Detroit: Why You Need to Go Now

Patricia Magaña, November 20, 2014
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    Currently undergoing a major transformation, Detroit is the little big city that has the drive to be the next comeback kid. Here are seven great reasons to put Motor City on your must-visit list.

    (Photo: Dave Sizer via flickr/CC Attribution)

    It's the City That Can't Be Stopped

    Speaking to the essence of Detroit is the striking 8,000-pound, 24-foot-long bronze Monument to Joe Louis sculpture. The Fist, as it's also known, symbolizes the heavyweight champion's formidable might, both in the ring and outside it. Joe Louis was a hometown hero and a lifelong fighter for racial equality, and as such, Detroit pays tribute to him with both The Fist and a second sculpture outside of the Joe Louis Arena. He's also featured on several murals throughout the city.

    Philly has Rocky, Boston has Paul Revere, and Detroit has Joe Louis—all personalities emblematic of the cities they represent. Like Joe Louis, Motor City is driven, and though beaten and bruised, it can't be stopped.

    (Photo: GollyGforce - Living My Worst Nightmare via flickr/CC Attribution)

    Cruise the Neighborhoods

    Greektown, Mexicantown, Corktown: Detroit offers a variety of neighborhoods, each with a culturally diverse feel. Find the best Mexican cuisine in Mexicantown. The same goes for Greektown, where the architecture is Greek influenced. Corktown, Detroit's oldest neighborhood and now on the National Register of Historic Places, has Irish influences. It's known for its colorful row houses and popular Detroit establishments, including Slows Bar-B-Q and The Sugar House—the latter a 100-year-old pre-Prohibition craft-cocktail bar that makes all its sumptuous juices and drink syrups in-house.

    (Photo: DDohler via flickr/CC Attribution)

    Entertain the Arts

    Detroiters are quick to boast that their city has "the second largest theater district in the nation." An impressive second to New York City, Downtown Detroit seats more than 13,000 patrons at more than half a dozen theaters within a two-block radius. The Fox Theatre alone accommodates 5,132 seats in an acre-and-a-half theater.

    (Photo: Patricia M. Magaña)

    Jazz, Motown, Soul, Blues

    Undeniably, Detroiters are a talented bunch.

    Detroit's Motown neighborhood has the distinction of being the birthplace of, well, motown. Hitsville U.S.A., the house-turned-music-studio and now museum where Berry Gordy launched careers for so many musical greats, can be toured for $15 per adult (lamentably, no photos are allowed of the interior). The tour's thrills include the opportunity to sing "My Girl" in the famed Studio A where The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Temptations, and Smokey Robinson all made sweet music, as well as standing before Michael Jackson's encased, blinged-out white glove and fedora.

    Before motown music, there was jazz and blues, both of which are cemented in Detroit's roots. The historical Baker's Keyboard Lounge, the world's oldest continuously operating jazz club in the world, is famous as the stage for some of the greatest jazz and blues performances since 1934. Among many other claims to fame, Baker's was a set location for the 2012 movie Sparkle as well as Anita Baker's music video for "Same Ole Love." The club/restaurant's bar is in the shape of a piano, which is said to have inspired Liberace to commission his Beverly Hills home's pool in the same likeness.

    (Photo: Patricia M. Magaña)

    Let's Play Ball

    Championship-winning Detroit sports teams are wildly popular. You have the Tigers, the Lions, the Red Wings, and the Pistons; and the venues for all but the city's basketball team are within a five-mile radius of each other in Downtown Detroit. Additionally, the Red Wings' new 18,000-seat arena broke ground this past summer and is slated to open its doors to Hockeytown (yet another nickname for Detroit) fans in 2017.

    One of only 12 cities in the nation to host all the top four major sports, there's always a game on in Motor City.

    (Photo: Greektownnew2 via Wikimedia Commons via CC Attribution/Share Alike)

    Take a Gamble on Detroit

    Three casinos—MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel, and Greektown Casino Hotel—have taken a gamble on Detroit, and as we all know, the house never loses. These three casino hotels opened their doors in 2007 and 2008, after watching gaming money float across the river to Canada's casino hotel, the Caesars Windsor.

    (Photo: Michael Kumm via flickr/CC Attribution)

    Now Accepting Applicants

    Priced out of New York City or Los Angeles? Don't have enough beans to live in Boston? Chicago's windswept real estate market too volatile for you? Better motor over to Detroit.

    Accounts of finding absurdly cheap real estate investment opportunities in Detroit are real. Sadly, so is the news of the foreclosure and unemployment epidemics, as the city struggles with a $20 billion bankruptcy. Still, Detroit is attracting a lot of fresh, young, urban professional blood, as evidenced by innovative programs like Write A House, which gifts rehabbed homes to writers, and Opportunity Detroit, an initiative that promises to create "an urban environment that attracts businesses, residents, and visitors." And mega employers like mortgage-lender giant Quicken Loans are sweetening the deal for employees that live within city limits through the Live Downtown stipend program.

    Everyone's abuzz about the city's exciting energy and upward trajectory. As Detroiters tell it, "By the time the new Red Wings stadium is complete, Detroit will be well on its way." Surely, Detroit's renaissance is long overdue.

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    This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Detroit: Why You Need to Go Now. Follow Patricia Magaña on Google+ or email her at

    (Lead Photo: william stuben via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike)