When people ask me where I’m from, I often pause. Not because I suddenly forgot where I live, but, more like, I don’t consider my place of residence as “where I grew up.” Or, it could be because whenever I say “Canton, Michigan” and the person knows just enough about the Metro Detroit area, they’ll respond, “Oh yeah! You live in Ikea Town, right?” You have to love living in the city with the only Ikea within a 200-mile radius.
So, no — I would have to say, I don’t relate to the statement that I live in Ikea Town. I consider myself a casual nomad of Metro Detroit. I’m everywhere, but nowhere at the same time. The name Motor City seems highly appropriate to me since so much of my time is spent in a car to avoid staying in the same place for too long. But, I like to think that qualifies me to tell you what a perfect weekend would be in the Metro Detroit area. Of course, there are too many unique spots to list, but here are some of my ultimate favorites:
After a long week, the last thing I would want to do is drive 40 minutes and pop a tire on one of Michigan’s infamous potholes. Downtown Plymouth is about seven minutes from my house, and I treat it as my escape. I’m telling you it looks like Stars Hollow with a central park that is surrounded by quaint buildings.
If You Need A 5 pm Pick-Me-Up, Visit The Plymouth Coffee Bean
Just like that one Avril Lavigne song, my relationship with coffee is complicated. Weeks will go by and suddenly I can’t function without a large black cold brew with three extra espresso shots. Other days, I can’t even look at a mug. There’s no in-between.
One sure thing is my love for the Plymouth Coffee Bean. Locally known as “The Bean,” this spot is a staple for every Plymouth resident. They have live music, open mics, fresh crepes, and fantastic coffee. The coffee shop is a repurposed home from the 90s, so it guarantees you will feel right at home. The walls are plastered with local art and trust that you will find the weirdest mysteries inside. One time, I found a binder filled with the strangest confessions (I may or may not have left my own). This is the place that I dread leaving.
Forget AMC, Buy A $5 Ticket at Penn Theatre
The theater is entirely volunteer-run and was saved by the metro Detroit community many years ago when the city threatened to tear it down. The theater shows one film a week on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. It’s tiny, so expect a couple of knee nudges when walking to your seat. The appeal doesn’t rely on aesthetics. Instead, it depends on the community’s spirit.
When you’re there you feel like you’re a part of old Hollywood in a sense — like you’ve traveled back in time — when going to the movie theater was an event. You’re not just watching a movie to watch a movie. You’re experiencing magic on a screen and sharing it with people who love the theater just as much as they love Meryl Streep’s acting. Make sure to get there early because there are no advance ticket sales, and the line becomes very long, very quickly.
The Dinner After The Movie
Even though DTP has many great restaurants, I gravitate to my town, Canton, to find the perfect place. Canton has a very diverse selection of authentic Indian, Japanese, Pakistani, and Mediterranean food. Some of my favorites include Authentikka, Levant Kitchen, Izakaya Sanpei, and Tandoori Corner. But, my absolute must-go is the Korean restaurant, Kimchi. My go-to order is the Tofu Bibimbap. This comfort dish is everything you could ask for on a rainy day.
Saturdays are meant for excitement and you’ll definitely find it in Detroit. Take a drive (but not too far, or you’ll end up in Canada) and experience where Motown was created.
Wake Up Early and Venture to the Eastern Market
On the voted #1 Detroit Riverwalk, the Eastern Market is a cornerstone of Detroit. With over 200 vendors, you won’t be disappointed. Detroit is supported solely by its people, and the Eastern Market is an excellent representation of that. If you’re looking to taste Detroit, this is a great place to start. Many vendors are Detroit residents and natives so you can find great local produce, baked goods, art, jewelry, bath products, and clothing.
Saturday is the main event with the largest turnout. There are different markets offered on Tuesday and Sunday. Additionally, there are special Holiday-themed market days and Flower Day, the day after Mother’s Day, and features various florals.
Take A Page From John K. King Used and Rare Books
Who said a bookstore can’t be exciting? John King Rare Books is the largest bookstore in Michigan, and it does not disappoint. There are three stories of endless aisles with every book you can imagine. Here’s a sneak peek inside John King. From rare first editions to used classics, there will be something for everyone. This bookstore has put a dent in my bank account many times. Be aware that there is no AC in the building, so dress appropriately! I’ve made the mistake of wearing too many layers on a summer day, and I will never be doing that again.
End The Night At Cliff Bell’s
If you’re going to Detroit, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check out the music scene. Detroit is the birthplace of superstars Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, The Temptations, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and many more. There is a lot of pride in Detroit’s music scene. One place I will never shut up about is a “secret” music studio in Canton that had musicians like Michael Jackson and Madonna down the street from my house. It’s a no-brainer that you have to check out the local artists at Cliff Bell’s. This jazz club features a wide range of artists every week and is easily the busiest stage in Michigan. They also offer incredible drinks and food, but ultimately you’re there to experience the unforgettable sounds of jazz.
Pack a day bag because we are risking a popped tire to plan a fun Sunday. From Canton, Dearborn can seem a little far (about 45 minutes drive), but in Michigan, that’s considered a short walk.
Travel Back in Time and Visit Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village
After you purchase a few fruits and a million plants, pack your car tight and head over to Greenfield Village museum where you can, quite literally, travel back in time. This museum is easily my top favorite. Henry Ford was a collector, and historical buildings were one of the things he liked to collect. This outdoor museum features The Wright Bros house & shop, Thomas Edison’s lab, and even a Model T ride. All the employees are actors and educators there to help immerse you in the experience of being in the 1800s. I usually spend my time ordering high tea at the beautiful Cotswold Cottage. During Holidays, I will never miss Holiday Nights.
The United States of Ikea
I know, I know — I seem hypocritical. But, it’s Ikea… you have to go. Canton is “Ikea Town” after all. Swedish meatballs, cheap furniture, and those flattering yellow polos, you can’t go wrong. After an exciting weekend and with a stressful week ahead, you need to find a neutral space. Ikea is that haven. I love to get lost in the maze of perfectly designed room displays after one too many Swedish desserts. You have to visit yourself to see why many people travel from all over the Midwest for our Ikea.
For me, writing this article is incredibly bittersweet. After living in Metro Detroit for over 20 years, I’m moving away for good. When I was in primary school, I would dream about leaving the town I couldn’t wait to leave. I didn’t appreciate the amazing wonders that lie at the end of every corner street. Instead, I shook my fist in the air and forgot to be conscious of every step in my favorite places. I didn’t anticipate these places to be referenced in the past tense rather than the present. By sharing my favorite spots, I hope that they can act as an ode or maybe an apology. I can confidently say that now, Metro Detroit is a place I love, a place that shaped me into the human I am today — and for that, I am forever grateful. Thank you, Michigan. I will miss you.
by Marie Cantor