Home State Tourist: How to spend a weekend in Detroit
9 a.m: Before you do anything, pick up some carrots and curios at Eastern Market, America’s oldest continuously running farmer’s market. Long before “local” was a buzzword, the market was one of several in the city, one in each direction: Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western. Be sure to try some local coffee to kickstart a busy day, and perhaps some flowers, particularly if it’s around Flower Day on May 20, one of the biggest flower shows in the country.
11 a.m: Drop off your bags at The Inn on Ferry Street. With a prime location in Midtown on, you guessed it, Ferry Street, the historic hotel’s four renovated Victorian homes ooze with old world charm. In spring, the inn gives you a perfect vantage point to enjoy the blooming green spaces scattered around the urban jungle.
12 p.m: Head down the street to a delicious lunch at Maccabees at Midtown, a perennial favorite bursting with Detroiters and out-of-towners alike. If you can wind your way through the light rail construction on Woodward to find it, you’ll discover one of Detroit architecture’s best kept secrets: the Maccabee building, an Art Deco treasure built by the Jewish organization Knights of the Maccabees in the 1920s.
2 p.m: Pop across the street to spend the afternoon exploring the city’s art scene from yesterday and today. The Detroit Institute of Arts is the legendary home of Picassos, Van Goghs, the famous Rivera mural and one of the finest collections of African American contemporary art in the country. Be sure to check out the spring exhibition of art from kids throughout the Detroit Public Schools, featured until Jun. 12. Then head down Woodward a few blocks to the more unconventional Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, featuring avant garde works from around the world, including the fantastic Detroit Affinities photography series on display until April 24. Finally, catch the end of the Detroit Historical Museum’s exhibition Fashion D.Fined, a look into the city’s lesser known, but still significant contributions to the world of fashion.
6 p.m: Exhausted from a day wandering among masterpieces? There’s no better place to unwind than the Whitney Mansion. A historic 1890s home built with the city’s pre-industrial riches, the Whitney is now one of Detroit’s foremost restaurants. Expect a classy atmosphere, top-notch food and a seat in the mansion’s exquisite interior, or even the beautiful gardens if the night is warm. If you’re in a slightly less classy mood after dinner, you can hit Midtown’s newfound nightlife down the street, including the beloved Cafe D’Mongo’s.
10 a.m: Before you check out of the inn, scurry down the street to a mysterious little stone building called the Scarab Club. Tucked away in the Museum District, this discreet, historic building is still home to the city’s oldest association of artists. With tours of its art collection as well as painting and sketching classes, the club has produced some of the area’s most prominent artists.
11 a.m: Then head over to Cliff Bell’s famous jazzy brunch downtown. One of Detroit’s legendary jazz clubs, at night Cliff Bell’s is full of speakeasy charm. But every Sunday, their brunch, accompanied by famous jazz musicians, is just as popular in town.
1 p.m: While Detroit may be better known for its urban grit and downtown hipsters than it is for natural beauty, there’s plenty to be found along the Detroit Riverfront, the gorgeous public walkway along the river that will eventually connect large swaths of the city. If you stroll along it long enough, you’ll come across plenty of landmarks, from the Joe Louis Fist, the famous statue on West Grand Boulevard commemorating the local boxing hero, to the Underground Railroad Monument, a stirring tribute to the city’s role as the end of the Underground Railroad, which then transported escaped slaves across the river to freedom in Canada. If you continue even further, you’ll pass the Renaissance Center, headquarters to General Motors, and you can even stop by Belle Isle, the beloved park in the middle of the river that was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the same famous designer who created Central Park.
5 p.m: You’ve had quite the afternoon. Before leaving town, head down the freeway to Southwest Detroit. At Mexicantown Bakery, you can pick up some churros, tres leches and other traditional sweets for the road. Just down the street go to Lupita’s Taquería, a favorite among everyone from locals to Canadians visiting from over the border, for a phenomenal bowl of pozole or some top notch tacos. Finally, grab a coffee or dessert a few blocks over at Café con Leche or its ice cream-themed neighbor La Michoacana. It’s time to go, but now that you’ve had a taste of what the city has to offer, you’ll be back soon enough.