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Unfiltered: A Suburban Mom on Her Detroit Weekend

Even if most of the communities around Detroit are only minutes away via the freeways, many suburbanites still rarely venture into the city. And that's a crying shame.

Christina B. ventured forth, and she liked what she saw. Yes, she is a soccer mom who lives in a quaint colonial. Yes, she drives a big-old SUV (usually filled with three little boys ages 2, 3 and 6). She is known locally to my mommy friends for her meal-planning blog called "Beyond the Meat and Potatoes." (More on See pictures of Detroit's beautiful, horrible decline)

Here's where Ms. B. differs: She and her husband recently spent three days in the D, and she writes here about how it was a wake-up call of how much there is to see and do. Not everything was perfect, but it was perfectly enjoyable. Surprise, surprise to those folks who still think Detroit is all bombed out. It's not true.

But you don't have to take my word for it – read on to hear what this smart blonde has to say, bloggie friends.

A Big Deal in Detroit

By Christina

I have lived in the “burbs” for more than a decade. Although I so-called know Detroit, a relative's wedding was my first opportunity in recent years to take in the city. My husband and I attended the wedding and stayed in a hotel, all in the city proper. The Saturday event turned into a three-day Detroit pilgrimage with my sister, kids and my husband and I all partaking. (More on See 10 things to do in Detroit)

The wedding took place in at Iroquois Avenue Christ Lutheran Church in Indian Village. The church was beautiful. This unique locale made the wedding feel very vintage. The real attention grabber here was the stained glass. According to the church's Web site:

The windows were designed and crafted expressly in Italy and demonstrate the influence of the artistic craftsmanship from that era. The thirteen original windows were installed in 1913. They have since been restored in the same manner in which they were originally designed.

After the wedding, we all stood together on the church lawn. Drivers upon drivers stopped to admire the scene. Then, neighbors came onto the street to view the festivities. It felt like a real community; a “City within the City.” As a few raindrops started falling, we began to wonder what everyone was looking at. Perhaps they were waiting for the bride to come out, or maybe they were wondering why we were all standing in the rain. Either way, both church and location made us feel almost famous. Everything felt like a big deal. (More on See TIME's special report “The Committee To Save Detroit")

After the ceremony, we made drove down to the reception at the Renaissance Center. Let's be honest about the Ren Cen: It is not a gorgeous structure. It is not even that unique. But it IS the skyline of Detroit and the pinnacle of the city.

Before the reception, we had drinks in the Marriott Hotel Bar, which has been renamed the "VOLT” in honor of General Motor's new electric vehicle. Very apropos. They also have a patio for drinks, but we had to take a rain check on that. The inclement weather prevented us from sitting out there, but it looked like the best view in the city.

After the reception, we retreated back to our room at The Marriott. We were on the 58th floor, and the benefit of being that high is the view. Our room had a view of the Detroit River, Windsor Casino and the Ambassador Bridge. I enjoyed the beautifully lit Bridge, and we loved waking up to the Windsor skyline. We watched boats up and down the Detroit River. I have always wanted to stay at the Ren Cen Hotel, so now I can now cross that off my bucket list. (More on Listen to a podcast about the Ambassador Bridge)

After a family barbecue on Sunday, my sister, who lives in San Francisco, wanted to go to Pewabic Pottery, another city notable on Monday for souvenirs for friends back home. (As a sidebar, I went three years ago to the Indian Village Home Tour. Most, if not all, of Indian Village homes have loads of Pewabic pottery in there. It is impressive. If you have not been to either Pewabic Pottery or the Home Tour---GO!!)

The final encore was when we went back to Pewabic on Tuesday for Family Day. For $5, the kids painted premade pottery projects -- picture frames, flower pots and theatre masks. They painted them every color you can imagine and loved that they could take their personal art home.

Despite what is said about the “D,” I had a positive experience. Thanks to my cousin's wedding, we did something that I would not have ordinarily done.

Here's my advice: Don't wait for a special occasion. Grab a hotel room and be part of the city for a weekend. You will be surprised at how much there is to do. I had a real feeling of being in and a part of the city.

See more from TIME's yearlong look at Detroit

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Comments (3)
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  • 1

    wow, what a brilliant idea. Great blog Karen, enjoyed your guest blogger. I will check out her blog as well.

  • 2

    Great post. My family came to visit from Philadelphia and had a very similar pre and post outlook. I think your last line would really resonate with how they felt leaving. Thanks for the post and giving a weekend in the city a try!!

  • 3

    After living downriver for 13 years, our family has started enjoying the city much more recently. We have even considered moving into the city, but we just cannot get past the immense property and income taxes that would be added if we did so. Can you address that in a post or so at some point? What would it take to bring suburbanites back into the city (or others from outside Michigan when things pick up here)?

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