Four Types of Detroit Tours You’ll Want to Experience

Today, guest blogger Dan Fuoco of Visit Detroit gives us some tips for exploring the city with these four types of Detroit tours.

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @phillyd1834 | Detroit Tours

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @phillyd1834

Detroit tours are not cookie-cutter or identical – they are custom, one-of-a-kind, jam-packed journeys that will transform your notion of Detroit and leave your thirsting for more knowledge and curious enough to explore on your own.

The right tour can be found based on these four types of Detroit tour experiences:

Historical Tours

The American Revolution. The Underground Railroad. Birthplace of the automobile. The Civil Rights movement. If you didn’t already realize it, these Detroit tours are a goldmine for history geeks.

Historians adore The Henry Ford Museum mainly because of its popular artifacts which include Abraham Lincoln’s rocking chair (from the night of his assassination) and the bus where Detroiter Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, sparking the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society | Detroit Tours

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society

Also a must-stop location on your Detroit tour itinerary, the Detroit Historical Museum is one of the oldest and largest museums dedicated to metropolitan history in the U.S., encompassing more than three centuries of metro Detroit history. A self-guided Detroit tour is the best way to soak up just the right amount of history without a factual overload.

Musical Tours

Every Detroit tour must include a visit to Motown Museum where you will literally walk the hallways once frequented by Motown legends Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, The Temptations and The Supremes, to name a few. Enter Studio A and relive the humming, snapping, and foot-tapping that swept the nation.

FREE Tours

Detroit Riverfront and GM Renaissance Center | Detroit Tours

Detroit Riverfront and GM Renaissance Center

Did You Know? The “Mo” in Motown was derived from “Motor City” which pays homage to the ultra-obvious notion that Detroit is the car capital of the world! Detroit and its metro area are world headquarters to all three major US automakers: Ford, Chrysler, and GM. Every tour of Detroit should stop at the world headquarters and the iconic building in Detroit’s skyline, the General Motors Renaissance Center. Free tours of the GM Renaissance Center take visitors through the automaker’s showroom, highlighting vintage, new and concept vehicles. The grand finale is a glass elevator ride to the 72nd floor of the Detroit Marriott Hotel and tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere.

Keeping on the architecture trail, Detroit Experience Factory offers a free weekly Art & Architecture Walking Tour on Fridays from 12:00-1:00 P.M.. On the tour, you’ll discover the city’s rich history, grand buildings and vibrant art in public places. Stand on Detroit’s Point of Origin in Campus Martius, pose with the Spirit of Detroit and adore the art deco in the ceiling of the majestic Guardian Building, a National Historic Landmark.

Outdoor Tours

Detroit has been called the Paris of the Midwest because of its attention to fine architecture; it is one of the only cities in the country so faithfully emblematic of this architectural style. A Detroit tour focused on architecture should include visiting works from Albert Kahn, George D. Mason and Wirt C. Rowland. Minoru Yamasaki, who later designed the World Trade Center, also got his start in Detroit, where he designed buildings including One Woodward Avenue.

Must-sees should include the historic Westin Book Cadillac Detroit hotel, built in the 1900s; the Chicago style-influenced Penobscot Building, designed by Rowland and Detroit sculptor Corrado Parducci; the art deco Guardian Building; and the Fisher and General Motors Building (Cadillac Place), both designed by Kahn and located in Detroit’s New Center area.

Have you gotten the opportunity to tour Detroit? Let us know what you saw during your visit!

Dan Fuoco_2014_portraitDan Fuoco is the Interactive Marketing Manager for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (VisitDetroit) and is responsible for building and engaging with VisitDetroit’s social media and blog communities.  You can find him geeking out over: social media infographics, muscle cars and Detroit. Follow him on TwitterInstagram and periodically on Pinterest.

10 Fun Facts About Michigan International Speedway

Photo courtesy of Craig Gardiner Photography

Photo courtesy of Craig Gardiner Photography

Pure Michigan 400 race weekend is here! More than 100,000 fans will be at Michigan International Speedway to cheer on their favorite drivers as they race around NASCAR’s fastest track on August 16th.

Think you know NASCAR? Test your knowledge with these lesser known facts about Michigan International Speedway

  • The 40 trams used at MIS that bring fans from the parking lots to the track were the same trams used at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
  • Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson is the honorary president of the MIS Kids Club! He even holds special events at the track.
  • There are 9,000 campsites at MIS – making it the largest registered campground in the State of Michigan.
  • Jeff Gordon currently holds the track qualifying record at MIS, being recorded at 206.558 mph in 2014.
  • Cale Yarborough is the driver who has led the most laps at MIS in the track’s history. In his career, Yarborough led for an astounding 1308 laps when racing at MIS.
  • Parking is always free! Guests can also bring in their own food and beverages, and parking lots open two hours before the grandstand so there is plenty of time for tailgating.
  • MIS is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack! MIS is superfast due to the repave in 2012 and long straightaways on the track that let drivers reach their highest speeds.
  • People have gotten married at the track before, but did you know that Roger Curtis presided over the wedding? It’s true! Roger Curtis, the president of MIS is an ordained minister and married a happy couple in Gatorade Victory Lane on June 17, 2012.
  • David Pearson has won the most Cup poles at MIS with 10. Who will take the pole this year?
  • MIS is the only racetrack where a fan awards a special trophy to the winning driver and team. It’s part of MIS’s Fan Appreciation Program.

Plan a visit to MIS and other Michigan automotive attractions at michigan.org. Follow the race on Twitter at #PureMichigan400. 

A Festive Frankenmuth Family Getaway, And 10 More Ways To Go Great Lakes Bay This Holiday

Today, guest blogger Kirsetin Morello shares her tips for a Frankenmuth family getaway, plus ten more ways you can “Go Great Lakes Bay” this holiday season. 

Photo courtesy of Bronner's Christmas Wonderland

Photo by Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland

The first time we visited Frankenmuth during the holidays, we knew what we’d seen on the billboards: that Bronner’s was a wonderland.

So while we expected—and got—lots of Christmas ornaments, we ended up experiencing so much more. Our trip started with a stop at what’s not only the largest, but arguably the best, Christmas store in the world. Not only is Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland enormous (its square footage is bigger than 1 ½ football fields), it’s also gorgeously appointed.

All the advertising in Michigan couldn’t have prepared us for the wonderland that is Bronner’s. When we stepped into the first, exquisitely decorated room, our boys’ demeanor changed immediately. As you might imagine, at 10, 8, and 5 years of age starting the day by spending a couple of hours in the car wasn’t their idea of fun! But as soon as we walked through Bronner’s doors, their begrudging looks gave way to an excitement that was both electric and contagious.

Photo courtesy of Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland

Photo by Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland

We all laughed as we looked and touched and looked some more, trying our best to take it all in. The twinkling lights hung from the ceiling created a merry mood throughout the store. As we checked our map (be sure to get one at the door) and explored the rooms of elaborately decorated trees, we felt more like we’d found the North Pole than like a retail outlet.

As we walked through the ornately decorated rooms, each one different, each one dripping with color and festivity, my heart warmed as I watched my boys together. This is why we do these types of things as a family—not because we really need more ornaments for our tree, but because the memories they’ll have and the bonds they build on these trips are the really important stuff in life.

Photo courtesy of Bavarian Inn Lodge

Photo by Bavarian Inn Lodge

Bronner’s is a wonderful stop in Frankenmuth, but it’s not the only place that makes Frankenmuth special. Families love to eat, stay and play at the quaint Bavarian Inn Lodge and waterpark, where you’ll often find the owners on site mingling with guests, says Jim Engel, Chief Operating Officer of the Bavarian Inn Lodge.

At the waterpark, you’ll find yourself relaxing as your kids laugh and play in what Engel calls “America’s only living-room-style waterpark.” Water play, video games, a lounge, miniature golf, and a children’s village all share one space. They even offer weekend karaoke for kids!

When you’ve worked up an appetite after all that waterpark fun, the Bavarian Inn Restaurant serves up chicken dinners in the finest German tradition, so your crew can fill their bellies right there.

Photo courtesy of Bavarian Inn Lodge

Photo by Bavarian Inn Lodge

To add a little more magic to your family time in Frankenmuth, be sure to stop by the beautiful Bavarian Inn Glockenspiel, whose components include a 35-bell carillon, figurine movement, and an illuminated clock, all imported from Germany.

If you can be there at 3 p.m., 6 p.m., or 9 p.m., your entire family will delight in watching the moving figurines appear to depict the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Photo courtesy of Bavarian Inn Lodge

Photo by Bavarian Inn Lodge

After you watch the Glockenspiel, head back inside to warm up inside the cozy Bavarian Inn Castle Shops, located in the lower level of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant.  My husband and I are always able to find something special to purchase and no visit is complete without a stop at the Castle Shop Bakery. Seriously! Go to the bakery. If you’re already feeling toasty and ready to walk off that chicken dinner, take a stroll through the Frankenmuth River Place Shops, where you’ll find over 40 unique shops and boutiques filled with specialty food and gift items.

If you or your kids are anything like our family, you’ll also want to head to the shops and bakery at Zehnder’s Marketplace, which are just across the street from the Bavarian Inn. Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth also offers world famous chicken dinners, so if you’re in Frankenmuth for more than a day or return more than once, it’s fun to try them both and experience the differences.

Photo courtesy of Zehnder's

Photo by Zehnder’s Splash Village

Zehnder’s also has a hotel and waterpark, Zehnder’s Splash Village, which is located just outside of downtown adjacent to Bronner’s. If you visit this winter, you’ll be among the first guests to take advantage of Splash Village’s recently completed expansion. The waterpark now includes over 50,000 square feet of aquatic fun and features a retractable roof! Zehnder’s also added onto the hotel and if you book in time you might score a room that overlooks the waterpark extravaganza.

Regardless of whether you go for a day or a week, a holiday visit to Frankenmuth is an experience you’ll savor. On our first trip, after we ate our fill of sugary goodness at the bakeries, we headed back outside to walk off some of it off. As our boys frolicked in the fresh snow, my husband and I window-shopped, smiling at the serene, simplicity of the day. Frankenmuth at the holidays is like that: a little snowy, a little magical, and filled with memories that last a lifetime.

Here are 10 other great ways to Go Great Lakes Bay this holiday season:

- Watch PRIDE’s Christmas Parade or the Midland Santa Parade (both Nov. 22)

- Shop the traditional Frankenmuth Christkindlmarkt (Nov. 28-30 and Dec. 5-7)

- Explore Downtown Bay City and catch a Christmas flick during Sundays in the City (Nov. 16 – Dec. 21)

- Celebrate Holidays in the Heart of the City in Saginaw (Nov. 21)

- Visit Santa at the Charles W. Howard Santa House in Midland

- Treat the kids to lunch with Santa at Bavarian Inn Restaurant (Dec. 14)

- Take part in the Zehnder’s Holiday Show (Dec. 1-3) or The Reflections Holiday Dinner Shows at Bavarian Inn Restaurant (Dec. 2 -3)

- Witness the magic of Cirque Dreams Holidaze at the Dow Event Center (Dec. 3)

- Shop Holly Jolly Days in Downtown Midland (Dec. 7-8, 14-15)

- Relax in a horse-drawn carriage ride through Frankenmuth.

How many of these Great Lakes Bay activities have you checked off your list? 

Kirsetin Morello - Guest BloggerKirsetin Morello is an author, freelance writer, and mother of 3 boys from Grand Rapids, MI whose family loves to travel and explore new places. In addition to writing about travel, she writes about parenting, business, and specializes in writing profiles of interesting people. Among other publications, you can find her work in Parents, West Michigan Woman, and Teach and Travel, as well as lots of places online, but you’ll most likely find her playing basketball, hiking in a park, or cheering her kids on at their sporting events.