To see previous City Spotlights here
I could travel all over the world and back, but there will never be any place like home. Hailing from the Motor City and the birthplace of Motown, Detroit is where my roots are firmly planted and the city is well on its way back up. In fact, did you know that the first youth hostel in the city opened just last year? More than that, HostelBookers even named Detroit one of the top places to visit in 2012.
Compared to many of its neighboring cities and states, Detroit is cheap, and because of that, people can buy or rent real estate at a fraction of the cost compared to the likes of Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. You’ll also find that Detroit is a breeding ground for small businesses because startup costs are low. Because of that, Detroit has evolved into a creative hub that has sparked all sorts of innovative events and casual community gatherings.
Let your trip include a visit to the Hitsville Motown Museum, Eastern Market (only open on Saturdays), a Tiger’s game at Comerica Park, a tour of the top of the Renaissance Center, Detroit Electronic Music Festival (summer), and The Auto Show (summer).
For the best view of Detroit, go to the roof of the recently renovated Madison Building. Facing NW, you’ll have the best view of Woodward Avenue’s entertainment district, Grand Circus Park just below, Comerica Park and Ford Field to your right, the casinos in the distance, and the Opera House just across the street. It is a panoramic view not to be missed especially in the evening when the streets are all lit up.
When looking around, it’s difficult to miss the urban decay that has overtaken the outskirts of the city. For as much restoration that needs to happen, the abandoned architecture gives Detroit its character, and for that reason, makes it so photogenic.
The Food & Drinks
If you start off in Corktown, grab a burger or salad at Mercury Burger Bar. Their butter-soaked salad croutons are so moist and delicious. If burgers aren’t your thing, try your luck at Slows BBQ or Mudgie’s Deli, and grab drinks at Sugar House afterwards.
When you’re downtown for a concert or a baseball game, send your taste buds to heaven at Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes, grab lunch at Bucharest Grill, and end the night with drinks at Cliff Bells or Centaur. For post-bar munchies, a stop at Detroit’s classic Lafayette Coney Island is imperative.
The people who have lived within the Detroit city limits all their lives can come off as a bit rough around the edges, at first. That shouldn’t deter you from talking to them, because once you do, you’ll find proud, passionate, hard-working souls beneath those hard shells. Detroiters believe in their personal future as well as the city’s, and know very well that what you hear on the news is absolute bologna.
Over the last year, a lot of bright, young minds have been moving downtown which has given the city a breath of fresh air and instated a new way of thinking to keep moving forward. You’ll find a lot of motivated, driven individuals who thrive on intelligent and progressive conversation over dinner and drinks.
If you ever go to a Tiger’s game, be sure to say hello to the “Eat ‘em up, Tigers” guy. Give him a high five, and spare him some leftover change from your pockets. People from all over who come to a game know him well, and his greeting & spirit will get you pumped up for the game.
Papa Smurf is also one of Detroit’s trademark characters. When you’re hanging out near the St. Andrew’s Hall / Greektown area, you may see him around, and he will most likely offer to make you a bracelet. He is a great storyteller as well, if you take the time to talk to him.
On the other end of the personality spectrum, Michigan, in general is known for producing famous talent such as Mitch Albom (author, newscaster), Kid Rock, Eminem, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Tim Allen, Kristen Bell, Tom Selleck and Twilight’s own Taylor Lautner.
Detroit, as a city, is its own best-kept secret. It’s the cool underground spot where young people are hanging out. The bartenders know your name and drink of choice, and your new neighbors always invite you to their barbecues. Detroit is a community that’s ready to welcome you into the family when you visit.
So what are you waiting for?