The Detroit RiverWalk + Cullen Plaza = I’m in LOVE!
Somehow I made it all the way to my 34th birthday without traversing the Detroit RiverWalk. It had been on my list of to-visits since the inception of 100 Places in the D in 2014. I’d walked the Windsor side of the Detroit River a number of years ago. I’d resolved to experience the Detroit side this summer . . . and summer came and went.
It was looking yet again like the Detroit RiverWalk would be relegated to the ever-elusive “next year.” And then Destiny intervened: an Eastern Market-themed cycling tour I’d signed up for through Wheelhouse Detroit started and ended at the bike shop’s Detroit location, which happened to be based along the riverfront in Cullen Plaza. The RiverWalk jaunt was HAPPENING! And it was happening on my birthday, which made it extra special.
What a treasure this slice of Detroit is! Until my visit, I had no idea just how gorgeous this area along the riverfront is, landscaped to feel like a natural oasis, a retreat from urban life.
This is one of those free public resources that begs to be used. And people were using it on the afternoon I was there: after furious bouts of rain throughout the morning, it had cleared up, and people of all ages were out walking, biking, chatting, playing, and enjoying the riverfront bounty. It was wonderful to see all of these folks mixing and mingling together, sharing this space.
Imagine the scene, one of gardens and benches and wild grasses waving in the wind; cyclists and scooters and dog walkers; families and elderly friends and pensive souls staring off across the water. See kiddos scrambling around inside a giant-sized sandbox, a captivating boardwalk carousel, display boards highlighting wildlife that call this area home.
And see the Detroit River, its majestic blue-green surface. I was surprised by how magnetizing I found its pull, how soothing its effect was on me. Maybe there’s something to be said for the school of thought touting the benefits of being around large bodies of water.
Not only does Cullen Plaza foster the above-mentioned splendor, it also offers these amenities: a playground; public restrooms; concession stands during warm-weather months (the carousel is also in operation during warm weather only, according to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy website); and the pièce de résistance: free lot parking.
And as mentioned, Cullen Plaza is home to the Wheelhouse Detroit bike shop – which in addition to offering guided tours, rents out bikes that can be ridden along the RiverWalk and elsewhere.
Try as I might here, the grandeur of the Detroit RiverWalk and Cullen Plaza can’t be adequately outlined in writing; both demand an in-person experience. Summer is the obvious time to visit the riverfront, but I’ll advocate for an autumn-time drop-in: the brooding beauty of the season is sure to provide a striking back-drop to the already stunning landscape.
1340 Atwater St.
Detroit, MI 48207