A friend is visiting Detroit this spring and asked me where to stay and what to do. I sent her this list with some links. If you are ever in the Motor City try a few of these.
For an all-around great experience, there is no place better to stay than Downtown. With the river front, the casinos, theaters and restaurants, downtown has the best ‘walking around feel’. A lot of my favorite restaurants downtown have closed so I’m not up on the best ones at present.
I can endorse the Brazilian Steakhouse several friends have gone to and raved about.
Of the restaurants that I have been to and recommend.
Fishbones is an old favorite for Cajun seafood
I would suggest the Parthenon in Greektown (Downtown) it is the last of the original Greek restaurants left. It was always my third choice but now it’s the only authentic Greek food you can get there. Order the Saganaki. Nice place for lunch.
That said. My alternative place to stay, very safe and a little weird is Royal Oak. Hotels are cheaper out there, its close to the zoo and it has a small college town/ alternative feel to it. The restaurants out there are better than any you will find anywhere. But you can stroll through Royal Oak in a few hours (so long as you don’t get lost in Noir Leather).
Plymouth is also very nice, but small, the same goes for Novi.
It really depends on what you like to do. For shopping I’d say Novi, it has the mall. For food, I’d stay near Royal Oak. For entertainment, downtown is your best bet.
If I had to list the things one must do in Detroit it would be.
a. Picnic on Belle Isle before it’s bought by a billionaire.
b. Go to the Detroit Institute of the Arts and stare at The Nut Gatherers
and The Starry Night
c. Have a Coney Dog at the Lafayette Coney Island Downtown
d. Take a picture in front of Joe Louis’s Fist.
e. Take a nap in a 1934 Packard at the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village
f. Ride the People Mover for a full circuit.
g. See a movie at the Detroit Film Theater. Sit in the balcony.
h. Walk through the Eastern Market on a Saturday Morning
i. Have a coffee in the RenCen
j. Eat at the Himalayan Restaurant in Windsor Canada. Passport or enhanced Drivers License needed to cross the border. Take the Tunnel. Order the Lamb Briani
k. Buy a house for a dollar http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/01/detroit-homes-still-selling-for-1/
l. Buy a Lottery Ticket at a Party Store.
m. Eat a bag of Jays or better Made Potato Chips everyday you are in town. Everyone else does.
n. Drink a half pint of Mohawk Red out of a paper bag. NO MIXERS!
o. Drive past an auto plant in a foreign car, if you can still find an auto plant still open.
p. Visit Hart Plaza during a music fest.
q. order a plate of the Smoked Kielbasa at the Polish Village Cafe.
r. Buy a book at John Kings http://www.rarebooklink.com/cgi-bin/kingbooks/index.html
s. Attend service at a mega-church and or a store-front church. You can do both on the same day, the services go on ALL day.
t. Go to the Detroit Central Train Depot, a modern day ruin.
u. Visit an open mic night at a local comedy or poetry club, check listings they open and close like a floating crap game.
v. Go to the The Park West Gallery during an opening.
http://www.parkwestgallery.com/ If not the Park West, then any gallery opening that serves free wine and stinky cheese.
w. Take in a game at Ford Field, Comerica Park or Joe Louis Arena.
x. Order a taco at Xochimilco’s in Mexican Village
y. See Puccini or Verdi at the Opera House http://www.michiganopera.org/2012-2013-season/
z Make a friend for life, tell a native that Detroit isn’t the scary hellhole that people think it is.
This is not a complete list of things to do, just the stuff that come off the top of my head. Also I ain’t getting any kickbacks for any of the links to local venues, these are the places I like to go.