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Old 10-13-2016, 02:25 PM
135 posts, read 104,583 times
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Hi Everyone, I'm a big hockey fan and am making my first trip to Detroit in February to catch a Wings game in their final season at the Joe. Having never been to the city before, from a local's point of view, what are some things I must see or do? I gave myself 3 full days so I could have some extra time to do other things besides just the game. I plan on having a rental car so distance isn't a big issue if there is anything outside of the downtown area (where I plan on staying). I have wrestled with the idea of driving up to Toronto one day to check out the Hockey Hall of Fame, but given the border crossing and the reasonably long drive, not sure if that is worth doing. For those that have done it, how painful of a drive is that? And is it doable in a day? Thanks in advance for your opinions!
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Old 10-13-2016, 03:12 PM
Location: The State of Delusion - Colorado
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You can go to Campus Martius Park for some ice skating and hot cocoa.

Slow's BBQ in Corktown for some good food.

Punch Bowl Social is pretty fun. It's like a Dave & Buster's with more emphasis on bar games than arcade games.

Hang out at the casinos in Greektown.

Check out Midtown area for bars and restaurants. There's a big college crowd here due to it being the home of Wayne State University.

If you like beer: Detroit Beer Co., Batch Brewing Co. Motor City Brewing Works, Jolly Pumpkin Brewery are all around downtown.

If you don't mind the 45 minute drive, check out Ann Arbor and the U of M campus.

You can drive over to Belle Isle (a state-run park surrounded by the Detroit River). The aquarium might be open.

Fun suburbs for young folks: Royal Oak, Plymouth, Ferndale

Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn (Ford's HQ and hometown).

Packard Automotive Plant for an interesting look into history and the collapse of Detroit's manufacturing base. Be warned: There's some real urban gore here; it's not a drive through Pleasantville.

Have fun! Remember to bring your passport to get into Canada, if you choose to do so.
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Old 10-13-2016, 08:39 PM
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Birmingham is also nice. Or, cross the river, and visit Detroit's Canadian suburbs.

Regarding Toronto, it is a very simple straight shot there on the 401 Freeway - 3.5 hours. It's only 371 kilometers/231 miles. Just keep in mind that it will be February, so there could be snow and travel conditions may not be optimal. London, Ontario is equidistant from both Detroit and Toronto in case you want to take a break there. Also, make sure you are allowed to take your rental car outside of the USA. As Detroit borders Canada, many allow this, but there are some agencies which may charge money per mile - so beware.
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Old 10-14-2016, 10:35 AM
135 posts, read 104,583 times
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Thank you both for your replies. Good call on the rental car considerations. I'm originally from Wisconsin so normal winter weather isn't a big deal to me, but if the weather is inclement I would call the trip to Toronto off, but good to know its at least doable. Sounds like there's a lot of good places to check out and eat/drink at, I will definitely need to prioritize. Thanks again!
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Old 10-14-2016, 11:27 AM
Location: Ann Arbor MI
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You didn't mention when in February but the Detroit Boat Show is Feb 11-19 at Cobo. I think tickets are only $13 if you buy in advance. Its a fun way to kill a few hours indoors if the weather is crappy.
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Old 10-14-2016, 12:21 PM
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Good suggestion, unfortunately I will just miss that. I'm going to be visiting from the 20th to the 23rd, going to the game against the Islanders on 2/21
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:14 PM
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I would spend time at the Henry Ford Museum and the Detroit Art Institute. Both are incredible!
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Old 10-14-2016, 02:21 PM
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
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The top attraction in this area is the Henry Ford/Greenfiled Villiage. People come form other countries, just to visit it. I think the Village is closed in February though. Leave yourself a day to see the Henry Ford. Go in the morning. You WILL run out of time and wish you had more, or simply get tired.

The DIA is also a world class attraction. Although it is an art museum, it is much more than that. I like art well enough, but I usually get bored with it in an hour or so. Not at DIA. Every area is so different you do not get bored. If you get tired of seeing beautiful paintings, go look at the medieval armor room and see the intricately engraved armor. Or the giant mural by Diego, or go see how art was incorporated into daily life in furniture, rugs and even room arrangements. Look at items from 4000 years ago. . When you get tired, even their cafeteria serves artistic food.

Other things to see/do:

Go to Coach Insignia at the top of the Renaissance Center on a clear day, or evening. Just get dessert and a drink. The food is not very good and is very very expensive.

Depending on when you are there, there may well be a convention of some kind in the renesaince center or downtown. There are a lot of conventions and conferences.

Spend an afternoon in Greektown if you are free, and go see what if anything is going on at Campus Martius. They are walking distance apart.

Go to the Fowling Club, have a few beers, put on a helmet and throw footballs at bowling pins. Or try feather bowling (reservations are usually necessary).

If there is snow, and you have lots of warm clothing, drive out to Kensington Metropark and try cross country skiing. Call ahead (ask for the ski center, or golf course if they seem confused) and make sure they are open and conditions are decent.

Out on Belle Isle the maritime museum is pretty neat. It includes a complete bow/cabin from a freighter. There is also a zoo and an aquarium on Belle Isle, neither are impressive, but they are not boring. Also in the not boring category, there is a DNR "Outdoor center" on Riverwalk. It is mostly for younger kids, but it can be amusing. They have an indoor archery range that might be fun. I am not sure whether they ever got it open. The Outdoor center is much more amusing if you have a couple of beers before going.

Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak is a marvelous zoo. I would not suggest it when it is cold, windy or wet, but you never know what weather you will have in February. Could be -10, could be 60.

There are a ton of cool restaurants, pubs, taverns all over Downtown and Mid-town (where the DIA is located). It has grown to the point where there are too many to list the best ones, there are a lot of best ones. Slows Barbque is usually a must for visitors. Layfayette Coney Island is an iconic Detroit dive. Bring cash and be sure to go to the bathroom while you are there.

If you are adventurous, you could visit Detroit City Club on a Friday or Saturday night. One night (Saturday) used to be "clothing optional" This is a dark fringe kind of place that sometimes features S&M night and once had a coffin in a room where amorous patrons could climb in for a quickie. (Yup it is that kind of place). I think not much happens there before midnight.

Check what is available at the following theaters: Fox, Gem, Fisher, Detroit Opera House. - I am missing one. Check weeks or a month or more in advance. they have some big time shows and concerts that will sell out quickly.

Last edited by Coldjensens; 10-14-2016 at 02:38 PM..
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Old 02-23-2017, 12:59 PM
135 posts, read 104,583 times
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Just wanted to update this and say that I just finished my trip to Detroit, and I had a great time. There were definitely parts of it I was glad I avoided, but Belle Isle was nice, and downtown and midtown had some great bars and restaurants. In fact I can honestly say I didn't have a bad meal in the 4 days I was in town. The Wings lost their game 3-1, but the Joe was still a great experience and atmosphere. It was my first time visiting so I have point of reference to what it was like in years past, but I hope the city continues to head in the right direction, it has a lot of potential. Thank you Detroiters for making my trip a memorable one!
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