Much of what we read or hear about Detroit is negative, so when my boss asked for volunteers to go for three days, my first thought was, “No thanks.” But the chance to get out of the office and see a new place sounded fun, so I volunteered. I’m glad I did.
My hotel was not the boarded up shack covered in graffiti that I imagined. Instead, the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center is an amazing skyscraper—the third tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere—overlooking downtown and the Detroit River. I was on the 61st floor with a view of Canada, the river, and much of Detroit including Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.
The Renaissance Center is also the General Motors world headquarters and is like a small town in itself. Inside were shops, restaurants—including a McDonalds—and even a CVS pharmacy. The meetings I would attend were also in the hotel, so I never had to leave if I didn’t want to. The hotel also had the nicest and largest hotel fitness center I’ve ever seen.
The first evening a couple of friends and I explored downtown near the hotel. I was surprised by the beautiful architecture, historic buildings, and works of art. There were also lots of inviting pubs and restaurants. The locals seemed friendly, and we never felt a bit unsafe.
Along the river is a beautiful and clean new river walk. We walked along, passing numerous runners, couples holding hands, and a few skateboarders. It looked like the place to be for active people. On the river itself we saw a sailboat and riverboat near the Underground Railroad Memorial. We didn’t stay out after dark, but I’m sure we’d have been fine if we did. One friend caught the Tigers and Yankees game and felt just fine about walking back when it was over.
Our hotel was very near the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and Ambassador Bridge, both crossing the river into Windsor, Canada, so we couldn’t help going for a short visit. I wrote about our two hours in Canada here.
My three days flew by. We all agreed that Detroit is a lovely and exciting city that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. I sincerely hope that I can return with more time to explore. If you have the chance to go, don’t hesitate.