After years of being plagued with a reputation as a place to avoid, Detroit is morphing into a destination to see.
The city has Dequindre Cut, its version of New York’s High Line, and a bustling riverwalk. The state-of-the-art Little Caesars Arena debuted in September, and not only is it an entertainment hub for the D, officials say it will be one of the world’s busiest arenas. The city will welcome its first food hall, Detroit Shipping Company, this summer, and the beloved Motown Museum — where greats like Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5 began their careers — will unveil a $50 million expansion in 2019. Plus, there are draws like the Detroit Jazz Festival (set for Labor Day weekend), the world’s largest free jazz fest.
To find out the best way to navigate the revitalized city, we sought advice from Lynette Zebrowski, chief concierge of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Townsend Hotel, which sits just 20 miles from downtown Detroit. Not only has the Les Clefs d’Or (an elite group of top concierges) member worked at the property for 12 years, she’s also a lifelong Detroit resident.
What is the best way to spend a day in the Detroit area?
Start with a cup of Lavazza coffee and a freshly baked muffin from The Bakery at The Townsend Hotel, followed by a massage or facial at Rivage Day Spa.
Borrow one of our Shinola — made in Detroit — bicycles for a cruise around Birmingham, Michigan. Have your hair styled at Antonino Salon & Spa. Hit the shops around town, especially Lucido Fine Jewelry or head over to nearby Somerset Collection to visit Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Neiman Marcus and more!
At night, take in a show at the Fox Theatre or cheer on the Tigers, Lions, Red Wings or Pistons at a game. Enjoy dinner and cocktails in the newly established District Detroit.
After cocktailing, don’t forget to stop for a late-night snack at Lafayette Coney Island and enjoy a famous Detroit Coney Dog [a grilled hot dog smothered with “Coney sauce” (a soupy chili), raw onions and mustard].
Wrap up your day by returning to The Rugby Grille bar, or lobby of The Townsend Hotel, for traditional Hummers [a Detroit invention, a Hummer is a boozy milkshake with rum, Kahlúa and vanilla ice cream] and see or be seen!
What is new in your city?
Newly opened in September 2017, Little Caesars Arena is home to the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons. It is a quick 20-minute ride from Birmingham and hosts a variety of new restaurants, bars and shopping.
Check out the Urban Beach. In the center of downtown Detroit, it offers sand, sun and fun in a beach-like setting during the spring and summer months. It hosts weekly beach parties with food and drink specials and live entertainment. It also includes The Fountain Detroit, a casual, open-air, full-service restaurant and bar that’s beachside.
What are the most underrated attractions in the area?
Some underrated spots you should add to your itinerary include Hitsville U.S.A. and the Motown Museum, Cranbrook House & Gardens, Detroit Institute of Arts, Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Belle Isle, Detroit RiverWalk and the Detroit Zoo.
What are the hottest restaurants right now?
You will want to dine at The Rugby Grille at The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham; Chef’s Table XII in Farmington Hills; and Grey Ghost, The Apparatus Room, Selden Standard, Republic, Joe Muer Seafood, Prime & Proper and Lady of the House in Detroit.
Where should we go for a great drink?
In Detroit, pop into Wright & Company, Rusted Crow and Detroit City Distillery. Or visit The Rugby Grille at The Townsend Hotel or Dick O’ Dow’s in Birmingham, or The Oakland in Ferndale.
Give us your favorite insider tip.
I can find you the best seat at Comerica Park. Go, Tigers!
What’s a common misconception about Detroit?
Oftentimes, I am told by first-time visitors to the Detroit area how pleasantly surprised they are and that they will definitely be back. Don’t let preconceived notions of Detroit and Birmingham, Michigan, keep you from visiting.