Mike and I are both originally from Michigan (he’s from Grand Rapids, I’m from the U.P.), but it had been years since we visited Detroit. So when we found ourselves in that part of the state for Thanksgiving, we decided to make a quick trip of it.

Detroit has been going through an economic revitalization for years now, and our visit was long overdue. It’s now this fascinating mix of old-world extravagance and hard-won grittiness. It was easy to see that Detroit was once a very glamorous city…and not hard to imagine it’ll be there again.

6 Things We Love About Visiting Detroit In Winter

It ended up being the perfect little winter weekend trip. Cool places to stay, amazing restaurants, and some unique (yet world-class) attractions are part of the draw. A few of the places I had intended to hit were sold out (thanks to that revitalization I mentioned), but that just gives us some really good reasons to go back.

NOTE: If you’re currently planning a trip to Detroit, get your tickets to the Motown Museum in advance — they’re almost impossible to get otherwise. Same goes for a private tour of the African-American History museum.


Art | Detroit-Style Pizza | Art Deco Architecture | A Cool Outdoor Park | Where To Stay | A Great Place For Dinner


1. Spend The Morning At The DIA (Detroit Institute of Art)

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.

Getting to the DIA right when it opens (10AM on Sat & Sun, but 9AM during the week) is such a treat. The major crowds don’t start until closer to noon, and this is, without exaggeration, one of the very best collections of art in the US. It’s engaging enough that even my little guys enjoyed it. And there’s a really lovely spot right in the DIA — Kresge Court — to grab coffee and breakfast.

The building itself…is stunning. So many aspects of Detroit really feel like going back in time…and this is one of them.

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.

We were also blown away by the Detroit Industry murals painted in 1932 by Diego Rivera. Photos don’t do this room justice. The DIA has docents walking around who are happy to give you the fascinating history — or Khan Academy has a great cheat sheet, too.)

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.
Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.
Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.
Fueling up in the DIA’s Kresge Court

2. Try Detroit’s Square Pizza at Niki’s

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.

There’s traditional East Coast-style pizza, thin crust pizza and Chicago-style pizza…but did you know that Detroit has its own? Detroit-style pizza is thick (like Chicago-style), but square. This part is important because Detroit-style pizza also boasts a caramelized cheese crust and…whoa. It’s GOOD.

There’s obviously fierce debate over who makes the best Detroit-style pizza, but we love Niki’s. It’s been around forever (basically an institution by now), and GQ once named their feta pizza one of the best pizzas in the US. (The Greek food is good, too.)

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.
Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.

3. Take a Peek Inside The Landmark Guardian Building

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.

The historic Guardian building was built in 1929 and is an art deco extravaganza. Murals and tiles and a Tiffany clock — it’s jaw-dropping. There are free 30-minute tours on the weekends, but it’s worth a stop even if you only wander around.

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.
Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.

4. See What’s Happening at Campus Martius, One of Detroit’s Downtown Parks

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.

In the winter, Campus Martius is filled with lights, a charming (but tiny) ice skating rink, and a warming cabin (which is basically a fun place for happy hour). It was much too crowded for us to actually skate (oh hey, Black Friday), but it was a fun place to walk around.

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.
Pax was pissed about skating. Sorry, kid.

Additionally, Cadillac Square (right next door) has some downtown Detroit markets with cool local vendors for some, uh, Detroit culture.

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.
Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.
Pax, still not over The Great Skating Incident of 2019.

5. Stay At Detroit’s Foundation Hotel

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.

Detroit’s Foundation Hotel is a firehouse that’s been converted into one seriously cool hotel. The location can’t be beat for exploring downtown, the restaurant is delicious, and the rooms are stocked with made-in-Michigan products. The staff is shockingly friendly and helpful (or maybe it’s just that Midwestern charm), and there are several places to hang outside of your room — something that’s always so appreciated when traveling with kids.

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.
Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.

6. Have Dinner & Drinks at the Apparatus Room

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.

One of the best restaurants in Detroit is the Apparatus Room, which happens to be riiiight in the Foundation Hotel. So. We ordered some room service for the kids, then wandered down to the restaurant for the easiest night-out ever. The food was delicious and the atmosphere managed to feel both special (like a true night out)…yet cozy.

Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.
Visiting Detroit is the perfect, family-friendly winter weekend trip. Cool hotels, amazing restaurants, baller art & landmark attractions — SO GOOD.

Gosh, we had a good time. We’re already planning to go back next year…maybe make a tradition out of this? It was one of the most fun days we’ve had, and required so little planning or stress! Next time, though, I do want to hit the Motown Museum, the oldest aquarium in the country (on charming Belle Isle in the middle of the river), and maybe check out a salsa or jazz club. Or see a game! If you haven’t watched sports in Detroit…well. It’s something.

Anyone else in love with Detroit? Would love to know your favs, too….

xo,

S

Previous articleLook Younger Using Makeup: Eyes
Next article7 Days of Outfits, 1 White Tee
Shana founded The Mom Edit in 2008. She lives with the love of her life (his name's Mike) and their two crazy boys in downtown Philadelphia. She loves a good styling challenge (her engineering side shows eventually), appreciates kindness, and usually picks scotch over wine, sneakers over stilettos, and shorts known as denim-underwear, always.

FAQ
Shop Shana's Closet

13 COMMENTS

  1. I lived in Detroit for a year in my 20’s in the 90’s. I LOVE Detroit (and it was pretty gritty back then). I would love to go back and visit and appreciate the recommendations.

  2. My brother lives in Detroit, and I LOVED it there when I visited him last summer! There was a beach downtown instead of a skating rink, and there were outdoor games all around it. We had coney dogs, which were (apparently) invented in Detroit. We visited the Heidelberg Project (which is incredible and run by friendly people who were so happy to see my kids there) and Deerfield Village (the Ford museum, which is more about history and less about cars and includes the Rosa Parks bus – seriously so cool). It’s such an incredible city with so much rich culture and heritage – I’m so glad to see it showcased here!

  3. Love Detroit! We went skating this year and the DIA is always a favorite!!! We stayed at the shinola hotel which was beautiful and there was lots around it but might try your rec next time! Rock City eatery is great! The restaurant in the shinola was great for dinner next door was a great beer spot called the breakman. After an art museum trip we love Mudgies deli! Definitely want to hit up more museums and belle isle is great!

  4. Hi! I’m from a suburb of Detroit and recently moved to Denver. Glad to see such a positive write-up, and You’ve hit up some great spots for sure! If you’re looking for a jazz club next time- check out Cliff Bells- seriously cool with old school glam. Midtown also has a ton of great new restaurants and bars…maybe if you catch a show or game at Comerica Park or Little Caesar’s Arena 🙂

  5. Great compilation of what to do in Detroit with my family! Where can I find information on what you are wearing? More specifically the day time jeans, day time shoes (black with white soles) and those pajamas? Thanks!

  6. I am WAY across the country in San Diego…and came across this post prior to my work trip to Grand Rapids. This makes me want to take a detour, on my own dollar, to Detroit.

    I feel like I am uneducated when it comes to Detroit in general. Please educate on safety. Sounds crazy, but as a So Cal native, I feel like all we know is how Detroit is so gritty it is unsafe. Mind you, I have lived elsewhere and totally get city grit. I guess I would like to know if you would recommend a visit to Detroit solo, just me, single mama checking it out.

    Love that you spotlighted a city I wouldn’t have visited, but am now trying to detour to.

  7. I live in Texas but my eldest attends College for Creative Studies in Detroit. We have been several times now and always have an amazing time. I’ve traveled alone and with husband and our two youngest. We usually stay at Airbnb’s. We stay in one that was featured in NY Times article in Detroit’s comeback. We can walk to most of Downtown and the best coffee shop (forgot the name) for a delicious cereal milk latte. Eastern Market is a fantastic farmers market during the warmer months. Belle Isle is a must and it’s conservatory is a plant lovers dream. My son’s art work is actually on display in the aquarium, proud mama. The city is constantly changing but be prepared for abandoned areas next to growth. We have never felt unsafe and the people are beyond friendly.

  8. The Detroit Historical Museum is actually super cool – way better than I expected, and the contemporary art museum is great too. Next time visit Selden Standard for another amazing quality meal (the Apparatus Room is one of my favorites!)

  9. Hi Christa, I live in Grosse Pointe very close to Detroit, and my husband works downtown. You would be absolutely safe, even as a single woman, in the tourist areas downtown and in Midtown. Use common sense, same as any other city, but contrary to what that ruin p*rn from ten yars ago would have you believe, Detroit is a vibrant, growing city!

  10. I didn’t know you were from the U.P.! My husband is from there. We live in LA, but he said one of his friends remembered you (last name Mering). Anyway, small world! Love the blog!

Leave a Reply