“Detroit Rock City”, one of my favorite KISS songs from the 70’s, made me want to travel to Detroit many moons ago. Finally, I realized this dream as my daughter, Taylor, and I started a seven-city road trip beginning in Detroit, also known as Motor City. I was wowed by the big attractions, powerhouse sporting events, unique finds, and the amazing museums. After visiting, here are my suggestions for your road trip itinerary to Detroit, Michigan.
Itinerary for Detroit, Michigan
For our Detroit trip, Taylor and I stayed at the Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney, right in the heart of town. It is within walking distance of many major attractions, including sporting venues and stadiums. Bonus, it is pet-friendly.
The Aloft Detroit is within a stately business tower, made mostly of Italian marble. The lobby is stunning! A small bar, amenities store, and several nice oversized seating areas are found there. Our room was spacious with a Queen platform bed, vibrant artwork, a mini-fridge, and Bliss toiletries. The building also doubles as a residence and houses both those people and the hotel guests staying at the 136-room Aloft Detroit hotel.
Day 1: Saturday Morning
Pick up a snack at Re:fuel, the 24/7 Aloft Detroit hotel restaurant. Grab a sandwich or pastry if you need something to tide you over until the real fun begins…the Feet on the Street Saturday Brunch Tour.
Head to the Eastern Market, one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the country, dating back to 1891. Every Saturday, Feet on the Street’s owner/operator Linda Yellin and her staff host a killer strolling brunch food tour. Chances are you’ll sample amazing pizza, decadent ice cream, a wide array of nuts, and plenty more along the way.
Feet on the Street offers other tours allowing you to explore architecture, history, art, and Detroit’s unique neighborhoods.
Day 1: Alternative Plans
If the food tour isn’t your thing, explore the Eastern Market on your own. Each Saturday, the 225 vendor market fills with food, flowers, vegetables, and a little bit of everything. Seasonally on Sundays, the market has local items such as art, jewelry, pottery, and home goods.
Have lunch at Supino Pizzeria for one of the best slices of pizza you’ve ever had. You can even choose two kinds of pizza to be shared on one pie, such as Affunicata (prosciutto and smoked gouda) and Red, White, and Green (spinach, capers, and roasted red peppers). Not a pizza fan? Opt for the amazing Polpette, meatballs over roasted polenta.
Stop in DeVries Co 1887 for souvenirs, upscale food products, and candy and the Detroit Cheese Co. for one of the best selection of artisan cheeses I’ve seen in the entire country.
During our visit, Taylor and I had the pleasure of touring Bert’s Entertainment and meeting Bert himself. This multi-purpose venue boasts a soul food restaurant, jazz bar, and performance hall. The coolest indoor murals in the city are here.
Day 1: Saturday Late Afternoon
Afterward, you may need to go back to the hotel for a quick rest and recharge of your electronics. If a break isn’t necessary, you can visit the GM world headquarters building on the Detroit waterfront at the Renaissance Center. Nearby is the lively MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, a great place to test your luck at the slot machines and table games.
Day 1: Saturday Evening
During our trip, Taylor and I attended a Detroit Red Wings game at Little Caesars Arena. We grabbed dinner at Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit restaurant, one of the fabulous dining choices at Little Caesars Arena.
All of Detroit’s sporting venues are in one general area, within walking distance of each other. See a Detroit Tigers baseball game at Comerica Park or Detroit Lions football game at Ford Field.
Regardless of what team you choose to support, Detroit loves their sports and the energy level is off the charts! If no games are going on, opt for a brewery crawl or see a show at the Filmore or Fox Theatres.
Best of all, these activities are within walking distance of the hotel.
Day 2: Sunday Morning
Since there are so many things to do in Detroit, its best to just grab a quick bite from the hotel before setting out. After a quick breakfast of a muffin or pastry, head across the street and hop on the Q Line. For only $1.50, you can ride for three solid hours along the scenic Woodward Avenue. We hopped off at one the stops to visit one of Detroit’s finest attractions, the Detroit Institute of Arts.
This is one of the top ten art museums in the nation. It offers 100 galleries of art ranging from ancient history to contemporary. One of “The Thinker” sculptures by Auguste Rodin sits in front of the museum.
My favorite part of the Detroit Institute of Arts was the Detroit Industry Murals, paintings representing aviation, shipping, and boating by the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera. The murals consist of 27 frescoes, all painted with unbelievable detail.
Day 2: Sunday Afternoon
Have lunch at the Rusted Crow, diagonal from the Aloft Detroit. This American bar in a rustic space has a crowd-pleasing menu and chic decor. Try the Brussels Sprout salad with dried Michigan cherries, almonds, and red onions or the Chicken Strudel with caramelized onions, spinach, mushrooms, and Boursin cheese in phyllo dough. Nom!
Next, grab an uber (or your own personal vehicle) and travel to the one and only Motown Museum, the first Motown headquarters nicknamed “Hitsville U.S.A.”. Tours are given every half hour and cost $15 for adults. Familiarize yourself with the great Motown sounds as you walk in the footsteps of the famous artists that recorded there. You can even stand in the studio that saw songs like “My Girl”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” be recorded.
I was a bit giddy getting to sing with my tour guide using the same microphone and studio that Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and Marvin Gaye did. It was very cool!
Fun fact: Only one song per music label could be played in an hour on the radio. In an effort to promote more than one singer, Barry Gorby (the genius behind Motown Records) created additional labels for his musical acts.
Please note: The Motown Museum may only be open on Sundays through the summer. Be sure to consult their website for exact hours. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Day 2: Sunday Afternoon
After finishing up your food tour or market visit, drive 20 minutes to a Detroit suburb for one of the most amazing museums you’ll ever see. This is The Henry Ford.
You will spend the rest of your day exploring The Henry Ford. It is full of things to see, with 26 million artifacts including Edison’s lab (where the light bulb was invented), the bus Rosa Parks made her stand on, and several Presidential cars. Fascinating items like the chair Lincoln was assassinated in and the car JFK was shot in are on display here, too.
Outside, is the Greenfield Village. This is a collection of working farms, horse-drawn carriage rides, and a place where you can journey into the past. Spread over 250 acres, the village, filled with historical interpreters in the buildings and homes, has something for everyone. It is a National Historic Landmark.
Detroit Delivers a Powerful Punch
I didn’t know how many treasures the city of Detroit had to offer. Taylor and I were “on the edge of our seats” the entire trip, discovering new things, meeting friendly people, and visiting world-class attractions. I hope you enjoy Detroit, Michigan as much as we did.
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