Why go now?

Detroit's balmy evenings are ideal for strolling on riverside paths and sitting on brew pub decks. That is, after you've visited the landmark exhibition, "Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit", at the Detroit Institute of Arts (1), which explores the year the artist couple spent here in the Thirties.

The city has been decaying for decades, but is now in the early stages of an exciting renaissance. "Detroit is finally coming back" is the constant refrain from upwardly mobile young people who cycle around Motor City and frequent its new bars, cafés and designer shops.

And this week, Virgin Atlantic (0344 209 7777; virgin-atlantic.com) introduces a daily, year-round Heathrow-Detroit flight, in an expanded partnership with Delta.

Touch down

Detroit is one of the main hubs for Delta (0871 22 11 222; delta.com) which, along with Virgin, flies here non-stop from Heathrow.

As a city dedicated to the motor car, public transport is lamentable. Bus No 125 (smartbus.org; $2/£1.35 fare) connects the airport to downtown, but it's infrequent, and makes 125 stops en route. A new shuttle van operated by Skoot (001 855 937 5668; rideskoot.com) charges $23pp (£15). It departs every 30 to 45 minutes but it's best to reserve ahead. McNamara Ground Transportation Center can advise about taxis (around $60/£40 to downtown) and car hire.

From their hub at the sail-roofed Rosa Parks Transit Center (2), city buses (detroitmi.gov/ddot) serve major thoroughfares like Woodward (No 53) and Michigan Avenue (No 37). The basic fare is $1.50 (£1). Construction of the new M-1 Rail streetcar along Woodward Avenue is due to finish in late 2016.

Get your bearings

This city's glory is its setting on the mighty River Detroit that separates the US from Canada. Downtown is roughly encompassed by the People Mover, a driverless overhead train that does three-mile city loops every four minutes ($0.75/50p).

The main thoroughfare is Woodward Avenue, which goes north to the museum district and increasingly gentrified Midtown. The old Corktown neighbourhood, west of downtown, and the vibrant Eastern Market (3) are accessible by bike, bus or on foot.

The tourist office (4) on the 10th floor at 211 W Fort Street (001 313 202 1800; visitdetroit.com; 9am to 5pm weekdays, closed weekends) is a convention bureau but it will give you a VisitDetroit guide and a good map.

Check in

The Inn on Ferry Street (5) at 84 E Ferry Street (001 313 871 6000; innonferrystreet.com) occupies several Victorian mansions in leafy residential Midtown. Rooms are comfortable and elegant, and the buffet breakfast is generous. A free shuttle runs within a five-mile radius. Double rooms from $169 (£111), B&B.

Westin Book Cadillac (6), downtown at 1114 Washington Boulevard (001 313 442 1600; bookcadillacwestin.com), has revived one of Detroit's landmark 1920s skyscrapers. The standard rate for a double, without breakfast, is $270 (£178) though third-party websites can show rates under $150 (£100). Rooms on higher floors have good views and less noise.

Through Airbnb (airbnb.co.uk/rooms/2938617) you can stay in the guest room of a lovingly renovated 19th-century mansion at 82 Alfred Street (7), which featured in Jim Jarmusch's 2013 film Only Lovers Left Alive. Double from £97, without breakfast.

Day one

Take a ride

The flat terrain and riverfront bike path make cycling easy and fun. Wheelhouse Detroit (8) at 1340 Atwater Street (001 313 656 2453; wheelhousedetroit.com; 10am to 8pm Monday to Saturday, 11am to 5pm Sunday) rents bikes for $15 (£10) for two hours (half price Tuesday and Thursday) or $25 (£17) for a half-day.

Whizzing east along the riverfront for 15 minutes brings you to MacArthur Bridge, which crosses over to Belle Isle (9) (belleisleconservancy.org), an island park where you can visit the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (10am to 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday) and the Beaux Arts aquarium (weekends 10am to 4pm), both free of charge.

Alternatively take the Dequindre Cut Greenway, a mile-long, sunken disused railway, exuberantly decorated with graffiti that emerges near the Eastern Market (3).

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Unknown said...

Hi Erin,

Thanks for posting this! I have grown up in Michigan and never really knew where to start when it comes to exploring Detroit -- ball games and concerts have been the only events to bring me to the city. I am definitely showing this to my mom as we plan to head down there this weekend! (Thankfully I get to skip the flying in part!)

I also wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your positive take on Detroit, and I believe it is so important to keep talking about all the positive things happening. I am taking a publications course this summer and my topic of choice has been Detroit. I am very glad that I found your site as it has provided me with a lot of inspiration in terms of the angle I want to take with my own writing.

I also noticed you are an MSU grad! GO GREEN! :)

Erin Rose said...

Hey Emily!

I am glad to hear you enjoy my blog! Much appreciated. Also, check out Visit Detroit and After 5 Detroit, they are great sources of what to do around Detroit.

Go White!

Erin Rose said...

Hey Emily!

I am glad to hear you enjoy my blog! Much appreciated. Also, check out Visit Detroit and After 5 Detroit, they are great sources of what to do around Detroit.

Go White!

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