Detroit’s Best Budget-Friendly Attractions

Originally published at Doorsteps.
Photo by Doorsteps.

It can be tough to imagine that it’s possible to spend a day in a busy metropolis like Detroit, without dropping a lot of money. However, not everything costs as much as a Tiger’s game or a dinner at Coach Insignia. In fact, you can have a long, busy day in the city on a small budget or even for free! Here are some of Detroit’s best free and low-cost attractions that you can enjoy when you’re in between paychecks.

Detroit Institute of Arts (Midtown)

Make sure you change your address when you move to Detroit, because any resident of Wayne, Oakland or Macomb County can attend the museum for free. Any adult who doesn’t live in the tri-county areas can visit for $12.50. The DIA has one of the largest art collections in the country, with approximately 65,000 pieces on display, and a collection ranking among the top six museums. Enjoy a latte in the Rivera Court, overlooked by “Detroit Industry, or Man and Machine,” an enormous mural painted by Diego Rivera in 1932. No matter what style of art you prefer, there will be plenty of pieces that catch your eye at the DIA.

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Detroit’s Best Independent Record Stores

There’s nothing like spending a day in the birthplace of Motown, sifting through records to complete your collection. It’s not a quick undertaking, though! Though there are a number of independent record stores in a small radius in Detroit, there’s no guaranteeing that you won’t spend a good chunk of time marveling at the variety that each location has to offer. If you’re looking to spend an afternoon with some fellow music geeks, here are some of the spots that you need to check out:

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Giving Downtown Detroit Its Due

Originally published at Doorsteps.
Photo from Doorsteps.

Detroit, taken as a whole, is simply massive: 140 sprawling square miles of unique neighborhoods, expansive public parks, and undiscovered treasures. At the center of it all sits Downtown Detroit, occupying in total just one of those square miles between the Detroit River and Midtown.

But don’t be fooled by its footprint. Downtown is what so many people think of when they think of the city itself, brimming with cultural attractions, financial and corporate institutions, and historical places. Whether you’re looking for something to do during the day or a place to party at night, there are plenty of options downtown. Here are a few you shouldn’t miss.

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Detroit’s Best Brunch Spots

Originally published on Doorsteps.
Photo from Doorsteps.

Is there anything more perfect than rolling out of bed at noon to meet up with your friends for brunch at your favorite local spot? Whether you’re a sweet or savory kind of person, someone who prefers a divey spot or doesn’t mind a bit of a wait, there are plenty of different types of brunch spots in the city of Detroit, so you’ll be sure to find one that suits you best. Here are some of the top picks Motown has to offer:

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How Detroit Makes Walkability A Priority

Detroit has always marched to the beat of its own drum. People may try to compare it to a big metropolis like New York City, or another rust belt city like Cleveland or Chicago, but it has an identity all of its own. While Detroit will always be known as the Motor City, the city has spent the past few years making an effort to increase its walkability.

More and more areas of the city are appealing to walkers, with new shops and restaurants popping up every single day. This makes driving around the city less of a necessity, and people are opting to park their cars and explore Motown on foot. According to The Foot Traffic Ahead report, released in June, Detroit is listed at number 21 of the country’s top 30 metropolitan areas, and is in third place for increasing walkability. Here are a few of the ways that Detroit is making it possible to leave your car parked and explore this great city in other ways.

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Jack White: The Prodigal Son?

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, alt-rock powerhouse, frontman of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs, member of the Dead Weather, owner of Third Man Records, eccentric creative, furniture upholsterer, vinyl enthusiast, and Southwest Detroit native, Jack White will be opening a second store for his record label in Midtown this November.

Photo courtesy of @ThirdManRecords

Photo courtesy of @ThirdManRecords

The announcement, made by Third Man on June 2, with an Instagram post captioned, “Third Man staff in Nashville (the ‪#‎mothership‬) toasts to our future in the ‪#‎CassCorridor‬, ‪#‎Detroit‬! Congratulations to ‪#‎JackWhite‬ and Tom Kartsotis of @Shinola on the purchase of the building! ‪#‎thirdmanrecords‬ ‪#‎shinola‬,” made resounding noise through the city, with people crying from the rooftops, “he’s back!” Okay, not really, but it might as well have.

White has had a weird relationship with the city of Detroit. Once the White Stripes hit it big and after Jack White moved to Nashville, TN, the White Stripes refused to tour to Detroit, the city that made them. The home of the Magic Stick where White got in a fight with Von Bondies singer Jason Stollsteimer. There’s been controversy about the motive behind their apparent Detroit boycott, and even speculation that it wasn’t a conscious decision, but as a high school White Stripes fan without a car to go to a show in another state, I was not happy about it. He said that Detroit was “negative” and left it at that.

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Give Detroit a chance

“Innovation,” “young professional,” “growth,” and “sustainability” are just a few of the buzzwords that people in their twenties have heard and read so much that somewhere between graduation and their monotonous entry-level job, they seem to have completely lost their meanings. If I were to say that Detroit is an up and coming hub of all of those things, you’d probably click to the next article solely because you’re tired of hearing about hubs and incubators for the budding entrepreneur. So for the sake of my reputation and your sanity, I’m just going to say to give Detroit a chance.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about the city. The population has decreased exponentially in past years (approximately 63% since 1950), 38% of residents live below the poverty level, that whole bankruptcy ordeal, and don’t even get me started on the violent crime rate. These stories have been told time and time again, and while yes, they are true, the city is much more than that.

More and more businesses are opening in the city, from all of the unique restaurants to Detroit’s pride and joy, Shinola, and in 2012, SimplyHired.com reported that the Detroit area was the second best in the nation to check out if you’re looking for a job in technology. The overall conditions are still challenging, but Detroit isn’t the seedy, dark abyss that it seems to be portrayed as. For 688,000 people or so, Detroit is still home, and it’s something to take pride in.

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Challenge Detroit year three kickoff celebration

Challenge Detroit kicked off our third year back in September, but with such a busy first few months, we hadn’t gotten the chance to celebrate the excellent class of fellows until Tuesday, November 18. The Compuware building downtown was kind enough to host the event, and Fountain Bistro in Campus Martius hosted the after party. Compuware was full of the city’s best and brightest, with current fellows, as well as inaugural and second-year fellows, and host company representatives all supporting this year’s class.

Marlo Staples, an inaugural fellow who currently works at TechTown, one of the city’s most established business accelerators, spoke of her experience with Challenge Detroit. She grew up in the area and after leaving to attend college, she found her way back to the city through Challenge Detroit and two years later is still quite active in the city.

“Without Challenge,” she said in her speech, “I wouldn’t have the informed perspective that I do now.”

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Who listens to records anymore?

As someone who has worked retail way too long, I am morally opposed to the battle that ensues in malls and Best Buys across America on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. Some people I worked with would love the adrenaline that came along with dealing with insane women screaming at each other over who was in line first in case Victoria’s Secret ran out of every single one of the tote bags stocked with beauty sampleslargeright before they got to the registers. I remember being bitter every year as I either skipped my delicious family meal or had to eat and run in order to get a couple hours of sleep in before I had to be at the mall by midnight to let the savages barrel past me for $25 yoga pants as I opened the store’s gate. So no, I did not participate in Black Friday shopping this past week, my first Thanksgiving out of retail.

But at 8:45 in the morning I did find myself standing outside of Dearborn Music, along with a bunch of other vinyl-loving hipster fanatics to participate in Record Store Day. So really, I’m no better than the guy with his tent tied up in the Best Buy parking lot, or the woman I saw at the mall a couple years ago carrying a fake baby so that people wouldn’t shove her. But whatever, I wanted the limited-edition American Hustle soundtrack and Against Me!’s Daytrotter Sessions 7″.

In celebration of Record Store Day, which happens twice a year (originally just on the third Saturday of April and now it’s become a Black Friday thing as well) I’m going to highlight my top five record stores in the Detroit/metro Detroit area.

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Angel’s Night in Detroit

456146776_dacd16ee59As I’m writing this I’m watching the cheesy cult classic, “The Crow.” You know, the costume that every semi-edgy guy wore for Halloween in the ’90s? And you’re probably wondering, “why are you telling me about this?” Well, because I’m also writing this the night before Halloween, otherwise known as “Devil’s Night.” And that’s when this movie takes place. Devil’s Night in Detroit.

The basic premise of this movie, without turning this into a movie feature, is that Eric Draven (played by the late Brandon Lee) returns to earth on the anniversary of his death to avenge him and his fiancee. One year prior, a gang broke into their home in Detroit and murdered them. In the opening scene of the movie, on a block engulfed in fire, police officers are investigating the crime scene and one cop says to another, “How many fires is this?” and the answer is 143. Someone later in the movie says, “What this city needs is a good natural catastrophe.” What does this have to do with anything? This is a movie, right? A supernatural thriller, it has nothing to do with real life.

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