Establishment neighborhood
Johnny Noodle King
2601 W. Fort St., Corktown
The owners of the sliders spot, Green Dot, opened a nearby ramen venture in 2014 that has proved to be wildly popular—as in, entire house (maybe 60 seats) packed at 9pm on a weekday. This is not a place concerned with cooking the most authentic dishes, but rather the most satisfying. Many of the bowls draw from classic Japanese menus but there's also combos like the Philly (shaved ribeye, scallions, poblano) and the Southwest (shredded chicken and cheese, tomato, house made créma) that keep things interesting.
Drought Juice
719 Griswold St., Downtown
Juice shops are not ubiquitous in Detroit as they've become in many cities. For your juice-fix here, go to Drought. Opened by four sisters, the company makes organic, cold-pressed juices, often using produce grown in Michigan, each one glass-bottled. Green #1 (chard, cabbage, apple, celery, kale, lemon) is a favorite. Drought also has oat and chia shakes, cold brew coffee, and packaged one-day cleanses. The new "Biocean" seawater shots at the checkout are said to be effective boosters, too. There are four Michigan locations; the Detroit storefront is located inside the Chrysler House, and is just meant for grabbing a juice on the go. (Fair warning: A quality chocolate shop with gift-worthy packaging, called Bon Bon Bon, sits directly across the way. Also inside building: the Dime Store restaurant.)
Cadieux Cafe
4300 Cadieux Rd., Lower East Side
Right after prohibition and the end of the first world war, this part of Detroit was home to a big Belgian community, and the Cadieux Cafe (which opened in 1933) feels like a relic of that time. The main attraction here is feather bowling, a bocce-like game played with wooden rounds that look like wheels of cheese, which are rolled down a covex court towards a single pigeon feather sticking out of the dirt. Strange as it sounds, it makes a great outing for littles during the day and a surprisingly fun late-night activity for grown-ups, as there's a huge list of beers—including plenty of Belgians—and live music until 2am.
Heidelberg Project
3600 Heidelberg St., McDougall-Hunt
The Heidelberg Project was started in 1986 by Detroit artist, Tyree Guyton, around his family's home on Heidelberg Street as part of an effort to bring art (and revitalization) to a neighborhood that hasn't historically had an organized community art center. The photographs hint at the outsider nature of the art—the block is strewn with found and recycled objects from around the city (old TV sets, discarded dolls, brightly painted tires, so, so many shoes). Seeing it in person is as strange as you might expect—but also, fascinating. You are meant to ask the obvious questions: Is this art? Is it junk? The Heidelberg Project is not without controversy: It's been fraught with various setbacks, including two arson attacks (in 1991 and then 1999), which partially destroyed the HP. The organization is currently fundraising to restore Guyton's "Numbers House"—the exterior is marked with large numerals—on Heidelberg Street, which serves as a community center for youth and neighborhood workshops and art exhibits, and is currently in dis-repair. Go here to learn more about HP and here to donate to the cause.
Fox Theatre
2211 Woodward Ave., Downtown
It doesn't really matter what's playing at the Fox—while they get great shows, it's mostly worth buying tickets so you can just spend an evening in the stunning historic theatre. Opened in 1928 by William Fox (the movie executive whose company, which sold in 1930, still bears his name), it was designed by Detroit native Charles Howard Crane in the style of many grand theaters at that time, with all the old-school flourishes: grand lobby, check, Indian and Asian design influences, check, splashy marquee, check. It underwent a major restoration in 1987, and has been beautifully kept up since then. It's also worth checking the schedule at the Redford, another historic theatre that shows classic films and local musical numbers.
Detroit Opera House
1526 Broadway St., Downtown
Opened in 1922 (it was then called the Capitol Theater), the Detroit Opera house is one of the city's architectural jewels—homegrown designer C. Howard Crane was also behind the stunning Fox Theater, and this space is every bit as grand, if a bit more classic, with painted frescoes, dramatic chandeliers, and draping red curtains hanging from the ceiling at every entrance. During most of the year, the building hosts shows by Michigan Opera Theatre, which was founded by artistic director David DiChiera in 1971—2016/2017 is his farewell season. The theatre itself also hosts visiting ballet ensembles, plays, and touring musicals—this season, they're hosting both the Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera.
Belle Isle Park
Belle Isle
Pick a sunny afternoon to spend on Belle Isle, a 928-acre park-island situated in the Detroit River between Detroit and Canada. After you cross over MacArthur Bridge, bear right at the fork onto Sunset Drive. As you approach the eastern tip of the island, there'll be parking spots along the edge of the river. From here, you get the best view of the city across the way. It's also a good place to stop and play and/or picnic if you have littles in tow. (The beach stretch will be mostly empty if you come in the fall or winter but don't skip over it.) If you keep driving around the perimeter of the island, you'll pass Lake Tacoma and come toward the aquarium and conservatory in the middle. The aquarium (open only on the weekends from 10am to 4pm) is a famed building, designed by Albert Kahn in 1904. Right next to the aquarium is the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, which is divided into five houses by fauna type. There are also plenty more outdoor activities on the island—the marshy forest is threaded with a nature trail, you can…
Clark Park
1130 Clark St., Mexicantown
A community park in Southwest Detroit, Clark Park was saved by residents in 1991 when financial struggles had forced the park to close temporarily. Walking through the park you do get the sense of being far from any sort of city life—while it does feel like an escape, the park is very much tied to life in Detroit. In fall, the large trees throughout the space turn beautiful shades of red, yellow, orange, and in the winter, there's a regulation-sized hockey rink at its center. In the summer, among other things, the park provides free lunch daily to a hundred-plus students. Year round, there is artwork dispersed throughout the park and a series of community programs.