Built by immigrants and packed with residential pockets flaunting green space and serving up decadent grub, not to mention arts and culture, Detroit is a city of neighborhoods. For architecture fans there is no better way to experience a neighborhood than on foot, gazing up at the building’s impressive inclusions in the skyline, eventually resting your feet at a trendy bar or restaurant. Find out what to do and where to go in the city's top neighborhoods.
Detroit’s oldest neighborhood—Irish immigrants arrived during the mid- to late-1800s—is home to many of the city’s buzzy bars and restaurants, from Slows Bar BQ to Lady of the House, with no shortage of java (hello, Astro Coffee) and vinyl (Hello Records and Underground Vinyl). Shop at Eldorado General Store and Mama Coo’s for curated vintage goods not easily found anywhere else, or check out art or live music at UFO Factory. This is also a craft-drinking nabe: consider Motor City Wine Bar and Two James Spirits, or suds at Batch Brewing Company.
Shopping at Shinola’s flagship store (luxury watches, bicycles, and bags, all made in Detroit) and viewing Diego Rivera’s 27 “Detroit Industry” frescoes at the 658,000-square-foot Detroit Institute of Arts, plus checking out two other major museums—MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit) and Detroit Historical Museum—easily fills a day in Midtown. Wayne State University is also in Midtown, as are rock and dance clubs, and plenty of places to linger over weekend brunch (like Selden Standard).
Downtown Detroit is an entertainment hub; from baklava in Greektown to cheering on the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons at the 2-year-old Little Caesars Arena (where hometown boy Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit restaurant is), the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, or the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Big-name music acts and shows like the Moscow Ballet come to the restored 1928 Fox Theatre, while The Apparatus Room (inside the Detroit Foundation Hotel, with a Michelin-star chef) is the perfect pre- or post-dinner spot.
Locals know this hamlet, which is partially in Detroit’s city limits and considered Michigan’s most ethnically diverse town, as the place to score pierogis (much of the area’s Polish population settled here) and chicken korma (thanks to the Bengali community). There are also a significant number of Yemeni Americans here, too. Attractions outside of culinary interests include Hamtramck Disneyland (yes, really), which is a folk-art installation created in the 1990s by Ukraine-born Dmytro Szylak.
The neighborhood’s namesake market—Eastern Market, a vibrant food market open every day except Saturdays during the summer that dates back to the 19th century—anchors this ethnically diverse area of Detroit. (During the winter, the market’s open on Saturdays.) This is also the largest historic public-market district in the U.S., with nearby art galleries and businesses run by “makers” creating fun destinations, such as Red Bull, which also has a New York City location.
More known for its iconic skyscraper—the Albert Kahn-designed Fisher Building, an Art Deco landmark—North End’s streets are sprinkled with art, literally. Hang out with locals over pour-over coffee at Stella Good Coffee (in the Fisher Building) or Avalon Café & Biscuit Bar (the sea-salt biscuit topped with cheesecake is a must), and take a walk (with your camera) through Lincoln Street Art Park, a sculpture park with vibrant murals (check its Facebook page to attend sunset yoga and full-moon parties).
If you have a sweet tooth, you probably know about Lisa Ludwinski’s Sister Pie, in West Village, one of the six village-like neighborhoods in Detroit collectively called The Villages. The architecture game is also strong, with homes designed by architects that include Albert Kahn and spanning styles such as Arts & Crafts and Tudor Revival. Pewabic Pottery’s studio and school has, since its 1903 opening, cast a wide net with its talent, such as crafting custom tiles for Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. Locals gather at The Villages Bier & Weingarten (during the warmer months).
Rivertown Warehouse District
One unique angle to this neighborhood filled with repurposed warehouses is that you can literally see Canada (Windsor, Ontario) from it. This area is also a place where creative minds flourish, whether it’s at the Elevator Building (whose tenants include a yoga studio and fashion designer’s boutique) or the soon-to-open food hall inside the former Stone Soap Building (a $27 million development), or a female-owned co-working place called Femology.