Friday, May 31, 2013

REVIEW: My "Day in the D" Behind the Scenes Tour of Metro Detroit #DayintheD

Feeding Jabari the Giraffe at the Detroit Zoo
Making my own Buddy's Pizza 
Behind the scenes at the Detroit Grand Prix
Dining at Brizola at Greektown Hotel and Casino
I experienced Metro Detroit like I never had before...

If you have read my blog for any amount of time, I hope that you have discovered that I love Detroit just as much as I love FREE. One reader once commented in an email to me that she thinks my blog is a "Love Letter to Detroit, wrapped in a layer of Freebies".  Well, I agree with that analogy because I love to feature all the cool things that are happening in Detroit, especially the free ones.

So when the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (aka VisitDetroit) invited me to be part of a blogger outing that featured visits to many of Detroit's treasured institutions, I jumped at the chance to be part of "A Day in the D."

The day was all about getting a behind the scenes, Detroit VIP experience like we had never had before, and that is just what we got - and more.

Dan Fuoco from the Metro Detroit Convention & Tours Bureau in front of our party bus
Our day started out at 7:45am (yep, we started nice and early) as we boarded our awesome party bus. You know the day is going to good when your bus has premium leather seats, gleaming hardwood floors and electrical outlets to charge your devices.

I could no believe all the awesome photos that I took at the Detroit Zoo
Detroit Zoo
Our tour began at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, MI where we fed Jabari the Giraffe (what a cutie), watched the Polar Bears in the Arctic Ring of Life, and walked in the Australian Outback Adventure exhibit with the many Red Kangaroos.

The Detroit Zoo sits on 125 acres and is the largest paid family attraction in Michigan with more than one million visitors annually. The Detroit Zoo is home to more than 3,300 animals of 280 species.

One fun fact that I learned on our tour is that Polar Bear hair is colorless - it appears white in the sun. And a Polar Bear's skin is actually black!!!

Detroit Zoo is open 362 days a year and only closes for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.  So come on down and say hello to Jabari the Giraffe and all the other animals.  Just make sure you follow the directions of the trained professional zoo guides so you will stay safe.

Detroit Zoo
8450 W. 10 Mile Rd.
Royal Oak, MI 48067

I spy the J.L. Hudsons building behind this Parade Company Big Head
Part of the new Detroit Women in Innovation exhibit at the Historical Museum
The NEW Kid Rock Music Lab follows the musical history of Detroit
An old favorite is still there on the museum lower level - The Glancy Trains!!!
I love this addition of the Uniroyal Tire Ferris Wheel in the Glancy Train exhibit
Detroit Historical Museum
Next we boarded our party bus to leave Royal Oak and travel back to Downtown Detroit to visit the Detroit Historical Museum.  When you want to visit of slice of Detroit from an earlier era, the Detroit Historical Museum is where you must go.

I had not been to the Detroit Historical Museum since it has undergone it's most recent make over. So I was very pleasantly surprised by all the changes.  Everywhere that you turn in the museum, there is something to see or do.

From Detroit's Music History in the Kid Rock Music Lab, to the Women in Innovation exhibit featuring Detroit's 1st African American City Council President Erma Henderson, to the Sanders confectionery store that has been added to the Streets of Old Detroit exhibit, to the Uniroyal Tire Ferris Wheel that is the Glancy Tires display, you will not want to miss one moment of your visit to the Detroit Historical Museum. So carve out an afternoon and come on down.

Did you know that admission to the Detroit Historical Museum is TOTALLY FREE!!!

Detroit Historical Museum
5401 Woodward Ave Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 833-1805

The original Buddy's Pizza location on Six Mile & Conant 
I got to make my own Buddy's Pizza!
It was yummy!!!
Buddy's"Born & Bred" in Detroit t-shirts are sold in Pizza boxes!
Buddy's Pizza
For lunch, we had the wonderful experience of going to the original Buddy's Pizza on Six Mile and Conant to make our own pizzas. The place was packed with customers who were chowing down on Buddy's yummy pizza and I could not wait to make my own.

We were all given the choice of making one of three Buddy's Pizzas -

- The Detroiter - Brick Cheese, Pepperoni on Top, Topped with Shaved Parmesan Cheese and Buddy's Sicilian Spice Blend with Buddy's Tomato Basil Sauce.

-Gourmet Veggie - Brick Cheese, Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Broccoli, Carrots and Diced Tomato with Buddy's Original Pizza Sauce.

-Chicken Fajita - Brick/Cheddar Cheese Blend, Southwest Seasoned Chicken, Chunky Picante Sauce, Roasted Peppers, Onions and Diced Tomato, Served with a side of Sour Cream.

Longtime Buddy's employees walked us through how to make the pizzas and then it was our turn. All three Buddy's Pizzas sounded great, but I chose to make my favorite - The Detroiter, which turned out delicious.

Before we left, I had to buy my son one of Buddy's Detroit themed t-shirts.  For $15, I bought a Black "Born & Bred in Detroit" t-shirt, which Buddy's sells in a pizza box!

Buddy's will be celebrating their 67th anniversary of making great pizza on June 23, 2013.  I know this because I was at the ceremony two years ago marking Buddy's 65th anniversary.

Buddy's Pizza is definitely one of the most beloved institutions in Metro Detroit.

Buddy's Pizza
17125 Conant St
Detroit, MI 48212

Hitsville USA - Motown Museum on West Grand Blvd.
Motown Museum
After lunch at Buddy's Pizza, we were scheduled to take a segway tour of Downtown Detroit with Segways2U Tours. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side.  Since rain and segways just don't mix, our party bus made a detour onto West Grand Blvd. so we could instead take a tour of the Motown Museum.

It had been years since I last visited the Motown Museum and we had the most wonderful guide who brought the magic of Motown alive to the entire group.

We learned that Barry Gordy was loaned $800 by his family to start Motown. Motown was actually one of more than 30 record labels that Barry Gordy owned. Owning multiple labels was a marketing tactic since at that the time, DJ's were only allowed to play 2 artists from a record label every hour. We learned about the echo chamber that was used to make the music more full bodied and we got to sing the Temptation's "Ain't to Proud to Beg" to try out the echo chamber for ourselves.

We also learned that Barry Gordy bought this particular house on Grand Blvd. because it was the only one in the neighborhood that had an attached garage. And that garage was turned into the single recording studio where all the Motown hits were made.

We saw all the group photos, gold records and even Michael Jackson's sequined glove from Motown 25. I know you must be wondering where all the photos are of all the amazing things we saw.  Well, the Motown Museum does not allow photography inside the building. So when you go, bring all your Motown questions. But leave your camera in the car.

Motown Museum
2648 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208
Phone: (313) 875-2264

Charles H. Wright Museum in Midtown
My tour guide giving us the history of the museum
Bust of museum founder Dr. Charles H. Wright.
Happy museum volunteers
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
After we left the Motown Museum, our party bus made a surprise stop in the Midtown District of Detroit at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.  This is another museum that I have been to times in the past, but never get tired of visiting.

Our tour guide gave us a little history of the museum, which was founded in 1965 by Detroit obstetrician Dr. Charles H. Wright. The museum moved to its current 125,000 square foot location in 1997.

We visited the museum's permanent exhibit - 'And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture" which charts the American American's journey from the continent of Africa, through the slave trade, the Middle Passage, to slavery, to Detroit's involvement in the Underground Railroad, Emancipation, to the Exodus from the South to Detroit for jobs, to the rise of the African American businesses in Detroit's Black Bottom and Paradise Valley areas, and up to present time.

Students can get a 1 year membership to the Charles Wright Museum of African American History for only $5!

Like the Motown Museum, the Charles Wright Museum also does not allow photography inside the exhibits.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 494-5800

Touring the Grand Prix media center in the Belle Isle Casino
We took the Party Bus on for spin on the track
We had fun touring the Detroit Grand Prix, even in the rain
Detroit Grand Prix #DetroitGP #TheInsideTrack
Just like drivers on race day, the rain was not going to stop us from taking a tour of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

We were given a tour of the media center that was set up in the Belle Isle Casino.  And it really does take a village to take care of the media, drivers, cars and all that goes with putting on an event the size of the Detroit Grand Prix.

From this Friday's FREE Prix Day with a FREE performance by Dwele to the rest of the weekend events, the Detroit Grand Prix is a huge undertaking for which the changes to Belle Isle started back in March!

The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix returns to the Motor City today through Sunday, June 2, 2013.  The event will feature the cars of the IZOD IndyCar Series, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the Pirelli World Challenge Championship Series.

From the races to the entertainment, there is lots to do at the Detroit Grand Prix.  There is even a social media challenge called #TheInsideTrack, which includes prizes, by downloading the Q-ItUp app for Android and Apple.

Whether you watch it on TV or in person, make sure to check out the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix this weekend.

Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
Belle Isle Park
6925 E Jefferson Ave
Detroit, MI 48218

Brizola's menus are iPads!!!
Group shot at our dinner table
We are ready for some fabulous food!
My "Goddess of the Hunt" cocktail - delicious!!!
My pork chops were excellent!  Brizola gets an A++++
Brizola in the Greektown Hotel & Casino
We ended our fabulous "Day in the D" event with dinner at Brizola in the Greektown Hotel and Casino. Brizola is located just off the casino floor and our table had a perfect view overlooking the main stretch of Greektown.

When you go to Brizola, bring your appetite (or get a doggy bag) because the food is delicious and there is plenty of it for your money.

The Snake River Farms Pork Chops with roasted lady apple and honey comb mustard glaze was wonderful! I like my meat well done and they cooked my chops perfectly through, but they were still tender.  And the Brizola Twice Baked Potato is big enough to feed three to four people.  Not only did I need a doggie bag, but I had enough for two more meals to eat at home.

We ended our meal with dessert and I throughly enjoyed the Lemon Tart with lemon custard, marshmallow meringue and berry coulis.

Reservations for Brizola can be made online through Open Table (

There is nothing like good food, a good view and good company. Brizola was the exclamation point on the end of a wonderful day.  My "Day in the D" could not have been any better!

Greektown Hotel & Casino
555 E Lafayette St, Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 961-2961

Here's to Detroit!


Disclosure: Event transportation, tours and meals were covered by the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

Special thanks to Verizon Wireless for loaning me a Verizon 4G LTE Samsung Galaxy Camera to document the day's events with awesome photos made possible with the camera's 21x zoom lens and Verizon's super fast 4G LTE upload to my social media accounts.  See all of my "Day in the D" photos on the Free Is My Life Flickr Account.

All opinions are my own.

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FREEISMYLIFE June 2013 Calendar - Don't You Just Love FREE??

FREEISMYLIFE June 2013 Calendar - All the June FREE in 1 List...

Keep reading to see all the great May FREE and low cost events, deals, contests and more in Detroit and beyond...



Late Night Happy Hour at Bahama Breeze features 1/2 Priced Appetizers & Drink Specials every Sunday through Thursday from 9pm to close

DEAL: 99 Cent .COM Domain Registrations at GoDaddy with special offer link for a limited time

CONTEST: Northern California Mendocino County launches 31 Days of Travel Giveaways - ENDS 6/30

DEAL: Taco Bell $1 Happy Hour from 2-5pm Daily for a Limited Time

WIN $10,000 in prizes in the TownePlace Suites "Travel Turning Point" CONTEST - ENDS 9/1

FREE Microsoft YouthSpark Technology Summer Camps for Kids ages 8-13

FREE BCBSM Kids 'N Kicks Summer Walking Program at Fairlane Mall 6/7 - 8/16 - Dearborn - RSVP

CONTEST: Comerica Hatch Detroit $50,000 New Small Business Grant Competition - ENDS 7/13


6/01 - COUPON: 20% off Macy's Wow Pass - ENDS 6/2

6/01 - FREE Home Depot Kids Workshop 6/1 - Make a Lawn Mower Pencil Holder

6/01 - @McDonalds celebrates After Midnight Menu at 6/1-2 Event in Allen Park with 99 cent Big Macs & Prizes

6/02 - COUPON: 20% off Macy's Wow Pass - ENDS 6/2

6/02 - FREE Cooking Classes at Williams-Sonoma on Sundays in June - June 2 - WEEKNIGHT GRILLING

6/03 - FREE Dearborn Main Library Blockbusters Film Series - JUNE 3—LINCOLN (2012)

6/04 - COUPON: BOGO FREE KFC 2 Piece Boneless Combo Meal - ENDS 6/4

6/04 - Coming to DVD on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - Warm Bodies, Identity Thief

6/06 - DEAL: $3 Thursdays at TGI Fridays include $3 apps & $3 Drinks for a Limited Time

6/06 - COUPON: BOGO FREE Baskin Robbins Triple Vanilla Ice Cream Cones - ENDS 6/6

6/07 - FREE eBook listed TODAY and every week on the Nook Blog for Freebie Friday

6/07 - FREE Krispy Kreme Doughnuts on National Doughnut Day 6/7 #NationalDoughnutDay

6/07 - FREE Admission to Cranbrook Institute of Science after 5pm 6/7 - Bloomfield Hills

6/08 - FREE Lowes Build & Grow Clinic for Kids 6/8 - Make Monsters University Scarers

6/08 - June 8th is Lemonade Day in Metro Detroit!!!

6/09 - $5 Discount when you enter 3rd Annual Chris Smith Memorial 5K at @CedarPoint by 6/9

6/09 - FREE Cooking Classes at Williams-Sonoma on Sundays in June - GRILLING FOR A CROWD

6/10 - FREE Community Barbeque Event at Beans & Cornbread in Southfield 6/10 3-6pm

6/10 - FREE Dearborn Main Library Blockbusters Film Series - JUNE 10—LES MISERABLES

6/10 - 7-Eleven Offers FREE Snapple Iced Tea 6/10 - 6/15 for National Iced Tea Day #AWESUMMER - STARTS TODAY

6/11 - FREE Detroit Sports Commission Mascot Challenge Event at Campus Martius 6/11 12:30pm DOWNTOWN

6/11 - Coming to DVD on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - Oz the Great and Powerful, Snitch

6/12 - COUPON: 20% off Macy's Wow Pass - ENDS 6/12

6/13 - DEAL: $3 Thursdays at TGI Fridays include $3 apps & $3 Drinks for a Limited Time

6/14 - FREE eBook listed TODAY and every week on the Nook Blog for Freebie Friday

6/14 - FREE New Detroit Camp Enterprise - 7/17-21 at Michigan State - Applications being Accepted for High School Juniors & Seniors - DEADLINE 6/14

6/14 - 6/15 - FREE 10th Annual Jazzin' on Jefferson Festival features a Kidzone & Jazz Concerts 6/14 6/15

6/15 - ROCKDOC-A-DAY GIVEAWAY: Rock Out to your Music with the NEW Pitbull RockDoc Speakers - ENDS 6/15

6/15 - Comerica and Iron Mountain team up to provide FREE document shredding services 6/15 LIVONIA

6/15 - 7-Eleven Offers FREE Snapple Iced Tea 6/10 - 6/15 for National Iced Tea Day #AWESUMMER - ENDS TODAY

6/15 - FREE 8x10 Print at for Father's Day with Special Code ENDS 6/15

6/15 - COUPON: 4 White Original White Castle Sliders for only $1 for Father's Day Weekend 6/15 6/16

6/16 - HAPPY FATHER' DAY!!!!!!!!!!

6/16 - FREE Father's Day Concert with Alexander Zonjic at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital 6/16 2pm

6/16 - FREE Yogurt for Dad on Father's Day from TCBY - 6/16 ONLY

6/16 - COUPON: 4 White Original White Castle Sliders for only $1 for Father's Day Weekend 6/15 6/16

6/16 - COUPON: Dads eat FREE at Andiamo with purchase of another entree purchase 6/16 ONLY

6/17 - WIN a $5 Gift Card to celebrate @Wendys Father's Day #FirstFrosty Weekend - ENDS 6/17 AT NOON

6/17 - FREE Dearborn Main Library Blockbusters Film Series - JUNE 17—THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (2012)

6/17 - CHARITY: Help DRIVE TO THRIVE collect 1,000 gently used business suits in 5 days 6/17 - 6/21 STARTS TODAY

6/17 - GIVEAWAY: SAFE 6/21 Event features Tours of Detroit Historical Museum, Live Entertainment - ENDS 6/17

6/17 - COUPON: 7-Eleven Offers FREE 20 oz Brisk Tea (all flavors) 6/17 - 6/23 #AWESUMMER

6/18 - FREE Comerica Java & Jazz Concert Series at Detroit Main Library continues on June 18th with the Mike Jellick Quartet

6/18 - DEAL: BOGO FREE @McDonalds New Quarter Pound Burgers 6/18-6/20

6/20 - DEAL: $3 Thursdays at TGI Fridays include $3 apps & $3 Drinks for a Limited Time

6/21 - FREE eBook listed TODAY and every week on the Nook Blog for Freebie Friday

6/21 - CHARITY: Help DRIVE TO THRIVE collect 1,000 gently used business suits in 5 days 6/17 - 6/21 ENDS TODAY

6/23 - FREE Cooking Classes at Williams-Sonoma on Sundays in June - June 23 - MAKE-AHEAD SUMMER SIDES

6/23 - DEAL: BOGO FREE @McDonalds New Quarter Pound Burgers 6/18-6/20 LAST DAY

6/23 - Enter Busch's "A Day at the Farm" Sweepstakes for a Day at Busch's Prairie Farms in Battle Creek - ENDS 6/23

6/23 - COUPON: 7-Eleven Offers FREE 20 oz Brisk Tea (all flavors) 6/17 - 6/23 #AWESUMMER LAST DAY

6/24 - FREE Dearborn Main Library Blockbusters Film Series - JUNE 24—JACK REACHER (2012) 

6/24 - Buddy's Pizza celebrates 67 years with Customer Appreciation Cards & New Menu - STARTS 6/24

6/26 - FREE DSO Summer Celebration Concert 6/26 at Orchestra Hall - RESERVE YOUR TICKETS

6/27 - DEAL: $3 Thursdays at TGI Fridays include $3 apps & $3 Drinks for a Limited Time

6/28 - FREE eBook listed TODAY and every week on the Nook Blog for Freebie Friday

6/28 - FREE Kelly Clarkson Tickets for 1st 1350 at 6/28 Microsoft Store opening, Sommerset Collection Troy