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A.M. Start your exploration of Detroit?s cultural heart at the Detroit Institute of Arts (5200 Woodward Ave.; 313-833-7900), where the largesse of local industrialists launched one of the country?s most significant art collections. An extensive remodel replaced era-based galleries with avant-garde thematic groupings like the engaging "art as theater" interpretation of religious works.
Break for lunch at nearby Atlas Global Bistro (3111 Woodward Ave.; 313-831-2241) for Algerian beef satay or Fiji Island prawns, then resume your quest for cultural enlightenment at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (4454 Woodward Ave.; 313-832-6632), where you can ponder installations like Martin Creed?s neon platitude Everything Is Going to Be Alright.
Segue from art to music with a visit to the Motown Historical Museum (2648 W. Grand Blvd.; 313-875-2264) in the house where Berry Gordy Jr. launched his R&B empire. Don?t miss Michael Jackson?s jeweled glove from Thriller. P.M. Hit the gay-friendly Cuban restaurant Vicentes (1250 Library St.; 313-962-8800) for sangria and ropa vieja -- shredded beef with red wine, tomato sauce, and olives -- or a selection of fresh tapas. Linger for free salsa dancing lessons (same-sex couples welcome) or return to the DIA to enjoy a foreign flick at the Detroit Film Theater, one of the country?s most esteemed weekly film series.
Prefer live entertainment? The Gem and Century Theatres (333 Madison Ave.; 313-963-9800) share an ornate edifice that was moved five blocks to its present location, earning a Guinness world record for the heaviest building ever moved on wheels. The cozy venues attract offbeat productions that never disappoint. After the show, hit the popular disco Backstreet (15606 Joy Rd.; 313-272-8959), housed in a former grocery store, and dance the night away. Although the neighborhood has seen better days (Henry Ford and his family are even buried across the street at the shuttered yet preserved St. Martha?s Church), the music -- and the boys -- are still jumping.
A.M. Ease into your day at New Yasmeen Bakery in Dearborn (13900 W. Warren Ave.; 313-582-6035), seven miles west of downtown, where you can sample Lebanese delights like purse-shaped kaak asri. Workers who immigrated to man Henry Ford?s assembly lines in the ?20s have made the burg home to the nation?s largest Middle Eastern community.
Bring comfortable shoes for a long walk through America?s cultural and technological history at The Henry Ford (20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn; 800-835-5237), a complex where you can view treasures like JFK?s Lincoln limousine at the Henry Ford Museum or take a Model T ride and visit Thomas Edison?s laboratory in Greenfield Village.
Rest and replenish with kibbee and fattoosh at La Shish (22039 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-562-7200). Then head back downtown for some serious pampering at MGM?s Immerse Spa (1777 Third St.; 877-888-2121). This 20,000-square-foot sanctuary brings a slice of Palm Springs to the Motor City. Luxuriate by the infinity-edge pool or purge your body?s impurities with the Hammam Body Ritual.
P.M. Relaxed? Then put on your classiest threads and head to the Rattlesnake Club (300 River Place Dr.; 313-567-4400), Detroit?s most elegant riverfront restaurant. Savor a cocktail on the terrace before tucking in to chef Jimmy Schmidt?s sweet pea and fennel risotto and signature white-chocolate ravioli. After-dinner options include Alexander Zonjic?s riverfront jazz club, Seldom Blues (400 Renaissance Center; 313-567-7301), where Stevie Wonder recently performed an impromptu set, and dessert at the Whitney (4421 Woodward Ave.; 313-832-5700), a high-drag pink granite mansion built by lumber baron David Whitney.
End your visit at Menjo?s (928 W. McNichols Rd.; 313-863-3934), a drag/dance club where gays have gathered since the 1940s and Madonna came to boogie in her Ciccone days.
"Feel like you?re south of the U.S. border in Mexican Town, or head south of Detroit?s border into Canada for casinos, nightlife, and some of the best ribs in North America at Tunnel Bar-B-Q (58 Park St. East; 519-250-3663) in downtown Windsor." ?Bret Scott, via e-mail
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