Detroit has been dubbed America’s Comeback City and both visitors and locals will attest that it has rightfully earned that title. Just a few years ago, Detroit was in crisis mode. The city’s crime and unemployment rates were some of the highest in the country. People fled Motor City, leaving 75 percent of buildings either vacant or only partially occupied. In 2013, the financial crisis resulted in Detroit becoming the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy. Detroit had hit rock bottom; but as the saying goes, at rock bottom, there’s nowhere else to go but up, and up is exactly the direction Detroit has been heading.
“If you haven’t seen Detroit lately, you really haven’t seen Detroit,” Renee Monforton of the Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau says of her beloved city’s monumental comeback. Businesses, both big and small, are thriving in the Motor City. Large scale investors and young dreamers alike have been swooping into the city, eager to be a part of its rebirth. Detroit is a millennial’s playground. The generation is utilizing this affordable land of opportunity and filling the vacancies with artistic ventures and big ideas. The once vacant residences are quickly filling and are nearly 100% occupied. Due to this influx of visionaries flocking the city to chase dreams and affordable housing, new apartment buildings and residencies have been popping up all over Detroit’s downtown and midtown. The sprawling riverfront is being restored to its original beauty because of the diligent efforts of The Detroit RiverFront Conservatory therefore the area is accessible for recreational purposes again. Urban gardens are a new trend and the needs of aspiring agriculturalists are accommodated by farms and garden stores. Restaurants and retail shops are flipping their signs to ‘open’ and new hotels are available for anyone seeking a taste of the immense culture and beauty that Detroit has to offer.
360 Magazine was given the opportunity to get a unique look at the city via a kayaking tour with Riverside Kayak Connection through the Detroit River. We were able to cruise through international waters, as the river flows along the Canadian border, and get up close and personal with the skyline. Take it from us, there is no better way to see the sites
than by paddling downstream in the rain. The tour features prime downtown scenic attractions such as the Detroit Boat Club, which is the oldest boat house in the country; the gorgeous Ambassador Bridge, which serves as a connector between Detroit and Canada; the General Motors Renaissance Center; and the other landmark structures of Downtown Detroit. We even got to paddle under the MacArthur Bridge that was built in 1925. Some of our staff members had chosen to spend the morning testing their luck at the three casino hotels in Detroit. Greektown Casino Hotel is located in Detroit’s Greektown Historic District and opened in 2000; MGM Grand Detroit was the first luxury resort casino hotel to open outside of Los Angeles; The MotorCity Casino Hotel is owned by Marian Ilitch, who co-founded Little Caesar’s Pizza with her late husband, Mike Ilitch. We met up at the Outdoors Adventure Center. The OAC gives Detroit families the chance to learn about the Michigan outdoors in an entertaining and interactive setting. The center played a pivotal role in the restoration efforts for the riverfront in which we had just paddled on. After taking a look at some of the exhibits, we head over to a nearby town called Hamtramck to play a few games of Fowling. Flowling is an unlikely combination of football, horseshoes, and bowling and was invented in 2001 by Detroit native, Chris Hutt, and a few of his friends. The Fowling Warehouse first opened its doors in 2014 and consists of 20 lanes and two bars with a third in the works. Needless to say, there is no shortage of beer; however, the warehouse is BYOF (bring your own food). After dinner, we were taken to Sugar House and Gold Cash Gold to cleanse our palates with some refreshing cocktails. The day was a never-ending adventure for our staff. In our opinion, Detroit is every activity and sports lover’s fantasy destination.
The late Mike Ilitch, founder of international fast food franchise Little Caesar’s Pizza, was at the center of Detroit’s comeback. The Detroit native never lost faith in his hometown and faithfully stood by the city until his final days. Ilitch was the proud owner of two of the city’s major league sports team, the Detroit Tigers baseball team and the Detroit Red Wings hockey team. Ilitch and his family invested in the city and helped to build the foundation of the resurgence. The brand new Little Caesar’s Arena is putting Detroit’s midtown and downtown on the map. “It’s the hub of the entire 50 block development,” Tom Wilson, CEO of Olympia Entertainment said, “50 blocks in a major American city is unheard of. It allows us to do many different things that can be the connective tissue between all of the great things in downtown Detroit and midtown Detroit.” Wilson personally showed our staff around on a guided tour of the new arena. The arena is home to the Red Wings as well as the Detroit Pistons basketball team. The blueprints and installation of the arena is setting a precedent for future arena construction. The unique design sits 40 feet below the surface of the city which allows
the structure to blend with the surrounding neighborhoods that are currently being constructed. Detroit is now the only city in the country to house all four of its major sports teams within four blocks in its downtown core. “It’s going to change the way arenas are built in the future,” Wilson predicts. We were lucky enough to score tickets to the opening Red Wings game versus the Minnesota Wilds in the new arena. We were seated in a suite and were able to watch the Red Wings kick some Wild butt (4-2) in a luxury location while chowing down on some of the delicious food Little Caesar’s Arena has to offer.
Cars may have put Detroit on the map back in the early 1900s, but current residents are doing just fine without owning a car of their own. Metropolitan Detroit provides many forms of public transportation; people can choose to travel via busses, railways, the
elevated people mover, and the brand-new QLine. “[The QLine} is a street car system on tracks and it just opened in May [of 2017] and it takes people from the downtown all the way up through our midtown area through the museum district and various attractions.” The QLine includes 20 stops and 12 stations. Bikes are another pleasant way to get around the city. Detroit has just introduced a brand-new bike lane that provides peddlers with a safe route for two-wheel travel. 360 had the chance to pedal through the budding neighborhoods of downtown Detroit with the Wheelhouse bike shop. Wheelhouse caters to all sorts of
tourists, offering tours to those interested in architecture, public art, history, neighborhood, etc. We also had the pleasure of pedaling to the best sports bars the city has to offer with The Michigan Pedaler. It was a party on two-wheels. Despite all of the modern transportation options, Detroit does not neglect to still celebrate its industrial roots. Detroit is called the Motor City for a reason, after all, and that reason is because of the legendary automotive pioneer, Henry Ford. The Henry Ford Museum had been Ford’s idea. “I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used. When we are through, we shall have reproduced American life has lived, and that, I think, is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition,” Ford stated back in 1928. The museum is one of the most important history museums in the nation, it houses thousands of objects that display how ordinary Americans lived and worked along with the genius innovativeness throughout history.
Detroit’s Farmer’s Market, Eastern Market, is the largest indoor/outdoor marketplace in the country. It is located on a commercial stretch of 43 acres and is just a mile north of the downtown area. The market originally opened in 1841 in Cadillac Square and has been a consistent feature of Detroit ever since. In recent years, the market has become one of the centers of the public art movement. Our staff were treated to a mouthwatering tour of the marketplace courtesy of Linda Yellen from Feet on the Street Tours. Our taste buds died and went to heaven as Yellen took us through the market and showed us the many local delicacies. After our three-hour lunch, we were given time to stroll through the shops in Downtown, Midtown, and New Center.
Among all of the shiny new attractions Detroit has to offer, the remnants of the city’s history have been preserved and refurbished. The city’s architectural integrity has remained intact. The 1920’s saw an architectural revolution and Detroit home to some of the most riveting examples of the decade’s skyscraper designs the country has to offer. The skyline remains, just with a bit more curb appeal to blend with the modern world. Detroit’s art scene is part of what makes the city so attractive to outsiders. The graffiti on the walls of buildings is as historic to the city as the buildings themselves. Public art is being celebrated, as it should be, throughout Detroit. The atmosphere is regarded as a canvas. The city is alive with colorful murals that depict stories of both suffering and strength. This celebration of the arts encourages young artists to express themselves legally by contributing to the beauty of the cityscape. The city holds true to its motto: ‘Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus.’ Which means, “We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes.” Detroit is no longer the city that the media paints it to be. The new and the old merge together to create a unique mix of past and future that celebrates Detroit’s rich history of ups and downs.
Trip planned with Travel Michigan by Geiger and Associates
Traffic Jam & Snug is a Detroit treasure. Established in 1965, it was one of the first brewpubs in Detroit. Their ever-changing menu of craft beer along with the cheese and bread they make in house earns the restaurant a 5-star rating from 360 Magazine.
Destination Detroit Tours took us on a spectacular driving tour of Downtown and some of the surrounding neighborhoods. Co-founder of Destination Detroit Tours, Kim Rusinow, gave us an informative rundown of the culture and history of her hometown. She and her co-founder, Pat Haller, offer group and private tours of a variety of Detroit hotspots.
Little Caesar’s Arena is the brand-new home of the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons. The arena is stunning and innovative; built 40-feet below ground, it allows for the unobstructed development of the surrounding neighborhood. Every seat is the best seat in this arena.
Bookie’s Bar and Grille is located in Downtwon and is just six blocks from Little Caesar’s Arena. Bookie’s offers parking for fans and a free shuttle to and from the games. No ticket? No problem! Watch the game at Bookie’s and wash down their delicious food with the game day special: a pitcher and 4 shots for just $15.
Santorini Estiatorio in Greektown is a contemporary and authentic Greek restaurant owned by sisters Athina, Maria, and Stella Papas. The sisters opened the restaurant in 2012 to keep their traditional Greek heritage alive but add a modern twist to attract a broader range of customers.
The Michigan Pedaler owner Mike Gill throws a party on wheels with his unique bike-tour of Detroit’s favorite sports bars. The Midtown tour cruises down Cass Avenue and 2nd Avenues, stopping into the popular pubs for a cold one along the way.
Dequindre Cut is a Grand Turk Railroad line turned urban recreational path curtesy of the Detroit RiverFront Conservatory. The two-mile greenway runs from Gratiot Avenue to Mack Avenue, leading pedestrians into the heart of the Eastern Market.
The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village provides a rich history of the Motor City and the automotive industry. The museum is one of the most important and jam-packed museums in the country. Michigan, along with the rest of the world, was shaped by the automobile. The museum features an extensive timeline of past, present, and future innovation.
Motor City Brewing Works is smack dab in the heart of Detroit’s Cultural center and just blocks away from all major Detroit sports team’s stadiums. The brewery is constructed from salvaged equipment and scrap of Detroit’s industrial era. Motor City Brewing Works has been committed to producing hand-crafted, superior quality beer since its doors opened in 1994.
Brew Detroit is a 68,000-square foot facility located in the historic Corktown District. Customers can choose to relax and enjoy the specialty brews in the tasting room that was opened in 2015 or take the beers home in bottles, cans, or kegs.
Batch Brewing Company founders Stephen and Jason left their cushy corporate careers to start their own little brewery in Downtown Detroit. Their motto #beermakesmehappy, inspires them to create fine, craft beers and they will soon be adding ciders to the menu as well. Customers can eat good, drink good, and feel good at this nano brewery.
MGM Grand Detroit is a luxury hotel and casino. It is one of the three casino hotels in Detroit. MGM was the first luxury resort casino hotel to open outside of Los Angeles. The staff was kind enough to give us a tour of the games and teach us the basics of gaming etiquette. We
The MotorCity Casino Hotel is owned by the co-founder of the international fast food chain, Little Caesars Pizza, Marian Ilitch. It is the only locally-owned and operated casino in Detrot and includes 100,000 square feet of casino space.
Greektown Casino Hotel is located in Detroit’s Greektown Historic District and was originally owned by the Sault Ste. Tripe of Chippewa Indians. Rock Gambling, which is owned by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, purchased a majority stake in the casino in 2013 as a part of Gilbert’s efforts to help revitalize downtown Detroit.
Riverside Kayak Connection has been offering kayaking tours since 2004 and began bicycle tours in 2015. We were able to paddle with them along the Detroit River. RKC offers tours, classes, rentals, and hosts a variety of different events. They are also Southeast Michigan’s premiere, full service Thule dealer.
Detroit Institute of the Arts (DIA) has been influenced by the enthusiasm for public art and the potential that art has to start a conversation. In 2010, DIA included the first Inside/Out exhibit. Inside/Out brings high-quality reproductions of masterpieces in the museum’s collection out to public spaces to make art more accessible to the general public.
Motown Museum celebrates the history Motown, which an expression of the African American urban culture in the 20th century. Motown is where music icons such as The Temptation, Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Supremes, recorded some of the greatest hits the country has ever heard. Motown founder, Berry Gordy, began the recording business in two side-by-side houses that have been preserved and transformed into the Motown Museum.
Outdoor Adventure Center neighbors the Dequindre Cut Trail on Detroit’s riverfront. The OAC offers visitors the chance to experience outdoor adventures with hands-on activities, exhibits, and simulators.
Fowling Warehouse is home to 20 Fowling lanes and 2 (soon-to-be 3) bars. Fowling is a sport that was accidentally invented at a tailgate in 2001 by warehouse owner Chris Hutt and his friends. It is a hybrid of bowling, horseshoes, and football. Fowling Warehouse is located in the city of Hamramck, which is just short drive from Detroit.
Polonia is a quaint Polish restaurant in Hamtramck. It originally began in 1927 as the Detroit Workingman’s Cooperative Restaurant to offer familiar food to Polish immigrants. In 1986, the restaurant changed ownership and was remodeled to fit a more traditional restaurant mold but kept the friendly atmosphere and authentic Polish food.
The Sugar House is regarded as one of the best cocktail bars in the city and is the “ultimate presentation bar in the city”. There’s no better way to spend a night out than with a bunch of friends and a delicious drink, or a few.
Gold Cash Gold can be described in just five simple words: cocktails and a good time. It is just two doors down from The Sugar House and is also on the list as being one of the best cocktail bars in the city.
Eastern Market is the oldest and largest indoor/outdoor market in the country. It is open every day except Sunday from 5 AM to 5 PM. It is the primary supplier of produce, meat, and other food products for both residents and businesses. The streets are always bopping with dedicated foodies and curious shoppers. Eastern Market has something for everyone.
Feet on the Street Tours founder Linda Yellin took us through the Eastern Market and introduced our taste buds to the delicacies the market has to offer. Yellin and her staff guide a variety of themed food-crawls as well as offer walking tours of other attractions throughout the city.
Wheelhouse Detroit is a bike shop that was established in 2008 that, in addition to selling, servicing, and renting bikes, offers biking tours of different Detroit neighborhoods. Wheelhouse offers a bunch of themed tours or gives customers the opportunity to create a custom tour tailored to their interests.
Detroit Experience Factory gave us the inside scoop of all the best shopping hotspots in Downtown, Midtown, and Fisher Building.
Punch Bowl Social is the place to go if you’re looking for a laidback environment to have a great time in. The food is spectacular and the drinks are top notch. If a restaurant and a nightclub had a baby, its name would be Punch Bowl Social. Located inside the Z-Garage, Punch Bowl Social includes 4 bars, a restaurant, bowling lanes, private karaoke rooms, retro video games, darts, pinball, ski ball, and even a photo both to satisfy all of your Instagram needs.
Standby is a small cocktail bar that reminds us of a prohibition era speakeasy. It is located in urban destination known as The Belt, an alleyway lined with street-art that bisects the Z-Garage, a ten-story parking garage that is also filled with public art projects and murals.
Wright & Co is another downtown attraction known for being one of the best cocktail bars in the city. Located in a historic 1891 brownstone, Wright & Co has an Old World vibe and is one of the first cocktail bar/restaurants in the neighborhood that is not a sportsbar.