Over 15 Great Things about Detroit Metro Area

July 27, 2011
Detroit Tigers
by The Javelina

The Detroit Metro Area has a lot of really neat things for people to do and see.

I grew up in the Chicago Area.  I lived in the Cleveland-Akron Area, the Winston-Salem-Greensboro Area, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids, Michigan.  So I have not lived everywhere, but I have seen enough places to speak intelligently, and I know that Detroit has things to offer.  Detroit has some things to offer, despite what you hear in the news and from people with negative attitudes.

These are the things I would miss the most if I no longer lived here:

1. Professional Sports Teams: You have the Red Wings (Hockey), the Tigers (Major League Baseball), the Lions who are now winners in football once again, the Pistons (Men’s Basketball), and the Shock (Women’s Basketball).  There are also several Minor League Baseball teams within a short drive, too.

2. Proximity to Universities (within 2 hours): University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan State University in Lansing, Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Wayne State University in Detroit, University of Detroit Mercy in Detroit, Adrian College in Adrian, Albion College in Albion, Alma College in Alma, Olivet College in Olivet, and the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio.  Plus, there are several other smaller colleges throughout the city and the surrounding area.

3. Coney Island Restaurants: These are your basic greasy spoon Greek restaurants, but you can always find Chicken Lemon Soup and mouth watering, heart-killing Coney Dogs waiting for you to devour.  For those who do not know what a Coney Dog is, it is a hot dog in a bun topped with a special Coney Chili, onions, and mustard.  It sounds disgusting and is, but it sure tastes good!

4. Arabic/Middle Eastern Restaurants & Culture: Detroit Metro Area has the largest Arabic population outside of Middle East.  This is a pretty amazing fact.  It is nothing more than a mere fact, unless you count all of the places that serve wonderful baklava, an intensely sweet bakery desert that is almost like candy.  There is good humus and bad humus.  When you go to the right places, there are few things as tasty as a piece of warm, soft pita bread dipped into property flavored humus.  Then you have your supremely spiced meats: gyros, kababs, schawarmas, and more.  You will not find a dollar menu at these places, but you can eat a wonderful meal without spending a truckload of money.

5. Pizza Papalis: Buddy’s and Shield’s pizza are Detroit’s cornerstones for pizza.  They both have a good pan pizza.  However, as a non-native Detroiter, these do not compare with Pizza Papalis.  Chicago is known for their pizza.  There are many places outside of the Chicago Area that will claim to have Chicago-style pizza only to disappoint.  Pizza Papalis bakes a Chicago Style Pizza that favorably compares to Giordono’s in Chicago.  Amongst my personal favorites, their spinach and three cheese pizza with sausage and mushroom pizza is a thick, cheesy pizza that melts in your mouth and makes a tremendous mess on your plate.

6. Cooke’s Dairy Farm: There are other dairy farms, but there are two (2) things that separate this from the pack.  Their ice cream is the creamiest ice cream ever.  It’s expensive and tremendously fattening but wonderfully worthwhile.  Also, they let people approach many of their animals, which are caged but are still extremely accessible.  This makes a fun date or a family outing.  The ice cream is really wonderful, though.

7. Casinos: There are three (3) casinos within Detroit city limits: Greektown, MGM Grand, and MotorCity.  You can stay at their hotels (which I have not done), but they all offer some adult fun.  Plus, there are many others throughout Michigan.  Often, there is entertainment playing in the background.  Winning is so fun, too.  We will not mention those other visits when we are not winning.

8. Greektown:  Besides the casino, this is a section of Detroit that offers a taste of city living in older days.  It also has several Greek restaurants.  There is a Pizza Papalis restaurant there.  After you eat and gamble, there are a couple of bakeries.  My favorite is Astoria, which has gigantic portions.  The only thing larger than the portions is the goodie selection.  When you are all done, you can take a quick tour of Detroit by paying fifty cents per person to ride the People Mover, a train that circles downtown Detroit and surrounding mini-neighborhoods.  The neatest part of this trip is when you look across the river to see Canada and its Windsor, Ontario skyline.  It looks really neat at night. Oh!  Did I mention the free parking if you park in the casino parking lot?

9. Mexicantown: This is a part of Detroit that does not really pass the “looks test,” and the surrounding neighborhoods are uninviting, to say the least.  Once you get to Mexicantown, you will see a cluster of Mexican restaurants plus some shops.  The food is big-time good, and it’s fantastically economical.  It’s different than any other area I have ever seen.

10. Close Proximity to Canada:  Before the days of 9/11, this really was a benefit. Just on the other side of the river, the city of Windsor awaits.  You can go there by an underground tunnel or a bridge.  It is neat to see a culture that is not very different from the United States, yet you know that you are in a different country.  The shops look different.  They post speed limits in kilometers, not miles, per hour.  They use different currency; so their money looks different.  They have different candies.  Windsor is not nearly as large as Detroit, but it is every bit a city.  From my perspective, I feel like I am making a time warp to a simpler time when I cross the river.

11. Greenfield Village: This is an outdoor museum.  While that is unique, the real flavor comes from the setup. It is created as a historical village, waiting for you to discover it and learn history within it.  There was even someone who kept riding around the village on a unicycle.  Bands roam the village, playing old-time tunes.  You will get your exercise walking around it.  It is a large facility.

12. Specialty Fruit Markets:  There are many fruit markets, specializing in carefully picked fruits and vegetables.  Oddly, in my part of town in Waterford, there are not any, but in most other areas within the Detroit Area, there are.  Some of my favorites include Westborn Market, Papa Joe’s, and Nino Salvagio’s.  Bring your money, because these places are not cheap, but you will get the best.

13. Eastern Market:  I lived in the Detroit Area for years before I knew about this.  It is an outdoor farmer’s market that is open every Saturday.  In the summertime, during the mid-morning, you will hear music playing throughout.  Eastern Market is a huge market, and I mean huge.  Not only do you have the market, you have actual storefronts that border outside the covered market area.  There are meat, fruit, and other warehouses.  If you go late enough (say one or two o’clock), you can get really good deals, as the vendors are looking to leave with as many sales as they can.  Plus, there is a grill station (actually several beside each other) that cannot be any shorter than fifty feet.  Oh, does it smell good, too.

14. Woodward Dream Cruise:  For those non-Detroiters, Woodward Avenue is a main throughway that runs from Downtown Detroit to Pontiac, an urban-suburb north of Detroit, about 30 to 40 miles.  This route runs through some charming suburban towns, anyway, but each year on one August Saturday, this road becomes a automotive showcase.  Drivers will cruise down Woodward for miles at a slow speed.  People are situated on the side of the road for miles and miles to see these old cars.  Plus, there are many side Old Car Shows on the side.  Here is where you can talk to the car owners, and so many of them are all too happy to tell you about their pride and joy.  It is really a silly thing, but it is also really neat and a whole lot of fun.

15. Close Proximity to Beautiful Parts of Michigan:  This includes beaches and parks.  Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, and so many other rivers go through it.  Smaller lakes make their home inside the state.  Finding beaches requires no skill here.  You want to fish, swim, camp, or just walk around really scenic areas, you are never far from it here.  People mention “going north,” and they mean that scenic areas with a simple lifestyle is found by driving north on I-75.  You can say this about many places, but it is true in Michigan more than most.

16. Near Many Orchards:  Depending upon what is “in season,” you can pick strawberries, apples, peaches, blueberries, and more with only a short drive from Detroit.  Plus, many orchards offer hayrides and places for your kids to play.  It really becomes an event.

17. Frankenmuth:  This town is less than two (2) hours from most parts of the Detroit Metro Area.  This is a town that is an obvious tourist trap, but it is still worth seeing.  It is an old-time German town, placing a large emphasis on Christmas.  In fact, on the town’s outskirt, there is a store called Bronner’s, which sells Christmas themed things nearly every day, except, well

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