As the sun rises and sets on the shore of Lake St. Clair, it illuminates a historic mansion surrounded by 87 acres of gardens, meadows, and lagoons. The light catches the elm and sugar maple trees, blue lilacs, and other local florae, treating guests to the same idyllic views that Edsel Ford—the only son of Henry Ford—used to enjoy with his wife, Eleanor Clay Ford, and their children. Built in 1929 and now open to the general public, this historic house and its surrounding grounds give visitors a glimpse into the everyday lives of one of America's most prominent families.
Edsel and Eleanor Ford were renowned for their progressive design tastes and support of the arts, and these forward-thinking sensibilities are readily apparent throughout their Gaukler Point home. Detroit architect Albert Kahn chose to characterize it as a cozy escape from city life by recreating the aesthetic of a Cotswold village cottage, complete with stone roofs, vine-covered walls, and lead-paned windows. But the Ford's decidedly modern style is still visible—for every antique and stuffed and mounted Model T, guests can also spot the sleek, custom-made furnishings and leather-paneled walls recommended by interior designer Walter Teague. The acres outside those walls were shaped with equal care by renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen, who chose to accentuate the area's natural beauty without giving any indication of manmade interference.
Of course, the Ford House would be incomplete without the invention that made the Ford name—the automobile. Reflecting that legacy and Edsel's own passion for designing vehicles, the garage houses a 1934 Brewster Town Car, a 1938 Lincoln K Brunn Brougham, and a 1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet, each of which was customized to Edsel's specifications. The crown jewel of the exhibited collection—when it is not being displayed at car shows and museums across the country—is Edsel's treasured 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster, a vehicle that he personally spent years conceptualizing and then refining into a sleek, aluminum-bodied roadster.
Described by the Wall Street Journal as "probably America's most visitor-friendly art museum," the Detroit Institute of Arts has been building one of the top six collections in the country since it was founded in 1885. Along the way, the institute acquired standout pieces such as Vincent Van Gogh's Self Portrait, the first Van Gogh painting to enter a public museum's collection in the United States. Former director William Valentiner commissioned Diego Rivera to paint the world-renowned Detroit Industry mural cycle in an indoor courtyard—a more lasting tribute to the beauty of labor. In total, more than 60,000 works of prehistoric, modern, contemporary, and multinational art have found a home within the museum's more than 100 galleries.
The institute’s broad range of art comprises not only American and European works but also significant pieces of African, Asian, and Native American origin. An auditorium and recital hall also make the institute a haven for film and live music on Friday and Sunday. Guests can even attend free-with-admission drop-in workshops to make their own unique works of art.
Housed in an open, peaceful space, Serendipity Yoga offers a variety of classes for yoga enthusiasts or for those hoping to increase flexibility without the negative back talk of a medieval stretcher. Vinyasa classes focus on the inhalation of oxygen with each movement, creating a coordinated dance between breathing and posing. Traditional ashtanga yoga enhances concentration and calm with a series of linked postures, whereas hot vinyasa yoga places students in a heated room to release toxins, increase flexibility, and keep ice-cream trucks in business all winter long. Because there are no prerequisites for any of Serendipity's classes, the expert instructors will tailor each movement to the individual student's level. Check out the schedule for class times.
At Universal Lanes, digital scoreboards keep track of points as players strive for strikes in regular or glow-in-the-dark lighting. Between games, bowlers can meander over to the lounge and rack up pool balls or order pretzels, soft-serve ice cream, or pizza from the grill. They can also perch at the stone bar to sip beer while telling a tall tale about bowling a 300 with a very ripe cantaloupe.
What was once the meeting spot for the Saint Andrew's Society of Detroit now hosts the hottest live acts and dance parties, including performances by Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Iggy Pop. The Main Ballroom sports a tricked-out sound-and-lighting system, a VIP balcony, a hardwood dance floor, and a bar more than 35 feet long. The lower level of The Shelter lives up to its name, as red curtains and a cabaret offer an escape to mellower pastures. Upstairs at The Burns Room, patrons chill out on lounge furniture under chandeliers while savoring views of Congress and the RenCen.