Detroit is for Lovers

Yeah, it’s freezing outside. And sure, the only things you really feel like getting close to right now are a humidifier and a tube of Chapstick. But listen, there’s this amazing place you can go to celebrate Valentine's Day. It’s a place that — despite the recent blast of sub-freezing temperatures — has managed to cook up some really steamy Februarys over the past 300 years.

So whether you’re ready for that first date, are already hot and heavy, or  you are Valentine-agnostic and just like to chill on your own, get thyself out there and revel in the annual “Day of Lurv” right here in the city of Detroit.

"Hey, we should hook up for drinks sometime."

Booze. Yep, it’s the easiest way to ensure that your relaying of personal facts during a first date doesn’t sound like a corporate Powerpoint presentation. For a great first impression, try two of Detroit’s more walkable bar areas where a journey to one hip, dark, and hooch-serving establishment leads to the next, one step at a time.
Head over to the Grand Circus Park area for an evening at the gorgeously restored former speakeasy, Cliff Bells, or belly up to the enormous circular bar at next-door neighbor, The Park Bar (2040 Park Ave.). Besides the great music, cool peeps and ambient lighting that can make any date look completely awesome, these two new kids on the block are the kinds of places that are totally secure enough in themselves to offer customers both Pabst’s and Patrón.

Also in the same hood are the posh multi-level Centaur (where you can get your wine and cheese on), down-and-dirty fave, Town Pump (for a bonanza of beer) and the parenthetically casual (PROOF) Martini Lounge — which serves pretty much anything you can imagine fitting in a cocktail glass — around the corner on Woodward and Adams. Also note that valet parking is available in the area, so relinquish control of your vehicle to hard-working staff and head from destination to destination without a care…or a car.

Over in Harmonie Park, you can also take advantage of a walkable Valentine’s rendezvous with four classy watering holes that aren’t shy about doling out their attitude or their offerings. The Rhino jazz bar is all moved into its new digs on at 1407 Randolph, in the space that formerly housed the Intermezzo restaurant. A few doors down, Lola’s dishes out an intimate, comfy vibe perfect for lingering over a sweet, boozy concoction. Around the corner in the former Centre Street Lounge is the new tech-house music haven, Grand Central (311 E. Grand River Ave.), where adult beverages abound and Valentine’s Poetry night is on the sked for this Wednesday. Even Hunter House across the street (which doubles as the hotel bar of the Hilton Garden Inn) is a great intimate venue for a quick cocktail. Just beware of the stray business travelers who might try and bust in on your romantic evening. But if you play nice, there might be a couple of freebies in it for you and your date.
“Honey, it seems like all we do is drink.”

There comes a time in every relationship where you have to prove that you’re more than just an ice-clinking, shot-pounding, booze-cruising drinking machine. So this Valentine's Day, endeavor to get off the barstool and take your love to the next level. Go out and actually do some stuff.

Besides typical winter recreation like ice-skating over at Campus Martius, you can do up Detroit as a duo in plenty of other places without going anywhere near the bar. Take a trip to Belle Isle if you’re off during the day or want to celebrate V-day at a later point in the month. Bundle yourself up for some sledding or duck into the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory for a peek at the largest collection of orchids in the country.

Midtown’s cultural district is of course chock full of warm, winter fun with the DIA, the Charles H. Wright African-American Museum, and hip newcomer, MOCAD all within blocks of each other. Detroit’s historical neighborhoods like Indian Village, University District and Boston-Edison are also great for a good walk or drive through during the weekend.

Or, you can choose to leave the crowds behind and relax your bad selves at the new Woodhouse Day Spa on Woodward with a plethora of special Valentine’s packages with names like “Rendezvous For Two,” “Passport to Paradise” and “Sweet Relief.”

'Baby, I think we should move in together.'

Whether you’re ready for it or not, the “let’s shack up” conversation is bound to happen at some point in a long relationship. It could be a proposal that ignites thoughts of wedded bliss or one inspired by just being sick of living out of an overnight bag. Either way, checking out the housing situation in Detroit with your honey is a great Valentine’s treat.

Lofts are pretty much tailor-made for romantic fantasy. The high ceilings, the high-end appliances, great views, and the fact that you don’t have to go into debt at Home Depot in order to move in, all make the idea of playing house just what St. Valentine ordered.

If you’re seriously thinking of become a loft-dweller, a really great place to start the process is by first checking in with some of the more popular (and more established) loft developments around the city. Call ahead for a tour of some model or available units over at Lofts at Rivertown or 200 River Place (both on Jefferson) for a peek at what built-out and lived-in lofts actually look like. Not only will a spin through these rockin’ spaces give you an appreciation for how cool urban living can be, a first-hand look might also help you better visualize the city’s newer developments still under construction. Like: 55 W. Canfield, Willys Overland Lofts, and even still relatively raw spaces like Research Lofts (all in Midtown).

But don’t get us wrong, houses, condos and even apartments can be totally sweet spots in the city, too. Check out the listings and neighborhood guides in Model D for more info on what’s out there for you and your sweetie to suss out.

'Love stinks.'

Even if you’re going out solo during this “month of love,” no sweat. There are plenty of night (and day) spots around the city where you can just pull up a chair and let the good times roll without feeling left out.

You’re never alone at Greenwich Time on Congress in Cadillac Square. Just belly up, have a beer and a burger, and get to know the local flavor behind (and around) the bar. It’s the kind of divine dive where there’s no pretense and absolutely no pouring of frou-frou, fizzy drinks. By the time you leave, it's guaranteed you’ll have made more than a few new best friends. You can also pop in next door to the Checker Bar & Grill where the Munro sisters love to entertain strays with their selection of affordable wine, top-secret-recipe burgers and the occasional Turner Classic movie.

The non-alcoholic side of rolling solo is also a sweet alternative to the often-overwhelming “Be My Valentine” season. The Rowland Café in the Guardian Building is the perfect spot for falling in love with a whole slew of other things like Art Deco design, various specialty coffees and locally made pastries. Yes, Cafe au Lait and classic architecture can make the perfect match. Plan to be at Rowland for their Lunch Time Music Series, daily soups and sandwiches and the greatest love of all: barista Judy, who’ll entertain even the loneliest of souls with her sweet, elfin caffeinated goodness.   

Or find some favorite corner of your own in tha D and create your own cool heat. There are countless other great mystery spots around the city to drown yourself in love — or its absence. You tell us where they are. It could be our little secret.


A Couple at Envy

Drinks at Union Street

Drinking at Small Plates

Irving and Harriet Berg at the DIA, where they met and fell in love quite some time ago...

The Woodhouse Spa

The Carlton Lofts in Brush Park

The Rowland Cafe at the Guardian Building

All Photographs Copyright Dave Krieger

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