Laura’s Detroit

Freelance writer and editor Laura Bastian grew up in the Detroit area, and currently lives in Durham, North Carolina where she writes about travel, food, events, and business. Laura has spent time all over the world — from Hong Kong to Boston — but here are a few of her favorite things about her hometown, Motor City, USA. Agree, disagree, or elaborate by leaving a comment.

Check out Laura’s travel and food blog www.lauraontheloose.com or find her on Twitter @laurabastian1.

Detroit is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park. After the game, we grab dinner at Roma Café, an Italian restaurant near Eastern Market. Get ready for an old-school Detroit experience with brisk older waiters, white table cloths, and some tasty baked spaghetti.

Summer is the best time to visit my city because of Ray’s Ice Cream, Michigan cherries, and fresh-water lakes.

You can see my city best from the General Motors Renaissance Center. Free tours of the city’s most distinctive skyscraper are offered Monday through Friday at noon and 2:00 p.m.

Locals know to skip Woodward Dream Cruise and check out the Ford Rouge Factory Tour instead.

Pewabic Pottery, founded in 1903, is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like Aretha Franklin, Madonna, and Eminem have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Detroit Institute of Arts, founded in 1885, and home to many important works, including Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry frescoes.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that the downtown People Mover won’t move you very far. This is a driving town. Make sure you have some wheels at your disposal.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is at the Heidelberg Project, a postmodern outdoor art display on a blighted Detroit street.

My city really knows how to celebrate birthdays because of Sanders Candy & Dessert Shops. Nothing beats Sanders’ bumpy cake and milk chocolate hot fudge sauce over ice cream.

You can tell if someone is from my city if, when you ask them where they’re from, they immediately form a mitten with their hand to show you. Detroit is below the thumb, by the way.

For a fancy night out, treat yourself to a Detroit Symphony Orchestra performance and dinner in Greektown. Opa!

Just outside my city, you can visit Cranbrook House and Gardens. Tour the Arts and Crafts-style house and peaceful 40-acre gardens. While you’re in the ‘burbs, you can stop in Birmingham to walk the yuppified downtown. If you’re hungry, locals love the White Castle-sized burgers and crispy fries at Hunter House on Woodward Avenue.

My city is known for being down on its luck, but it’s really resilient and fiercely proud.

The best outdoor market in my city is Eastern Market. 

Toast in nearby Ferndale is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Lafayette Coney Island is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the Metro Times.

My city’s biggest sports event is a Detroit Red Wings game. Watch it at Joe Louis Arena among rabid Hockeytown fans.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I stay in and order a pizza from Buddy’s. I’ve lived in both Chicago and New York City, but there’s nothing quite like a Detroit-style deep dish. Note that a Buddy’s pizza should always be accompanied by the signature antipasto salad.

To escape the crowds, I go for a walk along Lake St. Clair. I also enjoy driving along Grosse Pointe’s Lakeshore Drive, windows down.

If my city were a celebrity, it’d be Joe Louis because the downtown sculpture of his fist is one of the best symbols of Detroit.

The dish that represents my city best is the Coney Island hot dog, a local delicacy that’s topped with meat chili, white onions and yellow mustard. Vernors Ginger Ale is my city’s signature drink.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is my favorite building in town because I vividly remember spilling out onto its steps from a yellow school bus during childhood field trips.

The most random thing about my city is the existence of abandoned mansions, a heartbreaking reminder of how much the city has changed.

The Majestic is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out the annual Movement Electronic Music Festival in May. Techno music fans know that Detroit is the birthplace of the genre.

The North American International Auto Show could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should visit the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, where you’ll find all kinds of cool stuff, including Ford’s personal Model T and the Rosa Parks bus.

In the summer you should walk along the revitalized Detroit Riverfront.

In the fall you should indulge in apple cider and warm doughnuts at the Franklin Cider Mill, just outside of the city.

In the winter you should ice skate at Campus Martius Park.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Detroit Zoo.

The best book about my city is Detroit City Is the Place to Be, by Mark Binelli.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. Even though native Detroiters know that “South Detroit” doesn’t officially exist, we still love this tune.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because Detroit’s story is a very American one, with its industrial past, sad struggles and fight to get back on its feet.

Related:

  • Check out our Detroit photo gallery to see iconic images of Motor City taken by photographer Melissa Farlow.
  • Read Rise and Shine Detroit, a feature article written by Andrew Nelson that appeared in the March/April 2012 issue of Traveler.