My boo thang and I spent Thanksgiving in Michigan with my family. Having caught the travel bug this summer, we decided to make an adventure out of our trip to the midwest and explore a city neither of us have been to before. So, we spent three days in Detroit.
I know what you might be thinking – “Why the hell would you spend any time in Detroit?” It’s a question we asked ourselves and other peeps asked us when we announced our plans. We both have friends living in Detroit and the interwebs told us there was a revival going on in the once-wonderful city, so we decided to throw caution to the wind.
We had an amazing time seeing old friends, eating delicious food and exploring what’s left and what’s new in Detroit.
Where to eat and drink:
- Dime Store – Downtown – This is a controversial recco because I loved it and my boyfriend hated it. He didn’t like his hash or coffee, but I am still dreaming about my pork belly egg benedicts and boozy hot chocolate. And since I write this blog, I win.
- Bobcat Bonnie’s – Corktown – When I heard that a friend from high school had opened Bobcat Bonnie’s earlier this year, it immediately made it on my list. My bobcat burger was delicious, as was the capn’ crunch chicken tenders and french dip. The wait staff was friendly and there are old-school arcade games in the back room for those who want to hang around for a while after eating.
- Russell Street Deli – Eastern Market – We both loved this place. Thumbs up on the corned beef hash and grilled pastrami sandwich. If you go, bring one back for me.
- Germack Coffee Roasting Co. – Eastern Market – I don’t drink coffee, so I can’t help you there, buuuuuuut the hot chocolate (add cinnamon) was delish. Plus, it’s a cute shop to peruse.
- Hopcat – Midtown – If you’re looking for a great place to drink, eat bar snacks and watch sports, this will fit the bill. They have a large drink menu and their “crack fries” were definitely delicious, but not my favorite of all time. We learned after the fact that this is actually a chain, which bums me out a bit, but it was still a nice spot to relax on a snowy afternoon.
- Astoria Pastry Shop – Greektown – Go here for the baklava. It was amazing and left me in a honey-induced sugar coma. The honey cinnamon (officially known as “Melomakarona” – a Greek Christmas cookie) also knocked my socks off. And as you stuff yourself with treats, you can walk around the Greektown Casino for some interesting people watching.
- Green Dot Stables – Middle of nowhere – Only sliders and fries served here (and drinks, obviously), but do you really need more? My top faves were the buffalo chicken, grilled cheese and corned beef.
- Bucharest Grill – Downtown and Corktown – Everything I read pre-trip said we had to stop by for a shawarma, so we did. We’re such sheep. But full, happy sheep. I had the chicken, but wish I had ordered the beef (a sneak taste test confirmed it was better).
What to do and see
- Belle Isle/Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory – Belle Isle -The island is desolate in the winter (not sure if its got more going on in the warm months), but it’s a great spot to look at the Detroit skyline and drive around for a bit. The Conservatory was a total surprise, we had no idea it existed. It was so nice to step inside and look at all of the plants – the fern and cacti rooms were my personal favorites.
- Eastern Market – Eastern Market – This market is HUGE – a total of 5 sheds. It was more produce and plants and less prepared-foods than I expected, but it was nice to walk around, see what was for sale and watch the locals do their thang. The neighborhood has a bunch of interesting murals and shops, so take some time to explore outside of the sheds as well.
- Heidelberg Project – Islandview – If you like piles of trash displayed as “art,” this will be your jam. In all honesty, it creeped me out and was grossly covered in wet snow piles, but it’s a Detroit classic you just have to see. My boyfriend disagrees on the “have to see” part, but he’s not writing this blog so too bad.
- Detroit Institute of Arts Museum – Art Center – I was so surprised by the size and variety of the art on display here. It filled a couple of hours when I anticipated to breeze through. We went mainly to get out of the snow for a bit, but I’m so glad we went.
- The Henry Ford Museum – Dearborn – To be honest, the main reason this was on our list is because my boyfriend is an engineer who works in manufacturing and it’s the only thing he specifically wanted to see. So we went. And it was cool. We toured part of the factory, looked at all sorts of old cars and innovative pieces of American history. We also watched two movies: one of the history of Henry Ford and one of the art of manufacturing. The history movie was normal, but the art movie was ridiculous. It reminded me of a ride at Universal Studios. You just have to see it to believe it.
Where to shop
- Willys – Midtown
- Shinola – Midtown
- Will Leather Goods – Midtown
- Nest – Midtown
- City Bird – Midtown
- Signal Return – Eastern Market
What to know
- Rent a car. This was a piece of advice my boyfriend’s friend gave us. Even though some stuff is close together, public transit basically doesn’t exist and some of the routes can be sketchy … for lack of a better term.
- Research and plan. The majority of Detroit still needs a lot of work before it’s roaring again. So unlike most large cities, you can’t just aimlessly explore the city hoping to stumble on something awesome. Granted, you might, but you should have a plan and destination in mind when you head out for the day.
- There is a lot of progress still to be made. We didn’t intentionally go searching for “ruin porn,” but it can be hard to miss in Detroit. You’ll see blocks and blocks of run-down, vacant buildings and then bam – a small neighborhood with stores and restaurants. And just like that, it’s back to nothing again.
Tell me: Have you been to Detroit before?