City Guide: Detroit

Despite what you may hear, Detroit is a delightful place to visit (and live). If you come, you’ll meet a diverse range of people, many of whom are eager to show off the positive points of this city. Yes, there are some spooky parts, empty of people and even buildings, but many neighborhoods such as Corktown and Midtown are alive with people and businesses. Find out what Detroit has to offer.

Detroit Skyline
Detroit skyline by Bernt Rostad via flicker

Do & See

Motown Historical Museum: Where music in Detroit got famous, Berry Gordy Jr.’s studio is a must for music lovers.

Detroit Institute of Arts: Thanks to money from the auto industry’s heyday, the DIA boasts works by Mattisse, Picasso, van Gogh, and more. The real treat is Rivera Court, with murals by Diego Rivera. The Museum stays open late on Fridays and features concerts.

Eastern Market: Go on Saturday when more than 250 vendors sell fresh food, some of it grown right in Detroit. In summer, gather a picnic and head to Belle Isle for a relaxing respite. If a picnic’s not your thing, stop by Russell Street Deli for something delicious and fresh.

The Henry Ford & Greenfield Village: While not in Detroit proper, a visit to the Henry Ford is a great way to understand just what Henry Ford thought he was doing when he built his factories. It is admittedly an idealized version of industry, but one that is interesting nonethelss.

Wheelhouse Detroit: Rent a bike and follow one of their maps for an easy ride around the city. Detroit is nearly flat, so biking is enjoyable.

Drive: Detroit is the motor city and you must have a car if you visit. Enjoy an old-fashioned Sunday drive around two beautiful Detroit neighborhoods: Boston Edison and Indian Village.

The Heidelberg Project: It a street that is filled with art. Some may think it’s crazy, some may think it’s genius, but it’s worth a look.


Choosing just a few restaurants is nearly impossible. For a full rundown of everything food in Detroit, check out the excellent blog Eat it Detroit. That said, here are a few places I like to go when people are in town.

Roast: Meat is on the menu here, and it is done right. Vegetarians can pig out on the delicious sides. This is a pricey meal, but boy is it good.

Lafayette Coney Island: Coney dogs are a Detroit tradition, and if you must choose one, eat at Lafayette, which hasn’t changed much since it was first built. A coney dog is basically a chili dog and is a must-eat in Detroit.

Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes: If the name alone doesn’t win you over, these delicious crepes will. Perfect for breakfast!

Slows: Okay, just about every article about Detroit has to mention Slows. It’s like in the contract for writing about Detroit. But it’s good. Really good, and when you go there, you get a nice view of Michigan Central Station. If you don’t want to wait in line and are hungry for lunch, try Slows to Go.


Detroit is no New York when it comes to downtown shopping, but there are some gems.

City Bird: Find some adorable Detroit-themed goods in this trendy shop.

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit: Yes, also a museum with some exellent exhibits (and fun weekend events), the MOCAD shop sells fun and funky wares as well as a superb collection of art books.

Detroit Artists Market: A gallery featuring the work of local artists.

John K. King Used and Rare Books: I could spend days lost in here. It’s one of the largest used book stores I have ever seen.

DuMouchelles: You will not be able to afford anything in this shop, but it is eye candy for those who want to look at some amazing pieces of art and furniture from the 1%.

Eastern Market: I already mentioned this for food, but the Eastern Market also has some great antique shops.

Pewabic Pottery: Founded in 1903, this Detroit landmark still produces the distinctive tiles and pottery that you see all over buildings in the city.


Westin Book Cadillac: Newly restored to its former glory, this Detroit landmark is a great base from which to explore the city.

Hostel Detroit: That’s right, Detroit has a hostel! Cheap beds and friendly owners make this a great budget choice.

Inn on Ferry Street: I once attended an event here and would love to spend a night in this sweet place.

There are of course many other hotels in the area, but these are my recommendations!

By [E] Sally Lawton

My food groups are cheese, bacon, and hot tea. I like studying cities and playing with my cat, Buffy.

13 replies on “City Guide: Detroit”

Detroit = MADE OF AWESOME. I do the Allied Media Conference (Which everyone should consider checking out! It’s in Detroit! And it’s awesome~! My mom loved the tour of how abandoned areas are being repurposed for community urban agriculture and so forth!) and Let me tell you, Detroit was amazing!

And Persephoneers who use canes/walkers/with certain mobility disabilities- I can’t guarantee the over all access, but Detroit is nice and flat. My roomie (who was supposed to make an account but I haven’t found yet) is a cane user, and she enjoyed it a LOT compared to other cities she’s been to.

Also, Social Justice peeps, check out:

 Boggs Center– You can’t really visit them in person, but they have links to all sorts of interesting Detroit things, and sometimes you can get one of the people from the center to pull you in on a tour if they are giving them. (in any case, the website can give you a background on some of the visionary work happening in Detroit.)

Allied Media Conference– If you end up going, let me know! I’ll be there, we can have a mini Persephoneer meet up! I’m also co-coordinating with the friend I talked about above The disability Justice Practice space, Creating Collective Access.

I’m from northern Michigan. My experience with Detroit is limited to the ‘burbs and the airport. I’m bookmarking Wheelhouse Detroit. Either my best friend or my boyfriend are going with me this spring/summer. (One is in Ann Arbor and one is from the ‘burbs.)

I wanna get to know you better, Detroit.

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