Experiences In The D | The Blog for Visit Detroit

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Detroit Weekend Activities on a Budget - Part 1

Posted on Monday, September 24 2012 in Citylife

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Photo by Victoria Araj


Victora ArajThe following is a guest post by Victoria Araj, writer for Quicken Loans and Managing Editor and Publisher of the Quicken Loans Zing Blog. With degrees from MSU and U of M, her allegiance to the Mitten State is indisputable. She loves politics, decorating, photography, fashion, music and the Detroit Red Wings. With a camera always in-hand, you’ll likely find her snapping photos of Detroit while hanging out with family and friends.

If you are interested in being a guest blogger for Visit Detroit, please send us an email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with subject line: Guest Blogger.

My friends often say, “Hey, you’re my Detroit connection, what’s going on this weekend?” Or, if they are visiting from out of town I hear, “We’re doing cool stuff when I get there, right?” After hearing this time and again, I wondered if anyone else out there needed help figuring out what to do on any given weekend in Detroit, besides the typical sporting event.


Whether you live in the area or are responsible for entertaining out-of-state guests, fear not! I’ve got a few weekend itinerary tips that will reintroduce you to many of the reasons why Detroit rocks! Oh, and did I mention for little to no money? 

  Crepes from Good Girls Go To Paris

Friday Evening: It’s 5 p.m. and you just got paid. Have your friends meet you at the Detroit Institute of Arts (5200 Woodward Avenue). With more than 100 galleries, the DIA’s collection is among the top six in the entire country. You can see Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry fresco, Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait and plenty of other works of American, European, Modern, Ancient art and more. The icing on the cake? The DIA is FREE for all residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macombcounties. Out-of-town adults pay $8. The cherry on top? The DIA is open until 10 p.m. on Fridays, giving you plenty of time to take in some art and visit the gift shop!

You’ll be ready for a snack, so walk next door to the Park Shelton to find Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes (15 East Kirby). Open Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m., you’ll find 50 different crepes from savory to sweet, which take up the entire plate and are made fresh to order.

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Campus Martius

If you prefer to do something more outdoorsy, take a stroll around the heart of downtown Detroit. Have your guests meet you at the Kern’s clock on the corner of Woodward Avenue and Gratiot (can’t miss the giant Olga’s wrap right above it). First stop – Campus Martius! This award-winning urban park houses Detroit’s Point of Origin (from which all the “mile” roads are measured), a beautiful fountain, concert stages and movie screens in the summer, an ice rink in the winter and tasty restaurants on every “corner” of the roundabout. Sit for a few minutes and take in the amazing architecture of historic buildings and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

Keep walking toward Jefferson Avenue to see the Monument to Joe Louis, a.k.a., The Fist. Dedicated in 1986, and weighing about 8,000 pounds, the 24-foot-long arm and fist is held in balanced suspension. The monument is synonymous with the grit and determination of the city, so bring your camera and strike a strong pose! Continue across the street to Hart Plaza where many of Detroit’s festivals take place. You’ll see the 30-foot Dodge Fountain (named after the auto pioneer) and Transcending, a monument dedicated to the history of labor in Detroit. Continue straight ahead to the riverfront where you’ll see the Detroit Princess docked, and experience miles of beautiful scenery – including a carousel, fountain, giant cement map of Detroit and a chance to wave to another country – Canada! The RiverWalk is open until 10 p.m.

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   Joe Louis Fist - on Woodward Ave.

After all that exploring, you’ll be ready for dinner. Head back toward Campus Martius and have a bite to eat at Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub (612 Woodward Avenue). A Michigan historical landmark, it was originally a jewelry store and, later, the Grand Trunk Railway ticket office. It’s been a pub since the 1930s and features plenty of Michigan-made products. It’s open until 2 a.m., but the kitchen closes at midnight. Looking for a nightcap? Literally walk next door and up the stairs to MotorCity Wine (608 Woodward Avenue). Half wine shop and half wine bar, it’s an intimate space where you feel like you’re relaxing in someone’s loft. Featuring wines from family-owned vineyards, you’ll enjoy a glass and want to take a bottle home!

Friday Night: The night doesn’t have to end with a glass of wine. Make your way back toward the Kern’s clock and turn right on Gratiot. Walk about a block (just past Farmer St.) to Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine (1250 Library St.) and feel like you just stepped into Havana. Every Friday and Saturday night the place is packed, as FREE salsa dancing lessons begin at 10 p.m.! Don’t worry, the instructor introduces you to some basic moves, and within minutes, you’re cutting some rug to some of the best Latin music out there. Did I mention they have great sangrias?


To be continued…

check back next week to find out Victoria's picks for

Saturday and Sunday in the D.


How would you describe your ideal Friday night in The D? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.