a long weekend and experience Detroit’s rich history, compelling architecture, entertainment, food scenes and even a bit of shopping.
1. Historic Detroit
The most popular connotations with Detroit often tend to be Ford or Motown music. Both with good reason, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Isley Brothers and many other famous musicians made Detroit world famous during the 60’s and 70’s. If this alone peaks your interest visit the Motown Museum – Hitsville U.S.A. it will inspire you to buy a few records or shop iTunes for hundreds of hits from Detroit’s historical music period. The museum features instruments, outfits and much more.
Afterward, explore more of what the city is known for—the automotive history—and visit the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. The museum features rare exhibits such as the horse-drawn carriage used by Theodore Roosevelt and the parade car that transported John F. Kennedy during his assassination.
Next, visit the Rivera Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) to see Diego Rivera’s 27-panel mural depicting the Ford Motor Company. The mural was painted in 1932 and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. The DIA is home to more than 100 galleries and is considered one of the most significant art collections in the United States.
2. Shopping in the “D”
For some classic Detroit brands, shop the internationally popular Carhartt. Better known as construction work uniforms, Carhartt is now one of the most popular brands with trendy millennials across Europe and North America. Stop by Division Street Boutique in Detroit for a local favorite, Detroit Hustles Harder. If you have extra time, venture out to Metro-Detroit cities such as Ferndale, Birmingham and Royal Oak, to find small business boutiques with unique finds such as Lost and Found Vintage and high-end vintage pieces by brands such as Sonia Rykiel or Saks.
Down the street, shop fun gifts and décor items from Rail and Anchor, including Detroit themed pillowcases and bracelets (fun fact: the owner always welcomes guests with warm tea). Not to be forgotten is Detroit’s biggest emerging brand, Shinola. My favorite Shinola location is in the heart of Detroit, at the flagship. Here you will find a variety of leather goods, watches and more. Don’t leave without stopping by their Shinola Café, offering delicious coffee and pressed Paninis.
3. Metropolitan Dream
In recent years, French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre flocked to Detroit to document the city’s beautiful untouched buildings such as the Michigan Central Station, Adams Theater, and the Vanity Ballroom. Recently, gems such as the Fisher Building— home to Broadway in Detroit and other prominent vendors—have helped rebuild a positive reputation for the city. Take a stroll along the Detroit International Riverwalk, visit the Renaissance Center or walk towards the serene Belle Isle Park, to see the beautiful Conservatory. Detroit is filled with gorgeous Art Deco and post-modern, neo-gothic inspired architecture throughout the city. For an iconic photo op, visit the Spirit of Detroit monument, commissioned in 1955 it symbolizes the community spirit of Detroit.
4. Sport Fanatics
No matter the season, Detroiters love their sports! In colder months, Ford Field will be packed with fans rooting on the Lions. In the summer, visit Detroit’s Comerica Park, where Tigers fans rejoice over beers and bites. Basketball fans have the Pistons and hockey fans have the Red Wings, both in the newly opened Little Caesars Arena. Throughout Michigan, colors of pride are often worn in the forms of green and white for the Michigan State University Spartans or blue and yellow for the rival, University of Michigan Wolverines. Pick your colors wisely.
5. The Foodie
Eat your way in and around Detroit, visit Grey Ghost Detroit for a delicious menu with curated cocktails and dishes such as the Fried Bologna. The name of the restaurant is notorious for pirates on the Detroit River during the Prohibition era. For something a bit different, visit The Whitney, Detroit’s most iconic mansion, converted into a restaurant and upscale lounge with a speakeasy feel.
Similarly, visit a local hotspot and speakeasy, Café D’Mongo’s, sip on fun, affordable cocktails made with local staples such as Faygo and listen to live music. You can’t leave Detroit without a late night trip to one of the Coney Islands, Lafayette Coney Island or National Coney Island are some of many. The diner-style chains are local favorites and are famous for American hot dogs, cheese fries, chicken tender Hanis, or if you’re feeling more spontaneous, opt for the Saganaki “Opa” dish (Greek Kasseri cheese), which is cheese fried in a small pan and served with bread. The flame is still alive and burning as it is brought out to the table, prompting a loud “Opa!” from everyone in the vicinity.
In the warmer months, shop and mingle with locals at the Eastern Market, Detroit’s answer to NYC’s Union Square Market, filled with local food, art, music and more.
Detroit continues to inspire the nation with its comeback. You don’t need a festival or special occasion to visit, but there are certain, unique ways to experience the city’s energy. In the winter, stop by the North American International Auto Show or cruise down Woodward in your own car in the summer months during the Woodward Dream Cruise. No matter how you plan your visit, you’re sure to truly enjoy this renaissance city full of great flavors and historical sights.
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