Detroit, Michigan – Coney Dogs, Ice Skating, Detroit Beer, Henry Ford Museum – November 23, 2014 – November 27, 2014

If you haven’t read part one of this trip, you should go here and do that.
Laura and I started our day a little late. We were both still on Pacific time (Laura more than me) and who doesn’t like to sleep in. Our plan for the day was to do a lot of very Detroit things, in a small amount of time – as this was Laura’s first trip to Detroit.
After our slow start, we headed downtown to do our own American vs. Lafayette Coney Dog challenge. I’ll write about our results in a different post, but we had two coney dogs, two Vernors, and shared two sets of coney fries. So good.
Then we headed a few blocks away to Campus Martius. The park sets up a skating rink in the winter, and I’ve always wanted to skate there, but never had anyone that would go with me until Laura visited. We rented skates for $3, and skating was $8.
Luckily, the weather wasn’t too cold. Skating on the rink is a little scary, because pretty much no one knows how to skate and these little kids keep falling and running into you. I was semi-terrified of falling, but luckily Laura and I were able to remain upright.

 

A funny thing happened when we had to take a break for the Zamboni cleaning; someone dropped a dollar. No one really saw who did it, but no one would pick it up. We saw maybe 10 people walk over it, look at it, then look around but not pick it up. Then a woman picked it up and moved it to the bench next to us, saying something like – someone might come back for this. Then Laura and I proceeded to watch a few more people sit by the dollar, but not pick it up. It was as if no one wanted to be the “cheapskate” that pick up the dollar. It was definitely an interesting experiment in human behavior.

 

 

And the Christmas tree at Campus Martius!
We walked into the Compuware Headquarters to cut through to our next destination, and stopped to enjoy the world’s tallest indoor water structure (which is actually very stunning in person).

 

We tried to go on the People Mover, just for the fun of it. After we paid our money, and got  to the platform, an announcement was made that the People Mover was not running for an indefinite amount of time. So we walked the whole three blocks to Detroit Beer Company for a quick pint.
Our next stop was Henry Ford Museum. We only had a few minutes there, because it closes super early (like 5:00 p.m.). So we did the very quick tour, hitting all of the famous exhibits. If you’re in the Detroit area, make sure you visit this museum and allow yourself about 2.5 hours inside and 2 hours outside in Greenfield Village. Living so close to this museum really has been a treasure growing up, and it is one of the most carefully curated history museums in the country.
First there was the 1961 Lincoln “X-100” that JFK was riding in when he was assassinated. Fun fact: JFK’s Lincoln was fully rebuilt and restored after his murder, and was returned to the Presdential motorcade for 13 years. Considering that LBJ and Lady Bird were in the same parade as JFK when he was shot, I’m guessing they were probably not that fond of riding in it.
Then we quickly made our way to “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine, February 1776. It’s an original pamphlet from 1776. One thing that was interesting to note was that Paine used many Bible references even though he was not religious. He knew his readers were and it would resonate with them, and he needed the readers to get on board so the colonies could gain independence from England.
Right next to Paine’s work is the one of the few surviving original copies of the Deceleration of Independence, which you know, is the reason why we get to celebrate the 4th of July with fireworks and red, white, and blue jello shots.
Our next exhibit was as equally as morbid as the JFK car; the chair where President Lincoln sat when he was assassinated. You can still see the blood stain on the chair. The chair was restored in 1999, and now is inside a protected glass case.

 

We kept following the “With Liberty and Justice for All’ exhibit (which by the way, is very informative and interesting, and I skipped over a lot of other really cool historic pieces) and came upon the bus that Rosa Parks was riding in December 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, when she was arrested for violating the “Jim Crow laws.” The fact that this happened in my mother’s lifetime is something I’ve never been able to wrap my head around, It wasn’t that long ago…

Random stuff I just know: Rosa Parks later moved to Detroit (I think it was very soon after the boycott of the Montgomery bus system) where she lived until her death. And she worked for John Conyers, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and ran unsuccessfully for mayor twice; once against Coleman Young and then once Young retired, he ran against Dennis Archer and lost. (Yes, his wife was Monica Conyers who, years later, was convicted of bribery – oh, Detroit politics.)

Rosa actually lived in Riverfront apartments until her death, which I feel like is a popular apartment complex for suburb kids to live in when they move to the city (I have a lot of friends that have lived there), as well as sports stars (I know Cecil Fielder had a place there, among many other Lions and Tigers players) and even Aretha Franklin once lived there. Oh, and at one point Mayor Coleman Young lived in Riverfront, too.

Yeah, that was a tangent, but here’s Laura sitting in the seat that Rosa refused to give up, where I prefer the back of the bus, apparently.

Laura and I checked out a few more things at the museum before it closed and the headed back to Farmington Hills as we had dinner plans for my friend’s birthday. When we got back to the hotel, we changed and put on our going out (?) clothes.

My mom picked us up so we didn’t have to drive (as we were going to drink a little) and we drove to Uptown Grille in Commerce Township for dinner. Uptown is a pretty good bar/restaurant. It’s huge, spatially and has a huge menu with lots of choices. In addition, they have a pretty good rotating beer menu. Also, I’ve always had good service here.

I got the seafood trio and a beer sampler.

After Uptown, Laura and I decided we were going out. Now, all week my mom had been ironically joking with us that we’d love Staying Alive (some 70’s theme mega-suburb bar in Novi), but of course we skipped it and did something I’ve never done before – did a pub crawl in Downtown Farmington, Michigan. Spoiler alert – it was really fun.

Our first stop was an old favorite, Basement Burger Bar. We grabbed a spot at the bar, and ordered beers. Their beer list is really good (I’m pretty sure I said that before).

After our one and run at BBB, we went next door to a new spot that just opened, Farmington Brewing Company. FBC was packed, which is great to see a local business doing well. Basically, these amateur brewers got together, started brewing, and opened a brewery.
You never know with a new brewery, but this one is legit (and I’m not being biased because it’s my hometown). Laura and I still can’t stop talking about the Raspberry Imperial Stout. We also chatted with one of the owners for a bit, and he was telling us the back story, as well as how the brewery aims to buy local hops as well as make a side business of using the spent grain to make dog treats and feed local farms.
I sadly do not have a picture, but the stools here have the logo engraved in the wood, and it was a very nice additional touch. The brewery doesn’t have food, but you can bring in food from BBB or other establishments.
After a few beers here, Laura and I headed next door to John Cowley and Sons, and Irish gastropub that has been open forever. We went upstairs to the bar area, and there was an Irish band playing on stage. I think Laura and I were the youngest women in the bar, for sure. We ordered some ciders, and watched the band for a little bit.
Then we decided to head across the street to Page’s. Pages has also been around forever, and my dad used to know the owner, Dennis, really well. When I was younger, I remember that Pages had a dance floor and DJ booth and I was convinced old people would be there, and be dancing. I’ve never been so wrong. Even though every website said the bar closed at Midnight, we were there about 11:30 p.m. and the doors were locked. Lame.
So what do we do? Go back to Basement Burger Bar, of course. Laura and I ordered a beer and fried mac and cheese bites. I do remember they were quite delicious.

We were tired from our long day, and excited to get back to the hotel and fall asleep to Forensic Files again. We called an Uber and it was there within 10 minutes. The ride back to the hotel (at 12/Orchard Lake) from Downtown Farmington was just $10.

The next morning Laura and I checked out of the hotel, then grabbed my sister, and met my dad for breakfast (I mean, we had to ask him about his knowledge that Laura may be our secret illegitimate sister). We went to Breakfast Club in Farmington, which is one of my favorite breakfast spots, and a breakfast/lunch only cafe with quaint tables and daily specials.

I orderd a made to order omelette (which is huge) and a side of the tomatoes au gratin (which is a house specialty). Breakfast Club also gives you chocolate covered goodies when the bill is delivered, and today it was pretzels. Pro tip: sometimes the wait is a bit long, but you can call ahead and put your name in if you’re on the way.

We picked up our neighbor Zack (he’s 13) and his cousin and took them to Zap Zone for some laser tag and go-karting. Truth be told, Ashley, Laura and I just wanted to play laser tag and Zap Zone in Farmington has a really good set up. It’s multiple levels, and hiding spots, and it was really fun. The first round we played was against a ton of kids, but luckily the second round had some more adults (like us!) to play with.

We also did the indoor go-karts, as well as watch the kids play some games.

After ZapZone, I had to take Laura to one of my other favorite childhood spots, Marvelous Marvin’s Mechanical Museum.

Marvin’s is museum made of old school arcade games that you can actually play. I can’t even describe it, but there are a lot of very unusual games that come from all over the world, and are now privately owned by Marvin. Personally, I love the old boardwalk type of games (think back to the move “Big” with Tom Hanks). Also, the games that claim to shock you WILL SHOCK YOU. Literally. I warned you.

Marvin was there when we visited, and he showed us some of his favorite games and told us fun stories about some of the games, as well as a little bit about the museum.

 

We had to leave, as it was time to catch our flight back to Seattle. We said our goodbyes, got dropped off at DTW, then went straight for the Delta Sky Club. I actually gave up my first class upgrade to sit next to Laura in Economy Comfort (which is not easy to do once you’re upgraded, by the way), and we had free self-made Kalimotxos!

A few thoughts about this trip. Yes, I am biased. I love Detroit. I think if you ask any of my friends or co-workers to describe me, I guarantee “She loves Detroit.” will be one of the first things they say. It’s true. But that’s because Detroit is so amazing. It gets a bad rep, and you know, it’s had hard times (for many, many years). But really cool things are happening here. Restaurants are opening. Neighborhoods are turning around. Industry is coming back. And, from a tourist perspective, it’s not overcrowded and not too expensive.

Visiting our world class museums (Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan Science Center, Detroit Zoo, Henry Ford & Greenfield Village, Ford Factory Tour, Motown Museum, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Cranbrook Art Museum & Institute of Science, I could go on and on), taking in a game (we’re such a sports town), or watching a show in the second largest theatre district in the U.S. – and there’s always the casinos.

OK, I’ll stop getting all I heart Detroit, but seriously, I heart Detroit.

From this post:

American Coney Island on UrbanspoonLafayette Coney Island on UrbanspoonDetroit Beer Company on UrbanspoonUptown Grille on UrbanspoonBasement Burger Bar on UrbanspoonBreakfast Club on Urbanspoon

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