Since this trip was only an overnighter, I am going to try and cram everything into one post, which will inevitably make this long. I am also going to avoid adding pictures at this time.
Several months ago my wife had purchased a Groupon for The Met Hotel located in Troy, Michigan. The hotel is shaped in the letter C and was originally the Chrysler corporate offices. Today, it is a renovated hotel with 119 rooms, several banquet/conference centers, an indoor pool and gym. The Groupon was a pretty amazing deal at $42 and included $12 towards breakfast. Since we are pretty much packed for our move, we decided to use the voucher this past weekend instead of sitting around for the weekend.
I thought it was fortunate that my wife was able to make a reservation for this past Saturday at the last minute, but luckily they were able to accommodate us. Since we really had no plans or goals for the trip, we decided we would go to Greenfield Village on Saturday, and then the Detroit Zoo and IKEA on Sunday. It was a short trip with the goal of just getting away from everything before our big week of closing on our dream home and moving.
We arrived to Greenfield Village shortly before noon on Saturday. The weather was perfect but fairly sunny, so we immediately made sure to coat the boys in suntan lotion. Before we left, I decided to check and see how much the AAA discount was at Greenfield, but found out they stopped accepting AAA several years ago. So the only known, by the ticket agent, discount was through the Detroit Entertainment book. Fortunately, it looked like Entertainment was running a special clearance deal of $8.99 plus free shipping, and we could print a 25% coupon valid for Greenfield. The problem was even though FatWallet and other sources said the price was $8.99 with free shipping, apparently the deal had ended the week prior and the price was now coming up $9.99 + $2.49 shipping. Therefore, the price of the Entertainment book did not warrant the purchase price because the 25% off discount would not have covered the cost of the book as it would when it was $8.99 plus free shipping. Therefore, I was able to located a corporate coupon valid for 10% off the cost of admission. Our total cost was $52.50, which was two adult tickets (minus 10% discount) + $5 for parking, and we pre-paid $8 for two adult tickets on the train.
I was at Greenfield Village several years earlier with my wife (then new girlfriend) and her family. Our young boys had never been to the park though, and we thought they would enjoy at least the old vehicles and of course the trains. My wife and I really enjoy the old-time feel of the park, and how everyone plays their characters really well. We were fortunate enough to catch and inning of a historic baseball game, which our sons really seemed to enjoy. The game was enjoyable to watch, most notably because they do not play with baseball mitts. I assumed the ball must have been softer than our current versions.
We walked around and saw all the different aspects of the park. We decided to eat lunch at the Eagle Tavern, which was a place I actually have been wanting to try my entire life. We ordered a pitcher of their cherry effervescing drink ($7). My wife had the Beefcakes with Onion Gravy ($12.50), I had the Fried Trout ($13), and we ordered the homemade mac and cheese for our oldest son. All of the food was excellent. We were served an assortment of breads, butter, and jam. In addition, we were given various types of pickled vegetables. I hate pickles, and really any type of raw vegetables; however, I tried them all because they were fantastic. I am not saying I am a convert now to raw or pickled vegetables; I am just saying they were rather good. Overall, our meal cost $43.50 including tax and tip.
After walking around all day in the heat, we rode the train as our last event for the day. Our oldest son just loves trains, so we were excited to let him ride it together. However, he reminds us just how little he still is because he does get scared of “big” things even though he knows what they are. In addition, it was well after nap time, so as we rode the train around the park, he fell asleep on my shoulder. Ahh, another one of those great dad moments!
After Greenfield Village, we headed to our hotel at The Met. When we arrived, we were given an executive king room, which featured an extra large room, king bed, sofa bed, and balcony. The hotel was well appointed and really nice. The pool was indoor and in really good condition compared to a lot of hotel pools.
Since it was in a business district, it felt like we were in an abandoned town because obviously all the office buildings were vacant on the weekend. However, pulling up and seeing a Ferrari parked out in front, as well as Mercedes Benz and BMW’s everywhere, we knew we made a good choice.
Following checking in and swimming, we all headed next door to Loccino for an Italian dinner. Again, pulling up and seeing several fancy cars in the parking lot made me feel like we made a good choice. Wow was I wrong. Let me preface by saying the staff and manager were excellent. I was just not impressed by the rather bland food.
I ordered a Filet Mignon pasta with a large assortment of vegetables including mushrooms, asparagus, peppers, and spinach. It was served in a cream sauce with linguini noodles. While the filet was very good and finely chopped, the meal overall had no flavor. I was completely baffled how a meal with lots of different ingredients could have very little flavor. Maybe I should have realized that though when the bread with dipping oil, balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese also had no flavor. Had I left my taste buds back at the hotel? My wife ordered the Pasta Al Pesto, which was decent, but again nothing to write home about (i.e. write a detailed blog post about). However, we both prefaced the meals with wedge salads, which were a different twist on the typical, and fairly good, although I forgot to tell the waitress to hold the egg. My fault. Total for the bill was $72 after tax and tip, and included our oldest son’s meal, and a drink for each of us.
Our Groupon included what we thought was a $12 credit towards breakfast; however, they gave us each a breakfast buffet voucher, good for $12 each. So we ate for free in the morning, plus tip. The meal was your typical hot breakfast with eggs, sausage, bacon, over-done potatoes, and I think it was french toast, plus a fruit bowl, cereals, and pastries. It hit the spot, but nothing impressive.
The following morning we headed to the Detroit Zoo and IKEA on our way home. It had been a year or two since we had been back to the Detroit Zoo, and it was extremely HOT. I have talked about this before, but one of the great advantages to getting a zoo membership is the reciprocal access to zoos around the country. In this case, the Detroit Zoo was 50% off, plus $5 for parking, so it cost us $17.
The most impressive part about the Detroit Zoo is always the polar bear exhibit. The bears have a gigantic outside area with multiple environments. In addition, the grounds are carefully broken up to experience seals and bears, yet you never really can tell how they do not interact with each other. Even in the underwater tunnel, the seals and bears appear to swim side-by-side, but never actually do. Beautiful display.
While the zoo does have some new construction going on, including a carousel, and they recently completed some great upgrades to the several eating venues, the zoo is still oddly configured. Most notably, there is a very long walk to the rear of the zoo. So the entire middle area beyond the penguin house and butterfly building, is large open expanses and gardens. They were very well presented, but it is awkward that there were no animals on the way back to the animals.
I always really enjoy seeing dated zoos under construction and updating their exhibits. The Detroit Zoo is really doing an excellent job of creating some fantastic exhibits, and we look forward to returning again in the future.
Ok, if you made it this far in my writeup, congratulations, because this one is LONG. I will be quick with the financial wrap-up.
The following is a summary of our expenses while in the Detroit region.
$42.00 – 1 Night at the Met (Troy, MI) via Groupon
~$60.00 – Gas, Tolls (does not include using one of our $40 Discover Shell gift cards)
$52.50 – 2 tickets to Greenfield Village, including parking
$17.00 – 2 tickets to Detroit Zoo, including parking
$173.65 – Meals, Beverages
$187.31 – IKEA*
$345.15 or $172.58/day (* IKEA amount not included in calculations)