101 Things Every Detroiter Should Do
Including Some Helpful 'How-To' Hints
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Whether you live south of Eight Mile or commute in from an outer-ring suburb, you’re a Detroiter at heart, right? Next time you're strapped for something to do — or if you have out-of-town visitors looking for a quintessential "Motown" experience — keep this handy guide in mind. While every little thing on our list might not be up your alley, there's a little something for everyone. We included the tried-and-true-but-still-awesome (Tigers Opening Day and the Detroit Zoo). We also put in a few slightly obscure, "insider-only" attractions and events (Hamtramck Disneyland and Detroit Soup fundraisers). Along the way, we'll show you how to fist-bump Joe Louis, point out a few dos and don'ts of fishing, and much, much more. Just don't let us catch you sounding like a summertime teen complaining, "There's nothing to do."
Say Goodbye to 'The Joe'
Sure, the outside steps are a pain — and let's not even talk about the long bathroom lines. Now that there's a proposed new hockey arena in the works, it's better to remember the good times — the Red Wings' unprecedented playoff streak, the Stanley Cups, heck, even "Mo Cheese."
Complain About the Lions
Well, at least they got the building right (see "The Joe" above). The Lions still pack 'em in at Ford Field, even though it's been decades since they were champions. But hope springs eternal. Plus there's a lot of traditions — tailgating in Eastern Market, Thanksgiving Day games, and yes, heckling the team when they don't perform up to expectations.
Give the Pistons Another Chance
Sure, the past few seasons have been a bit dicey, and the dwindling crowds have reflected the team's performance. But owner Tom Gores and Co. are making strides to make sure that "Deeeetroit basketball" is relevant again.
Get Cultured at the Detroit Film Theatre
Cinema buffs can find a sophisticated lineup of contemporary and classic art films inside the Detroit Institute of Arts at the longstanding Detroit Film Theatre. Moviegoers can sign up to serve as volunteer ushers or join the hundreds of patrons who've purchased a tax-deductible seat dedication, starting at $500.
5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900. dia.org
Do Woodward Justice
The namesake of Michigan's first chief justice, Woodward Avenue would soon become America's first paved road. And there's no better way to appreciate its grandeur than from the private rooftop of the historic Park Shelton in Midtown. Get to know someone who lives or works in the building. It's the best-kept view in town.
Photograph by Justin Maconochie
Make It a Date Night at the DIA
A Bloomberg journalist recently suggested that the DIA's art would be better appreciated in a city like Los Angeles. We just think she's jealous. The collections at the Detroit Institute of Arts are indeed priceless. But may we suggest taking it all in at least once with an unexpected happy hour/dinner date at the newly redesigned Kresge Court? Picasso, Matisse, Rivera, et al., may be more appreciated when accompanied by a good glass of wine and some exciting new food options.
Get Lost in a Good Book
John K. King Used and Rare Books on Lafayette is an emporium of literary works — and Michigan's largest bookstore. Spend a day exploring its vast array of titles and getting lost amid its towering stacks.
Park in History
The former location of the Michigan Theater, the beautifully ornate Michigan Building now caters to the needs of those looking for an interesting place to park. The building was the backdrop of some scenes in Eminem's Detroit classic 8 Mile.
Catch a Race at Belle Isle
From the ear-pleasing sounds of hydroplanes during the APBA Gold Cup to the roar of the revived Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, there are plenty of thrills for fans of fast.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
When you hear the word zoo, you don't automatically think of romance. But the Detroit Zoo is a great place to take your loved one. Go on a zoo date, explore how animals show their love, ride the train, make a wish in the bear fountain, eat fried food, and meet some of the crazy creatures featured in Hour Detroit's Animal Attraction series. Visit the zoo's website to see how you can make the day more special, with experiences like "Mingle With the Macaronis (penguins)" "Breakfast with the Giraffes," and more.
Photograph by Justin Maconochie
Love a Parade!
You never know what the weather will be like … but you should consider getting off the couch at least once and witness America's Thanksgiving Parade
in person. After all, it's one of the country's oldest and most celebrated events. But if you insist on babysitting your turkey dinner or have Lions tickets, the parade is broadcast on WDIV Local 4.
Photograph by Justin Maconochie
Get Haunted at the Whitney
You can either dine with your friends at the Whitney, or you can dine with its ghosts, too. The famously haunted Detroit residence-turned-restaurant is hosting haunted dinners and haunted high teas with Detroit psychic and medium Kristy Robinett. It's a ghostly way to learn all the dark stories behind this historic mansion on Woodward Avenue.
Visit kristyrobinett.com for the schedule; call the Whitney for reservations: 313-832-5700
Illustration by Headcase Design
Get a Bead on Africa
Don't start packing your suitcase yet — when you pay a visit to Detroit's African Bead Museum, you just might feel like you've landed in Africa. Olayami Dabis, the museum's curator, fine artist, and historian, shares her unique African experience with Detroiters, without the high price of a plane ticket.
Pick a Pack of Perfect Paczkis
French for "Fat Tuesday," Mardi Gras takes place every year on the day before Lent. In New Orleans, streets are filled with costumed revelers. In Hamtramck, it's a longstanding tradition on Fat Tuesday to wait in long lines as neighborhood bakeries churn out thousands of the mouthwatering jelly-filled treats known as paczkis ("punch-keys"). Be an office hero and bring in a few dozen, then sit back and enjoy as your Catholic and non-Catholic co-workers praise (or curse) you for providing the tasty temptations.
Cheer on a Derby Girl
The Motor City Disassembly Line, the Motown Wreckers, the D-Funk All Stars, and the Detroit Pistoffs. These cleverly constructed Detroit spinoffs are just a few of our local roller derby teams in the city, a sporting event that's a bit more underground than your typical professional ballgame.
Photograph by Cybelle Codish
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