I’m currently on a high after spending a couple of days in the Motor City!
First of all, wow. Second of all, where have I been?
Oh, that’s right ... I’ve spent the past few years traveling mostly outside of the U.S. with the intent of immersing myself in different cultures and surrounding myself with different languages. It is and has been very exciting, however, there’s another side to that coin. As a result, I’ve missed out on the beauty in my own backyard. I’ve overlooked U.S. towns and cities that are just as rich in culture and history.
Needless to say, Detroit is a destination that took me completely by surprise. This Midwestern city deserves your time, even if only for a weekend. I spent three days running through the streets of Detroit with my best friend, and it’s now one of my favorite US cities.
On my final night, I sat in a bar and sparked a conversation with a man next to me who was born and raised in Detroit. I asked him a question that I ask locals wherever I travel, “Do you like living in Detroit?” He responded, “Of course. I love it. This city is my baby. What they say about us is not true, at least not any more than any other major city — and I’m sure you’ve discovered that during your time here. Thank you for giving this city a chance.”
And he was right. By the end of the trip, my friend and I both found ourselves saying that we couldn’t wait to return.
If you’re following me on social media, you probably saw some highlights from my trip, but here’s the entire rundown of what I got up to during a weekend in Detroit:
Where to Stay
There are plenty of boutique hotels to go around in downtown Detroit, so you’ll have no problem finding a place full of history and character. I slept in the Element at the Metropolitan, which was once a massive jeweller’s building. The location is in walking distance of thrift shops, amazing restaurants, street art, Comerica Park (where the Detroit Tigers play) and so much more.
More boutique hotels to look at include the Foundation and The Siren.
Where to Eat
Oh goodness, where do I even start? Detroit is most definitely a foodie city, so brace yourself.
Stop by the Dime Store for bomb brunch
Get your day started with coffee or tea from Madcap
Enjoy fried chicken (or anything else your heart desires) and Kool-aid at Urban Soul
Don’t leave without trying plenty of sweet treats from Sister Pie
Choose the best Coney hot dog in the never-ending war between American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island
Enjoy organic juice from Drought
Have a nice dinner at Red Dunn Kitchen
Taste your way through Eastern Market every Saturday, which is the largest open market in the country.
Here are a few places that I missed, according to many of you (Detroit locals) on my Instagram:
Folk Detroit for amazing brunch and breakfast
Hudson Cafe for Baklava French Toast
Rusted Crow Detroit to try the PB&J Burger
Mercury Bar for tasty burgers and milkshakes
Selden Standard for … basically, everything.
This barely scratches the surface. You should basically be prepared to eat well all weekend long.
Where to Drink and Dance
The Evening Bar — Ever been to a speakeasy playing hip-hop music? I was in paradise.
The Candy Bar — A classic Parisian vibe and this pink-lover’s dream.
Eastern Market Brewing Company — Taste a variety of craft beer before or after admiring the street art in the Eastern Market galleries.
Standby — A creative cocktail lounge with great music and an even greater atmosphere.
TV Lounge — Dance the night away at this techno & house club. I know I did.
Vicente’s — Stop by for Cuban food and a bit of Salsa … dancing, that is.
The Belt alley is full of bars if you want to hop around. Be sure to return during the daytime to see the street art that lines the street and every floor of the parking garage.
What to Do
Visit Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History — Please don’t leave Detroit without visiting this museum. This isn’t just a museum - it’s an experience. It’s extremely engaging, and I was moved to tears more than once. It’s an absolute must-visit.
Attend a Detroit Tigers Baseball Game — I had the opportunity to attend a Tiger’s game on opening day, and it was absolutely amazing to watch the city come to life. I’ve only attended a few baseball games in my life, but this was a really cool experience. If you’re unable to attend a game, then consider hitting up any of the local bars to watch with other fans!
Visit the Motown Museum — Detroit is home to the Motown sound that we all know and love. It was so fun to tour the recording studio where many of my favorite Motown songs were recorded.
Pose in Front of Street Art — You’ll find street art on nearly every corner of the downtown area. Eastern Market is another great spot for street art photography. Visit The Belt alley and the accompanying parking garage for endless murals.
Take an Arts and Architecture Tour — I learned so much about Detroit’s architecture and history with an incredible guide who left me with this: “What I want people to know about Detroit is that it has been a hub of innovation and ingenuity since its inception and it hasn’t gone anywhere. And as the blackest city in America, this place is important. It’s not forgotten. It’s not coming back. It’s never left.” Enough said.
Witness the Aquarium at Belle Isle
Head over to Belle Isle to check out the cutest aquarium and greenhouse. The vibrant green aquarium is absolutely beautiful, and did I mention that it’s free?
What I Missed Out On
So much to do, so little time. I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted to do or eat everything I wanted to eat during my short time in Detroit. That just means I have to return, right? Here are stops that I hope to make during my next visit:
The Heidelberg Project
The African Bead Museum
Diego Rivera Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts
Detroit Vegan Soul
I’d honestly return to this city in a heartbeat. My best friend and I had a blast exploring the Motor City. I could go on and on about my trip, but I urge you to go and see for yourself.
I’ll just leave you with this: Don’t sleep on Detroit.
Thanks to Visit Detroit for a showing me a good time. As always, all opinions are my own.