January 10, 2021

20 things to do if you're sober in the Detroit area

As if being a human wasn't hard enough, 2020 happened and, well, you know how that turned out. For those on a sober journey — whether you're recently sober, you've been on the wagon for a while, you're pregnant, or you're just trying to abstain for the night — finding activities to keep your mind off of drugs and alcohol is no easy feat. Being sober means finding new ways to socialize with your friends, as well as finding new hobbies to fill your free time. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to have fun that don't revolve around alcohol, and there are many ways to participate in all life has to offer while staying safe from COVID-19. To help get you started, we've compiled 20 things to do if you're sober in metro Detroit.

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Get drunk on cuteness at the Creature Conservancy
4940 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd., Ann Arbor; 734-929-9324; thecreatureconservancy.org
Hold back the tears, Kristen Bell. At the Creature Conservancy in Ann Arbor, you can meet a real-life sloth or two. This magical place, which cares for more than 300 animals, most of which were injured, non-releasable wildlife, surrendered pets, and animals from other zoos, is where action and cuteness come together for a sobering look at the much larger world around us. Currently, the Creature Conservancy is open on weekends, as well as for small private tours. Though there is a ticket price, they also accept donations. You try caring for a cougar, an alligator, and a porcupine named Lady Gaga. Warning: the cuteness is intoxicating. 
Photo via The Creature Conservancy/Facebook

Get drunk on cuteness at the Creature Conservancy

4940 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd., Ann Arbor; 734-929-9324; thecreatureconservancy.org
Hold back the tears, Kristen Bell. At the Creature Conservancy in Ann Arbor, you can meet a real-life sloth or two. This magical place, which cares for more than 300 animals, most of which were injured, non-releasable wildlife, surrendered pets, and animals from other zoos, is where action and cuteness come together for a sobering look at the much larger world around us. Currently, the Creature Conservancy is open on weekends, as well as for small private tours. Though there is a ticket price, they also accept donations. You try caring for a cougar, an alligator, and a porcupine named Lady Gaga. Warning: the cuteness is intoxicating.

Photo via The Creature Conservancy/Facebook
Spend your bar money on pinball
There’s no high like smashing a high score on Jurassic Park pinball. No, seriously. Take your sober self back a decade or two. (Or, in the case of the iconic Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills, maybe four.) Though 2020 was a rocky year for beloved arcades, like Ann Arbor and East Lansing mainstay  Pinball Pete’s, where .50-cent pinball reigns supreme, they are surviving thanks to your would-be-bar money and donations to make up on some lost operational costs. Trust us, you won’t miss $15 watered-down cocktails when you shatter the Adams Family record. 
Photo via Pinball Pete’s/Facebook

Spend your bar money on pinball

There’s no high like smashing a high score on Jurassic Park pinball. No, seriously. Take your sober self back a decade or two. (Or, in the case of the iconic Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills, maybe four.) Though 2020 was a rocky year for beloved arcades, like Ann Arbor and East Lansing mainstay Pinball Pete’s, where .50-cent pinball reigns supreme, they are surviving thanks to your would-be-bar money and donations to make up on some lost operational costs. Trust us, you won’t miss $15 watered-down cocktails when you shatter the Adams Family record.

Photo via Pinball Pete’s/Facebook
Give your takeout a glow up with a meal kit from a metro Detroit restaurant 
Don’t get us wrong, we love pizza. Like, sincerely, if we could commit our lives to a single food, it would likely be pizza. But holy shit are we tired of, well, pizza. Thank goodness some of metro Detroit’s finest are giving take-out the ol’ glow-up with upscale to-go meal kits. Want a 60-day bone-in, dry-aged American Wagyu strip steak with truffle aioli? Mable Grey in Hazel Park 
has you covered. Maybe you’re missing on date night pretty hard. If so, look no further than Detroit’s SheWolf and the award-winning restaurant’s Mercato offerings, which allows you to build a fancy meal to eat at your leisure, you know, in sweats in front of a non-stop stream of The Office because… sigh. (Tip: Don’t skip out on a pint of pistachio gelato.)  
Photo via SheWolf Detroit/Facebook

Give your takeout a glow up with a meal kit from a metro Detroit restaurant

Don’t get us wrong, we love pizza. Like, sincerely, if we could commit our lives to a single food, it would likely be pizza. But holy shit are we tired of, well, pizza. Thank goodness some of metro Detroit’s finest are giving take-out the ol’ glow-up with upscale to-go meal kits. Want a 60-day bone-in, dry-aged American Wagyu strip steak with truffle aioli? Mable Grey in Hazel Park has you covered. Maybe you’re missing on date night pretty hard. If so, look no further than Detroit’s SheWolf and the award-winning restaurant’s Mercato offerings, which allows you to build a fancy meal to eat at your leisure, you know, in sweats in front of a non-stop stream of The Office because… sigh. (Tip: Don’t skip out on a pint of pistachio gelato.)

Photo via SheWolf Detroit/Facebook
 Break out the classy sweats for a virtual performance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
You, too, can live the high life like the Frasier Crane. All you have to do is put on the good sweats (you know, no mysterious stains or smells), dim the lights, and pretend you are as classy as the folks over at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, who, since the pandemic struck, have pivoted to offering some incredible virtual programming. In fact, they’ve even launched their own streaming app available on Apple devices and Roku, where they’ve uploaded more than 200 new and archival performances. 
Photo via Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Facebook

Break out the classy sweats for a virtual performance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

You, too, can live the high life like the Frasier Crane. All you have to do is put on the good sweats (you know, no mysterious stains or smells), dim the lights, and pretend you are as classy as the folks over at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, who, since the pandemic struck, have pivoted to offering some incredible virtual programming. In fact, they’ve even launched their own streaming app available on Apple devices and Roku, where they’ve uploaded more than 200 new and archival performances.

Photo via Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Facebook
Take virtual comedy classes from metro Detroit performers  
Life hasn’t been exactly funny lately but that doesn’t mean you can’t laugh about how terrible things are. Better yet, escape the doom, gloom, and attempted coups with virtual comedy classes via Hamtramck’s Planet Ant or Go Comedy Improv Theatre in Ferndale. Not feeling up to making others laugh? Don’t worry, both spots host regular comedy shows via Zoom, Twitch, and Facebook live. Also, don’t hesitate to snag a gift card to use when this nightmare is over. 
Photo via Planet Ant/Facebook

Take virtual comedy classes from metro Detroit performers

Life hasn’t been exactly funny lately but that doesn’t mean you can’t laugh about how terrible things are. Better yet, escape the doom, gloom, and attempted coups with virtual comedy classes via Hamtramck’s Planet Ant or Go Comedy Improv Theatre in Ferndale. Not feeling up to making others laugh? Don’t worry, both spots host regular comedy shows via Zoom, Twitch, and Facebook live. Also, don’t hesitate to snag a gift card to use when this nightmare is over.

Photo via Planet Ant/Facebook
Buy and play a game from a local game shop instead of playing with your liver 
One of the best things to come out of 2020 is a rekindled love of board games and puzzles. Granted, we didn’t really have a choice in the matter, but for that reason we put our goddamn phones down and tapped into our competitive side instead of tapping, well, the tap. Whether you’re into the classics (Monopoly, Life, etc.) or watched The Queen’s Gambit and want to see if you’re a hidden chess genius or want to go full nerd with miniature games like Warhammer or Star Wars: Legion, metro Detroit game shops (aka not Amazon) are a great place to kill some sober time, spend some sober cash, and take home a sobering activity. Settlers of Catan? Be a settler of yes-you-can! 
Photo via Eternal Games Warren/Facebook

Buy and play a game from a local game shop instead of playing with your liver

One of the best things to come out of 2020 is a rekindled love of board games and puzzles. Granted, we didn’t really have a choice in the matter, but for that reason we put our goddamn phones down and tapped into our competitive side instead of tapping, well, the tap. Whether you’re into the classics (Monopoly, Life, etc.) or watched The Queen’s Gambit and want to see if you’re a hidden chess genius or want to go full nerd with miniature games like Warhammer or Star Wars: Legion, metro Detroit game shops (aka not Amazon) are a great place to kill some sober time, spend some sober cash, and take home a sobering activity. Settlers of Catan? Be a settler of yes-you-can!

Photo via Eternal Games Warren/Facebook
Take a hike! No, really!
If you’re sober, there is no better reminder of the power of the unpoisoned body than going on a hike through Michigan’s many nature and hiking trails. Put on some real pants (if you feel so inclined, of course) and pick a dang trail. Don’t forget to breathe and remind yourself that you totally got this. 
Ken Lund/Flickr Commons

Take a hike! No, really!

If you’re sober, there is no better reminder of the power of the unpoisoned body than going on a hike through Michigan’s many nature and hiking trails. Put on some real pants (if you feel so inclined, of course) and pick a dang trail. Don’t forget to breathe and remind yourself that you totally got this.

Ken Lund/Flickr Commons
Self-guided Detroit street art tour … you can do it! 
OK — so you can’t drink and drive but no one says you can’t think  and drive. This sober activity requires a bit of imagination, GPS skills, and a sense of adventure because though Detroit’s cultural institutions are open, not everyone is feeling comfortable enough to hang indoors just yet. Hop in the car and cruise Detroit to take in some world-class art. From murals in Eastern Market to quirky neighborhood installations via the Heidelberg Project, nearly every Detroit neighborhood has an art story to tell. Crank up the A/C in your Hyundai, put on some tunes, and take in the sights from a safe distance. Also, did someone say a cheap date idea? Peep the city’s mural guide or The Detroit Mural Project for a more detailed look at Detroit’s street art.
Photo by Steve Neavling

Self-guided Detroit street art tour … you can do it!

OK — so you can’t drink and drive but no one says you can’t think and drive. This sober activity requires a bit of imagination, GPS skills, and a sense of adventure because though Detroit’s cultural institutions are open, not everyone is feeling comfortable enough to hang indoors just yet. Hop in the car and cruise Detroit to take in some world-class art. From murals in Eastern Market to quirky neighborhood installations via the Heidelberg Project, nearly every Detroit neighborhood has an art story to tell. Crank up the A/C in your Hyundai, put on some tunes, and take in the sights from a safe distance. Also, did someone say a cheap date idea? Peep the city’s mural guide or The Detroit Mural Project for a more detailed look at Detroit’s street art.

Photo by Steve Neavling
Enjoy the flavor without the booze with a metro Detroit mocktail to-go
Good news for sober folks of all persuasions, especially those who miss sipping on an adventurous concoction from your favorite watering hole. Sober curiosity is a thing now so, naturally, that means the popularity of the mocktail is on the rise because it's a bummer when you want to drink something nonalcoholic and the only beverage available is pop, so maybe peep  our list of local hotspots around town that specifically offer mocktails — or  this list of places offering cocktails to-go and inquire about their mocktail offerings. Cheers!
Photo via Castailia Cocktails/Facebook

Enjoy the flavor without the booze with a metro Detroit mocktail to-go

Good news for sober folks of all persuasions, especially those who miss sipping on an adventurous concoction from your favorite watering hole. Sober curiosity is a thing now so, naturally, that means the popularity of the mocktail is on the rise because it's a bummer when you want to drink something nonalcoholic and the only beverage available is pop, so maybe peep our list of local hotspots around town that specifically offer mocktails — or this list of places offering cocktails to-go and inquire about their mocktail offerings. Cheers!

Photo via Castailia Cocktails/Facebook
Shop for vinyl and then dance it out at home
Even if you could dance it up at a concert or club, those environments are hella triggering for anyone who is sober. So why not drop some dough at any one of metro Detroit’s resilient record shops so that you can dance it out at home and feel really good that you supported a local business keeping the music alive? Don’t feel like dancing? You can pick a sad and sappy record, too, just make sure it leads you to a bubble bath and not a glass of bubbly. You know, self-care.
Photo via Dearborn Music/Facebook

Shop for vinyl and then dance it out at home

Even if you could dance it up at a concert or club, those environments are hella triggering for anyone who is sober. So why not drop some dough at any one of metro Detroit’s resilient record shops so that you can dance it out at home and feel really good that you supported a local business keeping the music alive? Don’t feel like dancing? You can pick a sad and sappy record, too, just make sure it leads you to a bubble bath and not a glass of bubbly. You know, self-care.

Photo via Dearborn Music/Facebook