Once upon a time, Detroit was a bustling, vibrant city that was considered the gem of the Midwest. The glitz and the glamour of Motor City may have vanished, but Detroit is definitely making a comeback. While recently on a business trip to Detroit, I discovered an energy and excitement in the city that surprised me. Locals are working to bring a new life to their city, which is why Detroit is one of the most unexpectedly delightful cities I’ve visited. As my business conference wrapped up, I realized that I wasn’t quite ready to leave Detroit – there was still so much more to see of this intriguing city.
So instead of hopping on a plane and heading back home, I decided to change my flight and extend my stay in Detroit. Fortunately, I was able to book a great last-minute hotel in Detroit thanks to HotelTonight. After checking into my hotel, I decided to change out of my business suit and into more casual attire so that I could explore more of Detroit.
My hotel was located in New Center, which is a business hub and cultural center that boasts beautiful old architecture as well as striking modern structures. As the busiest neighborhood in Detroit, I felt that this was a great place to start my mini tour of the city. After all, it’s where many locals work and play, so I set out to experience New Center like a local. I wandered through the streets of New Center and was stricken by the incredible history of this neighborhood. New Center is home to the historic Brush Park Historic District, full of beautiful old Victorian homes, as well as National Historic Landmarks like the Cadillac Place and the Fisher Building. There are a number of great shops and restaurants in New Center, so I stopped at a cute café and grabbed some coffee and a bite to eat.
Bell Isle Park is arguably the prettiest part of Detroit. This island is situated in the middle of the Detroit River, right between the U.S. and Canada. This park offers beautiful river views as well as plenty of great outdoor activities. Since I was in Detroit during the summer, I was able to dip my toes in the water and cool off at Bell Isle’s beach, where locals were swimming and enjoying the warm weather. The island is also home to a zoo, an aquarium, a conservatory and a golf range.
I was told numerous times that one of the must-visit spots in Detroit is the Eastern Market. This massive public market is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it’s one of the largest public markets in the entire country. With hundreds of vendors and specialty businesses, the Eastern Market is a spot beloved by locals, so I headed to this historic district to check it out. A stroll through the Eastern Market is like a vacation for the senses – you can see brightly colored spices and fabrics, smell fragrant roses and fresh bread, and can even taste some of the delicious produce and artisanal products, such as fresh cheese and apples. I could have spent hours wandering the aisles of the Eastern Market, but I knew there was still more of Detroit I needed to see. So after a little over an hour of exploring the Eastern Market, I headed back to my hotel to change for dinner. Of course, I left the market with several bags of souvenirs and gifts – this market has too many tempting goodies to avoid.
Once an area settled primarily by Irish immigrants, Corktown is now one of the hippest ‘hoods in Detroit. This vibrant historic district boasts brightly colored, beautifully restored Victorian houses, and the area is home to a number of great restaurants, cafes and even distilleries. I loved wandering the streets of this young, creative neighborhood, and I feel that much of Detroit’s new energy stems from this hopeful community. Artists, entrepreneurs and activists are striving to help their struggling city, and their positivity and excitement is definitely apparent throughout the streets of Corktown.
While most people don’t think of Detroit, which has become synonymous with urban decay, as a hot vacation spot, I quickly came to realize there’s much more to this Midwestern city than you read about in papers or blogs. Detroit has a unique energy and hopefulness that you can’t find anywhere else, and I was glad I was able to extend my stay to further explore Motor City. I’m grateful that HotelTonight makes booking last-minute hotels in major cities a breeze, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to quickly plan my mini Detroit vacation. If I ever find myself in Detroit for a business conference again, I just might book another last minute hotel through HotelTonight so that I can see a few more spots in this historic town.