8 Reasons To Visit Detroit (No, Really)
Really, Detroit? Yes, Detroit.
I know, you’ve heard all the news. You’ve watched the documentaries. You’ve looked at photos of abandoned buildings and heard that you can buy houses in Detroit (wasteland that it is) for a nickel.
But people’s criticisms of Detroit come mainly from comparing it with what it was. Detroit is not, nor will it ever again be, the Industrial Revolution’s Mecca in the United States. But the city that paved the first road in the U.S. still has a lot to offer, both in terms of regular traveling diversions, as well as for sights that are unique to Detroit.
My cousin Philip, who’s lived here his whole life, says something you don’t hear a lot of these days, “I love Detroit.” He sees Detroit as a blank slate. Detroit may not be what it was, but it is what it is, and no one is exactly sure the direction it will take, making it one of the most interesting U.S. cities to visit right now.
So while I was in Detroit, I asked locals for reasons to visit and they came up with a list of the top 8 reasons to make a trek to The Motor City.
1) Bowling Alleys
Detroit has the most bowling alleys per capita.And it’s not just because no one lives in Detroit anymore: They’ve had the most bowling alleys for like, a long time. And from what I saw, most of this alleys have bars, and where there’s drinking and 10-pound balls of rock, there’s always a good time.
2) Heidelberg Project
It’s one of those “have to be there to understand it” type places. Since 1988, a collective of artists have lived in a neighborhood that the city originally wanted to level (and which they did manage to destroy a number of houses). Today, the eclectic artists now proudly display their artwork around and on the abandoned houses, much of which is found art made from the rubble of the city. Check out more pictures here.
Canada is just a ferry ride away. And have you ever met a Canadian you didn’t like? Exactly. And at the time of publication, the exchange rate was slightly in favor of the U.S. dollar (1 to 1.02). Take that Canada! We’re coming back!
4) Lots of Water
From riverfronts to giant lakes (great ones) — luckily, when everyone left Detroit, they left the water. So for water enthusiasts and fish, the Detroit River still offers a wide array of fun in the sun.
Hockey fan? Baseball fan? Football fan? Well, with a trio of professional sports teams, Detroit can hook you up with some front-row tickets to events that people with fantasy leagues only dream about.
6) Techno Music
Bum, bum, bum, bum, “around the world, around the world, around the world . . .” Did you know that Detroit is the birthplace of techno? That’s right lil’ Moby, it started here. And the scene is still strong. Every year at the end of May you can grab your glowsticks and body paint and rock out at the Detroit Electronic Music Festival! Or, you know, you can just like, stand there and nod your head to the beat.
7) Specialty Dancing
I don’t really want to put this on the list, but when I asked a petite girl at a bowling alley (and bar) my question, “What is there to do in Detroit?” her face immediately lit up and she starting telling me about all the strip clubs, offering to take me. So, um, yeah, there’s a lot of those in Detroit, mostly because nobody can afford clothes since all the plants closed.
8) Modern Ruins
All around Detroit are modern ruins in the making. Even though Detroit officials are keen on tearing down abandoned buildings and crack houses, they are popping up faster than you can say, “Hey, I’m squatting here!” So, though it’s a bit moribund and creepy, it’s hella interesting to see modern ruins in the making. One must-see crumbling bit of post-apocolyptic destruction is the old train station which stopped running in 1988. It’s so awesome, it gets its own spot on the list.
Detroit may be going through an uncertain transition, but it still has the uniqueness that sets it apart from other cities. It’s a piece of history in progress, and is the poster city of the death of the Industrial Revolution. It’s crazy, sad and interesting, but above all, it’s an experience worth having and one you’ll certainly remember.
About the Author
After setting out to hitchhike from Chile to Alaska, Luke Maguire Armstrong stopped in Guatemala where he spent four years directing the social service programs of the charity Nuestros Ahijados. He is the curator of the high energy humor site, Rabble Rouse The World, and his book of poetry, iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About (available for sale on Amazon.com) is especially enjoyed by people who “don’t read poetry.” (Follow Luke on Twitter: @lukespartacus).