- By Clara Bosonetto For the AJC
Detroit is on the rise. The city is renovating hundreds of long-vacant structures, and new developments are filling the downtown areas, Midtown and east of downtown. There’s a vigor and spirit vibe in town with the continued arrival of young residents and professionals. It’s the first time since the 1950s that the city has seen a population growth.
Follow a local guide on the two-hour Detroit’s Rise, Fall and Renewal Walking Tour to famous Detroit landmarks, such as the 95-year-old Detroit Athletic Club, the renovated Opera House, the vacant Wurlitzer Building, and landmarks like the 47-story Penobscot Building, the Renaissance Center (home to the tallest hotel in the entire Western Hemisphere at 72 floors), the General Motors headquarters, the Grand Circus Park area, and more; $27. www.viator.com/tours/Detroit/Detroits-Rise-Fall-and-Renewal/d22934-5713P27?pub=vcps.
Don’t miss Hitsville U.S.A., the nickname given to Motown’s first headquarters. Stand where the Temptations, Four Tops, Supremes and others recorded their now classic hits; $15, $10 ages 5-17. 2648 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit. 313-875-2264, www.motownmuseum.org.
Getting there: Fly nonstop at round-trip rates from $91 on Spirit; from $146 on Delta (based on 21- or 14-day advance purchase).
Stay: Once the historic Detroit Fire Department headquarters, the 100-room Foundation Hotel was opened in May. This independent hotel partners with a two-starred Michelin chef and local distillers, brewers, farmers and other purveyors of edibles for a unique experience. King guest rooms feature a locally curated bar, and local artwork and literature. On-site is a swanky bar and restaurant. Rates from $169. 250 W. Larned St., Detroit. 313-915-4422, www.detroitfoundationhotel.com.
Eat: Pair your fried Spam with a craft beer at Gogo’s, a lively spot serving classic Hawaiian street food. Plate lunches, $9-$12; pork and shrimp egg rolls with mango-radish slaw, $6; and seaweed salad with chicken or beef teriyaki skewers, $7. The eatery is a short walk from Ford Field (Detroit Lions), the grand Fox Theatre and the Fillmore, a music venue. 2040 Park Ave., Detroit. 313-672-4646, www.gogosdetroit.com.
Experience: Pure Detroit offers free 45-minute guided tours of two of the city’s architectural masterpieces — the 1928 Kahn-designed Fisher Building, the largest marble skyscraper in the world, and the 1929 Wirt Rowland-designed Guardian Building with Parducci sculpture, mural works and deco tiles. Take in vast city views from the Guardian’s 32nd floor. Tours every Saturday and Sunday. Sign up on tour day at the Guardian, 500 Griswold St., Detroit. 313-873-7873, www.puredetroit.com/shop.
Stay: The Henry Ford Museum encompasses 300 years of American history and invention with a staggering collection of 26 million artifacts on a 250-acre campus. The Henry Ford package for two at Staybridge Suites Dearborn includes a one-night stay and two tickets to a choice of two of three attractions: Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, an indoor and outdoor history museum complex; Greenfield Village, a collection of nearly 100 historic buildings on a 200-acre site; or a Ford Rouge Factory Tour. This new all-suite hotel offers complimentary hot breakfast buffet, evening social reception and shuttle service to the museum. On-site are an indoor pool, hot tub and barbecue pits. Rates from $249. 24105 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. 313-565-1500, www.thehenryford.org,www.ihg.com.
Eat: Asian street food at Chubby Duck is inspired by a Japanese izakaya, or a casual after-work pub. It’s downtown’s only sushi hand roll shop with local ingredients blended with a little Motown soul. Sushi cones, $7-$9.50; rolls, $8-$12; and stacks, $10. 208 E. Grand River, Detroit. 313-400-5414, www.chubbyducksushi.com.
Experience: Tour the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, the birthplace of the Model T and the oldest auto plant open to the public in the world. See where the first 12,000 models were assembled (since 1908) and walk the wood floors worn smooth by hundreds of workers and cars; $12, under age 12 free. 461 Piquette St., Detroit. 313-872-8759, www.fordpiquetteavenueplant.org.
Stay: Aloft Detroit overlooks Grand Circus Park and is a two-minute walk to the Detroit Opera House. The hotel is housed in the iconic David Whitney Building (opened in 1915 and spared the wrecking ball in 1959) in the Foxtown neighborhood, around the corner from some of the best shopping and dining. Modern rooms have plug-and-play hubs, and kids are welcomed with air mattresses, bedding and goodie bags. The airy lobby lounge has a trendy cocktail bar and billiards. From $180. 1 Park Ave., Detroit. 313-237-1700, www.aloftdetroit.com.
Eat: It’s clubby, dark and classy. The London Chop House and the LCH Cigar Lounge, a Detroit original established in 1938, reopened five years ago after being shuttered for 21 years. The classic a la carte menu features $27-$39 entrees and $32-$76 steaks. Monday-Friday happy hour menu offers small plates of oysters, escargot, sliders ($5-$13) and a bottle of Stroh’s beer for $2. 155 W. Congress St., Detroit. 313-962-0277, www.thelondonchophouse.com.
Experience: The neoclassical Detroit Institute of Arts is among the top 10 museums in the country, with more than 100 galleries with renowned works of French impressionist, German expressionist, American and Flemish paintings. Most famous are the Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera, inspired by the city’s auto production history; $14, $6 ages 6-17. 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit. 313-833-7900, www.dia.org.
Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.