Some cities wear their assets on their sleeve. Others are best discovered with the help of an insider. Following is a metro Detroit tour, courtesy of locals. Several metro Detroit denizens list the spots they like to share with visiting friends and clients.
Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, MGM Grand Detroit
“Honestly, I bring my guests to MGM Grand. There’s so much to offer: gaming, spa, nightlife, a beautiful hotel, and excellent food venues. My other favorite attraction is Andiamo in the RenCen and the whole riverfront scene.”
Owner, Scavolini by Cucina Moda, Birmingham
- A Tigers Game with drinks/food at the Town Pump Tavern downtown before or after baseball.
- A Red Wings Game. Take the People Mover from Greektown to Joe Louis Arena after eating the feta pizza at Niki’s Pizza. “Best pizza in Michigan.”
- U of M Wolverines football at the Big House. Have drinks/food at Gratzi or Conor O’Neill’s Traditional Irish Pub in downtown Ann Arbor.
- Eastern Market for produce or antiques and eat at Supino’s, or, just sit outside at Bert’s and listen to Motown karaoke.
- Bike around Detroit. A sample itinerary: Eastern Market, the RiverWalk, RenCen, Campus Martius Park. Ride to Nemo’s in Corktown for burgers, or Motor City Brewing Works in Midtown.
- “My store is in Birmingham, so, typically, we’ll stop by Scavolini and then continue shopping and have lunch at an outdoor restaurant: Café Via, Commonwealth, Luxe, Streetside Seafood, or Elie’s Mediterranean Grill and Bar.”
Edsel Ford II
Ford Board Member, offers an almost all-Ford tour for visitors.
- Breakfast at The Original Pancake House, Grosse Pointe Woods.
- Tour the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, Grosse Pointe Shores.
- Lunch at the Eagle Tavern, Greenfield Village, Dearborn. Afterward, tour the Village.
- Afternoon snack at Lamy’s Diner in the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn. Afterward, tour the museum.
- Cocktails at The Henry hotel, Dearborn, followed by dinner at The Dearborn Inn.
- Meadow Brook Hall. “It’s so beautiful and one of the great showplaces that we have in Michigan.”
- “We live very close to Franklin Village, and during the summer, we bike and eat out in the garden at the Franklin Grill. In September, we always take our guests to the Franklin Cider Mill.”
- Bacco, “one of our favorite restaurants and always on our to-do list.”
Senior Vice President of Economic Development, Detroit Regional Chamber
“I’m relatively new to Detroit, a champion for the region professionally, and a foodie personally, so I like to show visitors Detroit’s food highlights to dispel the pernicious falsehood that there’s no good food here. Eastern Market is obviously a highlight, and I also make sure to take Italian food fans to Luigi’s Original Restaurant, which is on Jefferson in Harrison Township. Last summer, [we] dined at The Whitney to celebrate my family’s moving to Detroit, and it was absolutely memorable. The food was great and the staff let us tour the entire house on our own. They could not have been more friendly and accommodating. Anything that accentuates the positive of where Detroit is heading is fair game for a visit, and for this reason I try to avoid showing visitors ruin porn. To see some old beautiful Detroit architecture that’s being preserved and restored, try the gorgeous old homes in the Arden Park-East Boston Historic District.”
“Let’s imagine a Saturday:”
- The Westin Book Cadillac as a hotel stay. We’d get up early and head to Russell Street Deli. Then we’d head to the DIA because everyone has to see Rivera Court and the vast collection. Afterward, I would take my guest on a quick tour of our amazing architecture downtown and to Corktown to show our beautiful and famous train station. We’d grab lunch at Slows Bar BQ, then a coffee at Astro next door. After treating ourselves to some hipster espresso, we’d go to John K. King Books and the Detroit Antiques Mall to do some nostalgia shopping. Disco nap back at the hotel. Dinner at Michael Symon’s restaurant — my favorite in the city — Roast. Pre-drinks at Fountain Bistro in Campus Martius Park. Catch a live jazz set at Cliff Bell’s. Later, the nightclub choices for the evening would either be V Nightclub at MGM, mixed with some gambling, or Exodus Lounge’s rooftop in Greektown.
Founder Hostel Detroit
- Sunset Point on Belle Isle, especially at sundown.
- Quirky spot: Hamtramck Disneyland.
- The Motown Museum.
- Historic (and beautiful) residential neighborhoods: Indian Village, Boston-Edison, or Palmer Woods.
- Ethnic commercial corridor: Vernor between Junction and Springwells.
- Ford Piquette Plant at Piquette and Brush in Detroit.
- The RiverWalk (and Dequindre Cut if there’s time).
- Happy hour at Coach Insignia.
- Friday night at Café D’Mongo’s Speakeasy downtown.
- John’s Carpet House, 2133 Frederick St., between 3 p.m. and sundown on Sunday afternoons in the summertime for live blues.
DSO Music Director
- “Recently, I started visiting sites in the downtown area. Among them was the Heidelberg Project. This example of outsider art, at once sad and celebratory, has become a must-see when I’m taking friends around.”
“Although we have many wonderful tourism treasures here, I always enjoy showing visitors what we in Detroit are really all about. There’s no better way to convey the true spirit and character of our town than to give visitors a look at our automotive heritage. It may sound unconventional, but I often take out-of-town guests by The Rouge, a complex that helped build Detroit and was once one of the greatest industrial wonders of the world and is now a National Historic Landmark.”
- The tour is not complete without making a stop at the RenCen for a panoramic view of the Motor City and Windsor.
- “I proudly take visitors to my hometown of Grosse Ile, a community filled with automotive history as the home and summer retreat of many industry notables, including Ransom E. Olds of Oldsmobile fame and Charles and William Fisher, founders of Fisher Body. The island is the perfect place to showcase the essence of the Great Lakes lifestyle that surrounds us.”
Vice President of Museum Operations, DIA
Detroit Institute of Arts. “I enjoy being in the mesmerizing Rivera Court and looking at the paintings Judith and Her Maidservant, by Artemesia Gentileschi, and Officer of the Hussars, by Kehinde Wiley.”
- Lakeshore Drive in the Grosse Pointes.
- Dutch Girl Donuts on Woodward, south of Seven Mile.
- The new Corktown triangle: Slows Bar BQ, Mercury Burger Bar, and Sugar House.
- Green Dot Stables: “The sliders are imaginative and killer.”
- Stop for a good coney dog (“I have no allegiance” to either American or Lafayette.)
- “The deboned chicken and shawarmas at CK Mediterranean Grille are fantastic.”
- “Phenomenal” stuffed peppers, chicken salad, and sliders at The Bucharest Grill, downtown.
- A burger at Redcoat Tavern.
- El Barzon restaurant in Southwest Detroit.
- A trip to a bodega or two in Southwest Detroit.
- If time permits and if they’re traveling with a passport, take a trip to Windsor.
- Downtown districts in Royal Oak and Birmingham.
- A ride through the pastoral neighborhoods of Bloomfield Hills.
- “I love, love, love showing off the spectacularly beautiful neighborhood of Palmer Woods.”
- “If they’re up for a shopping trip, then it’s Great Lakes Crossing and Somerset Collection.”
Program Coordinator, Jewish Family Services
- Cliff Bell’s: “I’m enthralled by all things 1930s and Art Deco, so I love the ambience here. It’s a sophisticated and interesting place to have a drink, enjoy great music, and still be able to maintain a good conversation with someone you haven’t seen in a while.”
- Cranbrook Gardens: “A gorgeous, peaceful place to take people who are looking for some R&R away from the city.”
- Noble Fish: “The best place to take out-of-town sushi aficionados for lunch.”
- Birmingham: “We’re lucky to be able to walk to the downtown district, so we always take a stroll there when we have people visiting. It’s truly a place where you can spend an afternoon and find something for everyone.”
- Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine: “Such a fun place to hang out. I always keep it in mind for visitors. The paella is amazing, and you really just can’t go wrong with infusing an evening with Latin dance.”
Creative Director at Order & Other and Moss Creatives, which conducts private city tours for culturally plugged-in visitors.
- Shop at Detroit Mercantile (Eastern Market), Rachel’s Place, and Xavier’s (Corktown). Check out bath and beauty products at Tulani Rose in the Spiral Collective (Midtown).
Bacco, “one of our favorite restaurants and always on our to-do list.”
Owner, The Roostertail, Detroit
“When I entertain visitors, they’re usually only in for a day or two, and they’re usually here for a party. So when we’re not at the Roostertail, I take them to lunch or dinner at the London Chop House. It’s conservative, and quiet — you can hide away.”
- “MOCAD is an amazing modern-art museum that has incredible events and always-wonderful bands that play on the weekends.
- I would take them to Birmingham to see Linda Dresner’s store because her selection of clothing is incredible and the displays by John Arnold are a sight to see.
- I love Elie’s Mediterranean Grill and Bar in Birmingham.
- The Cranbrook Science Museum.
- If a guest wants their hair done, I suggest Luigi Bruni Salon in Birmingham.