The media may have a perception of what Detroit has or doesn’t, but there’s no story like that of a true Detroiter. I was born, raised and bred in this city of music, cars, and monolithic creativity. This to me is a city of do-ers, real movers and shakers. I’m not just saying that because I am from here, I say that because I know these individuals for a fact.
Working and volunteering around with different organizations in the city, I have met some people who are impressed by what the city has to offer. Michiganders, suburbanites, or visitors alike, everyone asks “what is there to do in Detroit?” The answer is simple, a lot!
One thing I enjoy is walking around some of the many neighborhoods in the greater downtown area. In Midtown, there’s the newly revitalized Cass corridor. Avalon Bakery has the most amazing organic baked goods. Everything is made fresh daily and you can get day-old breads for a steal! There’s also the Spiral Collective, which includes Tulani Rose, Source Books Booksellers, and the Dell Pryor Gallery. Also, there is the Bureau of Urban Living and City Bird, and across Woodward Ave, there’s Sole Sisters (my absolute favorite place in the city) and The Black Dress. There’s also a ton of places to try the food fare in Midtown as well. You have Motor City Brewing Works and Traffic Jam & Snug, who use all local products on their menu and provide local beers on draft and in bottles. My favorite in Midtown would have to be Good Girls Go to Paris, a true example of a do-er in the city. Torya Blanchard took her love for crepes and opened up a creperie in the city of Detroit! All the crepes, savory and sweet, are named after people Torya knows and she is planning to open up a bar/lounge, Rodin, soon in the same block as her creperie. This is all in just one neighborhood!
Further down Woodward Ave, you have so much more to see. There is Bob’s Classic Kicks for true classic sneakers. There is also the Museum of Contemporary Arts & Design (MOCAD) and the N’Namdi Gallery, the Detroit Artists Market for arts and culture. There’s the historical Majestic complex, one of the world’s oldest bowling alleys and multiple music venues inside that have seen the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa and even Bob Marley. The Central Business District is home to over 131 bars and restaurants all locally owned and operated. That’s just in one square mile! Park Ave is one of my favorite streets in Detroit. It is home to the Town Pump, Centaur Bar, and my ultimate favorites, Bucharest Grill (inside of Park Bar) and Cliff Bell’s jazz club! These are my ultimate favorites for different reasons. Bucharest Grill has the most awesome chicken shawarma in the city, and since it resides inside the Park Bar, they have some eclectic events such as Doggy Style (the dog-friendly Tuesday night event) and some local music shows upstairs in their venue space.
Cliff Bell’s jazz club has truly resurrected the origins of its name. Cliff Bell’s was once a jazz club in the 20’s before prohibition and a speakeasy during, and the 30-something recent owner has taken the time and effort to restore it to its original glory. From the gold vaulted ceilings to the original pipe organ, this place has truly put the jazz scene back into Detroit. Their weekly schedule is full of true jazz, open mic organ jams and different special guests on the stage 7 days a week. There is a full kitchen with unique foods and artful spins on culinary classics. The bar, is visually amazing and was restored to its original beauty as well. The cocktails are just as amazing. I would suggest the Vesper or the Last Call, one of the oldest cocktails in the country and said to have been developed in Detroit first during prohibition.
A few blocks down Woodward Ave, you have more to see. For more information than I could post here, you can stop by the Inside Detroit Welcome Center, where I am a tour guide and weekly volunteer, for a plethora of information on where to go and maps for your use to getting around. At the Welcome Center, Jeanette and Maureen wanted to create a space where the people of and in the city can have somewhere to get information about what is going on in their surroundings. There was no welcome center before they opened their space almost 4 years ago. Now recognized nationally for their passion and love for this city, they give tours for people willing to explore the city and learn something new. There are walking, bus, Segway and bar tours every week. Check the website for specific dates and information. I am proud to be a part of such a great organization that helps lift my city and puts forth the effort to change the view of the beautiful place I call home…Detroit!