Great Getaways: Detroit & Western Michigan
Detroit may be called America's Comeback City, but there are other words to describe its recent revitalization: cultural, culinary, and community. The Motor City has welcomed in some new additions alongside long-time favorites to further bring back its vitality. Here's how to make the most of your trip.
Learn from the locals
Detroit natives know their city best, so of course they should show you around. Started by a long-time resident to give visitors an insider's perspective, The Detroit Experience Factory holds guided walking and bus tours to areas from downtown to midtown that cover everything from architecture to food tastings.
View colorful murals on each floor of "The Z"
City parking garages are usually not very visually appealing, but "The Z" certainly has a lot of color. Opened in early 2014, this 10-floor garage near the corner of Library and Gratiot actually doubles as a gallery space—walls on each level have been turned into canvases featuring murals or street art that have been designed by 27 artists from around the world.
Discover Michigan's great outdoors
Opened in the summer of 2015 near the Detroit Riverfront, the DNR Outdoor Nature Center features replicas of natural settings, hands-on exhibits, and educational displays designed to show local families all that Michigan's outdoor recreation scene has to offer. Visitors will encounter everything from a giant oak tree to a waterfall area and even a yurt where youngsters can play while their parents learn where to go camping.
See what's made in Michigan
By turning a foreclosed warehouse in Detroit's Corktown into an inexpensive rental property, Ponyride has become a co-working space for a mix of organizations, businesses, and entrepreneurs—it's open to the public Wednesday afternoons at 2 p.m. and you can quietly observe the tenants at work. In the Midtown area, the Cass Corridor Design District has stores with localyl or regionally handcrafted merchandise that any shopper would crave. City Bird, a brother and sister owned shop, also carries their own line of Detroit and Great Lakes-themed pieces. And though Shinola is more on the high end, you'll marvel at watches, bikes, and leather goods—plus moderately priced journals.
Eat your way around Detroit's culinary scene
As with manufacturing, I'm happy to report that Detroit's restaurants are also thriving. Newcomer Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails supports local farmers with seasonal menus and serves its namesake botanical liquor straight or in cocktails. Fellow newbie Selden Standard is a hot spot with its small plates and craft cocktails. Long-timer Traffic Jam and Snug has an onsite dairy and a rooftop garden with fun interior décor made up of antique shop treasures and other pieces donated by customers. At the historic Eastern Market, find vegetable, fruit, and specialty vendors and grab breakfast or lunch at Russell Street Deli. Back Downtown, try a Coney Island dog, a local favorite, and weigh in on which place serves it up better: American Coney Island or Lafayette Coney Island.
Go for a stroll in Belle Isle Park
Designed by Frederick Olmstead, known for his work with NYC's Central Park, Belle Isle Park is a 985-acred island park with a number of attractions along the Detroit River. It contains the oldest aquarium in the United States, a conservatory, a fountain, athletic fields, and Dossin Great Lakes Museum, where you can learn all about the area's nautical history. You'll also find nice views of neighboring Ontario.
Do a day trip to Dearborn
About 15 minutes from Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Dearborn is home to a number of sites linked to the Detroit's motor legacy. The Henry Ford Museum and accompanying Greenfield Village offer insights into the man who modernized the auto industry. The museum contains significant objects symbolizing American innovation and history, like Abraham Lincoln's chair from Ford's Theatre. Greenfield Village takes you back in time with places from Ford's youth mixed in with structures belonging to fellow innovators like Thomas Edison. Along with seeing Ford's past, learn more about his company at the nearby Ford Rouge Factory Tour—visitors can watch the assembly line for the Ford F-150 truck plus two videos on the plant's legacy.
If you're seeking some time by the lake, head to Ludington and Grand Haven in Western Michigan for outdoor exploration and small-town finds.
Visit the lighthouses in Ludington
Once home to a major lumber industry, Ludington keeps vacationers coming back with natural attractions. Take a ride on the Silver Lakes Sand Dunes—let Mac Wood's Dune Rides do the driving and take a spin on one of their 40-minute excursions. Do your own exploring in the massive Ludington State Park by boating, hiking, or relazing on the beach. Michigan has the most lighthouses in the U.S. Pay a visit to Big Sable Point Lighthouse within the park and nearby Little Sable Point Lighthouse, which opened to the public in 2006. For a small admission fee, you can climb up the staircase and spend some time on the lookout area.
At House of Flavors, expect a line out the door at this diner and ice cream institution with classic flavors and in-house creations like the Blue Moon. The Jamesport Brewing Company offers good meal options with beer choices extending to German lagers and American ales.
Go to Grand Haven, Coast Guard City USA
Called Coast Guard City USA due to lengthy ties to this military branch, Grand Haven is based at the mouth of the Grand River and graced with beaches, bike trails, and a boardwalk. Though summertime brings out attractions like a majestic Musical Fountain, Grand Haven offers activities year-round. Plus, there's more to do beyond the water. For a nice nature walk, head to Rosy Mound, a system of dunes with wooded hiking trails and a beach area. Shoppers will find a lot of choices in the downtown area and you can hop on a historic trolley tours to see more of Grand Haven. Don't miss the annual Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival, a 10-day celebration that honors these U.S. servicemen and women with various family-friendly events.
Get a meal at Kirby Grill, an American restaurant with nice deck views and a selection of salads, sandwiches, and pizzas. Beer connoisseurs should head to Odd Side Ales, a brewery inside a former piano factory with an inventive list ranging from light Citra Pale Ale to dark Mayan Mocha Stout.
This article was written by Michele Herrmann, a travel and lifestyle writer/editor who contributes destination features and travel advice pieces to various media outlets. To date, the farthest she's ventured to is Fiji, along with much of Europe and a good deal within the U.S. For more travel stories, check out her blog, She Is Going Places.
#BTReads: 'A Passion for Paris'
If I had to visit Paris with a traveling companion other than my wife, my choice might very well be author David Downie. Reading Downie's A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light (St. Martin's Press, 2015) is like strolling the city's boulevards with a funny, well-read, and wildly enthusiastic devotee. While many of us simply accept the notion that Paris is the world's most romantic city (guilty), Downie decided to ask "why?" His answer is a hybrid travel narrative, memoir, and history lesson that brings such notable Parisians as Baudelaire, Hugo, Balzac, and Sand into the dialogue as if they, too, are accompanying you. Speaking of strolling the boulevards of Paris... When you put the book down and are ready to dive into the real Paris, you may want to book one of Downie's custom walking tours at Parisparistours.com. Your turn: Tell us what you're reading now by tagging #BTReads on social media! Or let us know below in the comments.
7 Best (And Worst) Museums To Visit On An Empty Stomach
Some folks plan whole trips around a restaurant (or ten), a signature dish, or an edible obsession. (I once vowed to eat gelato three times a day during an 11–day trip through Italy with a girlfriend—and we both held up our end of the bargain.) But simply eating something doesn’t always deliver context—which is what makes the food part of travel so fascinating, and why we devote a whole issue of our magazine to the topic each year (find our May/June Food Issue on newsstands now!). So here, we present seven museums across the country that have built entire exhibitions around a type of cuisine, a way of eating, or even a single ingredient. (Some even let you try the goods, too.) No, it’s not the same as eating your way through the best little pastry shops in Paris—but you just might learn something. The American Museum of Natural History in New York is staging a monthly series called “Adventures in the Global Kitchen,” featuring themed lectures and tastings on a different topic each month. The next one, on May 3, covers the cultural history of tequila and chilies ($30); Juan Carlos Aguirre from Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders and Courtenay Greenleaf of Richard Sandoval Restaurants are running the presentation, which includes samples of both of the substances in question (score!). The theme for June: Tiki drinks! Opening May 25 and running through September 2, 2012, “Beer Here: Brewing New York's History” at the New York Historical Society tells the story of both the production and consumption of beer in New York from colonial times through Prohibition and on to the present day. (Fun fact: In the mid–1800s, New York state was the top producer of hops in the whole country!) Visitors will learn about the nutritional content of colonial–era beer, the chain of technological advances in brewing, and the old–time advertisements and slogans used by past New York brewers. The best part: At the end of the exhibition, there’s a pop–up beer hall, where, on Saturdays throughout the summer, half–hour beer tasting events ($35) will be held at 2pm and 4pm, led by brewers and brewery owners from in–state labels like Kelso Beer Co., Keegan Ales, Ithaca Beer Company, and Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. Through June 10, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington in Seattle has “Hungry Planet: What the World Eats,” a fascinating (and slightly voyeuristic) presentation of the eating habits of families in 10 countries. The photo–driven exhibit was culled from Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio’s even wider–reaching project from a few years back, in which they photographed 600 meals eaten by 30 families in 24 countries—including a snapshot of each household with a week’s worth of groceries laid out next to them. The disparities from one group to the next are nothing less than shocking—and will likely make you reconsider what you put in the cart on your next visit to the supermarket. In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service collaborated on “Sweet and Sour,” an examination of the history of Chinese food in the United States. The exhibit’s cache of photographs, vintage signs, cooking and eating utensils, and memorabilia will be on view in Washington through the end of 2012, before it moves on to its next location (which is still to be determined). One surprise addition to the trove: The Virginia Mericle Menu Collection, a shipment of more than 4,500 Chinese–restaurant menus amassed over the course of Mericle’s lifetime, was donated to the museum by her daughter, Virginia Henderson, after Mericle’s death in 2009. Another ode to the culinary contributions of immigrant groups is on display through August 3 in Birmingham, Alabama’s Vulcan Park and Museum: “Beyond Barbecue and Baklava: The Impact of Greek Immigrants on Birmingham’s Culture and Cuisine.” Its centerpiece is the 1946 neon sign from the city’s iconic Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs—now a popular photo op for visitors to the museum—which is supplemented with photos and mementos from 100 years of Greek restaurants citywide. At first glance, a new exhibit at New Haven, Connecticut’s Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, might make you lose your appetite. “Big Food: Health, Culture, and the Evolution of Eating” (through December 2, 2012) takes a hard look at the American diet as it stands today—as well as the societal and economic factors that have shaped it over time. It’s part of a months–long program that incorporates tough–love teaching tools, documentary screenings, and weighty lectures—on the politics of the “sugar pandemic”; on which cultures have the healthiest diets; on the sinister secrets of food advertising. But the program’s organizers balance out the bad news with fun, like a tasting night with local chefs on May 10, and a healthy–food–focused Fiesta Latina in October. (The schedule is still being updated, so check Peabody.yale.edu for more events.) If that’s too much reality for you, then just mark your calendars for December 9, 2012, when the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe cuts the ribbon on its exhibit “New World Cuisine: The Histories of Chocolate, Maté y Mas,” which looks at the earliest imports and exports of foods to and from the Americas, and the roles played by specific products (in particular, drinks made from chocolate and maté) that Europeans went crazy for. How do you say “chocoholic” in French? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 15 International Food Etiquette Rules That Might Surprise You Confessions of...A New York Street–Food Vendor America's Best Food Regions
Flying Through The World's Busiest Airport Just Got A Little Easier
Thanks to a new terminal at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, there's no reason to dread connecting in Atlanta. Connecting through Atlanta has long been a necessary evil—it's a Delta hub, as well as AirTran (and soon to be Southwest, once that merger is finalized). But it just got a little less evil. The new Maynard Jackson international terminal, which opened on May 16, was designed to alleviate some of the congestion, as well as add 12 new international gates—freeing up more space for domestic flights. A new entrance and security checkpoint were also added for international travelers and the baggage–claim process for those connecting from outside the U.S. has been streamlined. Not only is the terminal more efficient, it's also nice to look at. Huge windows let in lots of light, and a city ordinance demanded that 1% of the $1.4 billion cost was put towards public art (after you pass through security, look for the conical piece made up of thousands of Swarovski crystals). Are you excited about an easier flight through Atlanta? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 11 Surprisingly Lovable Airlines TSA Misstep Causes Teen to Lose Pricey Medical Equipment Passengers On Virgin Atlantic Will Soon Be Able To Use Cell Phones In-Flight
Tokyo's Newest Landmark Opens May 22
The 2,100–foot–tall Tokyo SkyTree tower opens next week and gives visitors panoramic views of the Japanese city from incredible heights. Tokyo is a city full of impressive skyscrapers, and the newest tower is striking indeed. Standing at 2,100 feet, the thin white Tokyo SkyTree will serve as a broadcasting tower. It is Guinness–certified as the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest building behind Dubai's Burj Khalifa (which is 617 feet taller). The real reason to be excited is the observation decks with spectacular views of the city. Hope you aren't afraid of heights, though. The first level observation deck is on the 445th floor (1,148 feet up), and you will have 360–degree views of Tokyo from behind 200–inch–thick glass windows. On a clear day, the visibility will be 43 miles! There will also be a café and an upscale French–fusion restaurant. If you want to get even higher, go up five floors—and another 328 feet—via a glass tube (another elevator you need to see to believe). To put that in perspective, the highest observation deck at the Empire State Building is on the 102nd floor, and the Seattle Space Needle's deck is only 520 feet above the ground—about a third the height of the SkyTree's top deck! From opening day on May 22 until July 10, tickets will only be available by lottery and need to be purchased by a Japan–issued credit card (ie residents only). Tickets open to everyone on July 11 through the box office, and start at about $13 for adults and $4 for children. The tower will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 13 Most Beautiful Temples Eat Like a Local: Tokyo 12 Restaurants With Spectacular Views