Exploring Detroit, Old and New

Explore Detroit's Past and Present with this Two Day Guide.

  • 20
  • 01:01
  • 22 mi
  • $2

Created by Ashlyn Oswalt - September 11th 2016

Detroit has a reputation for being gritty, dangerous, and a pretty bad place to spend a vacation. Don't let the press fool you, though, and explore all that America's favorite comeback kid has to offer. I used to live near the center of Detroit, and reveled in all the elbow grease locals and newcomers alike were putting into the city. Once a place that hardly warranted a second glance, Detroit has become a place of pride for Michigan, showing off what the city truly can become. A trip to Detroit isn't complete without a true look at the city's past, however, and taking time to check out the local street art, abandoned factories, and establishments that have lasted the test of time is essential. There's plenty of blight, corruption, and rubble left in the city, but its important to recognize and appreciate the city's past before hurtling head first into its urban, trendy future.

Rose's Fine Food
4.5

10551 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI, US

Rose's Fine Food

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"Views from the counter" Photo Credit: Ashlyn Oswalt

A trip to Detroit isn't complete without a trip to Rose's Fine Food. A bustling haven on the outskirts of a quiet neighborhood, Rose's offers the finest in breakfast and lunch, with all options showcasing the bounty of Michigan's produce. So grab a spot at the counter, order a housemade soda, and be sure to save some room for their delicious desserts, all while watching the local Detroit magic.

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"Packard Plant" Photo Credit: Christopher Duncan

The Packard Plant is a must see to truly understand where Detroit was and where Detroit is now. Opened in 1903, the 3,500,000 square foot building was used to manufacture luxury Packard cars. Considered the most modern automobile manufacturing facility in the world at the time, the factory closed in 1958, though other businesses operated on the premises until 2010. The building, once a powerhouse employing tens of thousands, now sits vacant, a victim of vandals and thieves.

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The Packard Plant
3.7

Detroit, MI, US

The Packard Plant

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Photo Credit: Ashlyn Oswalt

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The Heidelberg Project
4.4

3680 Heidelberg St., Detroit, MI, US

The Heidelberg Project

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The Heidelberg Project, constructed in 1986 by former resident Tyree Guyton, began as part political protest, part museum. Wanting to turn his deteriorating, dangerous neighborhood into somewhere for neighbors to be proud of, he worked with children on the block to create a visually inspiring spectacle for the world to see. This is a great example of Detroit's residents creating something beautiful out of the blight and despair that haunts so many of Detroit's streets.

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"Goodies from Sister Pie" Photo Credit: Ashlyn Oswalt

You're probably not hungry yet from your big breakfast at Rose's, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't stop at Sister Pie. Cranking out a few signature pies, pastries, and cookies each day (and a salad, in case you are actually hungry), this spot is a must stop to grab a slice and watch the girls work their magic in the open kitchen. Or take one to go to enjoy on your next adventure.

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Sister Pie
5.0

8066 Kercheval St, Detroit, MI, US

Sister Pie

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Photo Credit: Christopher Duncan

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Eastern Market
4.5

2934 Russell St, Detroit, MI, US

Eastern Market

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Come here on a Saturday morning to see what the fuss is all about. The center features multiple open air pole barns stocked with farmers selling produce, artisans selling homemade breads and jams, and everything in between. Check out the buildings surrounding the market, too, for some great local shops (Detroit vs. Everybody, antique stores), bars with live music, and delicious restaurants.

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Huron Room
4.0

2547 Bagley Ave, Detroit, MI, US

Huron Room

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Finally, it's time to begin your night. To feel like a true Michigander (local speak for Michigan native), head over to The Huron Room in Mexican Town. Exclusively serving up Michigan made beer, wine, and spirits, you'll be hard pressed to find something that doesn't suit your tastebuds, or your budget. For dinner, chose from their wide selection of options meant to evoke feelings of going "Up North" and put a spotlight on what Michigan has to offer.

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Corktown Tavern
4.0

1716 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI, US

Corktown Tavern

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For your first night out on the town, head over to Michigan Avenue in Corktown for a pub crawl. Start your night at Corktown Tavern, order up a cheap beer, and chat with the locals. When you're ready for a new scene, head West and enjoy what Michigan Ave has to offer.

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PJ's Lager House
4.2

1254 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI, US

PJ's Lager House

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118 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI, US

Lafayette Coney Island

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End your night at Lafayette Coney Island, not because they have the best late night food in Detroit, but because they have an iconic rivalry with their neighbor, American Coney Island. Sop up all those cheap beers with some cheesy fries and a coney dog.

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1mi 00h 06m

West Canfield, Detroit, MI, US

Shinola Store Detroit

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If yesterday was all about Detroit's past, today is about Detroit's future. Start your morning at Detroit's new manufacturing hub-Shinola. Grab a coffee at the bar and peruse their selection of handcrafted watches, bikes, and other leather goods. Even if you decide against buying something, Shinola is a great snapshot of what Detroit can become once more.

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Photo Credit: Ashlyn Oswalt

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Detroit Institute of Art
4.7

5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI, US

Detroit Institute of Art

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Next, head over the the DIA and feast your eyes on the amazing art collection that city possesses. Not only is the vast curation ranging from ancient civilizations to modern pieces impressive, they almost were all sold in auction to help pay off Detroit's debts in 2015. After extreme public outcry, the pieces, and museum remained. Be sure to stop by Diego Rivera's famous fresco, Detroit Industry.

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La Feria
4.5

4130 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, US

La Feria

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You've likely worked up an appetite looking at all that art, fill up for another long night at tapas place La Feria. Bright, fun atmosphere with lovely staff.

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The Old Miami
5.0

3930 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI, US

The Old Miami

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If cheap beers, darts, and meeting locals is your thing, check out The Old Miami. A veterans bar with plenty of love for anyone who's not a vet, this place has all the appeal of a place you'd want to become a regular at. Hang out inside for some pool and darts, then mosey on outside to enjoy the large lawn. I spent two nights in a row here, the place was so good.

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Temple Bar
4.0

2906 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI, US

Temple Bar

A rough exterior leads to a warm and welcoming interior, with a big bar, tiny dance floor, and a friendly dog (the owners!). If you happen to stumble in on the third Saturday of every month, Temple Bar turns into the city's hottest dance club, filling the teeny floor with movers and shakers.

Don't let Detroit fool you, there are a lot of hidden gems under all that rubble. Keep your mind open to all the city has to offer, and talk to locals about their thoughts on the city every chance you have. It's a beautiful place to be explored, and unlike anywhere else.

Ashlyn Oswalt

I like black coffee, denim shirts, and dogs. I'm a Chicago native, living and working as a digital content specialist in New Zealand with my partner and rescue pup, Trapper. We try to get to the mountains whenever we can. Or to the sea. This land locked girl is stoked you can do both here.