“Detroit? Beautiful?” Yes, that’s what they used to say about the Motor City. No, wait, that’s what they still say, particularly if “they” have never paid this place a visit. And while we can all agree that parts of this city just ain’t pretty, the land of the 313 is very much an eye-catching place, filled with beautiful people, beautiful neighborhoods, and beautiful places... like these ones. (And no, ruin porn doesn’t count.)
The Fox Theatre
Sometimes, the Fox gets taken for granted, but it really is a spectacular theater. Sinatra played here, as did Elvis, and both of them are on record saying, “The Fox Theatre is one of the most beautiful places in Detroit, just like Thrillist said.”
Here on the west end of Belle Isle, Sunset Point affords perhaps the single greatest view of the Detroit skyline, complete with Ambassador Bridge, a towering RenCen, and a slice of Windsor. It’s enjoyable during any season, as well as anytime of day, but it is called Sunset Point for a reason.
Belle Isle Conservatory
Where else in the city can you get your fill of palm trees, cacti, succulents, ferns, and flowers? Nowhere, that’s where. It’s a soothing place to be anytime of year, but the conservatory’s six sections are probably best enjoyed in the dead of winter when all hope of spring seems lost.
The Dequindre Cut
It’s not about size, it’s how you use it. The Cut may only be 1.2 miles long, but Detroiters use it well, what with the bike lanes and the graffiti and the public art. Moreover, the Cut is both a shower and a grower, with the extension to Eastern Market scheduled to be completed before the New Year (hopefully?).
The Riverwalk at dusk
Once upon a time, the riverfront was an inaccessible concrete slab of sadness with nary a fountain in sight. Fast-forward to the present where you now have gardens, wetlands, gardens, memorials, a carousel, and yes, fountains, not to mention a diverse group of locals and visitors.
The place to see it all and that will make you think... mostly about the beauty of the river or Detroit architecture, but will also lead to questions: who in the hell planned this city? How can we resize it? Will Woodward always be lined with orange barrels?
Comerica Park on a summer night
When the sun is low, the game’s sold out, and a Tiger hits one out of the park, we dare you not to get goosebumps. We dare you.
The inside of the Guardian Building
“The Cathedral of Finance.” At least, that’s what they call it. The exterior semi-domes are lined with Pewabic pottery, the vaulted ceilings are a patchwork of Aztec designs, and the Michigan mural at the south end of the main hall pays tribute to the industries of Michigan. It’s a badass of a building.
The Fisher Building, inside and out
“The Cathedral of Commerce” -- at least, that’s what someone called it at some point. And it is still pretty commercial, considering it houses radio studios, the Fisher Theatre, and a smattering of shops. It’s also been called “Detroit’s largest art object” for its elegant Art Deco details.
Diego Rivera painted these puppies (note: not actual puppies) from 1932-1933, and when the murals were unveiled, people freaked out because of Marxism or whatever. Now, they’re the DIA’s prized possession and an homage to labor, industry, and that critical component of Midwest prosperity: the factory.
Pallister Ave in New Center
If you’re a pedestrian-only street, you’re probably pretty handsome. Such is the case with Pallister Ave. Paved with brick, lined with sycamores, and illuminated by street lamps, it’s one of the most beautiful little blocks in the D.
Campus Martius Park at Christmastime
Between the giant Christmas tree, the brightly lit storefronts, the gleaming ice rink, and the prospect of hot chocolate, you pretty much have to hang out at Campus Martius at least once during Christmastime.
Eastern Market on Flower Day
Thousands of people = bad. Thousands of perennials, annuals, shrubs, and trees = good. Regardless of your feelings about crowds, you can’t deny that shedful after shedful of colorful plants is pleasant to look at.
And last but not least...
The Lafayette Coney Island bathroom
Also known as the dungeon, the submarine, and the underground railroad. Also, just kidding.
Sign up here for our daily Detroit email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Motor City has to offer.
Jeff Waraniak is a writer who lives in Detroit. Inform him of all the beautiful places he missed: @jeffwaraniak.