Headed to the Motor City for the Final Four? No matter what your favorite team in the NCAAs, Detroit has something to offer. VisitDetroit.com's Renee Monforton dishes on the city's must-visit spots.
Detroit Science Center"After checking out a little ancient history, speed into the future to Star Trek: The Exhibition," Monforton says. "Visitors can walk around a replica of the original Enterprise's bridge and the transporter room." The science center also has tons of hands-on exhibits for kids, including the Rocket Laboratory and Lumenarium. 313-577-8400; detroitsciencecenter.org.
Detroit Institute of Arts"At the recently renovated and expanded art institute, don't miss the must-see American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell exhibit that features every Saturday Evening Post cover and a large number of Rockwell's exquisitely detailed paintings," Monforton says. "Another popular work of art is the famous Detroit Industry fresco cycle by Diego Rivera, which depicts the importance of industry to the city while surrounding visitors with vibrant color and bold forms." 313-833-7900; dia.org.
Motown Historical MuseumThere will be dancing in the street at this popular museum celebrating all things Motown (motor + town). "You'll stand in the spot where Motown greats like The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Diana Ross and the Supremes, among others, stood and recorded their hits," Monforton says. And she means that literally. The museum is housed in what used to be Hitsville USA, the birthplace of Motown Records. For those doing the math, this year marks Motown's 50th anniversary. 313-875-2264; motownmuseum.com.
The Henry Ford MuseumTake a short drive to Dearborn to see the bus made infamous by Rosa Parks, John F. Kennedy's presidential limousine, the Dymaxion House, Abraham Lincoln's chair and countless pieces of America's history. To focus more on the present and future, "watch as a Ford F-150 is built at the Ford Field Factory Tour and catch the newest DC Comics movie, Watchmen, on Michigan's largest IMAX screen," Monforton suggests. 800-835-5237; www.hfmgv.org.
MotorCity CasinoIf you tire of the odds against your sports team, check out one of the city's casinos: Greektown Casino, MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino. While each has a luxurious hotel and dining options, Monforton recommends MotorCity Casino's rooftop hot spot Iridescence, an AAA Four Diamond Award-winning restaurant. Down in the casino, video slots abound and standard games including poker, blackjack and craps can be played at the tables. 888-856-2145; motorcitycasino.com.
Palace of Auburn HillsSports fans who are looking to make the most of their weekend in Detroit are in luck. "Two of Detroit's five professional sports teams also will be in action Final Four weekend," Monforton says. If you're looking to check out a game other than basketball, the Detroit Red Wings play the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday. But if you're all about the hoops this weekend, get a taste of pro basketball as the Detroit Pistons take on the Charlotte Bobcats at the Palace of Auburn Hills. 248-377-0100; palacenet.com.
Detroit RiverfrontStop by the Detroit Riverfront for some serious off-court action. "The 2009 NCAA Men's Final Four weekend in Detroit wouldn't be complete without 'The Big Dance,' " Monforton says. "Three days of free musical concerts will take place, including performances by the Pussycat Dolls, Gavin DeGraw, Fergie, Staind, Gym Class Heroes, Jesse McCartney, N.E.R.D., Janelle Monáe, Keith Sweat and emcee Ryan Seacrest." Best part? The celeb-filled fest is free. The Cullen Family Carousel and the Wheelhouse Detroit bike rentals also will be open. 313-566-8200; ncaamarchmadness2009.com/mens/big_dance.aspx.
Official fan restaurantsDon't have a ticket to the game but still want to have the ultimate Final Four experience? "Fans can check out the game at the official fan gathering restaurants, each of which will 'adopt' fans from each of the Final Four teams during the weekend," Monforton says. Connecticut fans will be holding court at Hockeytown Café (313-965-9500), Tar Heels will be at Detroit Beer Co. (313-962-1529), Michigan State will be cheering from Cheli's Chili Bar (313-961-1700), and Villanova fans will meet at Bookies Tavern (313-962-0319).
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American HistoryThere's no shortage of museums in Detroit. Start with this one, where the permanent exhibit And Still We Rise: Our Journey through African American History and Culture shines a light on the men and women of Detroit who made a difference in civil rights. Also, "see 126 stunning and exact replicas of Tutankhamun's sacred and personal possessions in the exhibit Wonderful Things From the Pharaoh's Tomb," Monforton says. The museum currently has an exhibit dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., which intertwines works from every continent celebrating King's dream. 313-494-5800; maah-detroit.org.
Hoops City at Cobo CenterFor a day filled with basketball, bands and Bow Wow, Hoops City at Cobo Center is where you need to be, Monforton says. There are "basketball competitions, clinics, performances, photo ops, prizes, autograph sessions." Head here tonight for a mega-pep rally featuring the mascots and cheerleaders from each school, and watch the schools' pep bands duel it out in Battle of the Final Four Bands. ncaamarchmadness2009.com/mens/hoop_city.aspx