Detroit lifestyle blogger couple Emily and Andrew from Dssentials share where to go to spend a perfect weekend in the D.
By Emily Ray and Andrew Ferrara
We’ve explored many U.S. cities since we swiped right on Tinder three years ago, but like Dorothy said in “The Wizard of Oz,” “there’s no place like home.”
A weekend in Detroit will show you why our city is one of the coolest places in America to visit. Whether you’re new to the Motor City, or just looking for a new downtown experience, Detroit provides a seemingly endless list of fun things for you and your sweetheart to do. In fact, Detroit’s long list of essential places inspired us to start our own local venture — Dssentials! So without further adieu, here is a guide to a marvelous weekend in the D, courtesy of Dssentials. Oh, and if you’ve already done this stuff, we’ve offered up some alternative locales you can check out.
The glory days for the Tigers may be fading fast (we miss you Justin Verlander!), but a summer night at Comerica Park is a must-do at least once a season. We bought some cheap grandstand tickets and walked around the ballpark for a few innings. The Tigers came up on the short end of this game, but we hung around for the always-spectacular Friday night fireworks.
(Other options: If sports aren’t your thing, there’s almost always a concert to attend on any night of the week. Hear some tunes at The Shelter, El Club, St. Andrews Hall or The Majestic!)
Every Saturday, we wake up nice and early to grab our produce at Eastern Market. Check out some of our pro tips for shopping the market here. We hopped on MoGo bikes and leisurely cruised up the Dequindre Cut, admiring the stunning art and the new entertainment space, the Dequindre Cut Freight Yard! The sun was beating down while we shopped, so we quenched our thirst at Beyond Juicery while breathing an air-conditioned sigh of relief!
(Other options: Detroit is a very bike-friendly city, so pedal over to Belle Isle via Jefferson’s bike lane!)
The Detroit Institute of Arts
After dropping off our groceries back home, we ventured over to what is arguably the most “essential” of Detroit’s essentials — the Detroit Institute of Arts. There’s something about the museum that always draws us back, and despite strolling the marble halls countless times, it always feels like the first time when we go. We could spend hours observing the beauty and grandeur of the DIA, but Emily was ready for some retail therapy! We hopped on the QLine and cruised to 1441 Woodward in the heart of downtown.
1441 Woodward Collective
The space at 1441 Woodward is a collective retail incubator which features a rotating cast of budding entrepreneurs. Clothes, accessories and Detroit swag fill the room at this vibrant boutique. Emily picked up a shirt from David Vintage, a haute couture streetwear lifestyle brand for men and women, and a summer romper from Fly Behavior for a fun, summery date night look.
(Other options: The retailers on Canfield are always fun places to shop. Buy a record at Third Man Records or some high quality outerwear at Filson’s! And for you ladies, check out City Bird and Nest for all your home decor needs.)
Detroit Water Ice Factory
It was still pretty hot and humid after shopping, so we headed across Woodward to Detroit Water Ice Factory. Founded by famed Detroit journalist Mitch Albom in 2006, 100 percent of profits from this tasty treat are donated to Detroit’s less fortunate citizens. We recommend the Swedish Fish flavor!
Cadillac Square Markets
Our staycation continued with a walk around Campus Martius and a stop at the Downtown Detroit Markets in Cadillac Square. The markets were a huge hit when they debuted last winter, and the area now features a lovely biergarten with Jenga at every table!
The Trumbull & Porter Hotel
There were many hotels to choose from when we planned this staycation, and we wanted something that captured the authentic essence of contemporary Detroit. The Trumbull & Porter Hotel encapsulates the past, present and future of the city in remarkably splendid fashion. Originally known as the Holiday Inn Detroit, the hotel was a short walk away from the old Tiger Stadium and opened to great fanfare. The present ownership group bought the hotel in October 2014 and redesigned the entire facility to cater to residents and visitors from near and far. We absolutely loved the poem that is displayed prominently in the lobby. Poet David Blair’s ode to Detroit is incredibly honest and touching. He sure gave us all the feels with his carefully crafted words, “I stay, even when I go.” We wound down before dinner on the plush king size bed and freshened up before our delightful meal at our favorite Detroit restaurant, Grey Ghost!
(Other options: The Siren Hotel or The Foundation Hotel are other luxurious choices for your Detroit staycation!)
We’re sure you know all about Detroit’s burgeoning restaurant scene. It’s one aspect that represents the lively rebirth our city is experiencing. So many food choices are available for even the most refined palates, and we’ve sampled quite a few of the city’s most hyped and notable establishments. But one in particular stands out for Dssentials. Not just because their menu knocks our socks off, but because their unique personal touch and exceptional hospitality make for an unforgettable culinary experience. Oh, and they make the best damn Brussels sprouts in the history of mankind. We’re talking about Grey Ghost, the charming and intimate Brush Park hotspot that stands out as our favorite local place to eat.
Now, let’s back up for just a minute. Earlier this spring (April 7, to be exact), I got down on one knee at Belle Isle and proposed to Emily after three fantastic years together. To celebrate, we met our families at Grey Ghost for a truly memorable dinner. Jennifer, the maitre d’, was incredibly accommodating and let us set up some custom decorations on our table that night. When we returned last week for dinner, Jennifer and many of her colleagues remembered our special night and welcomed us back with the same familiar warmth. As mentioned above, we absolutely love theirBrussels sprouts appetizer — it fills the palate with sweet and savory tastes that compliment each other perfectly. Our server for the night, Montana, was exceptionally nice to us and even brought us out two extra appetizers — on the house! Jennifer had a guilty look on her face from the restaurant’s front door; she may or may not have put Montana up to this lovely gesture. We finished our meal with their delicious cheeseburgers and left Grey Ghost like we always do — full and happy.
We had a comfortable night’s sleep at the Trumbull & Porter, and spent most of our Sunday at home to prepare for the week ahead. Emily dropped in for a class at Detroit’s new Pure Barre on Griswold Street, while I hit the treadmill at the YMCA on Randolph. We spent some quality time hanging out with our dog Sadie, taking her for a leisurely stroll on the RiverWalk. We dropped her off back home and capped off the evening with a refreshing Dirty Blonde beer at Atwater Brewery. Their upstairs biergarten is a great place to catch some sun and wind down — especially after an adventurous Detroit staycation!
(Other options: Many of Detroit’s best restaurants offer a Sunday brunch menu! Start your day off right at the Dime Store, Bobcat Bonnie’s or the Hudson Cafe to wake your taste buds up!)
We hope our weekend in the D will inspire you to create some lasting memories of your own downtown.
Emily Ray and Andrew Ferrara are the couple behind the blog, Dssentials. After swiping right on Tinder three years ago, they started spending every Friday date night in downtown Detroit. Fast-forward to today, and they created Dssentials to offer readers a fresh, unique perspective of life in our city. Dssentials offers the best of Detroit’s arts, beats, eats and looks — all while honoring the city’s extensive history and incredible architecture. Get tips on where to stay, what to eat and how to dress for your next trip to Detroit. Stay in touch with what’s happening on the city calendar, or grow your appreciation for its most notable buildings and neighborhoods. Follow Dssentials on Instagram for more content at @dssentials.