Walter and I absolutely love Detroit. It’s the perfect distance from Cleveland that you can take a day trip and still be able to drive home at night (which we often do for concerts), or you can make a weekend out of it. I wanted to make this abbreviated Detroit Travel Guide for the blog in case anyone felt like packing up the car and letting some steam off before the holidays. Wake up early and make a day of it in the D, you won’t be disappointed.
Green Dot Stables is a personal favorite of ours. The menu is made up of a vast selection of gourmet sliders ($2-$3 each) and small sides (try the venison chili cheese fries - TRUST me). You can also have a toasted fluffernutter sandwich, among other things, for dessert. They usually have a wait, but they have an awesome little bar where you can order a drink and wait for a table to open up. Totally worth it. Did I mention that it’s horse racing themed? Yeah, I’m definitely a closet horse girl.
GOLD CASH GOLD is located in an old pawn shop that used to have a billboard out front that said, well, “GOLD CASH GOLD.” It’s now curated seasonal and regional food with a southern twist. Just look at how freaking darling this place is. Also, they have the cutest patio that you ever did see, with a great happy hour.
Grey Ghost is a great place to grab a steak and a nice cocktail. The atmosphere is the opposite of the bright and airy Gold Cash Gold, so it’s really nice for an intimate date night.
Duly’s is a very small greasy spoon that serves our favorite coney dog in Detroit. Anthony Bourdain would come here and order multiple. It’s been open for 97 years, so they’re definitely doing it right. They’re also open 24/7, which makes it an ideal place to go after a concert or hitting up the bars.
The best coffee in the city is at Astro. Such a cute little coffee shop in trendy Corktown, where you will find a LOT of other cool things to do. There is always delicious fresh pastry, the atmosphere is perfectly decorated and there’s always good music. Also, the baristas are a lot nicer and less pretentious than they seem to be in Cleveland a lot of the time.
Sugar House is actually RIGHT by Astro. The bartenders are truly mixologists, but they aren’t lame about it - HA! There are so many incredible liquors here, and there is a curated themed drink menu that switches out. One time I went, and the theme was the carnival. My drink had hand-spun cotton candy on top. Incredible.
We initially went here because of our love for the show “Detroiters” on Comedy Central. On the show, it’s their regular spot for after work beers. Let me tell you, WHAT a good call. It has become our favorite bar in Detroit. The bar is a dive, but it’s got such a familiar vibe and the staff is so friendly. Interestingly enough, this bar has been around for a long time and has seen Detroit through some seriously rough patches. When the city started building Little Caesar’s Arena, Temple Bar was the only holdout to sell their land to the developers. They were offered multi-millions for this little place and they didn’t take it. Settle in and pet the bar cat, Darla. She almost came home in my backpack…
The Eastern Market is to Detroit what West Side Market is to us Clevelanders. Absolutely beautiful, worth a trip. Pick up some fresh produce, flowers - shoot, bring a cooler and stock up on fresh foods.
John K. King Used & Rare Books is an experience. Prepare to spend an entire morning or afternoon. This four story warehouse is packed floor to ceiling with rare and used books. There are maps and guides as to where things are located, but I recommend just going up and down every single aisle. Hanging art and taxidermy makes it feel warm and cozy even though it’s a sterile warehouse. There is so much character here. Things are also very reasonably priced.
El Dorado General Store is a vintage clothing and home goods store that is woman owned. Just look at how beautiful this space and everything inside of it is - I want to live here.
Hamtramck Disneyland is one of my absolute favorite pieces of art that I have seen anywhere. A retired Ukranian GM worker built this piece of folk art in his backyard in the early 90’s. It extends 30 feet into the air, and is constructed of found objects. It was almost torn down, until a campaign was launched to purchase the property and save the piece. It is a little strange to simply go to a residential street and walk into someone’s backyard to be able to go see this, but it’s totally worth it. This is the view from the back alleyway, built over two garages. You can walk inside of the piece from the street that runs parallel. Absolutely beautiful.
The Heidelberg Project is a street of outdoor art created in 1986 by Tyree Guyton. Frustrated and horrified by the sight of how run down his childhood neighborhood of Heidelberg Street had become after the 1967 riots, he decided to protest with his art. He said that he had returned from serving in the Army and thought the neighborhood looked as though “a bomb had went off.” Guyton’s goal was to turn this historically impoverished neighborhood into a place where people could walk around without feeling scared. Hence, the birth of the Heidelberg Project. There is art on this entire street, and the people who watch over it are incredibly friendly and willing to talk to you about the neighborhood and the pieces of art it contains.
Go visit the architectural masterpiece that is the Smith House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Okay, this isn’t technically in Detroit. It is, however, a quick 30 minute drive outside of the city in Bloomfield Hills. The Smiths were two school teachers living on modest salaries. They commissioned a house to be designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and it ended up becoming the perfect example of his Usonian Ideal, which aimed to build quality houses for the American middle class. You have to make a reservation for a tour, but you won’t be disappointed. This is actually the perfect time of year to go, with the fall leaves allowing for a beautiful look at the home’s landscape.
Okay, so Saint Andrew’s Hall isn’t so much a work of art, but it is a place to go see incredible art. It’s our favorite music venue in Detroit. So many legendary performers have come through, and even gotten their start, here. We most recently went to a show at The Shelter which is in the basement of Saint Andrew’s, and it was an awesome venue. There is nothing to equate it to in Cleveland, it really just stands on its own. If you have an opportunity, pick a performer that you like and go see them at Saint Andrew’s or The Shelter instead of seeing them in Cleveland. You can make a whole day out of it!
Belle Isle is an island that is full of beautiful park space right outside of downtown Detroit. Their aquarium was the first public aquarium in the country, opening its doors in 1904. Look at how incredible this tiling is. There is no way to describe how cozy you feel when you are inside of here. I’ve never felt anything like it.
Right next door to the aquarium on Belle Isle is the conservatory. This beautiful structure is filled with plants from different regions, some of which are larger than anything that you have ever seen. They also have a beautiful koi pond (pictured) and a vast outdoor garden where you are more than welcome to grab a blanket and lay with a loved one.
Located in downtown Detroit, the Guardian Building has some of the most beautiful architecture and design that I have ever seen in my life. They give tours of the building, and allow photography.
Motown’s first headquarters was at “Hitsville USA.” Founder Berry Gordy used this building as a recording studio and the administrative headquarters. Take a tour for a little slice of music history!
There you have it, my mini Detroit Travel Guide. Let us know where your favorite places are to go when you’re in the Detroit area!