City Guide: Exploring Metro Detroit From A to Z

From the arts to the Detroit Zoo, here are some must-see area attractions and events



Published:


//  A  //  B  //  C  //  D  //  E  //  F  //  G  //  H  //  I  //  J  // 
//  K  //  L  //  M  //  N  //  O  //  P  //  Q  //  R  //  S  //  T  //
 //  U  //  V  //  W  //  X  //  Y  //  Z  //


IS FOR ART

Must-See Murals in Detroit

Murals // Photographs by Hayden Stinebaugh

Top Row: Mural by Shepard Fairey on the north side of One Campus Martius in downtown Detroit // tiger mural by Arlin Graff in Eastern Market.
Bottom Row: Mural by Ouizi on Agnes Street, between Parker and Van Dyke, in West Village // The Belt, located between Broadway and Library Streets in downtown Detroit // and mural featuring Stevie Wonder on the Avenue of Fashion.

DON'T MISS THESE ANNUAL ART EVENTS
• One of the largest outdoor art fairs in the U.S., the Ann Arbor Art Fair will be held July 19-22 and features works by local artists, street performances, culinary stations, and sidewalk sales. artfair.org
• Detroit Creative Corridor Center’s Detroit Month of Design in September is responsible for open studios, performances, and art installations. detroitdesignfestival.com
• Featuring cocktails, dinner, entertainment, and art auction items, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit Gala and Art Auction is held in the fall. mocadetroit.org
• Held every August by the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Founders Junior Council, Fash Bash features a fashion show alongside the museum’s collection of work. dia.org

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IS FOR BAKERIES

For an easy (and delicious) way to experience metro Detroit and its diverse culture, step inside a few of these favorite spots

New Palace Bakery: We’ll be the first to admit it, picking a favorite Polish bakery in Hamtramck is no easy feat, but this family owned and operated mainstay takes the cake. While best known for their paczki, daily specialties like traditional chalka bread and Hungarian horn pastries can’t be missed. newpalacebakery.com

Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery: Founded in 1949, this family-owned Scottish bakery in Redford uses traditional techniques and recipes to craft their small-batch baked goods, including short breads, meat pies, and tea cakes. Opt for the macaroni and cheese pie for a savory treat you truly can’t get anywhere else in the area. ackroydsbakery.com

Knudsen’s Danish Bakery: If you’re dying for a doughnut (or a Danish), you owe yourself a trip to this longtime Detroit institution. While it’s easy to be swayed by fruit and custard-filled concoctions, or sweet treats coated in toppings like Fruity Pebbles, opt for the original cake doughnut. You won’t regret it. 313-535-0323

Astoria Pastry Shop: Located in the heart of Greektown, this bakery is a must-see dessert destination for anyone visiting the city for the first time. While the location features a variety of Italian, French, and Middle Eastern baked goods, the old-fashioned Greek baklava easily steals the spotlight. 313-963-9603

La Gloria Bakery // Photograph by Jenna Belevender

New Yasmeen Bakery: Dearborn is the place to be when it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine and desserts. At this low-key bakery and grocery store, guests can stock up on sweet and savory favorites like fresh pita and lawash bread, or their famous lokma, deep fried balls of dough. yasmeenbakery.com

Dearborn Italian Bakery: For nearly 60 years, this Italian bakery has been churning out fresh pizza, pasta, and sweet treats for hungry metro Detroiters. Head inside for fresh loaves of crusty Italian bread, fluffy dinner rolls, and a variety of traditional cookies like pizzelles. Of course, you have to try at least one of their cannolis, available in chocolate or regular. dearbornitalianbakery.com

La Gloria Bakery: If you’re craving traditional Mexican desserts, look no further than this vibrant pastelaria. This iconic Mexicantown spot features a laundry list of sweet and savory treats with favorites like decadent tres leches cake, churros, and conchas. Head down Bagley and look for the bright pink building — you can’t miss it. 313-842-5722

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IS FOR CASINOS

MOTOR CITY CASINO & HOTEL

WE TAKE LEGAL GAMBLING IN STRIDE today, but that wasn’t always the case. The Michigan Lottery started in 1972 with the 50-cent “Green Game.” Before then, you could only legally place bets at a horse racetrack — and you still can, at Hazel Park Raceway (hazelparkraceway.com) and Northville Downs (northvilledowns.com). After voters approved Proposal E in 1996, there have been even more fortunes won and lost. If you’re feeling lucky, three major casinos call Detroit home — MotorCity Casino, Greektown Casino, and MGM Grand Detroit (motorcitycasino.com, greektowncasino.com, mgmgranddetroit.com). If that’s not enough temptation, you can cross the border to Canada and visit Caesars Windsor (caesars.com). In addition to the three Detroit casinos, there are more than two dozen Native-American casinos in Michigan. The tax implications are huge: State casino wagering tax revenues go to a state school aid fund for K-12 public education. The city of Detroit levies and collects wagering taxes as well. According to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the three Detroit casinos alone reported $1.4 billion in 2017 aggregate revenue and paid the City of Detroit $177.4 million in wagering taxes and development agreement payments. That’s a lot of green!

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IS FOR DINING

CONEY DOGS AND PIZZA // PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOE VAUGHN
HUMMER AND BUMPY CAKE // PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENNA BELEVENDER
BULLSHOT // PHOTOGRAPH BY JACOB LEWKOW

WITHIN THE LAST DECADE, DETROIT HAS GARNERED NATIONAL ATTENTION FOR ITS RAPIDLY rising dining scene. From James Beard Foundation finalists to full features in the New York Times, Bon Appétit, and National Geographic, hungry eyes from around the country have turned to the city. While newer favorites like Parc (Hour Detroit’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year), Lady of the House, the Apparatus Room, Otus Supply, The Conserva, Grey Ghost, and Voyager have captured our hearts with their fresh and eclectic cuisine, it’s always important to remember our roots. Plenty of foods have rumored origins tracing back to the city, such as the Boston Cooler, zip sauce, and Superman ice cream. Still, some have cemented themselves as cornerstones in a true Detroiter’s diet. Check out these five iconic dishes and drinks and where to dine on them.

Coney Dog: It would be almost sacrilegious not to mention classic coney dogs when talking about iconic Detroit dishes. However, deciding the best place to dine on a coney is much more controversial. Most Detroiter’s can at least agree on one thing: it has to be either American or Lafayette Coney Island.

The dueling coneys have a long history of duking it out. While the exact timeline of the feud is contested, the basic story remains the same. In the early 1900s, Greek immigrant Constantine “Gust” Keros founded American Coney. Years later, his brother William “Bill” Keros moved from Greece to assist with the business. The two eventually split after a dispute and Bill opened Lafayette directly next door. Since then, Detroiters have eagerly chosen sides, pitting wiener against wiener.

Each diner holds its own merit: American with its snappier, grilled dogs; Lafayette with its soft, steamed buns. But both hit the most important points: beanless chili, fresh raw onions, and a hefty squirt of yellow mustard. Over the decades, countless coney chains have popped up around the metro area, Kerby’s, Leo’s, National, and Zef’s, to name a few. But you just can’t ignore the originals. Lafayette Coney Island, 313-964-8198; American Coney Island, 313-961-7758

Bumpy Cake: In 1875, Frederick Sanders Schmidt relocated Sanders, his soda fountain and candy store, to Detroit after fleeing the Great Chicago Fire. Little did he know, his name would eventually become synonymous with Detroit desserts. (For the record, the name is pronounced Sanders with a hard ‘A’ – not Saunders.)

Out of Sanders’ entire sweet treat lineup, one selection stands on its own as truly iconic: the Bumpy Cake. The decadent dessert consists of moist devil’s food cake topped with a thick coating of rich buttercream, drenched with dense fudge icing. Its only potential rival is Sanders’ classic cream puff, doused in hot fudge. But, we can leave that up to you to truly decide. Check out their flagship store in Clinton Township to taste both. sanderscandy.com

The Hummer: The bartender behind this sweet Detroit cocktail is almost as notorious as the drink itself. Since 1967, Jerome Adams has been shaking, mixing, and pouring behind the bar at Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit, but in 1968, he became a legend.

It was that year that Adams first mixed together light rum, Kahlúa coffee-flavored liqueur, and two hefty scoops of vanilla ice cream to craft the Hummer. The boozy milkshake is now known worldwide. In England, the cocktail is known as the Detroit Hummer, but in Germany, it’s rumored to be called the “Sir Jerome,” after its creator. Almost 50 years later, both the cocktail and Adams can still be found at the bar. Enjoy responsibly — Hummers are dangerously easy to drink. byc.com

The Bullshot: Step aside, Bloody Mary. Detroit has its own savory cocktail — with history to boot. Enter, the Bullshot. In the early 1950s, a bartender at Detroit’s Caucus Club combined beef bouillon, lemon juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and vodka to craft an unlikely cocktail sensation. By the middle of the decade, celebrities like Joan Crawford, Richard Chamberlain, and Marilyn Monroe all tried the Detroit original. (Monroe was admittedly not a fan.)

In 2012, the restaurant shuttered, only to be reopened and revamped in 2017 under George Sboukis. Today, guests can enjoy a modified version of the cocktail: The New Bullshot, now made with homemade beef broth, Moletto gin, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar. caucusclubdetroit.com

Detroit-style Pizza: Sometimes it’s cool to be square — especially when it comes to pizza. Classic Detroit-style ’za has captivated locals for decades, and caused some healthy competition (and a few feuds) along the way. The rectangular pizza is the product of a special pan, specifically crafted for Detroit-style pizza. The pan’s origins trace back to Gus Guerra in 1946, the owner of Buddy’s Rendezvous. Some legends says that Guerra’s wife Anna used a metal pan meant for storing auto parts at a local factory as a baking dish when making a pizza. The rest is history.

The rectangular pan creates crispy, crunchy corner pieces, worthy of dinner arguments. However, the real dispute is who is still serving the original Detroit pizza. Buddy’s (buddyspizza.com) has plenty of followers, but Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant (cloverleaf-pizza.com), also founded by Guerra, has a pretty heavy stake, as well. Guerra founded the Eastpointe restaurant in 1953 after selling the original Buddy’s Rendezvous. The location claims that he brought the original recipe with him. The question gets even harder to answer with the addition of Loui’s in Hazel Park (louispizza.net), founded by longtime Buddy’s chef, Louis Tourtois.

While we may never know which is serving the true original recipe, one thing is sure: Detroit-style pizza beats New York and Chicago any day.

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IS FOR EASTERN MARKET


EASTERN MARKET PHOTOGRAPH BY MARTIN VECCHIO

 

SINCE 1981, DETROIT'S EASTERN Market has been a Saturday destination for those seeking high-quality fruits and vegetables and fine cuts of meat. The market boasts more than 220 vendors selling their wares to up to 40,000 visitors every week. Get there early for the freshest produce or come later, when vendors slash prices to lighten the load before they head home. Shops surrounding the market offer flowers, antiques, wine, and seafood.

Of course, the market is more than just a Saturday tourist stop. Savvy chefs visit all week long looking for the freshest fare for their restaurant customers. And there’s the traditional Flower Day (the Sunday after Mother’s Day). But they also have a Sunday Street Market for local artists, cooks, jewelers, musicians, plus a scaled down Tuesday market from June through September.

Eastern Market is also stepping up its community outreach to increase access to good food in an effort to make “a healthier, wealthier, and happier Detroit.” One program, Detroit Kitchen Connect, gives budding food entrepreneurs access to a commercial, licensed kitchen facility.  Eastern Market Corporation hires “Food & Health Fellows” to tackle food justice issues through a Food Assistance operation, a Farm Stand program that offers fresh produce and pantry items at sites around Metro Detroit, “Tasting Stations” set up inside grocery stores to distribute samples and recipe cards that promote health eating, and more. Eastern Market has upgraded its sheds and rents them out for special events, such as weddings or the Michigan Brewers Guild’s annual beer festival. In fact, it will be the site of Hour Detroit’s 2018 Best of Detroit party. Visit easternmarket.com for more information or hourdetroit.com for updates on our big party!

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IS FOR FASHION

We asked a few metro Detroiters how the area influences their style. Here’s what they had to say …

Lora Kawar and Amal Badran-Hadid, bloggers at lamstyle.com and physician assistants 

LORA KAWAR ANAMAL BADRAN HADID //

photograph courtesy of lamstyle

“The city of Detroit has been the major influence over our style and blog. There is such a diverse aesthetic in the city, a mix of old and new, that we try to incorporate into our everyday style. LAMstyle only grows as the city of Detroit grows, and we want to be here for it, documenting our outfits and lattes every step of the way! 

“The architecture, artwork, and over-flowing creativity that surrounds us serves as an unequivocal inspiration, especially when it comes to capturing the perfect photo of our [outfit of the day].”

Sheefy McFly, musician and artist

“At this point, I get the most fashion inspiration from being an artist in Detroit. I see that as a painter and musician, what you wear is a part of your aura. So, it led me to making custom clothing, thrifting, or looking for unique stylists to really capture how I’d like my energy to be read whether I’m onstage, at an exhibition opening, or just chilling around the city.

SHEEFY MCFLY (LEFT) // PHOTO BY JEREMY DEPUTAT

JORDAN BLACKWELL (RIGHT) // PHOTO BY JORDAN BOWENS

“Fashion plays a huge role in my creative process. The right outfit is great publicity. I try to wear clothes that are unique and that make me stand out. When people see what I’m wearing, they know I’m some type of artist or musician.”

Jordan Blackwell, blogger at
lilmissjbstyle.com and engineer

“I come from a small town in Wisconsin where wearing a flannel shirt with jeans is dressing up, so coming to the ‘D’ has had a huge influence on my style. 

“One big aspect of engineering that people often overlook is that design is a very big part of our job, [so] fashion is a more natural creative outlet for me than most people think. There aren’t a lot of women who look like me in the industry, and I love being able to use my style as a way to change the conversation on what being an engineer looks like.”

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IS FOR GREEN SPACES

BELLE ISLE // PHOTOGRAPH BY MARTIN VECCHIO

STRETCHES OF URBAN GARDENS, A CENTURIES-OLD PARK, and a still-expanding RiverWalk offer serene respites from the bustle of the city. Here, a few lush oases, and where to find them.

Since it was developed in the 1880s, Belle Isle Park (belleisleconservancy.org) has expanded to include an historic conservatory, a maritime museum, a nature center, and an aquarium — which happens to be the oldest in the country.

The public spaces that make up the Downtown Detroit Parks (downtowndetroitparks.com) are situated in the heart of the city. Toss a lucky coin into the Woodward Fountain at Campus Martius, snap photos of the skyline from a rooftop garden at Beacon Park, purchase fresh produce from Cadillac Square, or play a game of catch with your pet at Capitol and Grand Circus dog parks.

A Canadian backdrop adds allure to the greenery, plazas, and pavilions along the Detroit River (detroitriverfront.org).

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IS FOR HOTELS

foundation hotel // photograph by martin vecchio

If you’re looking for a “staycation” or a place to send visiting relatives, there are a ton of options, old and new. Staples like the Westin Book Cadillac (bookcadillacwestin.com), downtown, The Inn on Ferry Street near the DIA (innonferrystreet.com), The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham (townsendhotel.com), and The Henry in Dearborn (mariott.com), have been joined by a slew of new choices. There’s the renovated Crown Plaza Ponchartrain Detroit (hotelpontchartrain.com), The Detroit Foundation Hotel (detroitfoundationhotel.com), Trumbull & Porter in Corktown (trumbullandporterhotel.com), The Aloft at The David Whitney (aloftdetroit.com), and one of our favorites, the El Moore — especially when you stay in a rooftop cabin (elmoore.com). There’s more to come with a Shinola hotel, the Siren, and a project by West Elm in the works.

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IS FOR ICONS

The Detroit area has been home to many notable people and brands. Choosing who and what to include is bound to have omissions — nevertheless, here are a few picks:


ANNA SUI AND LILY TOMLIN // PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENNY RISHER

PEOPLE:
(Top Row, Left to Right) // Eminem, rapper // Keegan-Michael Key, comedian // Madonna, pop star
// Anna Sui, designer // Jack White, musician

(Bottom Row, Left to Right) // Henry Ford, innovator // Joe Louis, boxer // Diana Ross, musician and actress
// Lily Tomlin, comedian // Stevie Wonder, musician

BRANDS:
(Top Row, Left to Right) // Better Made // Domino’s Pizza // Faygo Beverages // Ford Motor Co. // Vernors

​(Bottom Row, Left to Right) General Motors // Little Caesars // Motown Records // Quicken Loans // Shinola

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IS FOR JAZZ

LONG BEFORE TECHNO OR MOTOWN, DETROIT WAS (AND STILL IS) A JAZZ hotbed. Back in the 1920s, the biggest names came here to jam on Hastings Street or the Graystone Ballroom. We’re talking icons such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Count Basie. The music also gave rise to “black and tan” cabarets and nightclubs — venues where black artists performed for mixed-race audiences. A few spots stood out, like the black-owned Club Plantation, Chocolate Bar, and Brown Bomber Chicken Shack. One of the few white-owned black-and-tans was Club Harlem, owned by Morris Wasserman. It was renamed The Flame and was a popular ’50s spot.

baker's keyboard lounge // photograph by justin maconochie

One venue that survives is Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, which claims to be the world’s oldest continually operating jazz club (theofficialbakerskeyboard lounge.com). Back in 1933, Chris and Fannie Baker opened a lunchtime sandwich restaurant and by 1934, their son Clarence began booking jazz pianists. In 1952, the club was expanded and remodeled to the Art Deco look it retains today, a 99-seat gem on Livernois just south of Eight Mile.

Other spots are in the running: from classics like Cliff Bell’s (cliffbells.com) and Bert’s Marketplace (bertsentertainmentcomplex.com) to newer joints like the Dirty Dog Jazz Café (dirtydogjazz.com) in Grosse Pointe Farms, which offers a showcase for national and local acts in its intimate 65-seat dining room.

Today’s Detroit Jazz Festival (detroitjazzfest.com) provides year-round concerts and educational programming, but everything culminates in one of the world’s premier jazz festivals every Labor Day Weekend — taking over several city blocks.

But the festival almost went away. In 2005, it was rescued largely through the efforts (and checkbook) of Gretchen Valade, the owner of the Dirty Dog who personally plunked down $15 million. A permanent endowment now supports our world-renowned festival. Valade’s had a hand in some other jazz-related ventures. With business partner Tom Robinson, she started her own label, Mack Avenue Records. More recently, the jazz-loving 92-year-old Carhartt heiress and philanthropist announced she was donating another $2 million to Wayne State University’s jazz program. That’s in addition to the $7.5 million she pledged a few years back.

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IS FOR KAHN

If you seek an impressive building, look about you. We don’t have room to list all the fabulous structures designed by architect Albert Kahn. Here’s just a taste:

the anna scripps whitcomb conservatory //

photograph by martin vecchio

• The Fisher Building
• Detroit Athletic Club
• The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
• Belle Isle Aquarium
• The Packard Plant
• The Maccabees Building
• The Bonstelle Theatre (originally the Temple Beth-El synagogue; Kahn belonged to the congregation).

Find out more at historicdetroit.org.

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IS FOR LAKES


PHOTOGRAPH BY JOSH SCOTT

 

WE'RE SURROUNDED BY 20 PERCENT of the planet’s fresh water, so take advantage of it! Nearby lakes range from great (Erie) to small (Walled Lake) and in between (St. Clair). There are 32 miles of Lake St. Clair shoreline in Macomb County alone (visit the Bay-Rama Fishfly Festival in June — an example of “if you can’t beat ’em, celebrate ’em” philosophy). Get out and swim, boat, fish, or simply cruise Lakeshore Drive and see the mansions of Grosse Pointe.

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IS FOR MUSEUMS

Metro Detroit is home to numerous museums, from the well-known to hidden gems. Here are a few highlights.

With a blue and white sign reading “Hitsville U.S.A.,” the Motown Museum attracts visitors from around the world who want to engage with Motown’s legacy (motownmuseum.org). Founded by Esther Gordy Edwards in 1985, the museum aims to educate and motivate people, especially youth.

3000 E. Grand Boulevard is an unassuming building, three stories high with a few windows and a blue door. Inside is Submerge Record Distribution. Founded by Underground Resistance, a socially conscious techno collective, the space functions as a record store, label headquarters, and museum. Exhibit 3000 (submerge.com) is a museum dedicated to the birth and rise of techno.

Located in Detroit’s Cultural Center, the Detroit Historical Museum (detroithistorical.org) has chronicled the region’s rich history. Visitors can walk down cobblestone streets and an auto assembly line. The Detroit Historical Society also runs the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle. It puts an emphasis on Detroit’s role in maritime history and houses one of the world’s largest known collections of scale model ships.

CHARLES H. WRIGHT MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY


The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (thewright.org) explores and celebrates African-American history and culture. The And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture exhibit is a key to the learning experience.

The Black History 101 Mobile Museum (blackhistorymobilemuseum.com) was founded by Khalid el-Hakim. The collection contains more than 7,000 artifacts that touch on everything from the transatlantic slave trade era to hip-hop. The museum has toured 28 states and over 300 institutions.

The first and only museum in the U.S. dedicated to Arab-American history and culture, the Arab American National Museum (arabamericanmuseum.org) works to dispel misconceptions about the community as well as other minorities.

Dabl’s MBAD African Bead Museum is comprised of 18 outdoor installations, the African Bead Gallery, N’kisi House, and African Language Wall. Founded by Olayami Dabls in 1994, the museum (mbad.org) highlights African artifacts, including sculptures, textiles, bead works, and more.

A visit to The Henry Ford — which includes The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, and The Ford Rouge Factory Tour — offers a window into American culture. The complex (thehenryford.org) features millions of artifacts, plus Model T rides, a 1913-era carousel, and a chance to watch Ford F-150s get assembled.

Set your sights on the Selfridge Military Air Museum (selfridgeairmuseum.org), located on the Selfridge Air National Guard Base. You’ll see full-size aircraft and millions of artifacts and memorabilia from the turn of the 20th century to the present.

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IS FOR NEIGHBORHOODS

Detroit boasts a rich history, including unique places to live. Here are just a few neighborhoods you need to know.


ILLUSTRATION BY DENNIS ERIKSSON

 

BOSTON-EDISON: Industrial barons built spacious homes here between 1905 and 1925. It’s located north of downtown and Midtown, between Woodward Avenue and Linwood Street, and between Boston Boulevard and Edison Street.

CORKTOWN: Founded in 1834, Corktown is Detroit’s oldest surviving neighborhood and was home to Detroit’s Irish immigrant community. Corktown is bordered by Rosa Parks Boulevard and Porter Street to the west and south, and by I-75 and the Lodge (M-10) to the north and east.

DOWNTOWN: Crowds flock downtown for pro sports and a plethora of entertainment and cultural offerings such as music venues, casinos, and an opera house. There are also a wide variety of renowned restaurants here. Downtown Detroit occupies a rough square that’s bounded by the Detroit River, the Lodge, I-375, and I-75.

E. JEFFERSON'S GOLD COAST: This neighborhood is a strip of luxury apartment buildings on the East Jefferson waterfront that’s also known as Detroit’s “Gold Coast.” It’s adjacent to Belle Isle.

GREEKTOWN: The small, vibrant enclave boasts excellent restaurants and nightlife. It’s along Monroe Street between Randolph Street and I-375.

HAMTRAMCK: A separate city completely surrounded by Detroit, Hamtramck was originally the center of a large Polish immigrant community. Today, the area is very diverse with many ethnic groups represented. Neighborhoods mostly contain small, single-family homes. Hamtramck is roughly bounded by I-94 and Carpenter Street, and by St. Aubin Street, I-75, and Conant Street.

INDIAN VILLAGE/WEST VILLAGE: Auto barons and industrialists built many architecturally significant homes here between 1895 and the late 1920s. Indian Village stretches from Jefferson to Mack Avenues between Seminole and Burns Streets. West Village has seen a recent influx of shops, eateries, and new residents.

LAFAYETTE PARK/ELMWOOD PARK: Pedal along the bike paths — and don’t forget to see the famed Mies van der Rohe co-ops here. Lafayette Park is now a National Landmark. It covers an area from Jefferson Avenue to I-75 and Vernor Highway, and from Meldrum Street to I-375.

MIDTOWN: This area boasts a blend of luxury apartments, modest townhouses and condos, high-rise apartments, and lofts. Wayne State University is nearby, as well as many restaurants, bars, and galleries centered along Woodward Avenue north of downtown, between I-75 and Warren Avenue.

NEW CENTER: New Center blends historically important architecture with an up-and-coming shopping district. The Fisher Building, an architectural gem, is here. Located just north of Midtown, between John R and Poe Avenue, from roughly Grand Boulevard to Seward Street.

PALMER WOODS/SHERWOOD FOREST: Characterized by tree-shaded, winding roads and curiously shaped lots, these neighborhoods exhibit Tudor Revival, Neo-Georgian, and Greek Revival styles of the 1920s and ’30s. The neighborhoods cover an area that runs from Woodward Avenue to Livernois Avenue and from Seven Mile Road to Strathcona Drive and Pembroke Avenue.

ROSEDALE PARK/NORTH ROSEDALE PARK: A beautiful neighborhood with roomy homes built by skilled craftsmen, it has always been a great place to raise a family. The neighborhoods are bordered by the Southfield Freeway (M-39), Outer Drive, Evergreen Road, and Acacia Avenue.

SOUTHWEST DETROIT/MEXICANTOWN: Southwest Detroit is home to thousands of businesses and affordable houses. The area is famous for its many popular Mexican restaurants, but smaller, family-run grocery stores, bakeries, and shops are also important attractions. Centered along Vernor Highway and Bagley Street, this neighborhood extends from Rosa Parks Boulevard (Corktown) to the corner of Fort Street and Lawndale Street.

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IS FOR OPERA

OPERA MODO // PHOTOGRAPH BY BRUNO VANZIELEGHEM

THE MICHIGAN OPERA THEATRE/DETROIT TIGERS “Take Me Out to the Opera” program leads off in May with The Summer King opera about Negro League player Josh Gibson (michiganopera.org). Opera Modo does Rossini’s La Cenerentola in May (operamodo.com). Local composer Jim Territo’s The Daedalus 2 Mission: A Space Opera rock fantasy lands at Planet Ant in June (daedalus2misson.com).  And if that’s not enough, The Who frontman Roger Daltrey will perform Tommy the rock opera with the DSO at the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre in July (313presents.com).

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IS FOR PERFORMANCE

Indoors or out, here are some of the top performance venues around town, from the tried-and-true to nearly brand new

MEADOW BROOK AMPITHEATRE: Upcoming summer shows at the outdoor venue include Khalid, Kidz Bop, and Jason Mraz. 313presents.com

CHENE PARK: Boats float by while the riverfront-situated venue kicks into gear during the concert season. cheneparkdetroit.com

LITTLE CAESARS ARENA: Since opening this past September, the newly constructed sports and music arena has seen big-time performers like Kid Rock, Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey, and Lady Gaga. 313presents.org

CAMILA CABELLO

DTE ENERGY MUSIC THEATRE: The granddaddy of all area outdoor music venues is the pit stop for major touring acts as well as events like the Hoedown, an annual country music festival. dteenergymusictheatre.org

MICHIGAN LOTTERY AMPITHEATRE AT FREEDOM HILL: The 7,200-capacity venue is now being booked by 313 Presents.  313presents.com

FOX THEATRE: The Fox hosts everything from concerts and comedians to dance performances and Broadway productions, like The Sound of Music. 313presents.org

THE FILLMORE DETROIT: The historic venue will host comedian Lewis Black as well as singer Camila Cabello this month. thefillmoredetroit.com

EL CLUB: Recent acts include the indie-rock group Palehound Weaves, electronica band Crooked Colours, and a tribute night to hip-hop trio Migos. elclubdetroit.com

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IS FOR QUEER

From coffee shops to concerts, disco-pop performer RV Mendoza shares hotspots among Detroit’s LGBTQ community

FOR A CAFFEINE FIX: “Not only is The Bottom Line [4474 Third St., B2; Detroit; 313-502-5479. thebottomlinecoffeehouse.com] queer/trans-owned and managed, it’s a fantastic place to get work done among friends.”

RV MENDOZA // PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF DANYA ENSING

FOR A DANCE PARTY: “One of my favorite people in the city deejays a party on the first Saturday of every month at Temple Bar [2906 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-832-2822.]. Under the pseudonym Jordache, he collaborates with DJ Thornstryker — the official DJ for the Pistons!”

FOR A JAM SESH: “Detroit winters can be rough. To combat this, I started an annual party called THAW. I curate some wonderful performers [I perform as well!] and throw a dance party. ... Pay close attention to my Instagram @RvxMendoza at the top of every January for announcements.”

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IS FOR RECREATION

No matter the season, we love our leisure time. Here are just a few of the metro area’s abundant choices.

HURON-CLINTON METROPARKS: The regional system has 13 Metroparks throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Livingston counties. Each provides a natural oasis from urban and suburban life and year-round outdoor recreational and educational activities, like picnicking, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, nature study, biking, golf, disc golf, winter sports, and more. metroparks.com

DETROIT RIVERWALK:  Detroit RiverFront Conservancy has been leading the charge to transform our international riverfront into a place that’s both beautiful and accessible. Catch a festival or other activities at Hart Plaza, the GM Plaza, or Chene Park. You can also rent a bike or ride your own. detroitriverfront.org 

DETROIT RIVER SPORTS: Explore another side of Detroit on a kayak or stand up paddle board tour of the city’s historic canals, a cruise through Belle Isle, or just head out to watch the sunset. detroitriversports.com


LEXUS VELODROME // PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIKA FULK

 

LEXUS VELODROME: Operated by the Detroit Fitness Foundation, the new Lexus Velodrome (pictured above) near Eastern Market is Michigan’s first indoor velodrome. The complex offers free programs for youths and seniors and has three fields of play, which includes a world-class cycling track, running, walking, and skating lanes as well as a multipurpose infield. lexusvelodrome.com

DETROIT ROLLING PUB: Pedal your way through the city of Detroit to the best bars, restaurants, and stadiums. It’s great for sporting event attendees, out-of-town visitors, and bar crawls. detroitrollingpub.com

THE GARDEN BOWL: One of America’s oldest active bowling centers, the Garden Bowl in Detroit has open bowling as well as Rock-n-Bowl parties that include glow-in-the-dark lanes. majesticdetroit.com

WHEELHOUSE DETROIT: Experience the Motor City on two wheels with group tour routes, bike rentals, maintenance service, and bikes to purchase. wheelhousedetroit.com

PLANET ROCK: This world-class indoor rock climbing facility, which has locations in Ann Arbor and Madison Heights, accommodates climbers of all ages and experience levels. planet-rock.com

PAINT CREEK TRAIL: While there are all sorts of bike trails popping up in the metro area, this nearly nine-mile-long stretch in northeast Oakland County was the first non-motorized “Rail-to-Trail” in Michigan. paintcreektrail.org

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IS FOR SPORTS


SPORTS MAP // BY AUSTIN PHILLIPS

 

DETROIT PISTONS: Leaving the Palace of Auburn Hills after 29 years, the Pistons moved to the Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit last year. At the end of January, all-star forward Blake Griffin was traded to the Detroit Pistons from the Los Angeles Clippers. nba.com

DETROIT RED WINGS: In 2017, the Red Wings made the transition from their former home of 38 years at Joe Louis Arena to the Little Caesars Arena. The Red Wings’ regular season will end with a game against the New York Islanders on April 7. nhl.com

DETROIT TIGERS: It may be a long rebuilding kind of season, but it will still be fun to watch the new talent develop. And there’s always the Comerica Carousel, the Fly Ball Ferris Wheel, and local craft beer options …. mlb.com

DETROIT LIONS: Former New England Patriots defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, is the new head coach for the Lions. The upcoming season will include home games against the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers, and Minnesota Vikings. detroitlions.com

DETROIT CITY FC: This soccer team, founded in 2012, has been creating quite a buzz with consistently sold-out games and amazing fan base packing their Hamtramck stadium. The team currently plays in the National Premier Soccer League and will face Western Michigan University for their season opener on April 14. detcityfc.com

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IS FOR TRANSPORTATION

QLINE // PHOTOGRAPH BY MARTIN VECCHIO

SIGNS OF WHAT DEFINES US AS "THE MOTOR CITY" ARE EVERYWHERE — from the GM Renaissance Center and Ford freeway to historic sites like the Packard Plant. And the Woodward Dream Cruise, Concours d’Elegance, and North American International Auto Show (woodwarddreamcruise.com, concoursusa.org, naias.com) prove our love of things that roll. Now, the maligned People Mover has been joined by the QLine to boost our admittedly poor mass transit options (thepeoplemover.com; qlinedetroit.com). There’s also the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel built in 1930. It’s still the world’s only underwater route for automobiles that crosses an international border (dwtunnel.com), and yes, there’s still the abandoned Michigan Central Station.

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IS FOR UNIVERSITIES

Metro Detroit is home to a number of higher-education institutions. Here’s a peek at what some have to offer.

Eastern Michigan University: Located nearly 30 miles outside of Detroit in Ypsilanti, the university has five main colleges: Business, Education, Health & Human Services, Technology, and Arts & Sciences, which offers a unique program focused on fermentation. emich.edu

Oakland University: Offering nearly 280 degree and certificate programs, Oakland University is attended by more than 20,000 students. The school is based in Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills, and it counts Meadow Brook Amphitheatre as a neighbor. oakland.edu

WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY

University of Detroit Mercy: The private, Roman Catholic university was founded in the late 1800s. Today, the school offers more than 100 areas of study at its Detroit campus, and is particularly known for its dentistry and nursing programs. udmercy.edu

University of Michigan: The university, which is well-known for its football team’s rivalry with Ohio State University, is an anchor of Ann Arbor, with a campus in Dearborn. It’s continuously ranked as one of the best colleges in the country, and is renowned for programs related to creative writing and health.
umich.edu

Wayne State University: Wayne State has transformed over the years alongside Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood, which it is based in. The urban campus offers more than 370 programs, including the only mortuary science degree in Michigan. wayne.edu

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IS FOR VOLUNTEER

Pick your passion and share your talents to make the world a better place. Here are just a few opportunities.

MICHIGAN HUMANE SOCIETY

NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK IS IN APRIL, but there are year-round opportunities. Recycle and help children at the same time at Arts & Scraps (artsandscraps.org). Help end animal homelessness by volunteering with the Michigan Humane Society (michiganhumane.org). Volunteer for The Gleaners Community Food Bank (gcfb.org). Get down an dirty with Greening of Detroit (greeningofdetroit.com) and plant a tree. Provide care and support to patients, families, and staff at Detroit Medical Center hospitals (dmc.org). Join Detroit Reads (detroitpubliclibrary.org) or do a once-a-week stint as a member of the Reading Corps at Detroit’s public schools. (detroitk12.org/readingcorps). Or help homeless/high risk girls and young women at Alternatives for Girls (alternativesforgirls.org).

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IS FOR WELLNESS

Yoga instructor/blogger Sitara Bird knows just where to go, what to do (and what to eat) for a day of health and fitness

 

9:15 a.m. Take a fitness class “Kimo Frederiksen is an encouraging personal trainer at True Body Fitness [tbfdetroit.com]. I’ve done a few training sessions with him and he changes a lot of his clients’ lives. Above the Barre X [abovethebarrex.com] Barre stems from dance and Pilates, so it’s very alignment-based. For somebody like me who struggles with hypermobility, it’s been a wonderful complement to my yoga practice.”

11:30 a.m. Grab a snack “There’s a new company called Nakee Butter [nakeebutter.com]. Their spreads are handcrafted with minimal ingredients like high quality peanut butter, MCT oil, plant-based protein, and cacao. It’s a wonderful post-workout snack.”

12:00 p.m. Get a massageTantra Spa [tantra-spa.com] offers massages, manicures, pedicures, and facials.  I feel like I get to hide away from the world for a little bit in this beautiful cozy bubble of love where everyone is so sweet and the services are always great. I recently got a full body massage and it was divine — I’m pretty sure I passed out on the table. It was very bliss.”

1:30 p.m. Eat lunch “I love Cacao Tree Café [cacaotreecafe.com], a small, all vegan, and mostly raw small café nestled in Royal Oak. If you go in, you have to try the raw burrito — it’s phenomenal.”

3:30 p.m. Stay hydratedNeu Kombucha [neukombucha.com] Lavender Lemonade Kombucha is delicious.”

7:00 p.m. Unwind with yoga “I teach and practice at all three Citizen Yoga [citizenyogastudio.com] locations, but my favorite is the Detroit space. It’s quite large in comparison to the others and the energy of the community is so wonderful. I’ve seen so many friendships blossom.”

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IS FOR X-FILES

TAPHOPHILES, LOVERS OF FUNERALS AND CEMETERIES, need not look further for a historic haunt. The grounds of Elmwood Cemetery (elmwoodhistoriccemetery.org) are on the site of the Battle of Bloody Run in 1763 where Chief Pontiac ambushed British soldiers, leading a nearby creek to run red with blood. “Tombstone Tales” tours feature the stories of some notables buried here (brewer August Goebel and former Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young to name just two), along with a discussion of memorial art symbolism and architecture.

WOODMERE CEMETERY // PHOTOGRAPH BY GAIL HERSHENZON

Woodmere Cemetery (woodmerecemeteryresearch.com), located in southwest Detroit, is the final resting place of lumber baron David Whitney Jr. as well as the "Witch of Del Rey." Although recent research indicates the claims were false, previous reporting has said she killed guests at a boarding house she ran.

Speaking of Whitney, the restaurant named for him, has a Ghost Bar that’s another one of Detroit’s famed haunted hangouts (thewhitney.com). That’s not the only bar for thirsty spirits. The Prohibition-era Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill (tommysdetroit.com) has a legitimate Purple Gang legacy, plus a haunted tunnel that once served to smuggle booze. Cheers!

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IS FOR YOUTH ACTIVITIES

A few places and events that cater to kids

MEADOW BROOK THEATRE (mbtheatre.com) is in the midst of its 10th Annual Children’s Series.

DETROIT FLYHOUSE // PHOTOGRAPH BY MARTIN VECCHIO

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN NATIONAL HISTORICAL MUSEUM (tuskegeemuseum.org) recounts the contributions of Americans who defended the nation during a period of inequality and injustice.

THE MICHIGAN SCIENCE CENTER (mi-sci.org) is a great place to learn about space, life, physical science, and more.

THE DETROIT FLYHOUSE CIRCUS SCHOOL (detroitflyhouse.com) offers training for children and adults in traditional circus arts.

THE DNR'S OUTDOOR ADVENTURE CENTER near Detroit’s riverfront offers a taste of Michigan’s great outdoors with hands-on activities, exhibits, and simulators. (michigan.gov)

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IS FOR ZOO


detroit ZOO // PHOTOGRAPH BY JOSH SCOTT

 

GO ON A ZOO DATE, EXPLORE HOW ANIMALS show their love, ride the train, make a wish at the bear fountain, and walk with the kangaroos. Visit the zoo’s website to see how you can make the day more special with experiences like “Mingle with the Macaronis (penguins) in the Polk Penguin Conservation Center,” “Breakfast with the Giraffes,” and more. detroitzoo.org

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Archive »Related Content

2017 City Guide: Hidden Detroit

Unlocking the secrets to some of the city’s lesser-known gems

Time Travel

In the early 20th century, Detroit was a tourist destination — a place to see and be seen. And there was no shortage of excursion companies so visitors could take in the sights of a city on the move.

Water Works

Like outdoor sculpture and monuments, fountains add beauty to a city. But these forms of liquid architecture have an added benefit: They appeal not just to our sense of sight, but to our sense of sound. Go with the flow

City Living

Usually, people want to escape from the city, but some like to escape to an urban environment, citing their second home’s proximity to cultural and sports venues, terrific views, and relative affordability.

On The Town

From breakfast until the wee hours, 14 metro Detroit insiders share where they’d take their guests for a good time, including restaurants, nightclubs, museums, retailers, and historic neighborhoods.
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