Beyond Rye Detroit 1Why does Detroit get such a bad rap? I traveled to the Motor City the first weekend in May and my opinion remains the same – it’s a great place.

 

By Georgetta L. Morque

 

Beyond Rye Detroit 3Why does Detroit get such a bad rap? I traveled to the Motor City the first weekend in May and my opinion remains the same – it’s a great place.

 

That particular weekend, downtown was hopping. Swarms of tweens took to the streets awaiting Taylor Swift’s performance at Ford Field, the first stadium show on her Red Tour. The Detroit Red Wings skated to the playoffs at the Joe Louis Arena. Holding court at the historic and elegant Detroit Athletic Club was the Pro Squash Tour World Championship (the reason for my visit). There’s no question: Detroit is a happening city.

 

On Friday, I strolled over to the Detroit RiverWalk, which features 3.5 miles of riverfront pathways for walking, biking, and enjoying parks, gardens, and more. Thanks to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the RiverWalk will extend even further in a phase-two plan. Meanwhile, the area is alive with arts, music, and cultural events. And for dog owners, there’s a Riverfront Canine Club.

 

While wandering downtown, I luckily stumbled upon Campus Martius Park, an area of restaurants, office buildings, and shops, where the first of a series of noontime spring and summer concerts was underway. A country rock band entertained a lunchtime crowd who soaked up the sun, sipped lattes, and dined at outdoor cafes while the Detroit Pistons cheer team high-kicked on a second stage.

 

Beyond Rye Detroit 2On Saturday, I headed to Eastern Market, which dates back to 1891, and is the largest historic public market district in the country. Who knew? Navigating around the stalls of more than 250 vendors was an adventure. With fresh produce — a gold mine for organic foodies — plus baked goods, meats, plants, flowers, topiary, art, jewelry, and more, the market even offers walking tours to help newcomers find their way. Beginning in July, some vendors will sell live chickens. One resident who has dined on one of those chickens after it was cooked, said it tasted like butter. Cooking demos by local chefs, street musicians, and entertainers enhance the vibrant scene.

 

Another treat during my stay was the 127-year-old Detroit Institute of Art (DIA), which has been continually restored and expanded, with the last phase as recently as 2007. Rodin’s bronze, The Thinker, greets you at the front of the museum, which has three floors housing its permanent collection of 60,000 works from classic to contemporary.  

 

At the heart of the DIA are the famous Detroit Industry murals by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, a tribute to the city’s manufacturing and labor force in the 1930s. Panels depicting factory workers and machinery, along with imagery of the ancient gods, are considered the finest example of Mexican mural art in the country. Among the special exhibits was a small one on Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles on loan from Musée d’Orsay; “Motor City Muse”, photographs of Detroit Then and Now; and videos and photography by Iranian-born artist Shirin Neshat.

 

Beyond Rye Detroit 1There’s tons more to explore in Detroit. For sports fans, there’s also Comerica Park, home of the Tigers, and when Taylor Swift isn’t in town, Ford Field is the home of the Lions. Downtown also sports trendy restaurants, theater, and more. As usual, the weekend flew by, so on my next visit, I plan on checking out the Motown Museum, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, and, without a doubt, jazz, since top musicians perform at clubs that charge a mere $10 to $20 cover.

 

What’s also great about Detroit are its people. They are welcoming and friendly and truly want visitors to enjoy their stay. Take a yoga class and everyone in the room will greet you, ask you your name, and offer suggestions on what to see in their city.

 

The Detroit Visitors Bureau tag line is “America’s Great Comeback City.” For more information, check out www.visitdetroit.com.