All Rights reserved
Clockwise from top: Grand Trunk Pub, Diego Rivera’s mural at DIA, Traverse City Film Festival, Honor and Folly | Photos Courtesy of DIA (Rivera Mural). Courtesy of Traverse City Film Festival. Julien Sauvalle (Honor and Folly). John Ferrillo (Tanglewood)
Detroit has gotten a bad rap, but a vibrant cultural scene and fairly cheap rents are attracting new businesses and young artists, all looking for a fresh start. Plus, Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin have lived here — reason enough to turn a city into a gay mecca.
Book your stay at Honor and Folly, a local treasure near the old train station. On the same block, mingle with locals at the quaint Astro Coffee (AstroDetroit.com), Detroit’s legendary grill Slows Bar BQ, and fave dive bar LJ’s Lounge.
Check out the Guardian Building, a deco masterpiece and testament to Detroit’s former grandeur, and bike through the Indian Village, a tree-lined neighborhood with brick mansions and notable restaurants, like Craft Work (CraftWorkDetroit.com).
Art buffs should be sure to hit the Detroit Institute of Arts, or DIA — home to Diego Rivera’s mural Detroit Industry — and contemporary art haven, MOCAD (MOCADetroit.org), but the most mind-blowing work is on the street. The must-see Heidelberg Project (Heidelberg.org) is a block of houses redecorated with discarded toys and clothes.
Meanwhile, midtown on West Canfield Street, trendy shops are sprouting up in the wake of watch and leather goods brand Shinola (Shinola.com), which has its flagship store there. Nearby, Willys (WillysDetroit.com) and Fellow Barber offer a great selection of made-in-the-USA menswear and grooming products.
And the summer climate calls for adventure outside Detroit, too. There’s a reason top chef Mario Batali summers in Traverse City, situated on the lower peninsula of Lake Michigan, and presiding over glorious beaches and hiking trails. Annointed one of America’s most romantic towns by Travel & Leisure in 2014, the city has wonderful farmers’ markets and an enviable restaurant scene. Stop for lunch at Oprah fave Grand Traverse Pie Company (gtpie.com), or try Batali’s top choice, The Cook’s House, for the house salad of smoked rabbit and warm seasonal vegetables.
From July 28 to August 2, the city will also host Michael Moore’s annual Traverse City Film Festival (TraverseCityFilmFest.org), with some screenings on a sailboat that cruises around the bay. Not a film buff? Hit the dancefloor at local gay bar Side Traxxx (SideTraxxTC.com).
“I’m a sucker for cheap drinks and food that tastes like it should cost more, so the Bronx Bar, a Detroit staple, is one of my favorite places to hang.” Natasha T. Miller, poet and spoken-word artist.