Travel Guide: Detroit
So often, we’re caught up in trying to figure out a long weekend destination that requires a short haul flight or a drive time of 7-8 hours or less. This past Labour Day weekend, Adam, myself, Kass and her husband were looking for a getaway destination we didn’t have to fly to (hello third trimester) and was relatively close. With Chicago at the top of our list, we worried the drive to and back would be exhausting but we wanted to feel like we were somewhere that felt different from home. I can’t quite remember who but someone tossed out the idea of Detroit and immediately we were sold.
Located about 3.5 hours away from Toronto, we knew it was the kind of destination you could tackle in 2-3 days. I will say, the drive getting to Detroit isn’t the prettiest – expect empty farm land for most of your drive – but the destination is well worth it.
Why We Loved It
Many of our friends joked when we mentioned we were going to Detroit. There’s a lot of misconceptions about the safety of the area, the economical status or point blank we were asked – ‘What are you going to do there?’. Following the economic crisis, the city has pulled itself from the ashes and emitted what I would describe as a Brooklyn vibe (circa 2010-2012, before it became too cool lol). With artists, students and community comrades banding together, the city has a neighbourhood feel to it. Our adoration for the city grew with each mural wall we spotted, amazing meal after the next or brewery we hit on our list. If you’re looking for a city that offers art, cuisine, shopping, sightseeing and can be tackled in 2-3 days, then Detroit is your kind of destination.
Where to Stay
The city certainly has a plethora of options available for various budgets. From the Westin to Holiday Inn and various AirBnB options, there was endless solutions. We opted to stay at the Trumbull and Porter hotel. We scored a great deal on Expedia and liked that the property offered bikes, was nearby coffee shops, brewery and close to the downtown core. A very hipster-esque property, it felt a little too ‘cool’ for our preference. A renovated motel from the 1950s, it certainly has its appeal. I will caution however that the walls are quite thin and if you have noisy neighbours, expect to join in on the fun or pack some ear plugs.
The next time we visit Detroit, I would likely opt for a stay at The Siren Hotel or Detroit Foundation Hotel. We had the chance to pop into the Siren Hotel and the lobby is most definitely Instagram goals from its velvet settee to candy pink cups at Populace Coffee. Detroit Foundation Hotel had a more edgy vibe to it but the recent renovation oozes a very hip and cool feeling.
We drove to the city from Toronto and relied on our car for most of the weekend. The temperatures were unbearable and walking wasn’t much of an option. A lot of locations are quite spread out amongst the grid so I’d suggest Uber, taking a car or relying on the bike or Scooter program that is being piloted in the city.
Where to Eat – Breakfast
Gold Cash Gold: This came highly recommended from so many of you so it HAD to be on our list. From the libations to the breakfast options to the dessert varieties (Maple Syrup and Strawberry Donut!), this place hit the spot. I loved the Shakshouka and Adam couldn’t get enough of the chicken and waffles.
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The Hudson Cafe: This spot was more of plan B since many restaurants were closed on Labour Day. It was a very average breakfast spot and nothing jumped out at any of us. I would pass on a visit.
On our list but never made it: Dime Store, Wright & Company, Rose’s Fine Foods,
Where to Eat – Lunch
Green Dot Stables: Eating ‘hamburger’ meat at a horse stable might seem off to you (it was to me) but I promise it’s worth it. With a menu stacked with $2 and $3 sliders, it’s definitely a joint you want to visit hungry. We loved the Cheeseburger, Fried Chicken Ceaser, Catfish, Buffalo Chicken, Fried Chicken and Grilled Cheese options. Opt for the Mystery Meat of the day if you’re up for it. And consider yourself warned – this is not a fancy joint!
Slows BBQ: We ate at Slows BBQ for dinner one evening but I’m going to recommend it as a lunch spot – if you go. Truthfully, we were disappointed with the meal. We tried the ‘3rd best Sandwich in the USA’ and found it underwhelming, the BBQ options weren’t life changing and the service was meh. If you must go, I suggest grabbing something at their Slow’s To Go location or opting for a better spot altogether.
Clementina: Located in the heart of the downtown core, it was a pop up taco joint that had the cutest bistro chairs set up to enjoy the outside. I’m not sure how long they’ll be open with winter coming, but I do recommend a visit if you can. With Latin inspired fare, I suggest the tacos and Patatas Bravas.
On our list but we never made it: Lover’s Only, Supino Pizzeria, 2941 Street Food and Royale with Cheese.
Where to Eat – Coffee Shops & Cafe’s
Astro Coffee: Grab a coffee here while waiting for your table at Gold Cash Gold. It’s not the cutest cafe but the coffee was worth it.
Mootown Ice Cream Shop: An Instagram-worthy spot, grab a pink milkshake and snap away on their sprinkle tables.
For The Love of Sugar: Another darling cafe in the city, enjoy a cup of coffee here or a sweet treat in this Parisian inspired cafe.
Anthology Coffee: This spot was around the corner from our hotel and a must do. Not only did they take the time to paint their brick exterior pink – WINNING – but they had one of the best cups of coffee around. You’ll also notice Anthology’s grounds are served at various other spots in town.
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Populace Coffee: Located in the lobby of The Siren Hotel, grab and go or enjoy on the darling furniture in the lobby and enjoy the pink cups!
We couldn’t get there, but FOLK looked super cute!
Where to Eat – Dinner
Selden Standard: This restaurant totally knocked our socks off. Literally everything we ordered off the menu was delicious and super filling. Try the Flatbread and Chicken Sugo if they still have it! And if you can, a seat on the back patio is darling on a summer’s night!
The Apparatus Room: I popped in here for a late lunch/early dinner one day. The decor was fantastic and totally set the mood for this restaurant. Whether you want to sip on a cocktail and play board games or you came to dine in, it’s got a fun atmosphere. The Crispy Fried Cauliflower and Almond Crusted Chicken would be my choices.
On our list but we never made it: Lady of the House, Takoi, Townhouse, Pegasus Taverna and The Whitney.
Where to Drink – Bars, Breweries & Distilleries
Batch Brewing: We drank and dined at this local spot near our hotel. The drinks were good but the fare was so so. I recommend the Shrimp Po Boy.
Two James Spirits: We ducked into Two James while strolling around Corktown. The distillery isn’t very large but anything made with their in-house Gin was delightful.
Candy Bar: Located in The Siren Hotel, this is every girl’s dream bar. A pink adorned bar with disco lights and velvet settee sofas, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. While the cocktails were pricier than most joints, the atmosphere and unique twists on recipes made up for it.
Eastern Market Brewery: We stumbled into this spot while wandering around the Eastern Market admiring the mural walls. We loved sipping on beers and playing bean bag toss in the back alley. It’s a relaxing spot to visit on a hot way!
On our list but we never made it: Detroit Shipping Company, Grey Ghost, Motor City Brewing Works and Sugar House.
What to do in Detroit
Corktown: Stroll around Corktown for up and coming breweries, coffee shops and gawk at the abandoned buildings in the area. It’s crazy to see the gentrification that’s happening in this area one storefront at a time.
RiverWalk: Walking alongside the water was so picturesque on a sunny day. You can see Windsor from across the way and shockingly the water looks almost Caribbean blue on a sunny day.
Eastern Market: One of my favourite areas of town, the Eastern Market is a bustling area of town. With a local farmers market set up on Saturday and Sunday, grab produce or fixings for lunch, hit up one of the breweries in the neighbourhood or take endless selfies on all the mural walls in this area. We loved using this website to find the latest Murals in the Market.
Midtown: Another fun pocket to stroll around in, Midtown featured the Shinola headquarters, Jack White’s Record Label, breweries and cute local boutiques.
Guardian Building: Take a visit to this building and be sure to look up. Admire the aztec design on the ceilings or the art deco lobby.
Z Garage: Keep an eye out for this multi-level parking garage in the city’s core. It doubles as an art installation and each level boasts a different colour scheme. Climb or ride to the top for my favourite colour combo and score a great view of the city.
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