Detroit: Need to Know

Need to Know

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Arriving. If you're flying into town, you'll arrive at Detroit Metro Airport (code: DTW), an efficient, modern complex, whose North Terminal was added in 2008. The airport is about a 30-min. drive southwest of downtown Detroit, and nearly the same distance from Ann Arbor. Rent a car from here, or use a private car service such as Metro Car (800-456-1701), which advertises a one-way trip to downtown Detroit for $52; about $72 to the suburb of Royal Oak; and about $58 to Ann Arbor.

Getting Around. Metropolitan Detroit has a limited public transportation system of buses known as DDOT. So you'll need a car, especially to venture beyond Detroit's downtown; it's best to rent one at the airport, but you can also find a rental in town. Generally, you'll want to keep your car in a parking lot, not on the street.

Downtown, taxis are typically found only around stadiums, museums and hotels or other hotspots like the Westin Book Cadillac and Marriott Renaissance Center. Otherwise, you can use Detroit's monorail, the People Mover, to get between downtown destinations including the Rennaissance Center, Greektown and the Detroit Opera House. Or, for an alternative way to see the city in the summer and early fall, call Rickshaw Detroit at 866-461-3163.

Biking. Want to go motorless in the city? Good choice: Detroit is flat and eminently bikable. Check out the Dequindre Cut, a 1.35-mi. bike and jogging path drafted alongside train tracks and Lafayette Park, a large apartment and park complex just east of downtown Detroit. The development includes a set of post-World War II high-rise condo buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe, and the neighborhood is worth checking out on its own. Eventually, the Dequindre Cut will connect Detroit's Eastern Market section to the Detroit River. You can rent bikes at Wheelhouse Detroit, on the waterfront not far from the Renaissance Center; Wheelhouse also does tours.

Safety. Crime is an issue in most major cities. But Detroit's spasms of violence — in one case in May 2010, a grandmother cooking dinner was killed in her home by a stray bullet — are hard to ignore. Even if you've spent significant time in some of the world's toughest cities, you can't help but feel constantly on edge in Detroit. Your best defense is to use common sense: Keep your wits about you. Don't wander aimlessly through desolate neighborhoods. Park in a garage and never leave your car unlocked.

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