How to Spend 48 (Incredible!) Hours in Detroit
Lodging in ‘Little Paris’; eating Argentinian cuisine; standing at arm’s length from paintings by Van Gogh and buying vinyl records from Motown legends in the city where Motown music was born.
All of this, and so much more, is possible with 48 hours in Detroit!
The D is a city with history, resilience, grit and beauty. Around every corner there is something interesting to discover. The city is constantly changing. While there are new developments and places of interest forming all the time as the city looks toward the future, there is plenty to remind a person that it’s also a city with a storied past.
Where to Stay
After a Google search of ‘Best Airbnb in Detroit’, the first one that popped up on the top article was the Little Paris loft in Detroit’s historic Brush Park neighborhood.
It couldn’t have been a better place to stay. It was the perfect blend of history but with modern design elements as it had been perfectly redone and decorated.
The owners of this property thought of everything. Inside the loft are locally-sourced products like pop, chips and coffee to even the mattress and wall art.
One important consideration—especially when staying in a city like Detroit and maximizing the time there—is the convenience factor of having your car parked right next to where you’re staying.
This allows for ease of vehicle access which is important because although there is a lot to see within walking distance, there’s so much more to see with an available car at the ready.
Where to Eat
There is a seemingly-infinite number of places to wine and dine in Detroit. Doing a quick search online will provide you with a number of great options. The Grey Ghost is within walking distance of the Little Paris loft, and is an upscale dining option.
Barda, an Argentinian restaurant, sounded intriguing and received wonderful reviews, so we ate there on a Saturday night.
It was phenomenal and it was also less than two miles away.
The beet appetizer was a work of art that was crafted to look like a rose. The cocktails were cleverly mixed and ambiance was colorful and lively. It’s one of those places that transports you to an experience as soon as you walk in. It’s a real gem and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
One place we noticed but didn’t make time for was Pie-Sci, a pizza establishment with an extremely clever combination of pies.
What to Do
This list could go on forever, but I’ll break it down so it’s simpler. If there’s one place you visit in Detroit, it should be the Detroit Institute of Arts. It’s collection is world class and the building is a piece of art all by itself. Make sure to stop and admire the Diego Rivera mural.
All of that museum walking might have you thirsty so if you’re into historical watering holes, you owe it to yourself to visit Abick’s Bar. Started in 1907, it’s Detroit’s oldest continuously run family-owned bar. We went in the afternoon so it wasn’t as busy.
The bartender, Kelli, made the experience one-of-a-kind. She’d sit to talk and it felt like we were meeting with a close friend.
Afterward we traveled to Belle Isle to experience the Belle Isle Aquarium. There’s a conservatory there also, but due to all the fun we had at Abick’s, our time was limited. The aquarium—designed by renowned architect Albert Kahn—was built in 1904 and is the oldest operating aquarium in the United States.
It’s free to visit, although a donation is recommended, and you should donate because it’s an exquisite structure with fascinating fish. Tile-work on the ceiling is a sea-green color meant to replicate the colors underwater. Also, the individual aquariums are designed to mimic art that would be in an art gallery as one would walk from exhibit to exhibit.
After the aquarium we traveled off to Peoples Records to pick up some vinyl. This record store specializes in music from Detroit artists and is not to be missed. Albums that went home with us were those by The Temptations, The Supremes and Aretha Franklin.
This list of places to visit is only a drop in the sight-seeing bucket of what there’s to encounter in Detroit, but it’s well-rounded and offers a true Detroit experience.
Other places to see would be the Motown Museum (closed for renovations while we were there), Campus Martias in downtown Detroit and the Eastern Market, to only name a few.
Photography is what this blog was started for so I have to include aspects on it because I want to. Since our trip was shorter and somewhat whirlwindesque, I opted to only bring my iPhone. It’s quick and the image quality is wonderful.
This is merely personal preference and working style though, you bring what you’re comfortable using.
There are many opportunities for street photography, architectural photography and whatever other styles you’re a fan of.
Although Detroit is very safe, the same rules as visiting most other large cities should apply: don’t leave any valuables inside your vehicle and be mindful of where you go at night.
Detroit is a visual feast so you’ll certainly not be disappointed in what there is to photograph there.