Up in Michigan, Detroit has undergone a transformation for the better. A move away from American industrialism drove the Motor City to rock bottom, but on the way up again, it’s become a blank canvas- one of those surprising cities that’s taken it upon itself to rise from the ashes and recreate its identity. From art to restaurants and gorgeous outdoor spaces, Detroit is rising again to the peak of urban culture, capitalizing on its brawny industrial past and merging it with the new.
Start at the Motown Museum- where else? Operating in its current form since 1985, Hitsville, U.S.A. is where artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and the Supremes recorded their greatest hits and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy himself lived. It all still stands today as a tribute to the incredible music that was created in Studio A and the people who brought it to fruition, so visit and find out what’s going on.
Afterwards, drop in at Katoi, a bustling Thai spot with an entirely unassuming exterior that hides a brightly avant-garde ambiance and more than a few awesome dishes. To make it even more endearing, they have a “tip altar” where patrons are free to leave the waitstaff whatever items their hearts desire in lieu of cash. Or, there’s Rose’s Fine Food, a diner that’s traditional in appearance but not in offerings: items like maple-kimchi fried rice and ricotta-honey French toast grace the menu.
If it’s sunny, follow up with a visit to the Mies van der Rohe-designed Lafayette Park. Surrounded by apartment buildings, this green oasis has been making history since the 1950’s, when it was one of the only locations in the city to not racially segregate its inhabitants. The Detroit Institute of Art, finally, should come next on the list. Renowned for its murals by Diego Rivera that pay homage to the manufacturing and technology Detroit has always been known for, the DIA has plenty of works from around the world on display. From Oceanian to North African pieces, it’s the perfect place for visitors to see something different from the usual.
Detroit is scrappy and spirited--take our grab-and-go Leather Day Tote along for the ride.
All photos courtesy of Greg Moniz and Katoi.
Note: this article was originally published in June 2016 and was updated in June 2017.