I’ve visited Detroit many times, but one constant about the Motor City is that it’s always changing and always offering new experiences. My latest trip to Detroit held even greater meaning, as it was my first press trip since the fall of 2019. For a travel journalist, a 20-month hiatus from travel seems like a lifetime.
As you can imagine, I was super excited to experience a destination in-person again. Until I got back in the saddle, so to speak, I didn’t realize just how much I missed asking questions, taking photos and videos, and connecting with colleagues. Sponsored by the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, my tour was fantastic, and I learned more about the city and its tourism offerings.
My drive from Holland, Michigan, to Detroit was going well until just east of Lansing. That’s when a question popped into my head. Did I put my suitcase in the trunk? I bet I didn’t. Oh no! Is my suitcase still at home?
Those are the questions that roll around the head of a travel writer who has not traveled for more than a year and a half. My pre-trip routines were rusty.
My suitcase was in the trunk (yes, of course I stopped at the next rest area to check). I quickly got back into the media tour groove. It felt so good to visit attractions, ask questions and be with other travel journalists.
I checked into the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit (a beautiful property) and then it was off to dinner at Lumen in Beacon Park before going to Comerica Park to see the Detroit Tigers play the Texas Rangers. Naturally, there is the game itself, which to a Tiger fan like me is the main thing. But the ballpark also has a Ferris wheel and a decade-by-decade pedestrian museum enveloping the main concourse.
The Tigers have had their ups and downs this season, but they were on track that evening, winning their sixth straight game. Tiger hitters cracked three home runs. When the Rangers threatened in the bottom of the ninth, Tiger ace reliever Gregory Soto shut ’em down. The crowd was on its feet and cheering on every pitch.
Van Gogh and Edsel
The next day, we fueled up with breakfast at The Hudson Café. My Triple Triple Omelet (bacon, ham and sausage plus cheddar, Swiss and jack cheese) was perfection, and I loved the rye toast.
Across Woodward Avenue from the café, a new mixed-use development is rising on the site of the former J.L. Hudson’s department store, which was imploded in 1998.
Then it was off to the TCF Center for “Beyond Van Gogh: An Immersive Experience.” These immersive-type exhibits of Vincent Van Gogh are on view throughout the country and quite popular. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical beforehand. It’s an audacious thing to mount an exhibition without any real paintings and projected images of paintings. But the exhibit draws you in with the education room and the waterfall room. And when you get to the immersion room, well, I was blown away. Images surround you. They dance, swirl, and refocus into new images. And because the images are large, it’s easy to see brush strokes and details. The music definitely adds to the experience. Video clips help convey the exhibit, but even videos can’t quite capture how cool it is. I left wanting to learn even more about Van Gogh.
Our bus then took us out to the Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. This is the estate of Eleanor and Edsel Ford.
A new 40,000 square-foot visitor center opened earlier this year, along with a new administration building. The visitor center has exhibition spaces, event space and a new restaurant, The Continental. Cool electronic displays bring the house to life. We explored the house and grounds, then had some time in the visitor center.
For lunch at The Continental, I had a Maurice Salad, a dish that was born at J.L. Hudson’s in Detroit. Delicious.
That evening we had dinner at The Highlands, a steakhouse located high in the Renaissance Center. As the lights of the city started to twinkle on, I tucked into a New York Strip prime steak that melted in my mouth.
What fun to experience interesting attractions with knowledgeable hosts and talented colleagues. To paraphrase Willie Nelson, it felt so good to be on the road again.