a tale of two cities - windsor and detriot | OUTVisions for LGBT Professionals

a tale of two cities - windsor and detriot

travel without borders

a tale of two cities - windsor and detriot
bryen dunn

Travel Gay Canada recently held their annual conference in Windsor, Ontario, a city that’s the southernmost point in Canada and faces the skyline of Detroit across the river.

The theme of the conference this year was Travel Without Borders, so our travel spotlight this issue is on the gayer side of these two border cities. There’s no gay area in Windsor, but several gay-owned and friendly businesses, while Detroit’s gay locale is in Ferndale, and the recent revitalization of downtown is once again emerging as an entertainment hub.

Each summer the two-week-long Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival takes place, culminating in a gigantic fireworks display that celebrates both Canada Day and Independence Day. Over a million spectators show up to watch one of the world’s largest fireworks displays over the Detroit River between the two cities. Windsor and Detroit also jointly co-host the annual Detroit Windsor International Film Festival, and each city has their own Pride celebrations, Windsor Pride, Motor City Pride, and Ferndale Pride. Many younger Michigan residents cross the border for the lower drinking age limit in Canada, some get their fix of Cuban cigars and rum, and others choose to get married where it’s legal. Canadians flock north (yes Detroit is north of Windsor) for big name concerts, events, nightlife, and cheaper commodities.

We get the inside scoop from locals in two different cities, from two different countries. Martha Daniels, President, Board of Directors with the Windsor Pride Community, and David Lenz, President with Windsor-Essex Pride Fest, share the secrets of their city. Across the border, James Felton Keith, CEO with the Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber, and Dave Wait, Chairperson of Equality Michigan dish on what’s hot and happening on their side. We asked each for their tips on a variety of topics pertinent to LGBT visitors.


Shopping - From the Heart, White Feather Holistic Arts, and Ten Thousand Villages, which Daniels remarks, “Do not miss their Christmas ornaments in December”. Devonshire Mall, and the Downtown Windsor BIA

Nearby Escape - Colasanti’s Greenhouses in Kingsville, Pelee Island

Not to Miss – Riverside Drive from the bridge through Tecumseh to Stony Point, starting with Sandwich, the first European settlement in the area. 

Support Local Economy – visit one of the many Farmer’s Markets, Klueless Cupcake

Brunch Hotspot - The Squirrel Cage, which is LGBT owned

Get Outdoors - Ojibway Reserve, Windsor’s riverfront trails and parks

Dine - Lorelei’s Bistro, Mazaar’s, South Detroit, Mamo Burger Bar, Toscana

Drink - Vermouth Martini Bar, which “throws a fun New Year’s Eve party”, according to Daniels. Red Lounge, Cosmos Lounge at Caesars Windsor

Dance - The Bank, The Loop and Boom Boom Room are both LGBT supportive, according to Lenz.

For Last Call - Lefty’s 

Recommended Events - Windsor Pride Fest, Windsor International Film Festival, Bookfest Windsor, Shore of Erie International Wine Festival, Windsor-Essex Pride Fest, Carrousel of the Nations

What’s one thing people might not know about Windsor?

Daniels – “There are extensive salt mines in this region, and you can buy Windsor Table Salt”

Lenz - “It’s the first city in Canada to have an electrified street railway, constructed in 1886.”


Shop – Hugh located in midtown, began as a pop-up and now is a permanent store selling wares described as “classic bachelor pad style”, Twisted Shamrock, Just4Us

Nearby Escape – Conservatory and Aquarium

Not to Miss – A drive around Belle Isle located between Detroit and Windsor, Boston Edison and English Village Neighbourhoods 

Support Local Economy – Laferia, La Dolce Vita in the heart of the historically queer neighbourhood on Woodward, Peacock Room and Avalon Bakery 

Brunch - Fountain Bistro for a city vibe, and Woodbridge Pub for a local feel

Get Outdoors – River Walk, Campus Marches and Hart Plaza

Dine - Craft Work, Top of the Pounch, Fountain Bistro, Toast, One-Eyed Betty’s, Jimi’s Diner, Como’s Italian, and “no visit is complete without dining in Greek Town and Mexican Village”, according to Wait.

Drink – Pronto’s ,Two James Distillery has about six different spirits at their bar inside, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants within walking distance in Corktown, and “best view is Sky Bar with its private libraries”, says Keith.

Dance - The Woodward Cocktail Bar is a centerpiece of Detroit’s gay dance culture. Also Menjo’s Complex is not to be missed.

For Last Call – The Lobby at The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel for a quiet nightcap

Recommended Events – Hotter Than July, Motor City Pride, African Word Festival, The Hoedown, Electronic Music Festival, Detroit Together Men’s Chorus, Dally in the Alley, Marche du Nain Rouge.

Discover More


Windsor/Essex Tourism – www.visitwindsoressex.com

Windsor Pride - www.windsorpride.com  

Windsor Essex Pride Fest - www.wepridefest.com

Travel Gay Canada – www.travelgaycanada.com

Windsor “Come OUT Play Guide” - www.youblisher.com/p/912538-2014-Come-OUT-Play-Guide/


Detroit Tourism - www.visitdetroit.com

Pride Source – www.pridesource.com

Motor City Pride - www.motorcitypride.org

Ferndale Pride - www.ferndalepride.com

Equality Michigan - www.equalitymi.org

Detroit LGBT Chamber of Commerce -www.detroitlgbtchamber.com

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Authorbryen dunn

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