A Couchsurfer’s guide to… Detroit

Best breakfast in town!
Dime Store. This American Brunch Bar uses in-house sausage and other fresh, high quality ingredients to make it the breakfast and brunch place to be. Their drink menu is as varied as their food, including daytime specialties like locally-roasted Zingerman’s coffee, as well as a full bar serving Michigan craft beer, wine, day drinks and classic cocktails.

Best view in the city!
Fourteen – Restaurant & Sky Lounge. The best views of Detroit are across the river in Windsor. Fourteen’s Sky Lounge takes the cake – and your breath away!

View of Detroit from Windsor by Roland Shainidze/shutterstock

Best place to grab a drink!
The Old Miami. This classic Detroit dive bar boasts a huge back yard, diverse music and performances, and has hosted many a meet-up, Couchsurfing and otherwise. This is the real Detroit!

One museum not to miss!
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. It holds the world’s largest permanent exhibit on African-American culture. The permanent interactive exhibit, And Still We Rise: Our Journey through African American History and Culture, is incredible! In August, the museum hosts the free 3-day African World Festival.

Charles H Wright Museum by alisafarov/shutterstock

A treat-yourself meal!
Lady of the House. This Modern American restaurant and bar in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood provides an unforgettable dinner party every night, each visit a unique experience for travelers far and near, or neighbors across the street. They also have a strong commitment to community sourcing and support of Michigan farms.

Best quick bite!
Greendot Stables. Known for their ever-rotating and often-surprising sliders – and cheap drinks! – this windowless Detroit standby is in the historic Corktown neighborhood near Downtown.

Michigan Central Train Depot in Detroit by R. Wellen Photography/shutterstock

Where to sweat!
Jabs Gym in Eastern Market. They offer a free first class in everything from (kick-)boxing, to HIIT, to cross-training, to yoga – plus an open gym!

Cute cafe!
AWAKE Cafe. This socially conscious cafe sources coffee directly with farmers and teams up with On the Rise Bakery to bring you pastries that not only taste good but leave you feeling good knowing you’ve helped provide housing, training, counseling services, and educational opportunities to locals in need.

Best day trip out of town!
Ann Arbor. For something completely different from Detroit, check out this “Boulder of the Midwest.” Home to the University of Michigan, and all things progressive, Ann Arbor is beautiful, walkable, and only 45 minutes away!

University of Michigan (in Ann Arbor) By Agnieszka Gaul/shutterstock

Where to dance!
Marble Bar. This bar in an old bank is in a central industrial area full of creative energy, street art, and Detroit heart.

Where to try the local cuisine!
Niki’s Pizza. This Greektown standby has the best Detroit style pizza in Detroit (sorry, Buddy’s!). Plus Greektown is a gem of a block to check out. As for Detroit’s only other truly local dish, the Coney dog (hot dog with chili, mustard & onions), try American Coney Island and it’s eternal competitor next door, Layfayette Coney Island.

Greektown By Kelleher Photography/shutterstock

Family fun!
Belle Isle. Think Central Park as an island. Complete with a Victorian conservatory, one of the nation’s oldest aquariums, a nature center, beach, huge playscape & GIANT slide, and MUCH more, Belle Isle also offers great views of Downtown if you don’t want to cross the Canadian border to Windsor.

Belle Isle Conservancy by Harold Stiver/shutterstock

One experience not to miss!
Talking to a stranger. Detroiters talk to anyone whenever waiting in line, for the bus, etc. The best way to connect with the real Detroit is simply to speak with anyone you see on the street. Guests who have reached out in this way have been offered dinner, and even given a $100 bill and been told to enjoy the city!

The perfect picture!
The Heidelberg Project. This outdoor art environment has turned several blocks of dilapidation into Detroit’s #1 free attraction. Beyond being a mind-blowing spectacle, it’s a Detroit based community organization with a mission to improve the lives of peole and neighborhoods through art.

The Hedelberg Project by JHVEPhoto/shutterstock

Historic moment!
Second Baptist Church of Detroit. When it comes to Detroit’s role in the Underground Railroad, not much is more historically significant than Second Baptist Church. In fact, the safe house in the church’s basement, known as the “Croghan Street Station,” is one of the only remaining documented Detroit stations on the Underground Railroad still in existence today.

A tourist trap to avoid!
Campus Martius. This small plaza in the middle of the street does boast the central point from which all Detroit streets are measured (it’s exactly 8 miles from 8 Mile Rd, see?). There’s also a cafe, a statue, and a fountain. But unless there’s a show or something going on, Detroit has much more to offer.

A city beach set-up in Campus Martius by Kelleher Photography/shutterstock

Advice from a local!
Detroit is a city of soulful, hardworking, underpaid, hard-hustling, fun-loving, beautiful people who love the music that springs from our waters and factories – and dance to it with abandon. Jump right it, we’re expecting you!

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