As the local arrangement chair for the 2011 North American Meeting of the North American Catalysis Society, let me be the first to welcome you to the great city of Detroit! During your stay, your focus will most likely be on the exciting and stimulating technical program and exhibition. However, while you are in the city, it is my hope that you will also have a chance to experience the best of what the city of Detroit and southeast Michigan has to offer. So, I am writing this guide to help you--and any guests that may be attending the conference with you--get the most out of your visit. For those attendees that will be traveling with a spouse, family, or other visitors, please feel free to visit the Spouse Room, located in the Raphael Room on Level 4 of the Detroit Marriott Hotel. Coffee and potential sightseeing itineraries will be provided along with the chance to network and coordinate with other conference guests. For a detailed Google Map of each area described below, simply click on the heading of each section.
For a printable PDF file summarizing the recommended site-seeing activities and restaurants mentioned below, including the Detroit "Must List" and maps, please click here.
Most conference attendees
will arrive via the
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne
County Airport (DTW),
located 21 miles to the west of downtown
As mentioned above, the conference itself will
be held at the
Detroit Marriott Hotel located
Renaissance Center in the heart of downtown
As I mentioned above, the conference location this year is located mere feet away from the Detroit River. A great way to get a beautiful view of both the cities of Detroit and Windsor is to take a ride on the Detroit Princess Riverboat, docked just a short walk downriver from the Renaissance Center. The Detroit Princess has regularly scheduled two to two and a half hour lunch and dinner cruises on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of NAM week which include a meal, live Motown entertainment, and a cash bar. Cruises on the weekend before and after the conference are also available. The NAM Organizing Committee has secured a 25% discount to all NAM attendees who use the promotion code “NAM22DET” when ordering tickets either online or over the phone at (877) 338-2628. Tickets can be purchased the day of the cruise, but purchasing a day or so in advance is recommended.
If you prefer to enjoy the river on foot, the
few blocks away from the
Just a block north on Woodward is the
Building, an Art Deco-inspired skyscraper, with a lavishly
decorated lobby that cannot be missed. The
The People Mover
Many of Downtown Detroit’s other must-see points of interest can also be reached on foot, but the Detroit People Mover is often a much faster and more convenient option. The People Mover is a 2.9 mile elevator train loop with 13 stations serving Downtown Detroit. The People Mover currently runs in the clockwise direction and completes a full loop in approximately 13 minutes. Each ride on the People Mover costs 50 cents. One of the 13 People Mover Stations is conveniently located on the north side of the RenCen.
Grand Circus Park Area (Comerica Park and Ford Field)
A 7 minute ride on the People Mover from the
RenCen will bring you to the
From the Grand Circus Park area, an additional 3-minute ride on the People Mover will bring you to perhaps the most famous block in downtown Detroit: Greektown. For those who enjoy gambling, the Greektown Casino offers hours of entertainment. However, any visit to Detroit can’t be complete without sampling an order of Saganaki at one of the many Greek restaurants on Monroe street. Pegasus Taverna and the New Parthenon are two of my favorites. Opa! While you are there, make sure to grab dessert or a snack at the Astoria Pastry Shop. Not in the mood for Greek food? Food with a Cajun flair can be found at Fishbone’s. For fine dining, try Mosaic on the corner of Monroe and Brush. Once you are finished with your lunch or dinner in Greektown, the People Mover will return you to the RenCen in just 2-3 minutes.
In addition to the options listed above, several other fine dining options are available near the RenCen. Opus One is an excellent option located just two blocks north of the RenCen on Larned between Beaubien and St. Antoine. Another delicious option is Michael Symon's Roast, located in the Book Cadillac Detroit Hotel, just a block from the Michigan Avenue People Mover stop. The MGM Grand Casino also offers several excellent options such as Bourbon Steak, Saltwater, and the Wolfgang Puck Grille. The MGM Grand can best be accessed via a short taxi ride from the RenCen.
Jefferson Avenue (Pewabic Pottery and the Edsel and Elenor Ford House)
While there is plenty to see and do downtown,
Following Jefferson Avenue for three and a half
miles to the east will bring you to
Pewabic Pottery, which has
been producing handcrafted tiles and pottery in Detroit since 1903
(Open Monday to Friday 10AM to 4PM, free of charge). Many of
the tiles decorating the
Midtown (Detroit Institute of Arts and Cultural Center)
Woodward Avenue to the north will bring you to the Midtown
Several lunch and dinner options are located
5-6 blocks south of the DIA. For a casual lunch, I recommend
Union Street Saloon,
the brewpub Traffic Jam
& Snug, or the Cass Cafe
(both of which also offers several vegetarian options).
Another great option for Michigan Beer is across the street from
Traffic Jam at Motor City
Brewing Works. If you would like to try an example of some
of the city's original French influences, try lunch at
Good Girls Go to
Paris Crepes, which also has several vegetarian options. Want an
amazing afternoon snack? Check out my favorite bakery,
Avalon, located on Willis. You won’t be sorry! For
fine dining in the area, try the
Whitney or drive back down
Woodward to the Atlas
Global Bistro. Want more laid-back entertainment? How
about bowling at
New Center (Motown Historical Museum, AKA Hitsville, U.S.A.)
Continuing north on Woodward Avenue from Midtown will bring you to an area of the city known as the New Center. This area is best known for the beautiful Fisher Building, an ornately designed Art Deco skyscraper and theatre. The third location of the Pure Detroit store is located inside the Fisher Building. Located about a mile west of the Fisher Building is the Motown Historical Museum, otherwise known as “Hitsville U.S.A,” the original home of legendary Motown Records. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 to 6:00 PM for an admission of $10. While in the New Center area, an excellent fine dining option is Cuisine, near the Fisher Building.
Interested in taking a walk on the wild side? Located ten miles north of the New Center Area just north of I-696 is the Detroit Zoo (admission for adults is $12). The Zoo is currently home to almost 7,000 creatures and features the Arctic Ring of Life, North America’s largest polar bear exhibit. Make sure to also check out the Australian Outback, Asian forest, American grasslands, and the African forest exhibits. You may even get a chance to feed the giraffes at the African grasslands exhibit or to feed the penguins at the Penguinarium. While in the area, make sure to explore some of Detroit’s best brewpubs including Woodward Avenue Brewers in Ferndale, Bastone Brewery (famous for its Belgian style beers), Royal Oak Brewery, and Lily's Seafood Grill and Brewery, all located in nearby Royal Oak. Have a preference for wine? Check out Vinotecca, also in Royal Oak. If you want to try Detroit’s best microbrewery (in this local arrangements chairperson’s humble opinion) drive 10 miles to the east of the Zoo on I-696 and check out Dragonmead. Create your own sampler out of a selection of their over 40 beers on top. Erik the Red and Final Absolution Belgian Trippel can’t be missed.
Corktown (Slow’s BBQ)
Located about 2 and half miles to the west of the RenCen on Michigan Ave is perhaps my favorite place in eat in the city of Detroit. Slow’s BBQ opened a few years ago near the site of the now demolished Tiger’s Stadium and has rapidly become one of the city’s worst kept secrets. If better barbeque exists north of the Mason-Dixon Line, I would love to try it. During peak times, the wait for a table can be well over an hour, but the macaroni and cheese sides alone are well worth it. While you wait for a table, have a Michigan microbrew at the bar. You’ll thank me later.
For the 22nd NAM opening reception, you will be able to tour the world famous Henry Ford Museum. While you are sure to be impressed by the indoor portion of the museum, perhaps the most impressive portion of the Henry Ford is Greenfield Village, a 240-acre complex of over 100 historical buildings which were moved to the property from their original locations with the intent of capturing how Americans lived and worked over the last 300 years. Notable buildings include Thomas Edison's Menlo Park laboratory, the Wright brothers' bicycle shop, and Henry Ford's prototype garage. The Village is open seven days a week from 9:30 AM to 5 PM for an admission of $22. While visiting the Village, also make sure to take the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, which departs from the Henry Ford Museum. Tours cost $15 and run every 20 minutes from 9:20 AM to 3 PM Monday through Saturday. While visiting Dearborn, make sure to take advantage of some of the best Middle Eastern food in the Midwest, such as Amani's Lebanese Restaurant on Michigan Avenue. If you are just in the mood for a burger, try Miller's Bar, voted the best hamburger in the Detroit area.
If you have time for a day trip and want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, consider a drive to the lovely rural village of Frankenmuth, Michigan’s Little Bavaria, located 90 miles to the north of Downtown. Take a stroll or a horse-drawn carriage ride down the quant village streets. Enjoy a family-style chicken dinner at Zehnder’s. Find the perfect souvenir at one of the many unique shops. You can even try another local beer at the Frankenmuth Brewery. While in the area, make sure to stop at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, the self proclaimed World’s Largest Christmas Store, and browse through over 7 acres of Holiday merchandise. If you saved some additional space in your suitcase, stop by the Birch Run Premium Outlets (Michigan's largest outlet mall) and shop ‘til you drop at the collection of 145 stores.
For those visitors who are interested in a more refined shopping experience, you may want to explore The Somerset Collection, located in Troy, MI, 21 miles north of Ren Cen, just off I-75. The Somerset Collection contains over 180 stores including Nordstrom's, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Barneys Co-op, and Crate and Barrel spread over three stories of shopping bliss.
you brought your passport, you may want to consider exploring
Windsor, Ontario, Detroit’s sister city across the Detroit River.
Detroit is the only city in the US where you must travel south in
order to enter Canada. There are two ways to enter Windsor
from Detroit. Located immediately to the west of the Ren Cen
is the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel,
and located about a mile to the east is the
Once in Windsor, explore the many parks and gardens located on the
waterfront, including the
Odette Sculpture Park,
Coventry Gardens which features the
Charles Brooks Memorial Peace Fountain. Gambling
enthusiasts may also enjoy
Caesars Windsor Casino, also located on the waterfront.
Other points of interest include the
Art Gallery of Windsor
Queen Elizabeth II Sunken Garden located at Jackson Park.
While the majority of the fine dining options in the area are on the Detroit side of the river, Windsor does offer inexpensive and authentic Chinese and Thai food at May Wah Inn Chinese Cuisine and the Basil Court Restaurant, both located near the Riverfront. Sir Cedric's Fish & Chips and Spago Trattoria E Pizzeria also offer great seafood and authentic Italian food, respectively.
Well, that about does it. I hope this guide will help make your stay in Detroit a week to remember. Safe travels and I look forward to meeting you in “the D"!
Paul T Fanson
NAM22 Local Arrangements Chairman=