There’s an often overlooked perk of living in Detroit that most people forget: the ability to flee the country in minutes.
And even if you aren’t running from the law, it’s nice to have the option of hopping in your car and setting foot on international soil on the slightest whim.
While there’s no shortage of things to do in Detroit (more on that soon), the city across the river, Windsor, is also deserving of a visit.
For one, Canadians are the nicest freaking people around, especially our friends Kristi, an incredible photographer, and Greg, a longtime radio personality and DJ. For two, Kristi and Greg are the proud parents of not one, but two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, which means they are pretty much Penelope’s relatives.
Here’s Katie with their ruby, Ruby:
Unfortunately, Kristi and Greg can’t be your personal tour guides, too (or can they?), so here’s what a sample night out might look like.
From Detroit, you’ve got two options: The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and The Ambassador Bridge.
Moneywise, both will cost you about $5. The bridge, however, will also cost you a little piece of your soul, as it is privately owned by Detroit’s own real-life version of Mr. Burns, Matty Moroun. (We made the mistake of listening to our GPS rather than our hearts on our way home and accidentally took the evil route back.)
What you’ll need
Unless you are from Michigan and own an enhanced driver’s license, you’ll need to bring your passport to cross the border.
If you happen to be traveling with your dog, as we were, you’ll also need a copy of your pup’s rabies vaccination certificate.
The border guards will ask you all kinds of questions: Why are you coming to Canada? How long will you be staying? Are you bringing any guns, knives, bombs, or other weapons? (They’ll try to slip that in coolly.) Don’t be intimidated or nervous. Just answer their questions patiently and they’ll usually let you through without much hassle.
Where to eat
Windsor is known for its Little Italy, dubbed Via Italia. What it’s not known for (at least not yet), is its soul food.
That’s unfortunate, because Windsor is home to Sweet T’s Soul Cookin’, which, in turn, is home to some of the best damn chicken & waffles this side of the Mason-Dixon line.
Also, Sweet T’s has some incredible jalapeno cornbread (below left) and grit fritters (below right).
And, poutine (fries topped with gravy and cheese curds) with crispy fried chicken skin. We’re not even big poutine fans, but this stuff had us saying “holy shit.”
And you can slather everything in Sassy Sauce.
The interior is really interesting, with a kind of slatted-wood wall extension that’s designed to make the room look even taller than it is.
Where to drink
Head a little closer to the City Centre (those Canadians and their funny spellings!) and drop by the Manchester Pub.
This place is billed as “a U.K. pub with a Canadian twist.” (Hint: The twist is that it’s located in Canada.)
It’s a comfortable bar with a hip, young crowd. Then again, considering Canada’s lower drinking age (19), pretty much all the crowds at the downtown bars tend to skew a little younger than those across the river.
What to see
Finish the night wandering the streets (they’re much safer than Detroit’s) and enjoying the graffiti and well-kempt urban environment.
Where to stay
We can’t claim to be experts for accommodations in Windsor, because we just stay with our super-friendly Canadian friends. For budget travelers, there’s the University Place hostel, with rates as low as $39 per night.
If gambling is your thing, or you just want something a little classier with a view of the city and/or the Detroit skyline, check out Caesars Windsor Casino Hotel.
Things to do other than drink, eat, sleep, and wander around
Yeah, this post is titled “A Night Out in Windsor,” but if your night out is raucous enough to warrant an overnight room, then you might want some ideas for the next morning.
According to Kristi, five-pin bowling is a thing in Windsor. (I looked it up; apparently it’s a thing throughout Canada.) If you do this, it might be a good idea to befriend a Canadian on the street and then rope them into the game so they can explain the ins and outs. This guy, Bowling Joe, can probably help.
If participation isn’t your thing (more of a watcher, eh?), then you can walk on over to Odette Sculpture Park and marvel at the public art.
Or just head back across the river to Detroit, where we can point you to things to do with some authority.