I recently visited Detroit. It was either snowing or below freezing the entire length of our stay, and yet I had the best time and fell in love with the city. Like all modern cities, Detroit is complicated. It seems impossible to talk about Detroit without acknowledging its struggles, which are certainly evident to visitors. But they’re not what I will think of when I think about this beautiful Rust Belt city. I’ll think about all of the friendly people we met, the beautiful things we saw and the delicious food we ate.  Its coolness and potential seem unmatched in American cities. I can honestly say it was one of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited and I cannot wait to return. It is another reason to love the middle of our country.

We packed a lot into two days, here are some of the highlights:


Rose’s Fine Foods is pretty much my dream restaurant.



Parker Street Market is the perfect neighborhood grocer, and where you can pick up outrageously delicious pies (and cookies) from Sister Pie.



Astro Coffee is a great spot to spend a snowy morning.


Gold Cash Gold is the best looking restaurant interior I’ve seen in a while, and the food (pickle-brined chicken!) is outstanding.





Detroit’s famous Eastern Market.


Detroit Institute of Bagels—so nice we ate them twice.


Detroit-style pizza from Buddy’s did not disappoint.



The architecture is beautiful, I especially loved the Fisher building.


The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) was so awesome. The best vibes of any art museum I’ve ever been to—art seemed fun!


Also, they had this painting that I was really into as a kid(?!).


And amazing Diego Rivera Murals!


Belle Isle Conservatory and Aquarium, both so wonderful.




My traveling companion contemplating the city.



And you can’t drive past Ann Arbor without stopping at Zingerman’s.

Some more pictures over on Instagram.

31 comments to “Detroit”

  1. Thanks for this collection of lovely photos. I’ve been thinking for a while now about a weekend trip to Detroit, and you’ve given me the motivation. There are such interesting things happening there as it rises from the ashes. I have always wanted to see the Diego Rivera murals, and now I must eat one of those pies you photographed! Oh my!

  2. You did an amazing number of things within a short period of time and I couldn’t agree more: Detroit is a fabulous place. I spent a week in Detroit in October 2013 to do an article on urban agriculture and the food system. Of course this won’t ever make up for the jobs lost in the motor industry, but food production will be a major source of income for Detroit. And the Eastern Market and its president, the inspiring Dan Carmody will pull it all together.

  3. This post and another one I read on all the new restaurants/stores/art galleries opening up in Buffalo make me think that Detroit and Buffalo might be the ‘Brooklyns’ of the country. Cheap housing and cost of living attracts creative types and young people who in turn open interesting new venues and breathe new life into the city. Pretty interesting.

  4. Looks like a wonderful and delicious trip! I feel much the same way about Los Angeles – there are so many wonderful things to see, do, enjoy that you just have to take the traffic, pollution, etc. and make peace with its “complicatedness” :)

  5. As an Michigander from the Detroit suburbs who went to U-M for grad school, I loved this. I remember when Astro opened, and a trip to the DIA is never not worth it. Some amazing non-ruin porn shots here, as well!

  6. I echo what GH said. As a native Michigander and a child of an auto exec, I am thrilled to watch the first real renaissance of the city that was once known as “the Paris of the midwest”. The Big 3 tried to manifest a renaissance in the very late 70’sand early 80’s which was basically a flop. This time its a grass roots effort that is of the people and by the people. (with the exception of some apparently excellent stewardship from the owner of Quicken) Such a great story. The flip side though is that gentrification always has it’s casualties and there are some who are being marginalized because of all the growth.
    Thanks for the great photos too.

  7. I have only been to Detroit once, in the 60’s when the Nat. Guard was camped across the street and the inner city was rioting and burning. However, I managed to discover the Hippy district at the time and felt the artistic vibe that eventually resurfaced in that noble city. I have wanted to return and re-experience the heart of that city and your lovely photos confirm my feelings about a city that did manage to not only survive. but thrive.

  8. I have always wanted to go to Detroit and am so interested in its history and story. (Thanks for that link.) This is awesome.

  9. June Opper Goldenblatt says:

    February 18th, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Tim your photography is inspirational. Some of it I want to eat up. I love how you take small bits of things and make them huge lest we overlook the details of a perfect piece of pie or the texture of a cookie. Some look like paintings but how you get the eye to observe through your composition color texture and detail is outstanding. Also I would love to visit Detroit perhaps on a warmer day due to your vision..want to take this time to say also thank you for all the wonderful photos of my kids especially that little one with his wonderful expressions you capture so is just delicious through your lens. Great work! Love june

  10. Yay! I’m so glad you had a great time! Seeing that it was so cold and nasty sometimes it’s hard to see past the weather. You really hit some of our best spots and we have many more. Come back soon, spring is glorious here!

  11. Thanks for the sweet note, June! xoxo

    Kimberly, go! I think you’d really love it and I’d like to see your photos.

  12. You have great taste it is unbelievable

  13. You make a good case, Tim. I should really see more of the Midwest while I’m still living in Chicago! Detroit really looks like it’s in the midst of some kind of revival.

    By the way, that painting you liked as a kid–did you know that it turns up in The Fall? Part of one of the many creepy antics that Jamie Dornan’s character gets up to in the show. Interesting choice, young Tim… (If you haven’t seen the show, it’s okay. Entertaining but ridiculous at times.)

  14. Katie- I love The Fall! And yes, I was interested that the painting was there, too. I think it was a part of my general goth interests. Jamie Dornan, man. ; )

  15. Well, as a former denizen of Ann Arbor, I can offer definitive proof that it is possible not to enter Zingerman’s for a surprisingly long period of time, even when you have to pass it to get to the farmer’s market. (My real must-eat in Ann Arbor is Jerusalem Garden.) But! This made me realize there is a huge amount of good food in Detroit that I have not yet eaten! That’s going to have to happen on one of our next trips back.

  16. Yay! Thank you for saying nice things about Detroit. We’re subject to a lot of negative press here in Detroit and it gets tiring to see the ruin porn that doesn’t capture the spirit of the city (Detroit hustles harder). Thank you for capturing and spreading the bright side of our city.

  17. Sorry I originally put this in the wrong comment section. Here it is:
    Loved this post. Thank you for all the Detroit recommendations. We live in San Francisco but spend every summer at the lake in Michigan. Will use your recommendations for a fun side trip to Detroit and Ann Arbor. Also, I wanted to tell you that your corn bread is the absolute best. I enjoy your blog so much. Merci bien!

  18. Beautiful, Tim – thanks for giving us a sense of the city. I have a feeling (hope?) that should you ever make it to my hometown, you’ll have similar feelings about Memphis’ potential.

  19. Love seeing your photos and reading about your trip. Have been to Detroit a handful of times and it always intrigues me. The abandoned buildings and mansions interacting with the bustle of all those who continue to call it home. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Your pictures and reviews are great. I’ll put those on my list, next time I visit family. And if you are back that way, and go 20 minutes west of Ann Arbor on I-94 you can check out two interesting places in Chelsea, Michigan. The Common Grill has gotten awards. Also, there is a wonderful tour of the Jiffy Mix factory.

  21. Thanks for the tip, Kristina!

  22. Tim! I’ve followed you through Amelia shout-outs and am delighted to be visiting your site again. What a beautiful post!! I live in Michigan now and hear great things about Detroit. Your photos have me sold. And yes, it is cold as anything this winter. I’ve given my baby frost nip twice :( anyway, fun to see your take on this much-maligned but uber promising city!

  23. Hi Kara- Thanks for the friendly comment! You should definitely visit Detroit. Michigan is a great state, hope you’re enjoying it!

  24. Love this write-up on Detroit. I live a 4 hour drive away, and never thought about visiting until now. Question: how kid-friendly are the places you visited and ate at? I have a 2 year old and a baby, curious to know if it’s doable to bring them along.

  25. Hi Min! I did everything listed with a 2-year old. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. The only thing we avoided was dinner. One night for dinner we went to Slows BBQ, which was decent BBQ And baby-friendly atmosphere. The other night we picked up Buddy’s pizza (amazing) and ate in hotel. Everywhere else we visited during day with no problem. Obviously depending on babies moods and energy could be more or less challenging, but we had lots of fun.

  26. This post was like nostalgia central for me, a native Michigander part of the Midwestern diaspora. Namely, I miss Koegel’s and my husband misses their pickled sausage, which you could find in many places in a gallon container, bright pink, can’t miss it. It looks like you got around Detroit all right. There are also cool places to see in Grand Rapids, if you’re ever back in the Mitten.

  27. Tim,

    As a native Detroiter I am so happy to hear that you had a great time, usually hear such negative things about Detroit. Try coming back in the summer when the free festivals are going on and you will have a great time. Things are definitely looking up so visit will be better than the last.

    We welcome all visitors,

  28. I’m so impressed with all that you packed into 2 days! And you really did your research because you did all of the best things. The DIA is one of my favorite places in the world and I have to visit the Kehinde Wiley painting every time I go. He has an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum right now that I wish I could see. Rose’s and GCG are on my list of places to eat in the very near future. Selden Standard, Le Petit Zinc, Ottava Via and La Feria are worth a visit for your next trip!

  29. Tim, I’ve bookmarked everything on this list as I’ll be in Detroit for 2 days next week. I’m really looking forward to our trip, especially after this list, but I’d love to have a recommendation on where to stay. We love walking but remember that on our last whirlwind trip to Detroit several years ago it was hard to find a good walking neighbourhood.

  30. Jeannette! I’m a walker, too. But Detroit seems like a car city to me. We stayed at a big downtown hotel (The Aloft at the Daivd Whitney) and liked it a lot. People like Honor and Folly in Corktown, but I’m not sure I would have liked staying in Corktown. I don’t know the city well enough to recommend a neighborhood for an Airbnb. I was most interested in the West Village, but I don’t know what it would be like to stay there/walk. Have so much fun. I think you’ll really love Rose’s Fine Foods. xo

  31. Thanks Tim! I’m so looking forward to Rose’s, the DIA and other adventures. Thanks for the Aloft rec, I’m hoping that’s where we’ll stay.

What do you think?