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There’s so much more to Detroit than what’s in the foreboding Chrysler commercials. It’s taken a beating in the press with the hard times that have befallen the auto industry, but still offers a vibrant culture: diverse restaurants, museums, architecture and lots of live entertainment. The fee to cross the border to Windsor, Ontario, is $4 cash.

Learn the stories behind America’s favorite songs at the Motown Museum — you might even get to sing in the famous Studio A. See America’s treasures like the bus where Rosa Parks made her historic ride, along with gleaming historic cars, at the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village. Count on at least a full day to take it all in.

While Greenfield Village has several dining options, the most unique is Eagle Tavern, an actual 1831 Michigan tavern serving period local (60% local produce and meats) fare. You’ll find delicious offerings like juicy quails, whitefish, hard apple cider and Michigan corn liquor.

Nearby Dearborn has the largest Arab population outside the Middle East; count on it for authentic Middle Eastern food. Al-Ameer serves homemade specialties and fresh raw juices.

In the museum district, listen to rare music recordings on the gorgeous third floor of the Detroit Public Library. Learn about Detroit’s history and pop culture at the Detroit Historical Museum. The Detroit Institute of Arts houses a wide range of art in a setting just as glorious as its collection. Don’t miss the world-famous Diego Rivera mural. The museum hosts special brunches.

Windsor was part of the Underground Railroad and a bootlegging center during Prohibition. Learn about the heritage of Canadian Club whisky and taste its full line at the stunning Brand Center. Windsor also boasts the award-winning, family-owned Blue Danube, serving homemade Hungarian/Continental European cuisine at modest prices. Several veggies come from the owner’s garden. Hungarian wines are expertly matched to your meal by the glass, half-bottle or bottle. Legal drinking age in Canada is 18.

Sander’s is a 134-year-old dessert parlor that served the first ice cream soda. With several locations — including the tony suburb of Birmingham — their caramel tea cake is “must eat.” Mackinac Island fudge ice cream (rich vanilla fudge with chocolate chips) topped with caramel pear sauce redefines decadence. Scoops are HUGE.

Cadieux Café was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. A Belgian restaurant/pub, it has live music and featherbowling. Pegasus is a family-owned restaurant in Greektown, connected to the Greektown Casino, that’s open until 4 a.m. on weekends. Their spanakopita is creamy, not overcooked, and full of fresh nutmeg. Their saganaki (flaming cheese) has a choice of kasseri or the more pungent halloumi cheese. The Whitney is an elegant restaurant housed in a historic downtown mansion. Try their Detroit Opera Cake.

For a country feeling downtown, stay at the Inn on Ferry Street, a collection of six historic homes with different styles. Amenities include free shuttle service, breakfast and deep bathtubs.

Another great place to stay is the Best Western in Sterling. It has an ADA-accessible indoor heated water park with fun amenities for kids and adults. Its on-site restaurant features “the best Michigan has to offer” with specials like Game Night.

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SlovakD May 15, 2011 @ 9:21 a.m.

Greenfield Village, a must see, is in Dearborn, not Detroit. The Inn on Ferry Street is a gem, lots of museums nearby,in walking distance too. Public Transit in Detroit is the worst in the USA. The city eliminated it's once great massive network of streetcars back in the 50s, sold these to a country in South America, still in use. Pavement now covers the streetcar tracks. If one decides to ride the bus, expect a long, long wait. D-DOT is cutting bus service, eliminating Sunday service on some lines. Expect to wait 30 minutes to an hour. Detroit is not a fun place to visit for those who don't drive or don't like to drive, worse than Los Angeles in that respect. An interesting enclave in the city, worth a visit, is Hamtracmk in Zipcode 48212, an old suburb within the city!! It's a mini international city - residents of many ethnicities and cultures who can trace their roots to places such as Poland, Bangladesh, the Ukraine, Yemen, Nigeria, Bosnia, and other countries. Lots of good restaurants such as Polish Village Cafe, bakeries, gift shops such as Polish Art Center, food markets, beautiful old churches, an active Artists community that includes the Hatch Art Collective, a vibrant nightlife with lots of entertainment, a string of interesting Bangladeshi restaurants on Conant street and much, much more in this 2.2 square mile enclave. And it's a walkable city. You can park your car and walk to most places. The Chene Bus(Route 10)from Downtown Detroit will take you to Hamtramck too.(No late night service, check schedule.) Also just north of the Hamtramck enclave on Conant@E.McNichols in Detroit 48212(same zip as Hamtown,aka Hamtramck)is Detroit's nationally famous original Buddy's Pizza that was featured on the Food Network a few years back as one of country's 5 Best!! Other national as well as local media outlets always list the place as having Detroit's best pizza. There are also locations in suburbs such as Dearborn, Warren, and Farmington.

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SlovakD May 15, 2011 @ 10:14 a.m.

I forgot to mention in my previous comment that Hamtramck(in Detroit) also has an off-off-Broadway theatre called The Planet Ant Theatre. A very small, very innovative group that stages many interesting and innovative stage works.

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SurfPuppy619 May 15, 2011 @ 9:37 p.m.

Detroit is the most run down major metro area in America today. Pretty bad today.

Michigan i sa nice state, and just up the street from Detroit is Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Shores-beautiflu area- and even St. Clair Shores- all are evry nice areas. I would live there.

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stacy May 16, 2011 @ 11:35 p.m.

Hard times indeed. And despite the bone-crushing defeats, the place still has a heart of 24 karat and gossamer grass Austin, Texas (my recent home thanks to grad school), can't touch with a ten-foot pole. I can vouch for much of what the author skims over in this piece. And I can add quite a bit, too. Like the city's own riveting little island, Belle Isle, with its cricket matches and sculling and rowing teams, its herd of reindeer and the elegiac Detroit Yacht Club; Hart Plaza and its myriad free concerts series all summer long; Chene Park for even more concerts on the Detroit River, that legendary body of water that held--and bested--Harry Houdini during his last under-water trick. There's much more, from the nation's first paved road to its first traffic light to its longest-running bowling alley--all on Woodward Avenue. I moved from St Clair Shores to famed Austin, Texas, six years ago. Not a day goes by I don't miss the golden heartbeat of my beat-up and beloved Detroit. It's an old joke now to say "Detroit's a great place to be from." Because, well, nearly everybody's moved out. But there's a warmth and an energy in the people there that ain't so different from Austin's overheated populous. And that's sayin a ton considering how cold them Great Lakes winters are.

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