An eclectic music scene, a diversity of cultural institutions, countless parks, miles and miles of bike lanes, nightlife — honestly, the list of things to experience in Detroit could continue for the entire page!
But what if you're vegan and only have 24-hrs. in the Motor City? Is it worth the visit? A resounding yes! Fill up that gas tank or nab that ticket to DTW because you're in for an adventure. Detroit's culinary scene has been on fire, including countless vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants with bowls of piping hot noodles to crispy fried chick'n (vegan, of course) and everything in between. I promise you won't go hungry, and this 24-hr. vegan Detroit itinerary will help you plan every second of your epic adventure.
There’s no time for sleeping in today — set two alarms if you have to because you’ve got a lot of ground to cover and eating to do! First up, and possibly the most essential part of the day, is breakfast, and you’re in for a treat!
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting on a Saturday, then there is no better place to kick off your day than brunch at the fabulous, black woman-owned eatery, The Kitchen by Cooking with Que. A fun fact about The Kitchen, the owner, Quiana “Que” Broden, initially started with a cooking blog to help people “eat to live” after facing a deadly health diagnosis. The blog eventually grew into the welcoming café, on Woodward Ave. that dishes out veganized chick’n and waffles smothered in a special house-made chili maple syrup, fluffy apple butter pancakes, creamy grits, and more.
Unfortunately, The Kitchen only serves brunch on Saturdays. So, if you’re visiting any other day of the week, have no fear; you’re not out of luck! You just get the opportunity to start your day in the city’s Irish heart, Corktown, at PJ’s Lager House.
What was once a secret spot for booze smuggling (masqueraded as a furniture store) during prohibition, today draws every type of eater under the sun! Diners are head over heels for its eclectic mix of comfort classics — vegan biscuits and gravy, tofu scramble with tempeh bacon — all ideal to start your day.
Once you’re fully fueled and ready to go, it’s time to hit our next stop and one of my favorite things to do in Detroit!
2. VEGGIES, ART, GREENWAY, & MORE!
Detroit’s historic Eastern Market buzzes with activity year-round but to see the market and surrounding neighborhood in its full glory, make sure you visit on a Saturday (the market is also open on Tuesdays and Sundays).
Wander through and peruse hundreds of local vendors and artisans selling everything from fresh from-the-ground radishes to vegan hot dogs and tacos — if you’re feeling a little peckish, you’ll have no problem finding a vegan snack here.
Once you’ve made your way through the market, be sure not to miss checking out the countless Detroit-centric shops like Detroit Hustles Harder, Rocky’s, Signal Return, and Devries & Co. (they recently started carrying a to-die-for vegan Cambleu cheese from Rind) throughout the surrounding neighborhood.
If you’re interested in getting your heart rate up and exploring gorgeous street art, head to the MoGo bike station at Russell St. and Wilkins. Here you can rent a bike to head down the former Grand Trunk Railroad line, more commonly known as The Dequindre Cut (you can explore by foot, the bike just makes it a little quicker). The two-mile path is filled with vibrant street art curated by local artists and, on the weekend, is home to a unique shipping container beer garden, The Dequindre Cut Freight Yard.
The Dequindre Cut connects with another Detroit jewel — the Detroit Riverwalk, which was recently voted for the second year by USA Today as the #1 best riverwalk in the US!
Take some time to capture Instagram-worthy shots of our Canadian neighbors and the riverfront but don’t stray too far because lunch is on your heels.
3. OODLES OF NOODLES
After all that wandering and biking, there is no better place to refuel than at the vegan-friendly Japanese-inspired restaurant, ima. Located right in the heart of Midtown, this Black-owned restaurant is noodle heaven — ramen, udon, rice noodles — plus loads of other tempting dishes.
Whatever you decide to enjoy, make sure you don’t skip over an order of edamame. I know, you’re probably thinking, oh, that’s boring! But, trust me, these aren’t ordinary edamame — covered in chili, lemon, and sea salt — they are downright addictive; I promise you’ll fight over who gets the last one.
Once you’ve wrapped up lunch, get ready for a choose-your-own Detroit adventure!
4. CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN AFTERNOON ADVENTURE
This is a difficult decision, but since you only have 24-hrs. in Detroit, you can only pick one! Either shop till you drop through various independent boutiques throughout Midtown and Downtown or check out one of the many thought-provoking museums.
If you choose shopping, start in Midtown on Canfield St. and check out quirky home goods, local handmade products, jewelry, and more at City Bird and Nest. Also, while you’re in the area, if you need a sugar boost, head over and enjoy the best vegan soft-serve in Detroit at Cold Truth or grab a box of vegan chocolates from Bon Bon Bon.
Once you’ve made your way through Midtown, head downtown for even more shopping, including the vegan and cruelty-free makeup store, The Lip Bar.
Now, if you’ve decided to go the museum route, you’re in luck because there is a museum for just about every interest in Detroit, but it might also make deciding where to go difficult!
For a history lesson on Detroit, check out the Detroit Historical Society; art lovers shouldn’t skip The Detroit Institute of Arts or MOCAD, and if you want to explore the culture and history of African Americans, visit the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Now, these are just a few — you can also explore science, music, and more!
5. WRAP UP THE VEGAN DAY IN THE D
6. About the Author
There is no better spot to wrap up your Detroit adventure than with the city’s first 100% vegan soul food restaurant, Detroit Vegan Soul (currently open Friday – Sunday). This Black women-owned business is promoting the healing powers of food while also showing diners they don’t have to give up their favorite foods. Diners indulge in plates of creamy mac-n-cheese, crispy catfish tofu, okra stew, cornbread, and so much more.
To taste all their all-star flavors, make sure you order the Soul Platter loaded with many favorites — BBQ tofu, mac-n-cheese, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and that’s not even all of it!
If you’ve been able to save a sliver of room for dessert, you can sink your teeth into a slice of German chocolate cake at Detroit Vegan Soul or make room for one more stop — the first Black woman-owned vegan bakery Estella’s Vegan Dessert Boutique (currently open Friday – Sunday).
A visit to Estella’s means one thing for first-time visitors, pound cake! While the bakery has a variety of sugar sweets, they are famous for their veganized pound cake — red velvet, lemon, chocolate turtle, carrot — you might need to order a few slices!
6. About the Author
Rebecca lives in Metro Detroit and is the creator of the vegan travel blog Veggies Abroad. Born of her love for travel and the curiosity of others about her plant-based lifestyle, the blog addresses the question, “What in the world did you eat?” When she isn’t checking out new vegan hot spots, you can find her strategizing ways to amplify the voices of vegan businesses and nonprofits in an effort to build a kinder world.
Mentioned Attractions And Venues
Eastern MarketRussell Street between Mack Avenue and Gratiot Avenue, 2934 Russell St.
Detroit, Michigan 48207