An Honest Gal’s Travel Guide to Detroit

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

And my thought process about traveling stateside is affirmed once again…we truly have some gems right here in the good ole United States. A recently discovered gem that’s just four hours north of Columbus, OH is DETROIT, MI. And yes, I’m referring to THE Detroit that is commonly known and referred to as THE Motor City of our great Country.

Over Labor Day weekend, Jason and I scooted over a state to uncover the charm of this city. And friends, there’s a whole lot of charm. From downtown to the suburbs, we got to experience it all. While we had four days to tackle our perfectly planned out itinerary, we found ourselves wanting even more time to uncover and explore. We definitely have plans for a return trip, but in the meantime, here’s an honest review on what we/I know YOU SHOULD and MUST DO while in Detroit. Also, because I believe that sharing is caring, I’m also going to give you a rundown on the important to knows about the city and how you should pack for a Fall trip to the Motor City in a secondary post. So stayed for tuned for that!

Ok, my dears, let’s talk about this gem of a city, Detroit.

DISCLAIMER: This travel guide isn’t for the faint hearted! We are true movers when we travel and that is exactly what we did…made some moves and explored this city!

I don’t think I have every publicly exclaimed this, but I’m a little bit of a hotel snob. Yikes. I know, I just typed that out in a sentence on the Internet. But it’s true. I honestly enjoy discovering new hotels (especially boutique hotels) and experiencing the culture they’ve curated for their guests. It’s unique to see how that experience changes from hotel to hotel and how some of those experiences resonate with you.

For our long weekend in Detroit, we stayed at Detroit Foundation Hotel, which is situated Downtown. Without question, our experience at the perfectly designed boutique hotel was one of those stays that just resonates with ya. From the moment we arrived from check in to check out, everything was truly perfect. Outside of the impeccable service and great decor, perhaps what is most interesting about the hotel by Aparium is that it is the old firehouse for Detroit. It was nice to discover the finishing touches throughout the space that helped communicate the heritage of the hotel.

If you adore the concept of “historically trendy” then you will love The Detroit Foundation Hotel. Also, we made friends with Brad, one of the hotel’s concierge. He was charming and kind. It was kinda like we had known him our entire lives…if that doesn’t tell you how wonderful this place is, I don’t know what else will. Ha.


When it comes to where/what to eat and what to do in Detroit, there is definitely no shortage for either. As you may remember from my Marfa Travel Guide, I’m pretty terrible at remembering to take food pictures. But I’m proud to report that I managed to take a few just for YOU…woot woot. Being situated in Downtown for the weekend, we focused ALL our efforts (with the exception of one spot) on discovering great little spots in that area. Here’s a quick rundown of our eats and coffee dranks:

  1. Astro Coffee This darling little coffee shop is located in the heart of Corktown, which is a great area to explore while in Detroit. In fact, it’s the oldest neighborhood in the city and is located just west of Downtown (maybe a 7-minute drive from the Detroit Foundation Hotel). From homemade pastries to classic lattes and mochas, this is a coffee shop made for true coffee lovers.
  2. Avalon Bakery While checking out some Downtown gems (i.e. The Guaridan Building and 1 Campus Martius), we happened upon Avalon Bakery. At 5PM it had a crazy line. For foodies, that is pretty much a sign that you need to just hop on in and join the party. We grabbed two fanciful coffee beverages and met an incredibly cool local photographer who we chatted with and exchanged numbers.
  3. Central Kitchen + Bar- Located in the First National Bulding, Central Kitchen + Bar is a great spot for lunch or dinner. With an Americana infused menu, you can’t go wrong here at all. From the calamari to the jambalaya, it was a hit!
  4. Dessert Oasis Coffee Yet another coffee gem. Dessert Oasis Coffee has true coffee shop atompshere! One of those spots where you desire to linger, rather than just grab your coffee and go. Of all our coffee stops, this was our favorite. Jason snagged his usual Mocha and I got a Vanilla Lavender Latte…y’all… they were both fantastic.
  5. Dime Store- I live for brunch and the Dime Store did not disappoint. Located in the Chrysler Building right Downtown, the Dime Store has southern charm. The wait was approximately an hour, but it was indeed worth it. From omelets to Korean inspired french fries, they have a little bit of everything.
  6. Donut Bar & Coffee For a snack break, we ventured a little outside of the City to Detroit Donut Bar & Coffee. Just imagine all of those perfectly Instagramable donuts you see on IG. Welp, that’s the Donut Bar in a nutshell. Lots of delicious and unique flavors! We managed to get there in just enough time, as they were almost sold out. So note to self, GO EARLY if you want to select from the entire menu for the day. Oh yes, for the coffee lovers, they serve Illy coffee. Seriously some of the best Itailan coffee you will ever taste!
  7. Gold Cash Gold- Gold Cash Gold is by far the coolest name ever. And yes, the name lives up to both the food and experience. With a more creative menu, this restaurant is located in Corktown. This spot use to be an old pawnshop, which makes it all the more cooler.
  8. The Apparatus Room One of the things we loved most about The Detorit Foundation Hotel is that it had a restaurant right downstairs! The Apparatus Room is quite possibly one of the coolest dining spots in all of downtown Detroit. Coming and going, we noticed that this place was always happening. What’s cool about The Appartaus Room is that the dining room is split by casual dining/meet up and traditional dining. Simply put, they have two separate dining experiences happening in one space. We enjoyed a lite bite from there one evening, as well as breakfast one morning (the pancakes are amazingness) and our daily morning coffee.
  9. Roast–  Just like we believe in good coffee, we also be in good steak. For our final evening in Detroit, we got all dressed up and treated ourselves to Roast. Again, located in the heart of Downtown, Roast is a trendy steakhouse by Michael Symon. The menu is a la carte and absolutely magnificent. This was definitely our splurge meal for the trip, but worth it indeed.
  10. Roasting Plant Another unique coffee spot that we happened upon while snagging some lunch at Central Kitchen + Bar. The concept of this coffee shop is from farm to your cup. Honestly, I can’t even begin to explain how cool this stop was. It’s just one of those things you need to see if you visit Detroit. I promise.

Much like the food situation, there’s no shortage of cool to do’s in Detroit! In addition to all the history of the City, there’s a lot of other things to see and experience. Here’s a quick rundown of a few things you must make a list to see:

  1. 1 Campus Martius Home of the largest indoor waterfall. Need I say more? With 17 floors, 1 Campus Martius is an office building that has also become an attraction for the water feature in the lobby. The waterfall is extending for about 14 floors and is completed by the most colorful assortment of suspended glass kites
  2. Guardian Building If you love architecture and history, then the Guardian Building is a must stop. Built in the 1920s this building was known and still is known as the Cathedral of Finance. The Guaridan Building is one of the foremost Art Deco styled skycrapers in the World. Insanely cool.
  3. Z Parking Structure Detroit has way more of an emerging arts community and culture than I realized. The Z Parking Structure combines functionality with an opportunity to also experience art. The 10 story parking garage, which undoubtedly has one of the best views of the City, features art work from mural artists across the globe. Each level showcases something different. And yes, FOMO is a real thing, so visit each level to see what wanderlust is there.
  4.  Belle Isle A short drive from Downtown, Belle Isle is one those places you just need to see. There’s a lot to see there (i.e. the James Scott Memorial Fountain and Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory). Honestly, you can plan an entire afternoon there and would have plenty to do. Also, this is yet another great view of the city, especially at sunset.
  5. Detroit Jazz Fest Each year the Detroit Jazz Fest happens and it just so happened to fall on the weekend that we were in town. In fact, we were just a few blocks over from the primary locations for the festival, so we were able to experience a taste of the festival nearly every day. Also, while you can purchase VIP tickets, this is a FREE event with some great music. I mean, we got to hear THE HERBIE HANCOCK. We truly got to experience the energy of the city at the Jazz Fest. So many people!
  6. Detroit Tigers Baseball Game When the Cleveland Indians are playing the Detroit Tigers and you are from OHIO…you are definitely making a trip to Comerica Park. Detroit has FOUR major sports in their City: hockey, football, basketball and baseball. While we have loyalties to the Indians, we love the atmosphere of baseball period. Comerica Park is by far one of the coolest sports venues I’ve ever been too. They have a carousel and Ferris wheel inside of the stadium…ahhh yes.
  7. Explore Corktown- Like I mentioned above, Corktown is the oldest neighborhood in the City. There’s lot of charming little shops and great places to eat. Be sure to swing by Astro Coffee!
  8. Motown Music Museum Detoit is also the home of MOTOWN. There’s no way you can reasonably visit Detroit without swinging by the Motown Music Museum. Loaded with history, it’s amazingly cool to see where some of the greatest legends in R&B recorded their tunes. It truly is Hitsville, U.S.A
  9. Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit MOCAD is one of Detroit’s more contemporary arts musuems, hence the name.  Sonic Rebellion: Music as Resistance, there most recent exhibition, just went live. In addition to having a great space, MOCAD has a killer little gift shop featuring works and books by Detroit artist and they have a great little café, Café 78.
  10. Punch Bowl Social Looking to eat and have a little fun at the same time? Punch Bowl Social is the perfect place for both. From a round of bowling to playing arcade games and enjoy some delicious eats, Punch Bowl Social is a cool hangout for adults. We made our visit during the day, but it’s a perfect evening spot too!
  11. Eastern Market– You CANNOT visit Detroit without a visit to Eastern Market. This spot is comprised of market vendors, resturants, retail shops and much more. All round a neat piece of Detroit that one must visit!

ALL IMAGES ROOSEVELT GROUP

I know, that was a lot! But I truly felt I needed to share EVERYTHING to give you guys a full inside glimpse into Detroit. As you can see, this city has so much to offer. Detroit is vibrant, charming and progressive. We truly enjoyed oursleves and looking forward to returning one day soon, as I know we have so much more to uncover and explore on the streets of Detroit.

This post is kindly brought to you by Pure Michigan. All thoughts and opinions remain my own. 

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