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12 Ways to Explore Detroit's Creative Scene

By Joshua M. Bernstein

Aug 5, 2016

From the September/October 2016 issue

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Photo by Ryan Lowry

Where to stay, shop, and dive into Motor City's creative side.

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Detroit is—and always has been—a city of makers. From its Motor City days til now, the city's combination of creativity and determination has produced incredibly cool results. Here are 12 places across Detroit to get a taste of its creative scene.


Detroit Design Festival
If there’s an essential time to explore Detroit, it’s during this three-day, citywide blowout of demos, tours, parties, and open studios. detroitdesignfestival.com

Slow Roll
To take in Detroit’s neighborhoods at a sightseer’s pace, join 3,000 bicyclists for this all-ages ride. slowroll.bike


Phil Cooley transformed a factory into an affordable launchpad for upstart businesses. There’s a free tour Wednesdays at 2 p.m. ponyride.org

Honor & Folly
Bunk down at a style-savvy two-bedroom inn, which mixes vintage scores and Midwest maker flourishes. honorandfolly.com

The creative crowd piles into this thumping Thai-inspired restaurant. Come Saturday at 10 p.m. for the live, DJ-driven Radio Katoi. 

Two James Spirits
Detroit’s cocktail culture is raging again after a long dormancy—this is the first licensed distillery since before Prohibition. Sit at the tasting room’s circular bar for flights of cocktails, including the Corktown Mule. 

Midtown/New Center

In the former GM Research Lab, the pioneer of Detroit’s maker scene designs and assembles the luxury goods it’s famous for. Scope out the flagship store or book a factory tour. shinola.com


Popps Packing
A visit to the open studios, eclectic performances, and exhibitions at this former 1930s meatpacking plant is compulsory. Open Saturdays when an exhibition is up. poppspacking.org


Power House Productions
Like a suburban subdivision secretly populated by artists, this collection of low-slung houses integrates design, art, and community building. At Squash House there are sports and gardening; at Play House, performances of theater, dance, and music. powerhouseproductions.org

West Side

Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum
Encompassing nearly a city block, Olayami Dabls’s celebration of African heritage is a fever dream of visual design. Outdoor sculptures and installations are pieced together from salvaged iron, rocks, mirror fragments, and wood. mbad.org

Eastern Market

Amid the district’s galleries and studios, photographer and Detroit native Gregory Holm joined two adjacent art deco buildings into a sumptuously elegant, 1930s-inspired French restaurant. Update: now closed.

Eastern Market
The bustling historic market that gives the district its name is home to spice shops, wholesalers, restaurants, art galleries, and studios. The Saturday farmers’ market is a great excuse to check out the murals by more than 45 local and international artists that cover every available wall. easternmarket.com

>>Next: A Racial Justice Lawyer’s Guide to the Real Detroit

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