Sam Barrett has lived in Detroit for nearly five years and has spent nights and weekends exploring the city with his wife and friends.He gives us a fascinating glimpse into this famous, yet somehow mysterious city and its environs. You can find out more about Sam at his website here. I especially like his suggestion to take the family to the roller derby–a fun day for everyone? I wonder if he will still recommend that when he has a two year old in tow? I think he would and if I ever get to Detroit that will be first on my list.
1. Give 5 adjectives that you would use to describe the “feel” of Detroit and its residents.
Hardworking, rough, loyal, forgiving, enthusiastic
2. What is your favorite neighborhood in Detroit?
Royal Oak is a hip neighborhood with trendy shops, a community college, and many production studios used to cut commercials for the auto industry.
Hamtramck is a blue collar German town right north of downtown that is home to a few famous dive bars where the MC5 played.
Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan and is the liberal hub of Michigan with many professor types and a new Google office.
Personally I love Hart Plaza downtown with the giant matte black arm swinging from a pendulum, and all the old relics of a once thriving powerful city.
3. Which cuisine do you think Detroit does best? What is the runner-up?
Detroit has the best burger joints in the nation. In fact I saw in a poll, 3 out of the nation’s top 20 burger joints were in the Detroit metro.
A close second would either be Greek salad or Mediterranean food. La Shish is a hugely popular Mediterranean restaurant chain in MI.
4. What is the best free thing to do?
It used to be the Detroit Electronic Music Festival which was the largest free Electronic Music festival in the world. Now it would be the Dream Cruise, a summer event where car enthusiasts gather around Woodward Avenue to see classic and current hot rods drive the strip.
Visiting one of the Great Lakes is free and beautiful. Michigan has the longest fresh water coast line in the world. Looking at the state on a map you’ll see it is made up of two peninsulas.
5. What is your favorite type of entertainment?
Roller Derby – Detroit has the best roller derby teams in the nation.
Hockey – Detroit borders Canada and the Red Wings just won their 11th Stanley Cup.
Music – World class rock legends have come out of Detroit. The Stooges, The White Stripes, Bob Seeger, Kid Rock, MC5, Patty Smith, Eminem, Detroit Cobras, etc.
6. List the best family friendly activity.
Roller Derby – The bouts can be brutal but the musical chairs, hula hoop, and high school gymnastics in-between periods make it fun for everyone.
Detroit Auto Show – The biggest most influential auto show in North America. Showcasing cool future cars, new green technologies, and tons of people, the whole family could spend all day dreaming of their next ride.
7. What spot would you send a couple, looking for a romantic weekend?
Either Traverse City, South Haven, or the Renaissance Center downtown.
8. Describe a perfect day…one that captures what your area/city is all about. In 3 sentences or less.
A perfect day in Detroit would be attending the Blues festival at Hart Plaza, swimming at Belle Isle (a ten minute drive from downtown), and watching an old black and white at the Detroit Theatre.
9. Tell us about a place that you love to go, whether it is in the guidebooks or not.
Ann Arbor art fair. It is huge and it envelops the entire college town for a week.
10. What should we have asked, but didn’t?
• What’s your favorite sports team in MI? Detroit and the Midwest in general go nuts about sports.
• A question related to the auto industry. People here live and breathe by the success of the Big Three (GM, Ford, Chrysler).
• A question about Canada or Ohio to drive people crazy.
Want to share, brag, or tell about your town? If so, send an e-mail or comment on this post–then you can be our next local expert!
If you’re planning a trip, check out flights to Detroit.