Here’s a rundown of spring travel story ideas:
New Developments in The D
More than half of the $279 million, five year expansion and renovation of Cobo Convention Center is now complete. A 5,000-square foot video production studio includes a soundstage and equipment to record and develop video segments for Cobo events and promotions, giving Cobo on-site technical capacity unmatched in the industry. The new 30,000-square foot atrium and 40,000-square foot Grand Riverview Ballroom opened in September 2013. The third and final phase of this project includes giant exterior video walls for event information and advertising, a Scala wayfinding system and an open-air terrace overlooking the river. Cobo Center operations remain open during the entire renovation process, which will be complete in 2015. For the latest construction updates, go to cobocenter.com.
Plans are moving forward for a new $450 million hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings, which could open as soon as the 2016-17 season, according to news reports. The multi-purpose venue will be built on Woodward Ave., approximately four blocks north of the Fox Theatre and Comerica Park. The district surrounding the proposed 18,000-seat, 650,000 square-foot ice arena is expected to generate another $200 million of investment in new bars, restaurants, housing and a potential hotel.
Utility relocation work has begun for M-1 Rail, a 3.3 mile, $140 million light rail project. The 11-stop streetcar line, expected to be complete in 2016, will run along Woodward Ave. from W. Grand Blvd. in the New Center area to Congress Street in downtown Detroit.
Michigan’s first Aloft Hotel is scheduled to open in Detroit in December 2014. Located in the David Whitney building downtown on Woodward Avenue in Grand Circus Park, the boutique property will offer 136 rooms, banquet and meeting space, the WXYZ bar, re:mix lounge, a second restaurant and one and two bedroom residential apartments. It will connect to the Detroit People Mover.
The historic Pontchartrain Hotel (more recently Detroit Riverside Hotel), is now open as the Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Riverfront hotel. Directly across from Cobo Center, the upscale property is a 25-story, 371-room hotel that caters to business travelers and the meetings and conventions market.
Hyatt Place Detroit/Novi, a 124-room hotel attached to the Suburban Collection Showplace, opened in September 2013. Visit novi.place.hyatt.com. The Suburban Collection Showplace is a 215,000 square foot exposition center. Its Diamond Convention Center has 30 meeting rooms including two ballrooms; the Diamond Ballroom can accommodate up to 2,200 people and the Platinum Ballroom accommodates up to 450 people. Visit suburbancollectionshowplace.com.
Upcoming festivals, events, exhibits and more
Samurai: Beyond the Sword, an exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), paints a fuller picture of the Japanese warriors than has been previously explored by western media. This elite military class also highly valued culture and scholarship. In fact, study of art and literature was required along with military training to become a samurai. On display, through June 1, are 125 objects that range from swords and suits of armor to painted scenes of nature and hand-crafted tea ceremony pieces. Visit dia.org.
Think spring! Surround yourself with butterflies at the Michigan Science Center’s Wish Upon a Butterfly exhibit, which runs through June 15. Coax these delicate winged wonders to rest on your finger with a special nectar solution. Learn about a butterfly’s life cycles from caterpillar to adult. The Flight of the Butterflies IMAX® movie provides the perfect accompaniment. The Michigan Science Center is a hands-on museum that encourages students to discover, explore and appreciate science, technology and math. Visit mi-sci.org.
Staff behind the scenes are hard at work preparing for the April 15 opening of Greenfield Village’s 2014 season. Greenfield Village, part of The Henry Ford, is the 80-acre outdoor living history museum with 83 fascinating, historically significant and authentic structures, from Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory to the Wright Brother Cycle Shop and even the courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law. Greenfield Village brings 300 years of America’s history to life. Visit thehenryford.org. Special programming at the Village includes the annual Day Out With Thomas™ -- as in Thomas the Tank Engine. Ride Thomas around the village and even meet Sir Topham Hatt™ in person. Tickets sell out quickly for this popular event, so reserve your spot early! Dates are April 26-27, May 3-4 and May 10-11.
Wanna rock? Don’t miss Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power at Henry Ford Museum May 17-August 17. The exhibit pays tribute to the strong female artists who’ve made a lasting imprint on the history of rock and roll —names like Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and many more. Check out handwritten notes, concert posters, photos and even musical instruments. Get an up-close look at Joan Jett’s black leather jacket, Madonna’s Blond Ambition bustier, and Carol King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” sheet music. The exhibit is presented by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
There’s nothing quite like a Saturday morning in Detroit’s Eastern Market. The historic farmer’s market, with 250 independent vendors from Michigan, Ohio and Ontario, attracts thousands of visitors each weekend. Open-air stalls offer fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, locally produced specialty products and grass-fed meats. Flower Day, a 48-year tradition, is the place to get your annuals, perennials, foliage, trees, shrubs, or hanging baskets. This year’s Flower Day is scheduled for Sunday, May 18, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday market days are back in 2014, beginning June 17 and running through October.
Movement Electronic Music Festival is an annual Memorial Day weekend blowout spotlighting Detroit's electronic music legacy. More than 100 artists perform on five outdoor stages on the riverfront in Detroit’s Hart Plaza. The event attracts close to 200,000 techno music fans from around the globe. Visit movement.us.
Start your engines! The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix speeds into the Motor City May 30-June 1. Belle Isle, a 982-acre island park in the Detroit River, plays host to this world class racing event, which features the cars of the IndyCar Series, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the Pirelli World Challenge Championship Series and the trucks of the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Truck Series. Several upgrades to the island have been completed since Belle Isle became a state park in November 2013. Free Prix day is Friday! Visit detroitgp.com.
For country music fans, WYCD’s Downtown Hoedown two-steps into Detroit May 30-June 1 on the grounds surrounding Comerica Park in downtown Detroit. Among the 40 artists performing are Dierks Bentley, The Band Perry, Big & Rich, and Kellie Pickler. Visit wycd.cbslocal.com/category/hoedown.
Detroit River Days return June 20-22. Festivities take place along the Detroit RiverWalk – from the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority Terminal & Dock (just west of the GM Renaissance Center) to Rivard Plaza and the William G. Milliken State Park. Tall ships, jet-ski demos, riverboat tours, sand sculptures, live music and kid’s activities add up to a weekend of fun. Visit riverdays.com. The party doesn’t stop there. The Parade Company presents the spectacular Ford Fireworks on the Detroit River on Monday, June 23. Get ready to “oh!” and “ah!” Visit theparade.org.
Detroit’s own rap legend Eminem and music superstar Rihanna, will launch The Monster Tour, a series of stadium shows that they will co-headline, on August 22 and 23 at Comerica Park. Tickets are on sale now.
The surest sign that summer is on the way? The start of baseball season! The Detroit Tigers are sure to be strong competitors again this year, with superstar players like Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera on the roster. Home games are played at the incomparable Comerica Park, featuring fabulous views of downtown Detroit, a carousel, Ferris wheel, batting cage and speed pitch area. On Sundays, kids 14 and under run the bases after every home game!
For a complete list of events for the upcoming months, go here.
Drink up! Two James Spirits, located in Corktown--Detroit’s oldest neighborhood--is the first licensed distillery in Detroit since Prohibition. Two James, which opened in September 2013, produces environmentally conscious, handmade spirits using locally sourced agricultural products. Sample vodka, gin and bourbon flights or cocktails in the tasting room. (Two James whiskey is slated for future release). Purchase bottles or cases of the craft spirits to go. Visit twojames.com.
Next up: Detroit City Distillery is scheduled to open this spring in Eastern Market. A “doors open” date has not yet been announced. Visit facebook.com/DetroitCityDistillery.
Along with these new distilleries, there are several new bars and restaurants now open or opening soon. Check out dining options here.
Stay connected with what’s going on in The D
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The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to market and sell the metropolitan Detroit area on a worldwide basis as a destination for leisure and business travel including conventions, trade shows, corporate meetings, tours and incentive travel and as a film location to maximize additional visitors, visitor expenditures, state and local tax revenues and job opportunities.
More than 700 businesses are represented in the DMCVB's membership. The DMCVB was founded in 1896 as the world's first convention and visitors bureau. visitdetroit.com
“For the love of Belle Isle.... hydroplanes, handball, picnic heaven in Detroit.” – Anne H.