As Detroit celebrates its 300th birthday this year, visitors will find a city springing back after decades of decline. Take a drive (this is the Motor City, after all) to see pockets of life among downtown’s abandoned skyscrapers, including three recently opened casinos, the restaurants and bakeries of Greektown, and the Tigers’s new baseball stadium. Stroll through Eastern Market and pick up a bag of pistachios at Germack Pistachio Co. or a slice of pate at R. Hirt, Jr. Co. Wander into the Renaissance Center for a look at General Motors’s new world headquarters. Or hop onto the People Mover for a quick loop around downtown and a fine view of the Detroit River. Once you’ve toured the city, consider venturing into Detroit’s leafy suburbs, especially Bloomfield Hills, home of Cranbrook one of the country’s best-designed educational campuses.
Detroit Institute of Arts
Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry frescoes are among the highlights of this Beaux-Arts building in the city’s cultural center. (Rivera created the works in 1932, after weeks spent touring Ford’s Rouge plant.) Another notable feature is the Kresge Court, where each of four walls resembles a distinct European facade and skylights produce the atmosphere of a continental garden. Among the museum’s most famous artworks are Whistler’s Nocturne in Black and Gold, Bruegel’s Wedding Dance, and Rembrandt’s Visitation. 5200 Woodward Ave.;  833-7900; Wed.–Fri. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., first Fri. of the month 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
Designed by C. Howard Crane, this elegant home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra was built in 1919 in just 4 months and 23 days. The orchestra moved out in the ’40s, and the building became a jazz club where Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington performed, but by 1960 it had fallen into disrepair. The decayed building required 19 years of painstaking renovations before reopening in 1989 with the DSO back in place. Note in particular the ornamental moldings and ceiling frescoes. 3711 Wood ward Ave.,  576-5111, concerts every weekend.
In addition to America’s favorite pastime, diversions at the new Tigers ballpark (inaugurated last April) include larger-than-life statues of hall-of-famers such as Hank Greenberg and Ty Cobb, a tiger carousel, a baseball Ferris wheel, and a fountain that sends up water streams during the home team’s big plays. The entire lower deck is a walking museum of the Tigers and Detroit, with displays of historical artifacts from 1900 through 2000. 2100 Woodward Ave.,  962-4000, tours during baseball season.
ALSO WORTH A LOOK
Nicknamed the Cathedral of Finance when it opened in 1929, this Wirt C. Rowland–designed building, is the epitome of Art Deco style and one of Detroit’s greatest landmarks. Stroll inside its lobby and gaze at the vaulted tilework ceiling. Visitors may also peek into what was once the main banking room, with its Aztec-style design, painted ceilings, and a mural of Michigan on the south wall. 500 Griswold Ave.,  965-2430, lobby open weekdays 8 a.m.–5 p.m..
Detroit People Mover Stations
Hop on the People Mover to get a bird’s-eye view Detroit–and to see art featured in each of the 13 stations scattered throughout downtown. The elevated trains stop every three to five minutes; a round trip takes just a quarter of an hour and the fare is just 50 cents.  224-2160 for a list of stations; Mon.–Thurs. 7 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri. 7 a.m.–midnight, Sat. 7 a.m.–midnight, Sun. noon–8 p.m.
Cranbrook Educational Community
Newspaper publisher George Gough Booth and his wife, Ellen Scripps Booth, spent 30 years in the early 20th century developing Cranbrook Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills, 35–40 minutes northwest of Detroit by car. The masterwork of chief architect Eliel Saarinen, the campus comprises Cranbrook’s Academy of Art, Art Museum, Institute of Science, and elementary and high schools. Recent constructions include a national AIA award–winning natatorium designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. Other highlights: Cranbrook House, built in 1908 as the Booth’s residence, is the oldest surviving manor home in metropolitan Detroit. Designed by Albert Kahn, the house is furnished with many original pieces, including tapestries and fine and decorative art collections influenced by Booth’s loyalty to the Arts and Crafts movement. Surrounding the mansion are 40 acres of landscaped gardens with fountains, terraces, and sculpture. (380 Lone Pine Rd.;  645-3147; tours June 15–Oct. 30, Thurs. 11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. , Sun. 3 p.m.) \ Saarinen House was Eliel Saarinen’s family home and his studio from the time he built it, in 1930, until his death in 1950. The house retains its dazzling Art Deco and Finnish-inspired furnishings, and textiles woven by Saarinen’s wife, Loja. (39221 Woodward Ave.; [2483 645-3361; tours May–Oct., Tues–Sun. 1 p.m., also Sat, and Sun. 3 p.m.) \ Designed by Oscar Murray, Christ Church Cranbrook has one of the most lavishly ornamented ecclesiastical interiors in North America. While its woodcarvings, stained glass, and mosaics are contemporary with the 1920S construction of the Episcopal church, primarily English gothic in style, many of the objects are centuries-old treasures found by the Booths in their travels. (470 Church Rd.,  644-5210; weekdays 9 a.m.–5 p.m. unless services are underway).
WHERE TO STAY
Located in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood, former home of General Motors’s world headquarters, the Hotel St. Regis, which has just become a Holiday Inn, once catered to the GM crowd. Now that GM has moved downtown, the Holiday Inn’s 224 rooms are open to other corporate travelers and tourists. Renovated last year, the hotel has all-new furniture and is convenient to many of the city’s attractions (3071 W. Grand Blvd.,  873-3000, doubles from $125). \ For an upscale experience, the Ritz-Carlton, Dearborn, has the ambience of a turn-of-the century English manor house, with marble, crystal chandeliers, custom fabrics and china, and works by European artists from the 18th through early 20th centuries (300 Town Center Dr.,  441-2000, singles from $295). \ After exploring the boutiques and galleries of suburban Birmingham, visit the 150-room Townsend Hotel, which offers four-poster beds, marble baths, and Aveda amenities. High tea is served in the lobby Tuesday through Saturday (100 Townsend,  642 -7900, doubles from $295).
For a corned-beef sandwich, check out Eph McNally’s in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood (1300 Porter St.,  963-8833). The deli seats 27 and is known for its quirky displays of metal lunch boxes and board games from the 1960s and ’70s. \ For more lavish dining and a wonderful view of the Detroit River and skyline, chow down at the Rattlesnake Club (300 River Place Dr.,  567-4400). Housed in an old pharmaceutical factory, the restaurant is known for freshwater lake perch sauteed with lemon caper sauce, rack of Michigan lamb with yellow corn polenta, and white chocolate ravioli dessert. The who’s who of Detroit can be spotted at Intermezzo (1435 Randolph,  961-0707). Located in the Harmonie Park neighborhood, Intermezzo serves Italian dishes with American flair in a Soho-style atmosphere. Try the lamb chops, beef tenderloin, or broiled salmon.
The shops of downtown’s Broadway-Randolph district are the place to find cutting-edge designer clothes. Check out Serman’s collection of men’s suits in shades of lime, tangerine, cherry red, or royal blue, with shoes to match (1238 Randolph St.,  964-1335). \ For a uniquely Detroit shopping experience, head to Pewabic Pottery (10125 E. Jefferson,  822-0954). Operating out of a Tudor-revival residence since 1907, Pewabic is one of only three Arts and Crafts-era potteries still open nationwide; you can watch the artists at work before buying their wares. \ Browse through the Detroit Antiques Mall (828W. Fisher Freeway,  963-5252), located in a converted buggy factory, where visitors can find architectural items such as glass and brass doorknobs or light fixtures from the 1880s to the 1920s.