1. HamtramckTraditionally known as a Polish community, the area has experienced an influx of immigrants from all over the world. It is now arguably the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in Michigan. With the mix of new people, the area is changing, reinventing itself as it finds a new identity. While there are still older areas of Hamtramck that need attention, there is a lot of building going on, including new shops, restaurants and bars/clubs. The vitality and cultural variety of the community make it an exciting place to spend some time. There's even polka dancing!
Good places to start: Mephisto's and Paycheck's Lounge.
2. CorktownThis City of Detroit neighborhood is home to the now abandoned Tiger Stadium. The area could have been decimated when Tigers baseball moved to Comerica Park, but Corktown took action. Playing up its history by restoring Victorian homes in the area and never forgetting its Irish heritage, Corktown is now a mix of new and old residents, businesses and housing. These days, Corktown has art galleries, Irish pubs, dance clubs and sports bars. Further growth is inevitable with the development of a greenway along the Detroit River that will link Corktown to Mexicantown and Detroit's west riverfront.
Good places to start: Slows Bar BQ, Leland City Club and Nemo's Bar and Grill (1384 Michigan Avenue).
3. Mt. ClemensMt. Clemens was once a destination unto itself. The discovery of mineral water for therapeutic baths in 1870 made it a tourist town and created rapid growth. The mineral water baths eventually went out of fashion, however, sending the city on a sometimes-rocky journey toward its new identity. Today the city on the river has been put to good use; Mt. Clemens is home to the Emerald Theatre and Ballroom, pubs, sports bars and riverside concerts.
Good places to start: Emerald Theatre & Ballroom, Johnny G's and John Barleycorn's
Reviewed: Bath City Bistro
4. NoviUnlike some of the other trendy areas on the list, Novi isn't about rediscovering and revitalizing an existing downtown. In the case of Novi's Market Street, developers came in and planned their own city, complete with night life. Snagging The Second City comedy club from downtown Detroit, the area also has several restaurants and bars. Now another development, Twelve Mile Crossing at Fountain Walk, is experiencing some planned changes. Originally an outdoor "lifestyle center," some of the walkways have been converted back into roads for easy drop off, and new night clubs and a bowling alley have moved in.
Good places to start: The Second City, Lucky's and Mixx Lounge.
5. St. Clair ShoresSt. Clair Shores is a community that is constantly evolving. Once upon a time, its plum location on Lake St. Clair made it an ideal resort community. In fact, it even had its own amusement park. Later still, it was known for its contribution to music history; in the 1960s, St. Clair Shores played host to a record company and a popular live music club. Today the community utilizes its waterfront area along Jefferson for a restaurant row of culinary delights.
Good places to start: Jack's Waterfront Restaurant, Fishbone's Rhythm Kitchen Cafe and Steve's Backroom.
6. Plymouth/NorthvillePlymouth and Northville are historic cities situated just three miles apart and traditionally linked. In recent years, they evolved from boutique shopping areas into night-time haunts. These days Plymouth has several bars, pubs and restaurants, including dueling-piano and wine bars. It also hosts concerts in Kellogg Park and several festivals. Northville has a race track, a dinner theater, restaurants and sports bars. Together the cities form an entertainment district of unique distinction.
Good places to start: Genetti's Hole-in-the-Wall and 336 Main
Reviewed: Grape Expectations Wine Bar & Merchant