Detroit on a budget with kids.

Business first!

The Birdies are playing an event at The Aero Club on Friday evening.

On Sunday afternoon, I am playing a benefit show for Alan Downie, aka the Scottish bartender at Air Devil's Inn. Because America is a bad place to be ill, fundraisers are what we do here to take care of those we love. I play at 4:00. There are many others on the lineup.

After that I am unemployed (aside from teaching lessons) because, while I was slammed with 3-4 gigs a week for the past 3 months, I apparently forgot to book any new ones. Thinking of spending December in Scotland instead because why not?


Speaking of travel, we did something a little out-of-character for me a couple of weeks ago, and we took a non-glamorous trip. We went to Detroit. I've got at least one friend who swears that Detroit is an amazing vacation destination, and, while I wouldn't go that far, I would say that I was surprised how many cosmopolitan attractions there are.

My only complaints were that 1) there weren't very many people out and about on the streets like I like to see in a City 2) we needed to rent a car to get around and 3) it seemed like restaurants and venues were always closed when we wanted to go. Like, more than four times we had that happen to us, even when we checked websites first. I would suggest calling ahead -- even for a breakfast restaurant that you'd think would be open at 9:30am. It might not be.

We were car-free for the first 3 days, which was fine because it was just me and the kids hanging about while David worked. We ate lunch and rode the People Mover, which was fun, but only practical if you were staying very downtown. We went to the Renaissance Center and saw the USS Detroit, which is not usually docked there, but happened to be that week. We stayed at the Westin because David was there for work, so he stays in fancy hotels, which had a swimming pool and Disney Jr. The 4-year-old was pretty please.

For the weekend we moved to an AirBnB in Midtown, where we decided it was time to rent a car. There is a bus system there, but it wasn't practical enough for our needs -- i.e. it took significantly longer to go where we needed and didn't run as often. It would have taken over an hour, plus a 20-minute walk to get to the Henry Ford Museum. We considered just Ubering, as we did a couple of times earlier in the week, but a rental was going to be cheaper and give us more options.

Favorite things:
I tried to include lots of free things, though we did obviously pay for several. Note that we have a 4-year-old, a 7-month-old, and we are all vegetarians. All these factors inform our tastes.

Michigan Science Center. $18+ each, but free with our Louisville Science Center membership, so that saved us $60. There's a planetarium there. The food is gross, though, so eat elsewhere.

People Mover. 75 cents for a token and you can ride it in circles all day long if you want! Bring the smallest bill you need because if you put a $5 bill in the machine, it'll give you 6 tokens plus 50 cents change. Go around the entire thing (15-20 minutes) at least once because the ride along the river is the best part. It looks like you're flying above the water! Also, there are approximately four zillion Pokestops you will pass along your ride. It's a prime time to use a Lucky Egg.

Mac n Cheez. There is a Michigan-based fast food place that serves up macaroni and cheese with all kinds of mix-ins. It's amazing.

Mariner's Church. Next to the Renaissance Center. This is the "Maritime Sailor's Cathedral" of which Gordon Lightfoot sang in "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." My family is obsessed with this song because we randomly discovered that its lilting guitar and melody puts the baby to sleep. The church bell chimed, it rang twenty-nine times for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Dossin Museum. Free. We went here because they have a real, actual anchor from the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. It turned out to be a VERY cool maritime musem. It's kid-friendly, interactive and small enough to see the whole thing without getting tired. There is also a little room dedicated to the Edmund Fitzgerald, so my 4-year-old LOVED it. It's on Belle Isle, which is a strange, but peaceful island where nobody lives. Great for bike rides, as there's a road that circumnavigates the island. Be mindful of your mobile phone, as it might switch to Canadian service and charge you a zillion dollars. I had to turn my phone off.

Eagle Tavern at Greenfield Village - YUM!
Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village. Allow all day for these, and get there early. Also, it's crazy expensive, and you're going to be there for at least one full meal. Buy your tickets online for a small discount, and always look for other specials they might be running. We spent a small fortune there. We had a really great time and enjoyed learning lots and seeing lots, but whoah, was it pricey.

Renaissance Center. Free. Tours at noon and 2p daily. This is the headquarters of GM, but it's also just a HUGE set of shiny buildings on the riverfront that is basically a tiny little city. I kept wanting to see flying cars zooming around the tops. It's a great place to practice escalator etiquette and skills. Really, it's a good place to tire out the kids, and you're never too far from a cup of coffee. The food court is pretty great. It's also insane for Pokemon, but beware that your phone might think you're in Canada. There's a People Mover stop connected. Leave breadcrumbs -- it's a maze. Beware trying to find a table at lunchtime near the Riverfront 1st floor area. I found people who work there to be incredibly rude, each one of them sitting alone but when I asked if we could sit for a minute to eat a cookie, they claimed to be holding the table for their friends, even though I had a tired 4-year-old and a fidgety baby on my back who needed to sit down and be cuddled. Like, everyone actually told me no, I couldn't sit there. Maybe it's the Southern in me, but I was pretty shocked by that and eventually just sat down anyway and said we'd only be a minute.

Kennedy Car at Henry Ford Museum.
Favorite restaurants (vegetarian-friendly):

At Dime Store - photo by my 4-year-old.
Dime Store. This place was PACKED when we went for lunch the first day -- just me, the 4-year-old, and the baby. It was all adults, but I didn't get a stink-eye for bringing the kids. They had a high chair and we were served quickly. I'm a sucker for breakfast all day. Also, they gave the wee boy a free chocolate chip cookie. It was so delicious that we went back the next 2 days in a row -- once for takeout and once just to buy more cookies.

Hudson Cafe. Another great breakfast place. Good for the kids. A lot more spacious than Dime Store, and there were lots of families there.

The Jolly Pumpkin. We met up with David's co-workers for dinner one weeknight. It's got long tables with benches, so is relaxed. I liked their menu, mostly pizzas, but some yummy salads. We also happened to be there on Tuesday Trivia night, which was good fun. My 4-year-old answered a question for us about Charlie Brown, so he felt particularly included.

The Twisted Apron. This might not count because it's in Windsor, Canada, so you'll need your passport and a car. But it was possibly my favorite brunch of the week. Fried pickles, poutine -- all kinds of crazy options. You can even use your chip-and-pin card as it was intended, provided of course you remember your PIN, which most Americans probably don't because we don't actually ever have to enter our PIN when we use the card. Also, leave your phone at home, or turn it to airplane mode, so you don't pay international roaming charges.

We had a good time. What are your favorite kid-friendly things to do in Detroit?

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