It's no secret that one of Canada’s greatest pastimes is hockey. A step above that is playing outdoor hockey during the rigorous winter season. Go one step further and you have the NHL Winter Classic, an annual outdoor hockey game that takes place at a different North American sports’ stadium each year on New Year’s Day.

This year’s edition featured the Detroit Red Wings hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium, home of the University of Michigan Wolverines Football Team. Being a big hockey fan I made the cross-Southern Ontario drive along the 401 through Windsor and into Detroit for the festivities, and they did not disappoint.

detroit_fist_statue

Over 100,000 hockey fans packed into the “Big House” to witness the original 6 match-up between the Leafs and Red Wings. With temperatures well below zero temperatures and flurries flying throughout the game, the stage was set for an instant classic. As amazing as the hockey game was, the biggest takeaway for me from the trip was witnessing the spirit of Detroit. Detroit does not receive nearly enough credit for how beautiful and hospitable a city it truly is. There are obvious signs of economic struggles, but there is so much more to Michigan’s largest cit

Everywhere we travelled to within and around Detroit, we were constantly greeted by extremely friendly people. People were always willing to help with directions to different attractions, lend suggestions for favorable restaurants, but more impressively, always willing to chat and learn about our purpose for visiting their hometown.

The downtown area has several eye catching structures, including the above-ground public transportation system, the newly updated convention center, and the famous Memorial for Joe Louis statue (his fist suspended from a pyramid structure) are definitely worthy of a photo or two. The waterfront, which boasts a great view of the Windsor skyline, adds to the city's appeal.

                I will not downplay that fact that this city has had challenging times, but if tourists around the world, specifically in Canada and other parts of the United States, could look beyond headlines they'd see a city with a lot to offer. There are great museums, including the Henry Ford Museum, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and the Detroit Institute of the Arts, that offer a glimpse into the city’s industrious and creative history. The Eastern Market—home to many shops, boutiques, and butchers—is another great spot to experience the diversity this city has to offer.

                Detroit is a city full of character, history, architecture, great people, and some impressive sports franchises. At Brightspark, we pride ourselves on being able to customize tours, and we think Detroit deserves a look, either as a stopover to another location (Chicago, for example) or as a destination itself. Personally, I loved my trip and am looking forward to my next trip to "Hockeytown!"

Photo courtesy of atlasobscura.com.

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