By Mary Casey-Sturk
Bright lights, big fun. Detroit, Michigan is the comeback city and a winter trip is great way to enjoy all this town has to offer—from wonderful architecture to world-class entertainment, sports and museums.
Packed with architectural gems, the skyline is well known for the GM Renaissance Center, but take a closer look and you’ll find beautiful marquees on historic theatres and dazzling lighting on very modern casinos.
The Fox Theatre was opened in 1928 as a movie palace for the Fox Theatres chain. A designated National Historic Landmark, it was fully restored in 1988 and boasts over 5,000 seats.
Today’s Fox Theatre is as lovely as when it opened and you can catch a play or a musical act as well as admire this 10-story building and its sparkling, grand marquee.
While exploring downtown, take an opportunity to visit the Campus Martius Park, the official “point of origin” when the city was redesigned after a devastating fire in 1805. Sculptures, lighted fountains and an outdoor ice skating rink make this urban park an oasis.
Deanna Majchrzak, manager, media relations, for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, agrees that there is much to do in Detroit in the winter.
“For visitors coming to Detroit in the winter, I would definitely suggest going ice skating at Campus Martius Park. The rink is located right in the heart of the city and at nighttime all the buildings are lit up so it’s just a beautiful sight to see the city so alive,” she says. “Within walking distance are a lot of great restaurants, including the new Wright and Co., Punch Bowl Social, Top of the Pontch and Dime Store, as well as coffee shops like the Roasting Plant that can help warm you up after ice skating.
“For those that like to stay inside, our world-class museums offer a wide range of offerings all year long. Museums you may want to check out: Detroit Institute of Arts, Motown Museum, Detroit Historical Museum, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, The Henry Ford [Museum, Greenfield Village, and Ford Rouge Factory Tour], Arab American National Museum and the Michigan Science Center.”
Greektown, as you can imagine, is the traditional home of Greek immigrants to this community. With the addition of the Greektown Casino-Hotel, you can sleep in comfort after an evening of electrifying fun! From the moment you enter the hotel lobby, you are treated to a dazzling chandelier from the studio of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly and the fun continues from there. There are 400 stunning guest rooms, with views of the nighttime lights of Detroit and neighboring Windsor. Upon leaving your room, treat yourself to dinner in one of the restaurants or try your hand at a game of chance at the adjacent casino.
Of course, no trip to Greektown would be complete without a traditional Greek meal and Pegasus Taverna fits that ticket with an immense menu including offerings such as Moussaka, Spanakoteropeta and a selection of lamb dishes. Look for the beautiful neon Pegasus and step in from the cold. Dining is only half the fun, the staff here is excellent and you’ll want to order the Saganaki “Opa!” Kasseri Cheese set aflame at your table to shouts of “Opa!” Not only delicious, it provides you with your own personal light show.
Imagine yourself in the spotlight with a tour of the Motown Museum. Motown Records was established by Berry Gordy in 1959, and today you can tour Hitsville U.S.A., home to the Motown Museum and learn about the legendary artists who made this label their home. Gordy, in fact, made this his actual home early in his career and you can tour his apartment as well as galleries dedicated to the visionaries and voices who brought Motown to life and forever changed the song track of America.
Inside the Museum you’ll also find Studio A. You can stand in the exact spot where the Supremes so sublimely asked to everyone to “Stop In The Name of Love.” You’ll fall in love with Motown all over again. For more, visit: visitdetroit.com.
Keep your camera ready for a drive along The Ohio River Scenic Byway. Running 967 miles through three states, over 300 of those miles are found in Southeast Indiana and that’s where this journey begins. Along the way, you’ll find artisans, antiques, wineries, relaxing B&Bs, charming restaurants and lovely views of the Ohio River. Even in the winter, the Ohio River is alive with commercial and pleasure boats and the shores are home to a variety of waterfowl.
Stopping in Vevay in Indiana’s Switzerland County, you will be able to enjoy the many galleries that have helped this town recently be named the fourth Coolest Small Town in America by Budget Travel Magazine. Artists have been coming here for years for inspiration and it’s easy to see why once you explore this laid-back town nestled along the Ohio River.
The Community Art Center is in the historic Grisard building in the heart of town. Members exhibit paintings, sculpture, woodworks and jewelry among other treasures in new exhibits every month. A winter’s walk along the charming streets will lead you to galleries and shops alongside public artworks. Also, wines are artfully made at The Ridge Winery. The winery has been making award-winning wines since 1995 (Switzerland County itself was home to America’s first successful commercial winery), including the “Special Art Label” Switzerland County Red. With other options—including the “RuralCool” Reisling—in their tasting room, it’s well worth a stop to learn more about Indiana’s wine traditions.
The Life On The Ohio River History Museum is located in an old church parsonage and includes many models, artifacts and documents from the steamboat era that help you discover Vevay’s history. Nearby Schenk Mansion Bed & Breakfast is your opportunity to stay in history. Built in 1874 and operating as a B&B since 2000, the luxurious accommodations and gracious owners will make you feel right at home.
Head a little further along the Ohio River and you’ll find Madison. History continues here and the quirky Dr. William Hutchings Office & Hospital is found in the Madison Railroad Station. You’ll have to see the skeleton in his closet—really! Everything is left just as Dr. Hutchings placed them before he died in 1903. The Thomas Family Winery offers another opportunity to enjoy wines, but it also has a tradition of pressing hard cider—an alternative beverage developed by their grandfather, Gale Thomas, during Prohibition. Gale’s Hard Cider, made from Midwest apples, is a tasty history lesson. The winery is located in a stable and carriage house dating to the 1850s and the winery also hosts a variety of musicians, including Celtic and bluegrass groups.
Madison is also home to several bed and breakfasts—some housed in grand historic homes, others are new, but all are designed to help you relax and enjoy the small town charm. If antiquing is high on your list, you’ll find the shops and antique malls to be a hunter’s paradise. If you’re hungry, Madison is home to restaurants such as Crystal & Jules with its fresh pasta or maybe a hamburger and milkshake from Hinkles Sandwich Shop. This charming river town, like Vevay, is picture perfect.
When you’re ready to rest or rough it, head to Clifty Falls State Park. Limestone gorges and hiking trails invite you to enjoy winter’s natural beauty and the lodge invites you to relax and unwind. Clifty Inn & the Falls Restaurant offers up down-home cooking, lodging with suites and rooms overlooking the Ohio River and a host of (warm) indoor activities including a pool, game room, sun porch and numerous lounging areas throughout the Inn, perfect for reading that book you packed.
Outside, there are over 1,400 acres to explore with many breathtaking views—perfect for capturing images of this lovely land as well as winter wildlife. The gorges are products of the Ice Age and Clifty Creek, as well as three miles of canyon, is geologic splendor at its finest!
Back inside, settle in for dinner with items including grilled salmon, the Cliffhanger burger, and Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie.
Keep your camera handy as turn after turn, from river views to historic architectural gems; there is always a memory to capture. For more, visit: in.gov.
Action awaits you at The New River Gorge in West Virginia. This area is a popular warm weather destination for adventure seekers, but it does not disappoint in the winter with a variety of outdoor activities including zip lining, skiing and hiking. The New River Gorge has more than 70,000 acres of natural beauty as well as adventure opportunities. Fayetteville is a historic town (founded in 1837) on a plateau with an elevation of 1,820 feet. Famous for the New River and the New River Gorge Bridge (an amazing single-span arch some 876 feet above the New River), it’s an outdoor lover’s dream in any season.
Adventures On The Gorge is an adventure resort on the rim of New River Gorge. One winter treat for outdoor enthusiasts is the TreeTops Canopy Tour. Combining zip lines and sky bridges, it’s an experience to get a bird’s eye view of the forest (still alive with hemlock and rhododendron, wildlife, and, well, birds). This tour includes 10 zip lines and five sky bridges—over a mile in total length. Nearby Winterplace Ski Resort offers trails for all levels, tubing and lessons. Winter hikers can enjoy this historic area with striking views and the opportunity to trek through “Ghost towns.” Ghosts aren’t promised, but these now-abandoned coal-mining towns once thrived and powered America through the Industrial Revolution and two World Wars. Now, they’ve been reclaimed by the forest and are waiting to be rediscovered by you.
Heading back inside, you will find some delightful indoor activities as well. Dining options include the casual Chetty’s Pub, with hearty Appalachian fare and a full bar. Burgers, salmon, sirloin filets and grilled shrimp skewers are among the offerings that will warm you up on a cold winter’s night. Buffler’s BBQ & Pizza features quick breakfast, lunch and dinner options, including ribs and chicken, or you can grab a pizza and head back to your cabin.
Cabins here range from rustic to deluxe and many are within walking distance to Adventure On The Gorge’s restaurants. The recently added Sunnyside Suites are a perfect blend of cabin and hotel. With forest views, Wi-Fi and an efficiency kitchen, you can tuck in to comfort.
The Deluxe Cabins are great for a romantic escape, with hot tubs and mountain views. Offering more privacy, these well-appointed cabins have features you’ll appreciate in the winter—such as a heated tile bathroom floor and towel warmer! Winter lodging rates are available. For more, visit: adventuresonthegorge.com.
Winter adventure awaits!