Sean Patrick, co-owner of Detroit’s Willis Show Bar, would spend the perfect 24 hours in Detroit with visits to some of his favorite establishments throughout the city. From finding the best dirty soy chai to shopping for vinyl records, hats, and more, Patrick’s agenda traverses Detroit’s many neighborhoods and landmarks. Here’s where Patrick would eat, shop, and explore in the Motor City.
7 a.m. - Avalon Cafe and Bakery
Known for their wide array of beverages and baked goods, such as rolls, cookies, breads, and pastries, Detroit’s Avalon Cafe and Bakery on Woodward Avenue is a staple in the local sweet scene. “I like to start my day with caffeine and spread my support around town, so for my first dirty soy chai I would go to Avalon,” Patrick says.
The Dequindre Cut
8 a.m. - Dequindre Cut
With 2 miles of scenic pathway, the Dequindre Cut is a green oasis on the east side of Detroit. Whether you’re in the mood for hiking, biking, or both, this winding trail surrounded by world-renowned street art and architectural history is a favorite recreational getaway for both locals and visitors alike. “It’s just too cool,” Patrick says, who opts for a nice walk or jog along the Cut. “Sunken into the city, [it] takes you all the way to the river with spots of art along the way.”
9 a.m. - Brooklyn Street Local
Housed in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, Brooklyn Street Local lives up to its name with locally sourced ingredients. Known especially for their breakfast and lunch, the restaurant offers something for everyone at this restaurant. “They have nice vegan options,” Patrick says, “and it’s consistent and easy [to dine at].”
Photo by Marvin Shaouni
10 a.m. - Eastern Market
Detroit’s historic Eastern Market is a bustling, vibrant shopping destination that sells everything from fresh food, to flowers, to even antiques. Patrick’s perfect Detroit day includes stops at a few of his favorite local shops, such as Henry the Hatter, which has been dressing Detroiters and beyond since 1893. “I have a pretty large [hat] collection from them,” he says. “They’re nice and a very long-standing part of Detroit history.” From there, Patrick would swing by SMPLFD for a cool screen-printed t-shirt.
12 p.m. - People’s Records
With one of the best soul and funk music collections in the city, People’s Records is a vinyl paradise, especially for those collecting rare records. Plus, their walls are filled with music memorabilia that spans decades of history. “Music is such a huge part of my life,” Patrick says. “They never disappoint.”
2 p.m. - Seva
Midtown’s Seva offers a completely vegetarian menu with a unique take on a variety of classics. “This spot takes care of my vegan hunger needs and is quick,” Patrick says. From lunch and dinner, to freshly squeezed juice and mulled wine, Seva can satisfy both quick snacks and pick-me-ups to multi-course meals.
3 p.m. - Stella Good Coffee
Speaking of pick-me-ups, by the time afternoon rolls around, Patrick is ready for his second dirty soy chai. Stella Good Coffee in the Fisher Building is one of his first choices: “If I’m at Stella, I’ve got to take a new photo of the amazing interior of the Fisher Building and pop into The Peacock Room to say ‘hi’ to [owner] Rachel Lutz.”
There's no shortage of geese at Belle Isle.
4 p.m. - Belle Isle
Next up is a trip to Belle Isle, which features activities for all ages and interests year-round. With an unbeatable view of Detroit and Canada, beaches, historic architecture and “no shortage of geese,” according to Patrick, it’s the perfect spot for some R&R that’s just far enough from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Belle Isle also has a stunning perspective of the sunset over the Detroit skyline.
7 p.m. - Peterboro
For more relaxing nights, Patrick enjoys dinner at the Peterboro, a cozy spot for Chinese cuisine, cocktails, and mocktails.
9 p.m. - Kiesling Detroit, Bad Luck Bar, Evening Bar, and Willis Show Bar
Patrick’s favorites for a night out on the town include four stops: Kiesling Detroit, a restored century-old neighborhood bar in the Milwaukee Junction area; Bad Luck Bar, which features one-of-a-kind, experimental cocktails; Evening Bar, a classic hotel bar at the new Shinola Hotel; and of course, a visit to his own establishment, Willis Show Bar in the historic Cass Corridor. With burlesque, cabaret, and comedy shows, guests can make reservations for earlier or later evening time slots to enjoy live entertainment, beautiful art deco surroundings, and craft cocktails.
All photos by Nick Hagen unless otherwise noted.