Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Don't be Dead Inside. Love Detroit.

When I moved to Michigan a decade ago I was already programmed to love the underdog cities. Working for the City of Norfolk, Virginia gave me that chip on my shoulder any time people talked about forsaking Norfolk for the shiny newness of its suburban neighbors. I didn't know it at the time but this would lead me to be a lover and advocate for Detroit and other urban core cities in a way I would not be able to anticipate.

When I met my now husband, a native of the Detroit suburbs, he was (and remains) a huge supporter of the city. The struggles of the city were real then, but it was before a scandal jailed the former mayor and bankruptcy seized the city's resources. When we first started dating my husband and I spent lots of time in Detroit attending sporting events, going to bars and visiting friends. Our first date was hosted by the Traffic Jam & Snug in Midtown. At a time when our conservative colleagues couldn't find a nice thing to say about Michigan's flagship city, we were falling in love - with both the city and one another.

In the ensuing ten years Detroit has faced monumental challenges, but it still remains one of my husband's and my favorite cities. With every struggle and every misstep we loved the city unconditionally. 

Last weekend we decided to get away for a night and headed to Detroit on Saturday morning. My awesome mother-in-law watched our son so we could have some time together. As unexpected life events are wont to do we've been putting our heads down and pushing through. I feel like we've sort of been orbiting one another. We're in the same space but not really connecting. There wasn't an actual problem, but we just needed some quality time together away from the distractions of life. 

Our first stop was Bobcat Bonnie's in Corktown for brunch. We had delicious food and cocktails (awesome bloody mary bar). I watched the table behind us wrangle several toddlers and felt both wistful and relieved that our little guy wasn't there. Following brunch we sampled spirits at Two James distillery down the street from our brunch locale. Two James had great cocktails and whiskey, and we were reminded of our pre-children days when the only consequence to day drinking was a headache.

I had the inaugural Belle Isle Art Fair on our calendar for months, so we crossed the bridge to the island to explode the art offerings. Belle Isle is a Detroit gem, and I'm amazed every time we visit at how much I love it. It feels frozen in time with its fountain, conservatory and beautiful landscaping throughout the island. We strolled around the iconic fountain and through the art fair with the ease of a couple who isn't pushing a stroller. We held hands and enjoyed being together. It was amazing.

Belle Isle. Love.
We checked into our hotel (the Marriott in the Renaissance Center) before heading out to meet one of my girlfriends for drinks at Standby. The cocktail menu was legit. We enjoyed several creative cocktails, friendship and laughter. I don't remember the last time I was so relaxed. After hugs and more laughter we split off from my friend to head to dinner at Savannah Blue. I am a sucker for soul food, and Savannah Blue did not disappoint. It unequivocally has the best sweet tea I've had north of the Mason-Dixon line. The fried chicken and collard greens were insane. With every bite I rolled my eyes in pleasure because it was delicious. De-licious. If you are a Detroit fan and haven't been there, stop what you're doing and go right this minute.

Cocktails at Standby
We had a relatively early night because being without our child means we can sleep. It's amazing. On Sunday morning I headed out on the Detroit Riverfront for a quick run. It's one of my all-time favorite places to run. I love the landscaping, the state park, the views of the river and the city. If you can run on the riverfront in Detroit and not fall in love with the city, I contend your heart must not work.

Don't be dead inside; love Detroit.
I love my son more than is possible to quantify, but I love his dad like that too. It was a quick overnight and the exact reset we needed. It hit all the right notes - time with my love, getting my Detroit fix, time with a good friend, cocktails, delicious food and running. There's nothing I could ask for to make it more perfect. 

The irony about a perfect getaway in Detroit is that the city is far from perfect. But it's imperfection is what makes it wonderful. If you hear people saying negative things about Detroit send them to this blog where in this case only nice comments will be tolerated. 


  1. You're the second person in my circle this week who took a mini vacation to the D. Thanks for the reminder that it is indeed a gem.

    1. Plus it's such an easy getaway -even for a day (or part of a day!) It's awesome to have such a great city so accessible!