As a born and raised Lower-Peninsula Michigander, Michiganian to some, visiting Detroit will always hold a special place in my heart. Though the entire state has dealt with its fair share of financial crisis, no one was dealt a harder hand than Detroit. After declaring bankruptcy in 2013 it clawed its way back and found new industry becoming America’s first city to be labeled UNESCO City of Design. It won’t take you long after visiting Detroit to find what makes this city so diverse and architecturally stunning. Spend the day roaming the Detroit Institute of Art or lounging at a sandbar in the seasonally transforming Campus Martius Park. Whether you have a week or only a couple of days, Detroit makes a fantastic trip and one you will not want to miss.
Check the map in the app, $
The fact that every city’s sidewalks aren’t populated with scores of electric scooters is beyond me. Wind in your hair and scooter beneath your feet is the best way to see the city when visiting Detroit and understand the layout. Everything on this list outside of one or two destinations can easily be ridden to. Just download the app, find a bird using the map’s GPS locator, register with a valid driver’s license and credit card. At only $1 to start and 15 cents a minute, you can save a fortune on uber rides and see the city in a unique way. A little tip, check the battery of the scooter through the app, you don’t want to end up like me 8 miles out of the city center, with a dead scooter.
5200 Woodward Ave, $
Boasting one of the most stunning collections and an overwhelming Diego Rivera which engulfs you upon entering, the DIA is a can’t miss. Spend the afternoon marveling at Contemporary, Performing, and European art as well as the arts of Asia and the Islamic world. Take a mid-afternoon break in Kresge Court, with a flood of natural light, large leather couches and wingback chairs it’s the perfect spot to discuss some of your favorite pieces while grabbing lunch. When you’re finished at the DIA, hop across the street to the Detroit Public Library and head upstairs to take in some free art which covers the walls at one of the most beautiful public libraries.
900 Inselruhe Ave, Free
Spending time exploring six hundred acres in the middle of the Detroit River will never be wasted. Although it was designed by one of the architects of Central Park, Belle Isle has its own unique layout. Though parts of the island are still in disrepair, a free trip to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum is truly an Instagramable moment.
1014 Woodward Ave, $
Opened by Mitch Albom in 2015 this place is one delicious treat and a must stop for me every time I’m visiting Detroit. As a woman with a sweet tooth, I’m always looking for healthy ways to indulge and with no fat, no dairy, no cholesterol and a mission to help others this place is an all-around win. 100% of the profits from this shaved ice dessert go to S.A.Y. Detroit, a charity that helps all age groups and incomes. So go ahead and indulge guilt-free! For those looking to treat themselves, try the Motown Mash; layers of chocolate chip cookies, whipped toppings, a touch of Kahlua and a secret ingredient make this heavenly fluff irresistible.
800 Woodward Ave, Free
One of the most important areas a city can have is seasonally transitioning public space. Surrounded by the contrast of Detroit’s high-rises, Campus Martius Park is a treasure. Not your typical park, in summer this space is split up between two sections with a fountain in the middle. On one side, grass with cafe style tables and chairs surround a stage and on the other a sandy beach oasis minus the water and add a bar. However, add a Christmas tree, ice skating rink, fire pits to roast marshmallows and top it off with a lodge to warm up and you have a winter wonderland. You’ll never waste time on a trip to this retreat.
1445 Adelaide, $$-Free
Open every Saturday year-round the Eastern Market is a great taste of Detroit. The market spans several large sheds and offers a wide variety of products, from flowers to baked goods to coffee. On nearby streets, murals encompassing businesses and abandoned buildings turn this neighborhood into a public art display. This lends an enviable backdrop to
1234 Library St, Free
Only in Detroit would a parking structure be a must see for your visit. Z parking structure and its adjoining Belt Alley offers 27 murals from artists across the globe. Each level with a new artist with varying styles making you want to climb all the way to the top. I promise you’ll never be so happy to look for parking in your life!
Take a walk along the water to see Detroit and Canada from a different vantage point. This is the perfect walkway to let your scooters off the leash and take off winding around and enjoying the views. Take the riverwalk all the way to Belle Isle and back but make sure those scooters are 100% charged before going too far.
20900 Oakwood Blvd. Dearborn, $$
Although 15 minutes outside of the city this is still one of my favorite destinations and a family tradition on holidays. Henry Ford is the mastermind behind Greenfield Village which spans 80 acres. Historically engaging, educational and quaint, this little village feels worlds away from the bustling metropolis just around the corner. During the summer months enjoy a cup of tea at the Cotswold Cottage or take a trip during the winter for Holiday Nights and enjoy a Dickens-style Christmas with roasting chestnuts and slay rides. Although I favor Holiday Nights a trip any time of year gives a unique experience.
5200 Woodward Ave, $$
This sun-soaked open-space concept is the perfect place to relax among some of the greatest works in the world. Tucked away inside the Detroit Institute of Arts, it’s large leather couches, wingback chairs and tall tables provide a warm, welcoming environment. The restaurant offers basic bar service, coffee, cheese and charcuterie, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. Grab a glass of wine and sit for hours with a good book or some great conversation among friends.
719 Griswold St #180, $
Great service, large portions, and affordable pricing
2030 Park Ave, $$$
World class entertainment and delicious food are just a few of the reasons I fell in love with Cliff Bells. Step back in time to the golden age of entertainment and enjoy some jazz as you sip on a cocktail at the bar. Cliff Bells also has some of the best people watching around town with an interesting mix of locals and tourists.
500 Woodward Ave, $$
Enjoy some time soaking up the sun between stops in Townhouse’s plant covered conservatory while visiting Detroit. I often make a point to stop by while traveling through Detroit. I especially love their Build Your Own Salad menu featuring many delicious options, whether you’re feeling southwestern inspired or fruit forward. Quick tip, make sure to order the truffle fries.
1000 Brush St, $$
Location, cleanliness, service, and comfort make this a 10. With its Central location, this is the perfect spot to call home base. I’m a bit of a hotel snob and I was so pleased with everything my room had to offer. I was less than impressed with their complimentary breakfast so plan on heading out. (See above, Dime Store)
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