By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor
Last year I wrote you about my visit to Michigan and being with my family. I am planning a return trip back to theDetroitarea next month to be with my family. There’s no special occasion, I just look forward to spending time with them and exploring the city where I was born. Prior to my trip I requested the “Visit Detroit” magazine published by the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, which comes out twice a year- January and July. In scanning the magazine I found several things that I am looking forward to doing: Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum-I am looking forward to returning there.
Last year my cousin who I was staying with and I strolled through the Greenfield Village, taking in the Orville and Wilbur Wright home that had been moved from Dayton, Ohio; museum exhibits from the earliest Ford product to today’s new models; the rocking chair that Lincoln was sitting in at the Ford Theatre when he was shot; and the bus that Rosa Parks was sitting in when she refused to give up her front seat because, after a hard day’s work, she was tired.
What I am hoping to do on this trip is to take the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. This is where Henry Ford’s vision of innovation and mass production came true. There’s also an exhibition that is celebrating the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War. There are historical treasures as well as touchscreen interactives that give you a fresh peek into this conflict. If there is time I’d also like to visit the GM Renaissance Center. Complimentary onehour tours depart from the customer service desk in the GM Wintergarden A-Level Atrium.
On the tour the visitor will learn the history of General Motors and its world headquarters — the Renaissance Center. The tour concludes with a ride on the glass elevator to the 72nd floor and a breathtaking view ofDetroitarea andWindsor. In nearby Auburn Hills, you’ll find the Walter P. Chrysler Museum. This museum is a nonprofit repository of the Chrysler heritage, spotlighting the company’s influence on the automobile industry and the auto’s impact on American culture.
It would be fun, for me, to visit the Westview Orchards and Adventure Farm in the Washington Town ship. Here we can to pick strawberries, sweet and tart cherries, peaches, apples, or pumpkins. For families there is a play area and even a petting zoo. I would like to visit their on-site farmer’s market. Another activity I’d like to do is to take a river cruise. Cruises are offered daily on theClintonRiveruntil October 31st. The three-hour cruise includes a lunch or dinner buffet, a cash bar, and in the evening there’s entertainment.
Advance reservations are required. For more information go to clintonrivercruisecompany. com. On August 20th there’s something for car buffs. This being the Motor City, there is a cruise down one ofDetroit’s major boulevards,Woodward Avenue. It’s free to participate and free to watch the annual parade of cars that will cover 16 miles. For more details go to woodwarddreamcruise. com. If you have visitedDetroitI am sure you have noticed that the city’s skyline is dotted with skyscrapers built during the pre-Depression era. You’ll find buildings designed by Albert Kahn, George D. Mason and even Minoru Yamasaki (the designer of theWorldTradeCenter).
There are self-guided tours or several bus and walking tour companies have architectural tours. PreservationWayne,Detroit’s oldest and largest architectural organization and Detroit Urban Adventures offer tours. You can even take a web-based tour of some ofDetroit’s “fabulous ruins” at detroityes.com.Detroit’s Heidelberg Project offers their transforming abandoned houses into works of art.Detroitwas home to Motown where such stars as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson (to namedrop a few) got their start.
Today there’s the Motown Historical Museumin the unassuming little building where many of them got their starts. You can even take a Motown dinner tour or the Motown dinner cruise on the Detroit River Princess. Our country’s veterans would certainly love this exhibit, “70 Years of Jeep in theU.S.” at theWalterChryslerMuseum. The exhibit will show the visitor the evolution of this vehicle from its military reconnaissance use to now being the transportation of choice in navigating all manner of terrain for millions of adventure seekers. For more information go to chryslermuseum.org.
August 19-21, The Hart Plaza (located at the intersection of Woodward and Jefferson Aves) will be the site of the African World Festival. This event has repeatedly been the venue to introduce kids to the culture, music and art of Africa. The Michigan Renaissance Festival will open August 20th and I’m disappointed as that’s the day I return home. There will be jousting knights in shining armor, humongous turkey drumsticks, temporary castle-like buildings which will resurrect the medieval times, actors dressed as 16th century villagers and more. I hope that we will return to the Detroit Institute of Arts.
The last time I was there I saw a lithograph by one of my favorite Great Depression artists, Mabel Dwight. On Friday nights the Detroit Institute of Art offers with a variety of entertainment. For more details go to dia.org. For shopping there’s the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets. I’m going to have to have a “looksee.” There’s Last Call (Neiman Marcus), Chico’s Outlet, J.C. Crew, Talbots Outlet, Kenneth Cole plus another 170 other stores. Another large outlet mall (170+stores) is in nearby Frankenmuth. That should be real fun. We might go across the border intoWindsorto sample their casinos so I’ll bring my passport. In Detroit proper there are three that we can visit: Greektown, the MGM Grand Detroit Casino and the Motor City Casino. I’ll share more with you after I return home.