Third Coast Daily
Robert Bundy -- July 2013
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To invent anew
Detroit’s downtown has a relatively compact center, so you can walk to the pleasant new Riverwalk in just a few minutes. You’ll pass some wonderful architecture as well as bountiful urban gardens that were empty lots not too long ago.
Greektown, the theatre district, and such nightspots as Cliff Bells jazz club lie within an enjoyable walk from the Book’s door. Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, is only half a dozen blocks away, too. But one of the simplest, smallest, and most charming ways you can begin to turn your assumptions about Detroit on their head is by walking over two blocks to Camp Martius Park to enjoy their beach. Yes — beach.
Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit where they dumped a ton of white sand and created a dry beach next to an adjacent fountain, and now it's a hangout for people to grab a beach chair and buy cold Detroit-brewed craft beers and even Michigan wines from the pavilion.
The 2.5-acre Camp Martius Park, a tree-lined intersection of six streets at the very heart of downtown, is regularly home to concerts, theater performances and a youthful neighborhood crowd. The Woodward Fountain splashes coordinated geysers of water into the air. A forest of green umbrellas and café tables surround the Fountain Bistro. Most remarkably, this downtown urban park includes a white sandy beach dotted with colorful beach chairs. The beach concession stand sells ice-cold Michigan beers, wines and tasty light fare. Moms park themselves in the multi-colored lounge chairs while their little ones make castles in the sand. This incongruous beach is a brilliant and simple idea, and it works. They dumped a couple of tons of pure white sand into a civic plaza, threw in a few dozen beach chairs and—presto—a new living room blossoms amongst the skyscrapers. And in winter, the fountain is transformed into a skating rink, for four seasons of enjoyment.
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