9 Things to do in Detroit Before Tourists Arrive
Detroit was named #9 on the New York Times "52 Places to Go in 2017" list of the hottest global destinations to visit in 2017 and we couldn't be more thrilled to show the world what we've been up to.
In honor of Detroit being rightfully recognized as one of the hottest global destinations to visit in 2017, J’adore Detroit has put together a list of 9 places to see for those to make the NY Times bucket list a reality and join us in Detroit. This list is equally as important for newcomers to our fine city, but also a review for us locals who need a refresher.
J’adore Detroit’s Top Detroit Picks
Detroit Institute of the Arts
Rust Belt Market
….Make a day out of it
In the Midtown neighborhood, there is always something to do and new, hip spots popping up daily. Spend your afternoon at the famed and breathtaking Detroit Institute of Arts with coffee or snack in the whimsical escape in the middle of the city within the DIA - Kresge Court. The outside of the DIA is perfect for a little picnic lunch during the summer months with a beautiful, lit outdoor seating area. If it’s a retail fix you’re seeking, get that fix at any of the following local retailers: Peacock Room, Frida, Detroit Clothing Circle, Hugh, Nora, City Bird, and Will’s Leather Goods. Hungry still? Pop into dinner at the upscale and always vibing Selden Standard and mosey across the way for drinks and dancing at Old Miami - where you’ll transport yourself back to your grandmother’s living room – or Honest Johns for a nightcap.
Spend the day outdoors enjoying the country's largest city island park, Belle Isle. Stop for brunch at nearby Rose’s Fine Food – this is a true gem in the city boasting a stylish diner that only uses locally sourced ingredients and hires servers and staff from the local neighborhood. The food and the sweets are heavenly! Just down the road, pop into Pewabic Pottery, a national historic landmark since 1903 on the Jefferson Corridor and pick up our personal favorite beer steins. Coffee? Always! Pick up a coffee and some snacks before you head to Belle Isle at Coffee and _______ on Jefferson Ave past Pewabic. From there, you are equipped, fed, and ready to head to Belle Isle with your bag of snacks and beverages in tow. Bring a blanket with you and set up shop. Take a romantic stroll through the conservatory and enjoy the surrounding gardens or simply find a spot to enjoy the good vibes, post-up, stop, and smell the roses. Insider Tip: You can even make your way to a local favorite – hipster beach.
Get an early start on the day and head to Eastern Market on Saturday morning. The birds are chirping, the sun is out, the energy is high, and there is music in the air. The market has an invigorating energy (similar to meatpacking district and certain areas of Brooklyn in New York). Join local Detroiters as they forage for their weekly groceries, plants, and specialty food products all made in – you guessed it – Detroit! Take time to appreciate the stunning murals lining the market that we helped our friends at 1xRun to bring to Detroit over the past two years. Artists locally and internationally worked together to create these truly amazing works of art for your viewing pleasure. Don’t be afraid to get lost and discover. Just around the corner you can check out 1xRun’s art gallery – Inner State Gallery – to check out the exhibit of the moment or Red Bull House of Art for some energy and art as well. Thirsty? Grab a smoothie at Beyond Juice, coffee at Germack Roasting Company, a stiff craft cocktail at Detroit City Distillery or catch a game and a cold beer at Thomas Magees Sporting House. This is our favorite local detroit sports bar and really - anytime bar - come any day of the week and you are sure to have a great night. Insider Tip: Tell Erik we sent you!
Hungry? One word – PIZZA. A slice at Supinos can’t be beat in our opinion and we live for pizza. Last, if you haven’t gotten that shopping in, visit our friends at Detroit Vs. Everybody, Division Street Boutique for some Detroit Hustles Harder gear, and Orleans + Winder for your high end fashion picks.
ON your way home, make a detour to near by Heidelberg project- truly one of the the most unique art exhibitions in the world. Creator, Tyree Guyton, has spent over 30 years transforming abandoned buildings into treasured art. Down the street, Check out Detroit industrial gallery-Another DIY art gallery.
Pack a picnic basket and enjoy lunch on the Detroit Riverfront. Head down to Wheelhouse Detroit and rent a bike to take a ride down the Riverfront. We have one of the most breathtaking riverfronts in the country that you can’t miss. And, you can even say you saw Canada while you were in Detroit – just over the pond! Take time to soak in the scenic views of Windsor’s skyline and the Detroit River. For a great day with the kids, even check out the DNR Detroit Adventure Center. This is one of our favorite family-friendly spots.
Have a drink and cheers to prohibition ending at Detroit’s favorite speak easy, Cafe D’mongos. This uber-swanky 1930’s themed bar and restaurant is a must see. Dance to live music into the wee hours of the morning. Make the night extra fun and dress the part by wearing your fave vintage ensemble! If you happen to run across Larry (you’ll know him if you see him), tell him J’adore Detroit sent you and you’re in for a treat. Larry is one of the most charismatic and biggest supporters of Detroit I know and the stories he can tell you… You will never be sorry when you spend your night at D’Mongos. To keep up with Larry, you will need coffee.
Ashe Supply Co is our favorite resting spot in the city and you can pick up some really fun threads and swag while you're getting your fix. Insider Tip: Tell AJ we sent you and ask him about their process to learn some coffee insider tidbits. Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters in the up and coming Capitol Park will get you hyped up and ready to take on Woodward for shopping at Detroit is the New Black, Kit + Ace, John Varvatos, and more. Shopping will lead to hunger and dinner in this area would not be complete without a visit to see chef Marc Djozlija at Wright & Company. Amazing food and cocktails – the atmosphere overlooking Woodward is magic. NOW – you are ready for D’Mongos.
If you want to get out of the core of Downtown, head out to Detroit’s bordering town of Ferndale for brunch and shopping. On the weekend, shop Detroit-made products at Rust Belt Market in Ferndale. It is a large gathering of some of our favorite local brands and lining the streets are shops, boutiques, and Drought Cold Pressed Juice – duh! Start your day with brunch at Fly Trap; an eclectically decorated breakfast joint serving the best Huevos Rancheros in town. After breakfast, head to Rust Belt Market, an indoor artisan market selling some very pinterest-worthy goods. It is a great outing to see what the suburban areas of Detroit look like. The suburbs are cool too! Other great suburban towns worthy of checking out are Northville, Plymouth, Birmingham, and Royal Oak
Stretch your legs on the Dequindre Cut via bike or your own two feet. Get fit walking the two mile urban greenway that links the East Riverfront to Eastern Market. Ideally you would rent a bike from Wheelhouse Detroit, check out the Riverfront, and bike via the Dequindre Cut to Eastern market for market days if you really want a power-packed day of fun in the sun. Make sure to notice the mindful use of graffiti and art that beautifies this urban space in a truly unique, Detroit way.
Insider Tip: If you're a bike person and you are lucky enough to be visiting on a Monday, grab a bike and sign up for SLOW ROLL to really see Detroit.
Explore Agnes Street in the historic Detroit neighborhood - West Village. Start in the afternoon with a lavender latte from Red Hook café (TRUST ME), bring a book or borrow one from their community bookshelf. After, browse Paramita Sound’s extensive vinyl collection for your favorite album. They are always having special events and listening parties if you’re lucky enough to stumble across one while you are visiting! Detroit Vegan Soul is a great spot for vegan-friendly eats should you wish (three words – sweet potato pancakes). If you are looking for some sweets, pop by and see our girls at Sister Pie – they’ll be thrilled you stopped in. The pies, cookies, bars, hand pies, etc. are scrumptious and worth every bite.
End the day with dinner and cocktails at Craftwork – one of our favorite and in our opinion “sexiest” spots in town – yes, sexy. We love the dim lighting and vibe that anyone and everyone can get down with as soon as you enter the room. You are sure to find one of the neighborhood regulars in for an after work cocktail that you can belly up to the bar and chat with.
Insider Tip: Be sure to check out their happy hour menu for our favorite early and late night happy hour specials!
Head to Southwest Detroit for a culture-fix. This under-publicized Detroit neighborhood is full of culture and rich history. It is a Hispanic hub filled with countless restaurants, taquerias, and one of Detroit’s best under the radar clubs.
Fun fact: Jack White was born in Southwest Detroit.
If you’re in the neighborhood for lunch head or need some snacks to get through your trip, go to Honeybee Market and order a burrito or tacos from the hot food station in the back and do not leave without some fresh chips, guacamole, and salsa for the road. Try a “quality artisan sandwich” from Detroit 75 kitchen food truck routinely parked at 4800 West Fort Street and always during the summer. Grab a tamale from family owned and operated Evie's tamales and explore Southwest using the 1xRun "Cinco De Mayo" mural curation scattered throughout the area as your map. It is one of our favorite mural collections in the city.
Take a picnic or get active at Clark Park - in the winter, the park has a beautifully maintained ice rink (our own Red Wings can be spotted here skating!) and in the summer locals can be spotted playing bike polo. Hungry again? Head to one of Southwest’s many restaurants for dinner. Huron Room for fish and chips (and craft cocktails!), El Asador is a BYOB Mexican steak house, El Barzon has a beautiful patio with a secret garden feel. Some of our other favorites: Pupuseria Y Restaurante Salvadoran cuisine, Mi Pueblo, Taqueria El Rey, and Taqueria Lupitas.
After, start your night off right and head to Our/Detroit to sample their vodka, crafted and distilled in house and eventually, make your way to El Club’s dance floor and spend the rest of your night under the neon glow of their signature “El Club” sign. You can find some of Detroit's finest up and coming artists and djs spinning or singing until the wee hours of the night.
The secret is out - Detroit is STILL cool.
Take advantage of all the amazing things Detroit has to offer before the tourists arrive.