In the Garrett household, there is one activity that you can guarantee will have 100% group participation: going for an impromptu drive around the city.

Growing up, my parents relished the opportunity to use their downtime to take the family out for a ride. There is still one route that hasn’t gotten old after 25 years: head up to Michigan Avenue to Rosa Parks Blvd, then take that winding road past the post office until you see what used to be the Joe Louis Arena. We would take the road along the riverfront, pass the Ren Cen on our way up to Jefferson, and finally arrive at Belle Isle to do a couple of laps. Whenever I need to clear my head, I’ll still take the long way to Belle Isle–what I believe to be is a quintessential Detroit pilgrimage.

Since I’ve had my own fair share of adventures, going for a ride includes going to a few new places that my family left out. Nowadays, I’ve taken to exploring Detroit’s historic neighborhoods for a fresh dose of inspiration. Whether I am cruising through Boston-Edison, Indian Village, Palmer Woods, or Sherwood Forest, the majesty of the architecture just gets me every single time; I always notice something new. Driving among Detroit’s historic neighborhoods fills me with nostalgia for a Detroit that I never knew, for the people that shaped this city for better and for worse.


Historic home in Palmer Woods designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

My parents never took me for drives in any of those neighborhoods, I never knew they existed. Back in high school, I never dreamt that Detroit had mansions or generational wealth. I had only spent time in Southwest Detroit and was vaguely familiar with the west side of the city, and there were certainly no mansions to speak of anywhere I had seen (honorable mention to Hubbard-Richard in Southwest Detroit though!). I started to make friends all over the city in college, and I slowly learned about Detroit’s history first-hand and got introduced to all of these areas in the city.

I remember the first time I took my mom over to Sherwood Forest to get lost in the winding roads while we house-watched. That was when I found out that my mom, as a lifetime Southwest Detroiter, had never been to any of the historic neighborhoods in Detroit herself. From then until now, I’ve resolved to take her along and show her all of the gems that I unearth here in the city. Even though we don’t live in the same house anymore, I’ll still call her to say, “Let’s go for a ride.”


This blog was contributed by: Jackquelyn Garrett. Add me on LinkedIn!