Get Down with Detroit

Leslie A. Bailey

Chatter about Detroit has been growing louder in recent years, with some travel industry experts going as far as to name the Motor City a top destination in 2019—yes, we’re talking about that Detroit. 

With the opening of trendy places to stay like the Shinola and Foundation Hotels as well as a number of development projects, specifically along the city’s riverfront, it’s no wonder that curious travelers are flocking to this cultural gem. The key is to know where to go. And sometimes, the best places are those that are right under your nose.  

From world-class art and stunning architecture to Motown hotspots, this is one city you don’t want to roll on by.  

Don’t miss the museums 

For less than the price of a full-service car wash, you can see one of the largest and most significant art collections in America at the Detroit Institute of Arts. (Tickets are $14 adults, $9 seniors). With more than 65,000 works of art in 100 galleries, it’s a lot to take in but you’ll be hard-pressed to miss the 27 paintings across four walls that make up Mexican artist Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals. Beginning in February, several important works from artists Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dalí will be presented adjacent to the murals through September. 

And, because we’re talking about the Motor City after all, add the The Henry Ford to your itinerary. Located in Dearborn, a suburb just outside of Detroit (where you’ll also find excellent Middle Eastern cuisine), the campus includes three attractions: the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village where you can ride in a Model T or on a real steam-powered locomotive, and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour.  Vacation packages start at $139. 

Shop the Eastern Market 

Let’s be clear on one thing—this isn’t your typical city market. For one, there are actually six different markets that take place on various days throughout the week that draw guests from Detroit and around the world. The market has been a cornerstone of Detroit for 125 years. However, it’s the Saturday market that draws the largest crowds (up to 40,000 visitors during the busy season). Shop 225 vendors from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday year-round. Other weekly market days don’t begin until June so if this is on your list, and it most certainly should be, carve out time on a Saturday morning and show up hungry as dining options are plentiful. 

Take yourselves to a ball game  

Spring in Detroit isn’t really spring in Detroit without a visit to the ballpark. You never know what the weather will be on opening day at Comerica Park but one thing’s for sure—Tigers fans will show up rain or shine when the team takes on the Kansas City Royals on March 30.  

But there’s plenty to see beyond the field, too. Take a ride on the 50-foot Fly Ball Ferris wheel that features cars shaped like baseballs or for something closer to the ground, take a spin on the Comerica Carousel which features 30 beautifully hand-painted tigers and two chariots. History and sports buffs, be sure to do the "Walk of Fame," a historical display that envelops the circumference of the lower level. 

Enjoy the Beauty of Belle Isle  

With designs inspired by those of renowned landscape architect Frederick Law (the man behind Central Park) in the 1880s, Belle Isle State Park is a 2.5-mile-long island between Detroit and Canada that features an aquarium, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, a Nature Center, and more. Almost one third of this stunning urban oasis is a natural wooded area that is home to a wide variety of small animals and birds, making it the perfect escape from the city. 

Leslie A. Bailey is a writer and editor living in Indianapolis.  She is the Managing Editor of Crossroads.