An All-Star weekend of baseball and golf
DETROIT - Detroit is certainly back in the national sports spotlight, hosting the Ryder Cup Matches last summer, the NBA Finals two years in a row, the Super Bowl this coming January and of course, Major League Baseball's 76th All-Star Game on July 12.
True, other big cities may be a little more happenin' these days, but Detroit still has a ton to see and do. There's a rich history in music and automobiles, an increasingly lively waterfront and a swanky dining scene.
The golf in suburban Detroit is also abundant in numbers and diverse in offerings, from cheap muni's to posh newbies.
So for those who plan on being in Detroit All-Star Weekend, here are four distinct one-day itineraries for four different classes of baseball fans and golfers, looking to get their fix of fun and golf in Motown:
Itinerary 1: The Cadillac
For those in their "golden years" who want a taste of Detroit's storied past.
For golf: After you've been rejected from the ultra-exclusive Oakland Hills in West Bloomfield Hills, head down the road to Dearborn Heights to find Donald Ross' public 36-hole facility in Detroit, Warren Valley. True, the conditioning and layout is inferior to Ross' masterpiece, but it's one of Detroit's first public golf facilities opened in 1922 (four years after Oakland Hills). The course is rolling with a fair amount of elevation and lies on the banks of the Rouge River. There are two 18-hole championship courses to choose from and on weekdays seniors play for $24 with a cart.
For fun: If you're up for a little more walking, head to The Henry Ford, just down the road in Dearborn. The Henry Ford is made up of the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, IMAX Theatre, Rouge Factory Tour and Benson Ford Research Center. This is one of Michigan's biggest attractions, so you won't see it all in one day. Start out at Greenfield Village if it isn't too hot out, which is an outdoor museum featuring buildings and works by Thomas Edison, George Washington Carver, Noah Webster, William Holmes McGuffey as well as glass-blowing exhibits and other attractions. Tickets are $20 and it's open until 5 p.m.
For dinner: The Whitney on Woodward Ave. shines in a century-old mansion once described by a newspaper in 1894 as "the most elaborate and substantial residence in this part of the country." Today, the food isn't bad either, serving gourmet veal, lobster, a variety of fish and steaks, as well as an award-winning wine list. It also features a Russian Caviar Service ($140) and for desert, a personal-sized white chocolate, three torte replica of the Whitney Mansion. As a bonus, The Whitney lies in the shadows of the old Tiger Stadium. For reservations, call (313) 832-5700.
Itinerary 2: The Minivan
For families looking for a golf course and activities suitable for everyone.
For golf: Fox Hills Country Club in Plymouth, about 25 minutes west of downtown has a virtual buffet of golf. It starts with the Golden Fox: an 18-hole challenging Arthur Hills design and the crown jewel of Fox Hills. Then there's the original Lakes, Woodlands or Hills nines, which are all shorter, have small greens and are forgiving to beginners, but still full-length and fun to play. Then there's the new Strategic Fox: an 18-hole par-3 course opened in 2001. Fox Hills also has a practice range and short-game area. Dad can drop the kids off at the Strategic Fox and hit the Golden Fox by himself or with the misses, or the whole family can play the original 27-hole course if the kids are up to snuff.
For fun: Boblo Island, Detroit and Windsor's amusement park on the Detroit River is no more, closed in 1993 after operating nearly 50 years. With that attraction gone, kids are treated to more educational venues. The Detroit Zoo is a good compromise of fun and facts and is also touting its first polar bear cub in 15 years. Lions, giraffes, a "penguinarium" and scores of other exhibits make the zoo one of the Midwest's best.
The new and improved Detroit Science Center is located downtown near Wayne State University and features 25 hands-on exhibits as well as the state's only IMAX dome theatre. Or pick up the "People Mover," Detroit's public monorail for a first-hand tour of downtown.
For dinner: For a fun dinner downtown, take a shot at the Hockeytown Café, which is certainly less crowded with the current lockout, but still an exciting place to watch any sporting event and there's a slew of games to play and things to see, including a Zamboni from Detroit's old Olympia Stadium. It's located next to the Fox Theatre on Woodward Ave.
Itinerary 3: The Coupe
For the couple who wants to splurge and see the best Detroit has to offer.
For golf: The top public course in metro Detroit these days is Shepherd's Hollow, north of downtown about a half hour. The 27-hole Arthur Hills course opened in 2002 and ranked sixth on Golf Digest's list of "Best New Upscale Courses." It's difficult, but has five sets of tees so your date won't struggle too much. Greens fees can run up to $85 on weekends, but play before 8 a.m. on weekdays and you can get on for $45.
For fun: After she's put up with the golfing portion of the day, it's time to put a big grin on her face and a dent in your pocketbooks by heading down I-75 to the Somerset Collection in Troy. This is as upscale as any Midwestern designer mall is going to get, featuring Tiffany's, Armani, Prada, Gucci, BCBG - you get the idea. There's also a few mid-level stores like Gap, Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer and Express. This is the kind of mall where people dress up to go, so at least get out of your soft spikes before entering.
For dinner: There's a host of classy restaurants downtown, so go ahead and leave Oakland County and get a taste of the real Detroit. Opus One recently renovated and is an elegant, yet casually classy place the features 14 beef and seafood entrees ranging from contemporary French and American to specials with "seasonal spontaneity." First-class service and a menu where you can't go wrong make this one of Detroit's best nights out. For reservations, call (313) 961-7766.
Itinerary 4: The Camaro
For a foursome of ruffians looking for challenging golf but cheap enough to save some cash for risky business later.
For golf: Roll out of bed around 11 a.m. or so and drive to Salem Hills in Northville. It's metro Detroit's best public golf course built before 1990. You're also going to get a lot of bang for your buck ($40 with cart and $48 weekends, but the course's Web site has coupons that drop it to $35 weekends if you play after noon) in an area of town where greens fees are inflated some at the newer courses. It's an old, classic course in beautiful shape and features a tough stretch on holes 11-13 dubbed by some as "Amen Corner."
For dinner and fun: After a quick nap of course, there's all kinds of trouble you can get into around Detroit. Main Street in Royal Oak, about 20 minutes from downtown is where the young and restless go to party. The dining scene is second to only Ann Arbor in terms of quality and variety in metro Detroit. Grab a quick half-pound burger at the Red Coat Tavern, which also has a top-notch selection of brews. Memphis Smoke is the place to go for live music, Cinq is the club of choice and Woody's, with three floors and a deck has a little bit of everything from billiards to dancing.
For fun: If you want to get in a little more trouble, head across the Detroit River to Windsor, where the drinking age is 19 and the clientele is a little less polished. Ouelette Street has dozens of bars and clubs. For "clubbin,'" try Dante's, Joker's, Reactor or Voodoo. For bars, the Honest Lawyer, Pepper's and Patrick O'Ryans Irish Pub are among the top spots. Chatham Street is where most of the strip clubs are located and Cheetah's usually has the prettiest gals. On busy nights, its best to take the Ambassador Bridge there before the tunnel. Finally, the casinos are all open 24 hours so they can suck every last penny Raven or Starla didn't get their hands on. There are three in downtown Detroit as well as Casino Windsor on the waterfront. MGM Grand has the best blackjack and table games while Greektown Casino has the best atmosphere for young folks.
Yes, Detroit is a little rough around the edges, but these places are as safe as in any big city. Of course, with all the construction and detours going on, it's always a good bet to keep your cell phone charged and a decent map handy. Enjoy your stay in Detroit - and consider buying a new Ford or GM while you're at it.
July 8, 2005