5 Things: A Local’s Guide to Detroit, Michigan

In “5 Things,” we ask some of our favorite insiders in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, with arctic-level-freezing temperatures setting in around Michigan and the Midwest, we thought it might be nice to get some inspiration for more temperate times in the region. Today, blogger Carrie Budzinski of CarrieD Away shares the hidden gems of Detroit.

5 Things: Detroit

Carrie Budzinski

Detroit is a big, little city that’s changed a lot in a decade, and in five years, and in 2018. If you haven’t visited Detroit in awhile, I promise you it’s a different place. The city’s history is complicated—as is the present—but it’s a fun place to be.

I live in the suburbs but I work downtown, and all of our activities take place downtown. My son loves it too. When I ask him how he’d like to spend the day, the DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts) is usually his answer.

The Detroit Riverfront is ever expanding and improving, Belle Isle is a beautiful oasis in the city, Eastern Market is the best of Detroit every Saturday and downtown is growing faster than you can imagine with more places to stay, eat, and shop than most of us can even keep up with.


Detroit is a foodie city! There are many amazing places to eat and openings every week but our go-to place is always Stache International. The unique sandwich shop is located in the Eastern Market District (a must visit on a Saturday morning) and has the best menu. Their menu is made even better because they have monthly specials that even tempt me away from my go-to, Turkey Mondulo (seriously the only time I order turkey).

The staff is super friendly, the picnic tables are perfect for families and the pinball machines and boardgames make it easy to enjoy a meal and an afternoon or evening. Another thing I love about Stache is that parking is easy and free! This is the Motor City and having a place to put your car is always really important.

Stache International, 1416 E Fisher Service Dr, Detroit, MI 48207

Other favorites:

Lafayette Coney Island // Detroit signature & must-try // 118 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226

Parks & Rec // Breakfast diner // 1942 West Grand River Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226

Slows BBQ // Birthplace of New Detroit // 2138 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216

Flowers of Vietnam // Hidden gem off the beaten path // 4430 Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48209


Detroit is home to a lot of great local businesses (and a growing number of corporate ones too) but if you go one place for a souvenir it has to be Pewabic. In the early 1900s, Mary Chase Stratton developed a unique technique for an iridescent glaze for ceramic tiles and vases. The tiles can be found in every iconic building and the beautiful old homes around town. You can buy a tile, vase, plate, or jewelry and bring a piece of Detroit history and art with you.

Pewabic, 10125 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI, 48214

Other favorites:

Little High Flyers // children’s apparel and toys // 4240 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

El Dorado // vintage clothes, handcrafts and gifts // 1700 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216

The Peacock Room // one of a kind women’s fashion // Fisher Bldg, 3011 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202


Detroit has a growing number of boutique hotels, but Foundation Hotel continues to stand apart from others. Located in a former fire station, the building is gorgeous both inside and out. The hotel restaurant, The Apparatus Room, is a stunning open space that is welcoming to all (including small children—they have a dedicated kids menu and break-proof cups). The food is fantastic and you can’t go wrong with any option. Location-wise, it’s a few blocks from the downtown core, but close to a People-Mover stop and one block away from the Riverfront (a place you must checkout while you’re in town, if only to wave to our neighbors in Canada).

[Editor’s note: I’ve been reading a lot about one of those boutique hotels, The Siren Hotel, which just opened in the reinvigorated 1920s-Wurlitzer building with a cocktail bar, tasting counter, barbershop, florist, and rooftop bar. They have bunkbed rooms for traveling friends.]


A Google search will send you to many fun places in Detroit but one place that probably won’t come up is Hamtramck. Hamtramck is a 2 square mile city inside the city. For decades it has been a popular destination for immigrants, these days mostly from the Middle East, but back in the day, it was a Polish neighborhood and the legacy remains. My in-laws are Polish and I’ve only once seen my father-in-law clean his plate in one sitting and that was at Polish Village.

Polish Village Cafe, 2990 Yemans St, Hamtramck, MI 48212

While New Orleans has Mardi Gras, Detroit celebrates Fat Tuesday wtih paczkis. Everyone must have a rich, calorie heavy doughnut no matter what their religion. The lines in Hamtramck are LONG on that day but don’t worry, you can find one any time of the year at New Palace Bakery.

New Palace Bakery, 9833 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck, MI 48212

If you’re lucky, Bon Bon Bon will have the paczki chocolate in stock when you stop by too. I’m not a big chocolate fan but I can eat a shameful number of bons in one sitting. The $3 sweet can seem pricey to some, but I assure you, you will love them!  You’re also supporting an awesome Girl Boss, Alex Clark. 

Bon Bon Bon, 11360 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck, MI 48212

I haven’t forgotten this is the “play” section. Fowling has found its way around the country but it was founded in Hamtramck in 2014. The bowling with a football sport is fun for people of all ages. The bars are for 21 and older and offer over 120 different types of beer, including local favorites (we’re also a big craft beer town).

Fowling Warehouse, 3901 Christopher St, Hamtramck, MI 48211

And if you’re in town during the spring/summer months check out a Detroit City Football Club match. I’m not a soccer fan but the atmosphere at a City game cannot be beat! We love it so much that we signed our son up for the league’s soccer tots program.

Detroit City Football Club, 3201 Roosevelt St. Hamtramck, MI 48212


Detroit is a friendly city—and it’s also a serious sports town (not that our teams are so great at the moment). Put your team’s t-shirt or ball cap (college or pro), and you’ll be sure to attract comments from folks around town. It’s also helpful to have layers, because with Michigan weather one should be prepared for a 20-degree shift at any point in the day.

Carrie Budzinski lives in metro Detroit with her her husband Daniel and soon to be two boys Lucas (nearly 3) and Sam (nearly born). She started her blog CarrieD Away a decade ago to showcase the best of the city. She continues to write about the city and motherhood, books and recipes. She also writes about Detroit and the surrounding cities on After 5 Detroit and LittleGuide Detroit. She can be found on Facebook at carriedawaydetroit and on Instagram with @carriedawaydetroit.

Thank you, Carrie, for this wonderful guide to your great city. Since I like to eat my way through a city, I can’t wait to experience the richness of Detroit. It’s easy to see why Detroit natives are devoted loyalists—in spite of arctic blasts and polar vortexes! Also, we extend our thanks to Carrie’s husband, Daniel, for the photos! Thank you to Molly Coyne for her help with this series.

P.S. Our first travel guide to Detroit from 2014, and all of our 5 Things Travel Guides.

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