City break (noun): a short holiday spent in a city, such as when on business travel.
Before there was bleisure travel, there was the city break—the short space of leisure time that grants you access to the cultural and culinary amenities that big cities offer. In this series from TripIt, we explore some of the world’s best cities for planning a quick getaway or extending a work trip.
Here are our tips for making the most of your city break in Detroit.
Where to fly in
The Detroit metro area is served by Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), located 20 miles west of downtown Detroit. One of the top-20 busiest airports in the U.S., DTW is split into two terminals, McNamara Terminal and Evans Terminal.
Once you’re on the ground at DTW, cabs, ride shares, and buses are available to connect you to your final destination. Check the SMART bus schedule to plan your onward journey.
Where to stay during your city break
Detroit offers design-forward hotels, complete with world-class restaurants and after-dark scenes (to see and be seen).
For starters, the Detroit Foundation Hotel is the kind of place that you’d visit whether you were staying overnight or not, thanks to its vibrant lobby bar and restaurant, The Apparatus Room (more on dining there, below). Furnished with modern decor, the hotel’s spacious rooms feel even more generous thanks to 12-foot ceilings and an open design.
Nearby, The Siren Hotel brings new life to the historic Wurlitzer Building. By night, guests can opt for a drink in the decadent Candy Bar, located immediately off the lobby. More of an early bird? Caffeinated drinks are served at Populace Coffee’s lobby outpost.
If a hotel in a prime Detroit location is what you’re after, look no further than the Element Detroit at the Metropolitan. By day, you’re walking distance to downtown Detroit and a quick ride to the Financial District. By night, you’re just steps away from the Detroit Opera House and Ford Field.
In need of event space? The MGM Grand Detroit offers 14,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a conference center.
If you’re attending an event at the Cobo Center, you can’t beat the convenience of the Fort Pontchartrain a Wyndham Hotel. You’re just a few steps away from the convention center, plus the hotel features a 24-hour business center for any of your work-related needs.
How to get around
Rideshares and taxis are available in Detroit and are likely your best options for getting around the city in a jiffy—this is the Motor City, after all.
Prefer to take public transportation? Download the Detroit Department of Transportation app to help you navigate the local bus system. Traversing around Downtown or Midtown? The city’s new QLINE tram system can help you get from A to B. Plan your ride with their interactive map.
Alternatively, MoGo, Detroit’s public bike-share program, provides an eco-friendly way to get around town.
Pro tip: Use TripIt’s Navigator feature to search transportation options available to you. It will show you the estimated costs and travel times for each option, so you can decide which works best. For example, if you add a restaurant reservation to your itinerary (more on where to eat, below), Navigator also helps you find the best transportation options for getting to your table. You can find Navigator within your plan details screens.
Where to eat
If you only have time for one meal in Detroit, make it at Wright & Company. Trendy decor, second-story street views, shareable plates, and knowledgeable bar staff make even popping in for a drink worth a few hours of your time in Detroit.
Staying at the Detroit Foundation Hotel? You won’t have to go far for one of the best meals in the city. Named for the space where firetrucks and their apparatus were kept, The Apparatus Room is more of a focal point of the hotel than an amenity. Michigan-born chef Thomas Lents returned to his home state to create his version of a New American cuisine using ingredients sourced from the Midwest. The result has locals and tourists alike flocking to his restaurant. Be sure to make a reservation as soon as you confirm your travel plans.
A hybrid restaurant and butcher shop, Marrow takes sustainability seriously. With a farm-to-fork motto, Marrow sources a majority of its spring and summer menu ingredients from within five miles of the restaurant. Head there for dinner, brunch, or grab a cocktail. You won’t be disappointed.
Looking for more casual eats? Check out Saffron de Twah for Moroccan-American dishes, Detroit 75 Kitchen for sandwiches and shawarma, or Detroit Shipping Company for myriad options, from dumplings to burgers. And be sure to stop by Buddy’s, Loui’s, or Pie-Sci for Detroit-style pizza.
Finally, leave room for dessert at Sister Pie. Located in Detroit’s West Village, Sister Pie is the bakery you wish you had on your street corner. Showcasing local produce from around Michigan, owner (and James Beard Award-nominee) Lisa Ludwinski founded Sister Pie “to celebrate the seasons through pie.” I suggest you join the celebrations ASAP.
What to do on your city break
If this is your first time visiting Detroit, start your clock at Eastern Market. At the largest outdoor farmers market in the country, you can peruse the stalls of local vendors selling everything from fruits and fresh flowers to authentic French crepes and local art. Eastern Market is open on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, and, during the summer, every third Thursday night.
Also located in the Eastern Market District (and across much of Detroit, for that matter) is a stunning collection of murals known as Murals in the Market. Artists from all over the world, including those local to Detroit, have transformed the walls of the district into a must-see public art destination.
Once you’ve had your fill of shopping and murals, head to Eastern Market Brewing Company or Detroit City Distillery for a locally made adult beverage—both are just a few minutes walk from the market.
Looking for kid-friendly things to do in Detroit? Head to Belle Isle for a beach day with a view to Canada. Or, check out the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and nearby Belle Isle Aquarium, the country’s oldest aquarium. Kids will also love the 125-acre Detroit Zoo, home to the Polk Penguin Conservation Center and more than 75 penguins.
Adults only? By day, peruse the shops of Midtown Detroit. By night, stop in at Kiesling in Milwaukee Junction to enjoy a handcrafted cocktail on their bistro light-covered patio. Visiting on a cold or rainy day? Choose from their plentiful selection of board games and cozy up in one of their comfortable nooks.
Note: As destinations reopen around the world, be sure to consult and adhere to all local guidelines and travel restrictions, as they vary widely and will continue to change. One way to stay on top of changing guidelines is to consult the COVID-19 travel guidance feature in the TripIt app for destination-specific information, including testing and vaccination requirements, current infection rates, quarantine rules upon arrival, and other information you need to know before visiting the area.