“We’ve been considered many things: a city in decay, a city in distress and without hope. However, we have never given up and we never say die. We are born fighters, we rise from the ashes. We are a community that believes in our future despite whatever anyone throws against us. We are Detroit.” – Fel3000ft
Detroit has gotten a bad rap. People outside of Michigan (and some in the state) have a misconstrued idea of the Motor City, people often ask “Is it as bad as everyone says?”, “Will I be in danger?”, “Is it safe to walk around?” or “Is it scary?”. Come on people, get it together. Detroit is a large city which means there is crime, there are areas that are dangerous and you should definitely use common sense like you would when visiting any other city or country.
This city has an expansive rich history that has been scathed by its crime, mismanagement, and bankruptcy. Detroit is done with this narrative. While people have been busy trash-talking Detroit, listening to the stereotypes and avoiding the city altogether; Detroiters have been busy quietly picking up the pieces and rebuilding the city from the inside out. Don’t believe me? Take if from the NY Times who listed Detroit as one of the top 52 spots to visit in 2017 labeling it as “A comeback city set to make good on its promise.”
Our Day Trip to Detroit
I grew up in Lapeer, Michigan with is only an hour or so away from Detroit. When visiting Michigan in April my cousin and I decided to take a day trip to the Motor City. I received some recommendations from some Detroiters and we headed out.
Our first stop was some breakfast at The Hudson Cafe which is right downtown. We parked a couple blocks away on the street and walked to Woodward Ave. We had to wait around 30 minutes to get a table, so we visited some shops downtown.
During my many trips to Detroit I have never visited Belle Isle (a 192-acre park) and I made it a priority this trip. While visiting Belle Isle I especially wanted to visit the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservancy. It is the oldest continually-running conservancy in the United States, opening in 1904. It is divided into five distinct sections: Palm House, the Tropical House, the Cactus House, a sunken Fernery, and the Show House. It was originally called the Albert Kahn Conservatory but was dedicated to Anna Scripps, a Detroit News Heiress in 1955 after she donated her extensive orchid collection.
Belle Isle also hosts the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and the Belle Isle Nature Center.
In the summer, stroll or jog along Belle Isle and get terrific views of downtown Detroit and Windsor, Ont. You can get there by crossing the MacArthur Bridge, which is about 3 miles east of Detroit’s downtown.
The Eastern Market
The Eastern Market is located about 1 mile northeast of downtown Detroit. At the heart of Eastern Market is a six-block public market that has been nourishing Detroit since 1891. Every Saturday it transforms into a vibrant marketplace with hundreds of open-air stalls offering great selections of fruits, veggies, fresh-cut flowers, locally produced specialty food products, and pasture and/or grass-fed meat.
Many Detroiters say they buy their entire week’s worth of food at the market, partly because there are few grocery stores within the city limits. Unfortunately, we went later in the day on a weekday, which means everything was closing down for the day. We visited an antique shop and walked around checking out all the great street art.
After our time at the Eastern Market, we headed over to Corktown.
Corktown is the oldest surviving neighborhood in Detroit and is located just west of downtown Detroit. The Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840’s resulted in a massive influx of Irish immigrants to the United States and Canada. Many of these immigrants came to Detroit and settled on the west side of the city with the majority of them coming from County Cork, so the district became known as Corktown.Due to some recent developments in the last 3 years, the area has seen an influx of hipsters. Buzzfeed even dubbed Corktown the most hipster spot in Michigan.
We checked out Astro Coffee which is known as the first coffee shop in Detroit to get a proper pour over. I also hear that they have an awesome Egg Sandwich. We got some coffees and an amazing piece of chocolate banana bread.
John K. King Used and Rare Bookstore
John K. King is Michigan’s largest used and rare bookstore which houses over a million books. The store was established in 1965 by John K. King and moved twice before finding its current home in an old glove factory. Customers have access to all four stories of the building where you can find books on almost any subject. All of the books besides the rare collection are completely uncomputerized, but each floor has a manager that is responsible for knowledge and maintenance of the categories held there. We spent around an hour wandering the floors and mazing through the aisles and could have easily spent the whole afternoon, but we were politely kicked out at closing time (5:30 p.m.)
After our time at John K. King Bookstore, we headed over to Midtown for some eats. We stopped in at the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery for some sour beer and tasty eats.
Midtown is regarded by many as the safest neighborhood in Detroit. Midtown is north of Downtown Detroit and a cultural hub. It is home to 80 restaurants, 13 theaters, 12 galleries, 8 museums, and 2 historic inns. It is also home to the Detroit Institute of Arts and Wayne State University. We stopped in at the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery for some dinner and sour beers.
We headed back home after our time in Midtown, but wish we would have had more time to visit more spots in Detroit… guess we will just have to make another trip next time we are in Michigan.