48 hrs in Detroit

48 Hours in Detroit

Once known as the Motor City, Detroit has undergone a remarkable transformation, emerging as a hub of creativity, innovation, and urban renewal. I was not expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised with Detroit after spending just 48 hours there. Detroit offers a unique blend of old and new, creating an enticing destination for explorers and adventure seekers. With all the motor industry decadence in the US and  well-publicized budgetary problems, I was expecting something completely different.

Getting There

I arrived to Detroit on Saturday morning. Public transportation from the airport is a little unreliable (the buses take forever to arrive), so I just took an uber to Mexican Town (the premier neighborhood to get some good tacos) and walked to the city centre from there. I was only going to be in Detroit for a day and a half, so I needed to cover more in the shortest possible time.

From there, I walked the whole downtown area. Bad times are in the past and the Downtown just keeps getting better and better.

The urban beach in Downtown Detroit
Michigan avenue in Detroit

Just right in the center of Downtown is the urban beach“. Known as the Detroit Riverfront Beach, this man-made beach offers a refreshing escape from the bustling city, a relaxing space filled with pounds of sand and comfortable lounge chairs to enjoy during the spring and summer. The beach also hosts various events and activities during the summer months, including outdoor concerts, beach volleyball tournaments, and food festivals, adding to the lively atmosphere.

After that, I made my way to the Riverfront, not without stopping first at two of the most iconic sculptures of the whole city: the spirit of Detroit and the Monument to Joe Louis.

The Spirit of Detroit statue, depicts a seated figure holding a bronze sphere in one hand and a family in the other, symbolizing the city’s dedication to progress, unity, and hope, while the Monument of Joe Louis, also known as “The Fist,” is a monumental sculpture honoring the legendary heavyweight boxer.

the Monument to Joe Louis
the Spirit of Detroit

The Detroit Riverfront was once totally industrial (full of factories, docks, and warehouses). Nowadays, it has become an open area with parks, nature, and a huge boardwalk that allows you to take a view of the shore of Canada (Windsor) located on the opposite side of the river. People walking, riding, jogging, and skating along the paths at every time. This revitalized waterfront has transformed into a hub of entertainment, leisure, and community gathering.

The Riverfront also hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year, including concerts, art installations, and family-friendly activities, bringing the community together in a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere.

Panoramic of Detroit Riverfront
Selene in Detroit

From there, and around 2:00 pm I made my way to the Comerica Park (Stadium of the Detroit Tigers, the city’s Major League Baseball team). Comerica Park offers a first-class experience for baseball fans, with its modern design, state-of-the-art facilities, and seating capacity of over 40,000. The stadium features unique attractions such as the Ferris wheel, carousel, and a diverse selection of food and beverage options that cater to all tastes.

Although it wasn’t season and they weren’t playing that day, I still got to see the installations. It’s a great spot to catch a baseball game so I recommend you go when season. 

Comerica Park, Detroit

On my way to the hostel I saw, an electric razor scooter. After a lot of regulations they are not longer allowed, but they were when I went in 2018. We didn’t have them in Miami at the time so I wasn’t aware of how popular they are everywhere else.

Instead of walking, I hopped in one of this and decided to see the rest of the city on it. Uber was a thing from the past. I was quickly moving around the city at a really affordable cost, and having a blast.

I encountered The Fox Theatre and the Masonic Temple on my way.

The Fox Theatre is a breathtaking performing arts center in downtown Detroit. Opened in 1928, it’s a step back in time, a grand and historic landmark that has captivated audiences for decades. This beautifully restored theater, with its opulent architecture and intricate details, is a true gem of the city. The Fox Theatre boasts a rich history, having hosted countless legendary performances, from Broadway shows and ballets to concerts by world-renowned artists. This is probably one of the best places to see a concert in Detroit. Beautiful, great acoustics, and historic. Just be careful with the surrounding as it not the safest area of the city.

The Masonic Temple is an architectural marvel and a testament to the city’s rich history. This grand structure stands as one of the largest Masonic buildings in the world, with its intricate design and imposing presence. The Masonic Temple features stunning details, including elaborate carvings, beautiful stained glass windows, and ornate Masonic symbols throughout its halls and chambers.  I can’t explain you how glorious the structure is. It is one of the the world’s largest Masonic Temples, containing theaters, ballrooms, banquet halls, a drill hall, a swimming pool, handball court, gymnasium, bowling alley, offices…

Fox Theater in Detroit
The Masonic Temple in Detroit

My next stop (and just because I found it on my way, it was not on my plans) was the casino. I tried getting in but they didn’t allow me because I had my backpack, so I promised I would come back later. I made it to my hostel: Jazz on the Park. Only 20 minutes away from Downtown, it offers a cozy environment and a friendly staff.

After I checked – in, I decided to see another of the Gems of Detroit, The Heidelberg Project (with my loyal razor scooter always by my side)

Electric Razor Scooter in Detroit

Heidelberg Project

The Heidelberg Project is a unique and thought-provoking outdoor art installation located in the heart of Detroit. Created by artist Tyree Guyton, the project began in the 1980s as a response to the blight and decay that plagued the neighborhood. Using found objects and discarded materials, Guyton transformed abandoned houses and vacant lots into vibrant and whimsical works of art.

Nowadays, other artists have joined as well and they occupied the entire block. Different opinions have been given about the “art” they showcase, but it is, without a doubt, an must-see of Detroit. . The project continues to evolve and engage the community, with installations, performances, and educational programs.

I wanted to enjoy the sunset by the water, so I made my way to the Riverfront again. I stopped by the GM tower complex or best known as “GM Renaissance Center” on my way. The Renaissance Center is a group of seven interconnected skyscrapers, the world headquarters of General Motors, an impressive complex and prominent landmark. Besides housing General Motors’ offices, the complex also features a hotel, restaurants, retail spaces, and even a public observation deck on the 72nd floor, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the Detroit River.

Panoramic of Detroit Riverfront at sunset
GM renaissance center in Detroit

I heard really good things about the food in Greektown, so I decided to go there for dinner. This is where the nightlife of Detroit is at, a historic district known for its lively atmosphere, Greek-inspired architecture, and a wide array of dining and entertainment options. Visitors can stroll along Monroe Street, the main thoroughfare of Greektown, and explore the numerous Greek restaurants, bakeries, and cafes that line the streets. Everything’s with in walking distance but the people mover is always available anyway.

Greektown in Detroit

Sunday Morning

First thing in the morning: I only had a couple hours before my flight (I had to be at the airport at 3) so I didn’t want to lose time at all. Checked-out from the hostel, grabbed my bag and went to visit all the things I was missing.

First thing in the schedule:  the Eastern Market on Sunday. Spanning several blocks, this historic market is a food lover’s paradise, offering an extensive selection of fresh produce, meats, baked goods, and specialty items,  one of the oldest and largest markets in the US. It is open Tuesdays, Thursday nights, Saturdays and Sundays. Each day offers different products and events.

Eastern Market in Detroit on Sunday
I kept moving and found myself at The Z Lot, a distinctive and innovative parking structure that goes beyond its primary function and doubles as an outdoor art gallery. Filled with murals and graffiti, every floor showcases an array of murals by artists from around the world. You don’t have to park here to see the art. The murals, created by local and international artists, showcase a diverse range of styles and themes, adding an artistic touch to the urban landscape.
The Belt Lane and Alley that run alongside are filled with art and murals as well, some of which changes on a regular basis.
The Z Lot in Detroit
The Z Lot detroit

Next was The Guardian Building, a landmark skyscraper of Detroit, located within the Financial District, a true architectural masterpiece and an iconic symbol of the city’s rich history. This stunning Art Deco skyscraper, completed in 1929, stands out with its distinctive exterior adorned with intricate ornamentation and colorful tilework. It features a three-story lobby  with an exquisite and ornamental tilework in Art Deco style.

The building has been designated a National Historic Landmark, the highest honor given by the National Park Service. The lobby area has a lot of retail stores, selling T-shirts and all kinds of souvenirs.

The Guardian Building Detroit

I wasn’t leaving Detroit before trying one of its iconic “Coney Islands“. They are a unique type of Greek American restaurants. Nothing but an icon of Michigan, Coney Island Hot Dogs (Or just coneys) have been a favorite with Detroiters and visitors for nearly a century. A hot dog in a steamed bun dressed with chili, diced onions, and yellow mustard, a classic you shouldn’t miss.

Coney in Detroit

Last stop

I said I was going to the Casino no matter what. It had been more than 5 years since the last time I have gone to one, and I was cautious about it cause I was traveling on a budget, but I still wanted to have some fun, so I decided I was only going to spend $20. At the end I lost them all, but I made them last 3 hours (in which I made $100 and them lost it all again) and had an awesome time.

Little advice

If you are traveling with a backpack, leave it at the hostel/hotel as they wont let you in with it, mine were really close from the casino so I asked them to hold my stuff for a bit.

Motorcity Casino in Detroit

After spending an exhilarating 48 hours in Detroit, I was captivated by the city’s vibrant energy and rich history. From the bustling Eastern Market to the inspiring Detroit Institute of Arts, every corner of the city tells a unique story. Amidst my adventures, I couldn’t help but notice the diverse range of homes for sale in Detroit. These homes, each with their own character and charm, reflect the city’s dynamic spirit and offer a glimpse into the potential for new beginnings in this revitalizing urban landscape.