Top Ten Things to do in ‘The D’

by Nat and Carly

A couple of weeks ago we did what no two other people have done before. We went on vacation to Detroit. For fun. These are our tips.

1. Stay at the Shorecrest Motor Inn. They have many amenities; including double doors locks, blinds that are sewn shut for your safety, rent by the two-hour hair dryers, and on-site restaurant called The Clique. Some unfortunate patrons experienced intense inexplicable room odours – to the extent that they wished they could sleep in the parking lot. Our room, however, smelled delightful throughout our stay. The Shorecrest is located right downtown, and is a short walk away from a convenience store that carries a wide selection of liquors. We know what you’re wondering, and yes! They do accept food stamps. If you find yourself in ‘The D’, Shorecrest is your home away from home.

2. Win big at the Greektown casino buffet. For $9.95 the ‘International Buffet’ offers an unlimited amount of garbage from all over the world! Shovel mac and cheese into your gaping mouth and follow that with catfishsticks. But remember, save room for dessert…

3. Visit the neighbourhoood known as the Cultural Centre…

4. Choose your Coney Island. In downtown Detroit there are two restaurants next door to each other, each serving their version of a ‘Coney Island’ (hot dog topped with slop). We chose the less patriotic, but more authentic ‘Lafayette’ over its neighbour ‘All American.’ Neither of us ordered a Coney Island.

5. Be moved. Hop on the almost deserted People Mover, a service that no native Detroiter (or anyone else) considers taking. This is a shame because the magical monorail takes you on a close up tour of The D’s most beautiful and terrifying abandoned skyscrapers. The cost puts the TTC to shame at a mere 50 cents per move. It also runs at night, but in our estimation climbing aboard an unmanned discount transportation service in ‘Merica’s most dangerous city is like paying 50 cents to ride the rape bus.

6. I’ll be glad to see ya later (there’s no way there’s an elevator). The welcoming Hotel Yorba that Jack White warbles about in the eponymous song is a site for sore eyes. Hotel? Turns out it’s now government housing. We did not know this at the time.

7. Olé? Described as being the most vibrant area of Detroit, Mexicantown was painted as a colourful fiesta, full of street venodrs, burritos and piñata parties. We arrived there at three pm on a Saturday to find one deserted block, a few closed restaurants and zero Mexicans. Luckily, the one restaurant we wanted to go to, Xochimilco, was open. We’ve never figured out how to pronounce that name, but one thing is for sure – they make the best burritos and Margaritas we’ve ever had. And trust us, we’ve had a lot.

8. Put your life at risk for a photo. Of all the formerly beautiful, now crumbling buildings The D has to offer, the most impressive and terrifying is Michigan Central Station. Designed by the folks who brought you Grand Central Station, in its day this Beaux-Arts masterpiece was the talk of town. Now it’s the shame of the town. How dumb Americans allowed this to happen… It hasn’t been used in over twenty year and is destined for demolition. Surrounded by massive fences and barbed wire it certainly casts an imposing figure. You’re definitely not supposed to go inside – they make that very clear. But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t try…

9. Come for the jukebox, stay for the jukebox. The only game of ‘If you HAD to, who would it be?’ that’s ended in a complete stalemate, took place in this charming bar. The décor features some great local art, there are two massive jukeboxes and they offer all you can drink Bloody Marys every Sunday. The locals described Bronx Bar to us as a ‘Hipster’ bar; we’d like to remind them that word ‘hip’ is in ‘Hipster.’

10. The Heidelberg Project. At this point in writing our top ten list, we are very hungry. For this tip, we would like to use the famous, and completely appropriate cop-out expression ‘It speaks for itself.’

19 Comments

  1. Lizziemc
    October 5, 2009

    I have never experienced anything closer to walking through a clown’s nightmare than when I strolled through the Heidelberg Project on a slushy winter’s day. Amazing!

  2. Anonymous
    October 6, 2009

    this is kind of assholic. Yet another way to make hipsters look like idiots. yikes.

  3. Wow
    October 6, 2009

    Privileged, self-absorbed rich twits – that’s what you sound like in this post. And to be frank, a little racist too.

    Get a grip and reevaluate yourselves before you turn into middle-aged monsters. Seriously.

  4. wowee!
    October 6, 2009

    those who read this as racist are the ones with the prejudice…

  5. ginger79
    October 7, 2009

    I wish I rode shotgun. Always been curious about Detroit but too nervous to go. Love the pics.

  6. ginger79
    October 7, 2009

    This is just a story of a curious road trip to Detroit that looks at architecture, sloppy food and street art. It’s a city that was completely fucked by corporate conglomerates and is now somewhat of a disaster zone and I think that is what the girls are shedding light on. Unless you consider liking a good burrito and playing with a pinata racist – then I have no idea where you are pulling that from. If this was a road trip to Niagara Falls would you be so touchy? Or is it because you think they are poking fun at a city in ruins?

    WOW – you need a margarita.

  7. Anonymous
    October 7, 2009

    This trip looks amazing. Thanks for showing that Detroit is not as unwelcoming as it seems. Love the pix!!

  8. Anonymous
    October 7, 2009

    im actually from windsor, and i honestly have to say i am offended by this post, do the same post on toronto, because it’s not far off. i have been to detroit several times and i actually feel more safe walking the streets at night than i do when im in toronto.
    agreed with the comments that it makes you two look like spoiled, rich idiots! take more time to observe the world outside your very own windows, because im sure the very same things are happening in your city..but you just dont take the time to notice it.
    re do this trip with a more open mind, and less prejudice to the city of detroit.

  9. Really.
    October 7, 2009

    Good Lord! This is clearly the story of two people taking an irreverent and affectionate look at a city where few dare to visit. I think they’re showing the beauty that they found, and how to have *gasp* FUN in a city with a pretty bad public image. Personally, it makes me want to go there myself.

    For anyone who feels like they have to ‘defend’ Detroit against the tyranny of two girls on a road trip RELAX. I think it’s clear that they aren’t trying to put the city down. I’ve never seen Detroit look so welcoming.

    Geez.

  10. lauren_onizzle
    October 8, 2009

    Ehhhh go easy on the D, ladies!

    It’s an amazing city with so much soul and culture. I’ve met a lot of really cool people there – good, down to earth people. Characters 🙂

    The art scene is fabulous as well, and, if you know where to look, there are tons of cool places to chill and party.

    Sure, some areas are sketchy – but the same can be said about Toronto…

    Detroit has a vibrant energy. The state of the economy has inspired a lot of creativity. If you walk around with an open mind and fresh eyes, you can see how much potential the crumbling infrastructure has for artistic purposes.

    Just a few of my favourite things:

    The Detroit Institute of Arts: http://www.dia.org/
    Eastern Market: http://www.detroiteasternmarket.com/
    Fishbones: http://www.fishbonesusa.com
    The riverfront:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit_International_Riverfront
    Hart Plaza festivals: http://www.detroit.com/festivals/

    Want more?
    Metro Times: http://metrotimes.com/

    I’ll take the D over the T any damn day of the week 🙂

    PS – Mexicantown bumps on Mondays! You should see it – especially in the summer. It’s awesome… 2 for one Margarrrritas!

  11. Relax
    October 8, 2009

    I agree with ‘wowee!’ “those who read this as racist are the ones with the prejudice…”
    —–
    Whether you like it or not, Detroit doesn’t have the best reputation.
    If anything, this article made me want to visit Detroit not just make jokes about it.

    But thanks to ‘Wow’ I can make jokes about how ignorant people are.
    And thanks for the laugh, ‘Anonymous um’; it’s always hilarious when someone comes up with a ridiculous word like “assholic” and than calls someone else an idiot.

    Thanks ladies for a great peek into a city I would have otherwise over looked! Love the photos!
    Hope you have more road trips planned for the future.

  12. woah
    October 9, 2009

    Someone who doesn’t know the difference between ‘than’ and ‘then’ probably shouldn’t be making jokes about ‘how ignorant people are.’ Also, ‘assholic’ can be sourced both on Wiktionary and the online Urban Dictionary. Sure, it’s no OED, but something tells me, Relax, that you’re no big pedant of language or etymology.

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