101 Things Every Detroiter Must Do



Published:

(page 3 of 5)

41 Get a Piece of History 

In the world of design and décor, nothing says Detroit like an embossed tile from the Pewabic Pottery studio. Often arranged in stunning mosaics, the tiles adorn homes and buildings throughout the area, as well as spots around the U.S., including the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., and the Herald Square subway station in New York City. Stop by the Tudor-style building in Detroit where Pewabic Pottery has been operating since 1907 and you can buy a piece of history - or even take classes to learn how to do it yourself. 10125 E. Jefferson; 313-822-0954, www.pewabic.com.

42 See Hoffa's Last Hangout 

Every few years, prosecutors and police try cracking Detroit's greatest unsolved mystery. But the only thing certain about Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance is this: He was last seen on July 30, 1975, in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township. Wander the blacktop and you won't find any clues, but you will discover a great meal. The restaurant is now Andiamo Italia West. 6676 Telegraph Rd.; 248-865-9300, www.andiamoitalia.com.

43 Jazz it up at Baker's 

In Detroit's rich musical history, Baker's Keyboard Lounge occupies a special place as one of the city's last great jazz clubs. Opened in 1934 as a beer and sandwich shop, its stage has been graced by everyone from John Coltrane to Oscar Peterson to Dave Brubeck. (Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald also made cameos years ago.) These days, jazz enthusiasts from the city and suburbs mingle over cocktails and soul food and listen to bands. Most are local, but big-time national acts still stop by. Look closely and you may spot a Motown star at the keyboard-shaped bar. 20510 Livernois; 313-345-6300, www.bakerskeyboardlounge.com.

44 Drink in Oktoberfest 

Lederhosen is not required attire at the Dakota Inn Rathskeller, but a pair might make you feel more at home in this authentic German outpost on a dark, gritty stretch of John R. Visitors are greeted at the door by waitresses attired in traditional Fräulein gear, while piano and accordion players belt out songs from a long, long time ago. It's the best little Biergarten in Detroit. 17324 John R; 313-867-9722, www.dakota-inn.com.

45Go Colonial at Greenfield 

Kids in metro Detroit are forever bored with conventional history lessons after a time-traveling, mind-bending trip to this 88-acre complex in Dearborn. Founded in 1929 by Henry Ford, Greenfield Village pays tribute to America's past with living history exhibits that span from the mid-17th century to the early 20th. Actors in period costumes inhabit homes, neighborhoods and buildings in what feels like a Ken Burns documentary come to life. In the summer, classic baseball games are like a scene out of Field of Dreams and the vintage train is a hit with visitors of all ages. 313-982-6100, www.hfmgv.org.

46 Catch a Concert on the Water 

There are few summer experiences more refreshing than the combination of smooth tunes, a sweet breeze and views of shimmering water. It may seem implausible, but this slice of paradise can be found in downtown Detroit. On the banks of the Detroit River just off East Jefferson, Chene Park's amphitheater is home to a packed lineup of jazz, soul and R&B acts from June through August. The only bad notes are from the horns of passing freighters. 2600 Atwater St.; 313-393-0292, www.cheneparkdetroit.com.

47 Break Bread at Avalon 

On any given morning in Midtown Detroit, hung-over college students and harried professionals may be running late, but they won't face the day without Avalon bakery. Stop by and you'll understand why. Beyond the coffee and tea, the sweet treats (especially the scones) are outrageous. And the fresh-baked breads (try the Greektown Olive Loaf or Raisin Pecan) are a slice of … well, you get the picture. You'll also find Avalon's bread at local stores including Holiday Market in Royal Oak. 442 W. Willis; 313-832-0008.

48 Shine a Light on Angel's Night 

Once upon a time, Halloween Eve in Detroit was called Devil's Night. But in the past decade, the city has turned what was a night of fear into one of celebration. More than 40,000 now join in the citywide effort to police the streets - and enjoy terrific block parties. Grab a flashlight and a friend, and join the effort. You'll see another side of the city and get some great food. 313-224-4415, www.angelsnight.org.

49 Spin Out Downtown 

New York City has the rink at Rockefeller Center. In Detroit, the coolest ice is at Campus Martius, in the shadow of Compuware. Bring your skates (or rent them at the rink) during cold-weather months, or chill out when it's warm. Visit the Au Bon Pain café and have fun finding the "Point of Origin" - the spot from which Detroit's streets were mapped. 313-962-0101, www.campusmartiuspark.org.

50 Get a Great Deal 

Many a road trip on I-75 has been sidelined by the seductive powers of two outlet malls. Instead of that alleged "quick stop," plan a full-fledged getaway to the Horizon Outlets in Monroe (Exit 11, 734-241-4813) or the Prime Outlets of Birch Run (Exit 136, 989-624-6226). With 170 stores, Birch Run is the granddaddy of outlet centers in the Midwest and (shopping nuts, make sure you're seated) it just welcomed this divine trio: Coach, Pottery Barn and Banana Republic. Bye. If you won't be home in time for dinner, nearby Frankenmuth has some tasty eats.

51 High at the Ren Cen 

Harrison Ford and Brian Dennehy did it in the 1990 film Presumed Innocent, and most Detroiters will tell you it's the biggest rush around: shooting to the top of the 73-story building that houses GM's headquarters. Step into one of the building's glass elevators and you quickly get an eye-popping view of Jefferson Avenue falling away and Cobo Center shrinking to the size of a Lego castle. Thankfully, there's coffee (and booze) in the restaurants at the top to calm your jangled nerves. The best excuse to soar is Coach Insignia restaurant. 313-567-2622.

52 Do a Lap in the Park 

Thanks to Huron-Clinton Metroparks, Detroiters are never far from one of 13 great outdoor escapes. Two of the best are at opposite ends of the metro area: Stoney Creek in Shelby Township (4300 Main Park Rd.; 586-781-4242) and Kensington in Milford (2240 W. Buno Rd.; 248-685-1561). Both are popular with joggers, bikers and inline skaters, as they traverse miles of paved trails surrounding beautiful lakes. There are also rustic trails, golf courses and boat rentals. Bring a picnic basket and don't be surprised when you come face-to-nose with a deer.

53 Play Like a Kid 

Long before X-Box, arcade games made noises like "ka-ching" and didn't require you to be raised on MTV. Detroiters who want to play old-school-style bring their game to Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills. The zany arcade is packed with coin-operated games, ancient pinball machines and, okay, for tech-savvy kids, some video games. 31005 Orchard Lake Rd.; 248-626-5020, www.marvin3m.com.

54 Get Away Inn Town 

It may not be far from home, but sneak away to the Inn on Ferry Street in Midtown Detroit and you'll feel as if you've traveled back to 19th-century England (okay, with Jacuzzi tubs). The Inn is four Victorian homes and two carriage houses that are loaded with Old-World charm and luxury but also have modern amenities. Spend the night or the whole weekend and, like the New York Times and the Guardian newspaper in London, you'll be telling everyone it's the place to stay in the Motor City. 84 E. Ferry St.; 313-871-6000, www.theinnonferrystreet.com.

55 Spend a Night with the Fox 

Its signature marquee on Woodward only hints at the grandeur inside. From the lobby's stairway to the auditorium's ornately carved décor to the stained-glass chandelier, the Fox Theatre is a treat before the curtain even rises. Opened in 1928, the Fox was long a magnet for America's most popular musical acts and Broadway performers. The Ilitch family has restored the theater's original shine. See a show here, and you'll be back for an encore. 2211 Woodward; 313-983-6611, www.olympiaentertainment.com.

56 Burn Holiday Calories 

On Thanksgiving Day, "I ran the Turkey Trot" is the best excuse to have another helping of Mom's cooking with all the trimmings. Now in its 23rd year, the often-wacky 10-k (6.2-mile) race is one of Michigan's biggest, drawing some 6,000 runners. Go trot and you'll have plenty of fans. The course is lined with Detroiters waiting for the parade to start. 313-923-7400, www.theparade.org.

57 Bar-Hop in Hamtramck 

An island of a city (it's surrounded on all sides by Detroit and a bit of Highland Park) built by Polish immigrants and now home to other Eastern Europeans, Yemenis, Albanians and other nationalities, Hamtramck is renowned for its diverse … nightlife. Few communities claim so many bars and live-music venues. The best spots line the main drag, Joseph Campau. For good old beer-drinking fun, hit Seven Brothers (313-365-6576) and the Belmont (313-871-1700); for trendy types, it's Lush (313-872-6220); and for live music, you can't beat the Attic (313-354-4194).

58 Start the Day at Russell Street 

For hungry shoppers in Detroit's Eastern Market, the place to refuel is found in a storefront painted green. Russell Street Deli is renowned for pancakes made from scratch and raisin bread French toast. And for lunch, where else can you find sandwiches of real rye and pumpernickel, stuffed with meat and veggies purchased fresh at the market? The lines are long for Saturday breakfasts, but be patient - the payoff is terrific.

59 Stroll the Riverfront 

After decades of fits and starts and development plans gone awry, Detroit's riverfront is finally becoming a destination. Thanks in large part to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, a nonprofit group formed in 2002, work has finally started on a miles-long project with areas to walk, skate or bike. The first phase, the Promenade at General Motors, is already finished. Step out behind the Ren Cen and see what the future holds.

60 Tune in at a Festival 

Head into the city on any given warm-weather weekend, and you're guaranteed to find a festival. The mind-boggling possibilities include: The Downtown Hoe Down, Jazz Fest, Freedom Fest, Summer Jamz Fest, Techno Fest, Ribs and Soul Fest, Afro-American Music Fest, Arab and Chaldean World Fest and Caribbean International Fest. And those are only the events at Hart Plaza. Throw in the Comerica TasteFest (New Center) and the many options in the fall and winter, and there's no doubt Detroiters know how to party.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

R♡mantic Getaways

A taste of some of Michigan's lesser-known, but unique, bed and breakfast destinations

Detroit Itinerary: Ways to Spend A Day or Two in the 'D'

Make a day (or a weekend) of it with this trek of Motown. Just remember to bring a pair of comfortable shoes.

10 Exotic Honeymoon Destinations

From pristine islands to a hidden desert oasis, our top 10 honeymoon destinations are well off the beaten path.

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.

Your Guide to Michigan’s Odd and Unusual Festivals

We rounded up some of the state’s most niche events, celebrating everything from fishflies to Elvis
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Makings of the Shinola Hotel
    When the Detroit brand’s first foray into hospitality opens its doors, it’ll offer customers...
  2. My Two Christmases
    An Armenian-Iranian, Detroit-based writer reflects on transposing the holiday across continents
  3. New Year’s Eve, Brooklyn Style
    Tips for celebrating 2019 from the pros at Brooklyn Outdoor
  4. Main Review: SheWolf
    Born in Detroit but inspired by Rome, SheWolf takes diners on a culinary journey
  5. The Art of Gifting
    Metro Detroit tastemakers from all walks of life offer a glimpse of what’s on their holiday...
  6. Meet the Makers: Tait Design Co.
    How an after-work hobby ascended to a booming business
  7. Comeback Catering
    Dish, in Detroit, pushes through hard times with consistently delicious food
  8. Precious Metals
    Layering necklaces, stacking rings, and placing bangle upon glitzy bangle: a definitive guide to...
  9. Food Recipe: Braised Beef Brisket
    Chef Aaron Lowen, of Empire Kitchen & Cocktails, shares one of his favorite holiday recipes
  10. An Hour with ... Ricki Friedman
    Founder, Break the Weight