This may sound really corny but coming here reminds me that beautiful things exist without my help.
In a city defined by movement, moments of stillness can be hard to find. But when they do come by, it’s important to hold onto them. Not only because they offer an opportunity to reflect on all that’s happening around you, but also because they tether you to something bigger than yourself.
“I come out here to look at the water and find some peace,” says Detroit native Alaina Knox, who’s been channeling her thoughts through writing by the river at Belle Isle Park for several years.
For Vanessa Cicos, that place of solace is John K. King Used and Rare Books in Ferndale. “The independent bookstore is crucial for the intellectuality of an area,” she says.
There’s no comparison to being in a bookstore.
Spots like these — whether a slice of nature in a bustling city or an independent bookstore only known to a few devoted regulars — are not just sites of personal escape, but places to exchange ideas, emotions, and energies with those you may have never met but are somehow in cerebral communion with.
Here, a list of spaces across the city find those connections.
Cultural Spots to Explore Locally
This minimalistic café carries book collections of prominent Detroiters, including activist Brad Duncan and Jim Kennedy. 1464 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; 313-778-9258; trinosophes.com
Dabl’s Mbad African Bead Museum
Eighteen outdoor installations tell stories of African material culture. 6559 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313-898-3007; mbad.org
Arab American National Museum
Opened in 2005, the Dearborn institution is the world’s first museum dedicated solely to Arab-American history. The museum tells stories relating to the rich culture through various forms of exhibits. 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-582-2266; arabamericanmuseum.org
Black Stone Bookstore and Cultural Center
Specializing in African-American books and general culture, this quaint independent bookstore also sells movies, CDs, and art, and has a study center in the back. 214 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-961-7376
Cranbrook Institute of Science
Full of interactive exhibits, the Institute of Science provides visitors with a better understanding of the ways that science impacts their everyday lives. 39221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills; 248-645-3200; science.cranbrook.edu
John K. King Used and Rare Books
Run by its namesake since 1971, the business has two locations in metro Detroit, selling a total of more than one million books to local readers. Visit johnkingbooksdetroit.com for locations
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
Housing more than 100,000 artifacts, this museum focuses on Classical, Egyptian, and Near Eastern archaeology and displays up to three special exhibitions every year. It also conducts outreach programs with local residents starting from kindergarten to retirees.
434 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-764-9304; lsa.umich.edu
More than a bookstore, this whimsical spot houses a café and regularly hosts author readings, book clubs, and poetry nights. 124 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-585-5567; literatibookstore.com
West Bloomfield Township Public Library
It’s a quiet place to relax or study, complete with wifi, a fireplace, and books for readers of all ages. It also won the National Medal for Museum and Library service, the nation’s highest honor for libraries, in 2010. 4600 Walnut Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-682-2120; westbloomfieldlibrary.org