I was recently asked by a friend, ‘How would you spend the day in Detroit?’
Ironically, because I live here, this isn’t a question I get to consider very often. You see, while there are more things than I can count that I love to do, I get to do them when I feel like doing them. But because there are some things I have to do (like work, which I actually also love doing), I don’t usually think about how I will spend an ‘entire’ day without some period of time devoted to, you know, that work thing. Thus, when I wake up, my question is how will I spend my free-time during the day, not how would I spend an entire day.
As you can imagine, because by now you realize I put a lot of thought into everything, I put a lot of thought into this question and my answer. The only thing better than thinking about all the things I would do, would be spending a couple of ‘entire’ days actually doing them.
You might also imagine that my recommendations to my friend were perhaps a little lengthy. Long enough, in fact, to write a blog about them….
First, the backstory. The reason my friend asked me this is that McKenna, Brianna, Dawson, and Salina were headed to The D for the The 1975 show at the Fillmore. And when I say ‘headed’ to The D, I don’t mean from the Detroit suburbs. They’re coming all the way from over by Grand Rapids, which, as most know, is a city that is also experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Which made me wonder why they would come to Detroit 1) for this show and 2) in general….
This was a show she was not going to miss, Brianna told me. They’re her favorite band. Last May, she celebrated her birthday with her sister, and The 1975 in Royal Oak. This time around, seeing them with her sister again, her Mom treated them the tickets to it. Apparently, following The 1975 is not just a fan-thing, it’s a family-thing for Brianna and McKenna! And that’s the cool thing about Detroit: no matter what the event, there is always the opportunity to make the things you do here a family-thing. Especially when your friends and neighbors quickly become your Detroit-family, which has been my experience!
Another big incentive for Brianna and McKenna to get to the show in Detroit was that it was at The Fillmore. Brianna told me that she thinks “The Fillmore has a lot of character compared to newer/modern venues. It’s especially cool to see a rock concert in such an old classic building. The contrast of the two make it unique.” When I talked to her after the show, Brianna said, “It was my first time for a concert at The Fillmore, and I loved it! The Fillmore was built in an era of craftsmanship that is rarely seen anymore.” And this too is true about so many Downtown venues. Whether you’re catching a game or a recent Broadway hit, whether you’re checking out the latest trend or seeing history in the making, you’re doing it in a space—the venue itself, our city—that has a long history…and shows it off in a setting filled with historical architectural details.
Brianna’s made the trip to Detroit to see The Rockettes’ Radio City Christmas Spectacular the Fox Theatre. “The glory of the Fox and the glitz of the Rockettes were an amazing combination.” Her family are hockey fans as well as Hockeytown fans, and have headed to the Joe to catch the Red Wings during the regular season and in the playoffs. “That’s something everyone should do while they can!” Brianna told me. And I agree. They also hit up the North American International Auto Show at Cobo. She pointed out, “The pride in the vehicles we produce is always on show there too.” I pointed out that maybe she should look into a PR & Marketing job with the Big Three….
Brianna also told me that “Even though I live in a small town in West Michigan, I love urban settings and their diversity. Detroit gives the rest of Michigan a way to compare ourselves to larger urban settings. There are so many unique features about Detroit. I would love to explore all of them, and hope to someday soon!” And that is one of the best things about living in Downtown Detroit. Every day is an opportunity to explore something new.
So, basically, McKenna, Brianna, and Dawson were going to be getting in line at 8 a.m. to get the ‘best spots’ on the floor for the show. And, while there is almost no way in heck I would choose to get into anything other than a double-espresso at 8 a.m. (and that would not be a ‘choice’ so much as a survival mechanism, for me and everyone I might encounter at that ungodly hour), there is definitely no way in H-E-Double-Hockeysticks I would ever leave Hockeytown at 6 a.m. to be in another city to get in line for anything. However, their willingness to be insanely driven to get to the Motor City gave me the opportunity to think, and give recommendations, about what I would do if I were in that line….
The first thing I would do when I got to Detroit would be to refuel….at the Roasting Plant. One of the routes for our morning walks takes me and Little Dog past this cup-of-heaven on the corner. And I react in basically the same way Little Dog reacts to sniffing out another dog at the Dog Park. You don’t have to be an Engineer or IT person to appreciate the gleaming wall of apparatuses or the technology that they put into making a single cup of java!
I also figure I’m going to want to stay warm. So, while the two coffees I picked up at Roasting Plant would keep my hands warm, I would also don some stylish Down with Detroit and Moosejaw gear before getting into line.
Knowing me, I’m also going to get hungry at some point. Okay, fine. Make that two points. Now, while my friends initially planned on calling Jimmy John’s (which we do have, so they could) when this happened I very clearly told them ‘no.’ Not that our Jimmy John’s isn’t ‘Freaky Fast’ and delicious. It’s just you can do that anywhere and anytime, and they’re going to be just a block away from two of the best places to hit up for tinfoil-wrapped carry out in Detroit. Hot Taco and Bucharest Grill in the Park Bar. Obviously at Hot Taco, I’m going to get tacos. And lots of them. Because one isn’t enough. And at Bucharest, I’m going to get a Schawarma. Because, well, hello! It’s schawarma. And it is the best thing ever.
Alright. Technically this advice gets McKenna, Brianna, and Dawson through until the ‘doors open’ and they’re in the historically (it opened in 1925 as a movie house, and has the original chandeliers, an 80-foot ceiling, a hardwood dance floor, and a wall of rock posters that feature a small sampling of the famous musicians who have played there) and acoustically awesome Fillmore, so I was done with my advice to them.
Salina, however, isn’t going to the show. She’s just coming to Detroit to hang out for the entire day. And this is where I got to have the most fun thinking about ‘How I would spend the day in Detroit’….
Now, while as you know, I don’t usually have this ‘entire day’ option available to me, I recommended she begin it exactly as I would, and do. She’s going to be here on a Tuesday, so I told her that her first stop (as mine is everyday) should be The Hudson Café, the best breakfast in town….which is also just steps, literally, from my front door. She should have one of their ‘I’m Benedicted,’ the Huevos Rancheros, or their Feature of the Day (which they post on Facebook on Mondays and then again on the day-of) and then she should follow that up with a breakfast dessert (their signature Red Velvet Pancakes or their Very Berry Stuffed French Toast). Oh. And if she wants to be superbly awesome, she will grab three Breakfast Sandwiches (with more coffee) to-go and drop these by for the girls waiting on line at the Fillmore. (If you live Downtown Detroit, you don’t have to ‘wait’ on anything for these: you just call, pick them up, and then head into work!)
If Salina was going to be here on a Sunday, I would also recommend she check out the brunches at Woodbridge (where along with 50+ beers from all over the world and Michigan, and nearly handcrafted dish on the menu made from locally grown and purchased seasonal foods, you’re going to hear some Toto on the jukebox, sung along with by the regulars) and at Cliff Bell’s (where the Bottomless Mimosa and Bloody Mary that they serve lacks both a bottom and a ceiling when you live Downtown).
My next ‘recommendation’ to Salina quickly went from singular to plural.
I would head a mere mile to Midtown (quite easy for me, as my Detroit Loft offers a free shuttle I can take there) and wander through the incredible exhibits at the Detroit institute of Arts, the Detroit History Museum, and the Michigan Science Center.
I would also make a stop—and purchases—at The Peacock Room. (And when I met back up with my concert tee-shirt clad friends later, it is quite possible I would be wearing one of the vintage-inspired looks I had just found at this one-of-a-kind, you’re-guaranteed-a-find, boutique.)
Okay. Or I would schedule a day at the MGM Grand pool and spa or Woodhouse Day Spas. At MGM I would get ‘Bejeweled’ with two hours of a body treatment that includes a Golden Body Scrub exfoliation, a warm cocoon of buttery Golden Body Wrap, a relaxing and re-mineralizing soak in their Golden Bath, and then rehydration with gold-flecked body oil, before being lightly dusted with golden powder that leaves your skin moisturized, revitalized and shimmering in a golden glow. You don’t need a special event to feel and look this good! At Woodhouse I would ‘Escape’ from my daily routine with two hours of five specialized head-to-toe treatments that begin with a Bamboo Body Scrub that is followed up by a soothing Volcanic Stone Massage, a Neck & Shoulder Massage, a Scalp Massage with Wild Lime Oil and a Foot Reflexology session.
Of course, all of this pampering and relaxing would make me hungry. (Because basically everything makes me hungry.)
So I recommended that Salina go to one of my favorite restaurants in Detroit, Detroit Beer Co., where (and you already know this) I would get the Brick Oven Veneto Pizza, Detroit Beer Soup (an incredible Muenster Cheese Soup made with Detroit Ale and served in a Beer-Grain Bread Bowl with a Side Salad), and a Detroit Hefeweizen (and the beer would be bigger and less expensive because I am a Mug Club member, which you can—and should be—even if you don’t live Downtown, but which makes even more sense when this is a block from your home). Or, I would go to The Town Pump Tavern where I would get the Barbecue Chicken Pizza, Michigan Salad, and one of their too-many-to-name beers, which are on-tap or bottled. This would also solidly place me literally just down the street from my friends at the Fillmore. At both of these places, I could also watch the Red Wings, who were playing that night—and I try never to miss a game! But if the Wings aren’t playing, I would end the evening ‘right’ at Wright & Company with some small plates—and Warm Dates with Smoked Bacon, Gorgonzola, & Almonds, the Charcuterie and Cheese Platter, with Picked Onions & Orange Marmalade, and the Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Goat Cheese Puree, Pickled Apricots, & Dijon Mustard would be my three stars of the evening!
Alright. As you can see, I may have been more or less helpful to my friends in recommending how they spend the day in Detroit. but, in pondering—and answering –this question, I came to one solid, no-other-option, conclusion…
I need to take lots of days entirely off. There are just too many incredible options for how to spend a great day Downtown to get it all done in one day. And the work I love will still get done. Because nothing makes you more productive and energized to d- more than living in Detroit, where there is quite simply more of what you love to do….