The first time New Yorker Lauren Bush Lauren went to Detroit was a few years ago, on a trip with her husband and friends. “We had a great time being tourists,” she said in an email interview, explaining how the group jumped between the city’s shops, historical sites and cocktail spots. “Detroit exudes character, from its fascinating industrial heritage to its current creative and entrepreneurial community.”
The city’s rich history and vibrant spirit is something that inspires the founder and CEO of Feed, which has provided over 100 million meals to children around the world. In addition to her company’s popular tote bags and pouches, Feed also recently launched a series of travel-themed items, which includes a Detroit chainstitch patch in homage to the city’s status as the birthplace of Motown Records. (Each patch provides three school meals to children in need.) Detroit is also where Bush Lauren goes to feel recharged: “Although the city has definitely had tough times, I feel a sense of inspiration whenever I visit.”
Where to stay
In the fall, Detroit-based luxury goods brand Shinola (known best for their watches, Bush Lauren’s favorite splurge in the city) will open the Shinola Hotel, a 130-room boutique accommodation set in an refurbished department store. It is located on Woodward Avenue, which used to be the city’s central commercial thoroughfare. And though Bush Lauren hasn’t stayed there yet, she plans to once it opens. “I am sure it will be beautifully and authentically done,” she said.
Where to eat
Bush Lauren likes to grab brunch and dinner at Selden Standard, a shared small-plates spot that prioritizes local and fresh ingredients, mostly cooked in their wood-fired oven. In the morning, that means homemade pastries and shakshouka, and at supper, lots of roasted veggies (Bush Lauren is a vegetarian) and sweet corn casonsei.
Where to drink
For a late-night sip and some jazz, she heads to Cliff Bell’s, a legendary music club that’s been playing toe-tapping tunes and slinging classic cocktails (like the Sazerac and the Painkiller) since the 1930s. Today, the bar hosts the area’s rising modern jazz stars.
Where to have an afternoon adventure
For a dose of history, Bush Lauren has a few faves: “The Piquette Avenue Plant is amazing, to see where the first Model T was built,” she said. And then she always makes a trip to the Motown Museum, which is housed in songwriter Berry Gordy’s original recording studio and home.
Another stop on her history tour? “One of my favorite parts of [my first trip] was our visit to the Henry Ford Museum,” she said. “It houses some of the most important artifacts from American history, from Thomas Edison’s laboratory to an original copy of the 13th Amendment.”
Where she goes to shop
“West Canfield Street, where Shinola is, has great stores to stroll and shop,” Bush Lauren said. She wanders into family-owned Will Leather Goods for their array of buttery-soft pouches, wallets, bags and journals. Then it’s off to City Bird for local art and Michigan-centric gifts, like Motown-themed cards and Detroit coney dog sweatshirts emblazoned with the city’s favorite chili-topped hot dog.
How she gives back
“Forgotten Harvest is an amazing organization working to fight hunger in Detroit,” she said. In fact, in 2017 some of Bush Lauren’s Detroit friends came together to host a Feed Supper at Fair Lane, the former estate of Clara Ford and Henry Ford, to help benefit Forgotten Harvest. Detroit visitors can also volunteer for a day of harvesting at the organizations 95-acre farm one hour outside the city.