Things to do in Detroit during the 2013 Auto Show

With the 2013 North American International Auto Show just weeks away, we know many visitors will be making their way to Detroit in January. For those looking for things to do in Detroit outside of the show, we asked Dan Fuoco of Visit Detroit to share some ideas. Read his recommendations below and let us know if you’re checking out the Auto Show this year!

Detroit. The Motor City. The birthplace of the automotive industry and world headquarters to the Big Three – General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler, LLC. We live and breathe cars. We know all about cars; two of our sports teams have car parts incorporated in their names and emblems – The Detroit Pistons and the Detroit Red Wings (winged-wheel). Hosting the most recognized car show in the world is an honor and duty for Detroit – something we don’t take lightly.

The Auto Show attracts visitors from all around the world and often showcases highly confidential concept cars, some of the most luxurious brands (including Lamborghini and Aston Martin), new technology including green initiatives and an all-around amazing automotive experience. So you’re in Detroit, you’ve experienced The Auto Show…now what?

Things to do while you’re in town for the Auto Show

Eat up. There are plenty of restaurants downtown in close proximity.  Detroit is expanding and more restaurants are joining the resurgence. Some eatery staples include the Hard Rock Cafe, located near metro Detroit’s most popular road, Woodward (famous for the Woodward Dream Cruise) and American Coney Island, part of a sibling rivalry with the neighboring restaurant, Lafayette Coney, featured on the Travel Channel show “Food Wars”.

“As history has it, the two restaurants formed after an argument between the Keros brothers, who founded American Coney Island first. One brother moved into the space next door and opened Lafayette Coney Island.” – Aaron Foley of MLive.

Within the last couple of years, other popular establishments have taken up residence in the city, including Buffalo Wild Wings, Olga’s Kitchen and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Perhaps one of the most widely-recognized Detroit bars has to be Slows Bar BQ, famous for both its Yardbird sandwich and mac-n-cheese dish recently featured in Food & Wine Magazine.

Speaking of burgers, Detroit has a list of some prime beef in the metro area–all of which are sure to please your palate. Burgers are great and quick, but you’ve been walking around looking at cars for 3 straight hours – it’s time to rest and experience the bar scene. We have you covered! Introducing: Detroit’s Top 20 Sports Bars… and More Scores.

For a dining experience 73 stories above ground level, visit the classy Coach Insignia, located atop Detroit’s iconic landmark building the Renaissance Center which also happens to be world headquarters to General Motors. Here, you can eat dinner while witnessing a breath-taking, bird’s-eye view of Detroit.

Picturesque views of the Detroit River can be found while dining at the Rattlesnake Club, one of Detroit’s premier riverfront restaurants. The Rattlesnake was built on the dream of reviving the Detroit dining scene through the use of local and seasonable ingredients.

Treat yourself. If after you’ve eaten half your weight in food and you’re full to the point where standing might require assistance, yet you somehow think there is room for dessert, you’ll want to read: 5 Sweet Treats for Your Sweet Tooth and find a way to visit these locations.

Please stay seated while in motion.  Who knows Detroit better than the people who showcase Detroit daily? Tour companies know the ins and outs of the city including the history of Detroit and the auto industry. If you’re interested in a walkable tour of The D, exploring monuments and building architecture then you’ll want to contact D:Hive. If you feel walking is overrated, you might consider a tour by van, in which Show Me Detroit is the route to go. Furthermore, Show Me Detroit partners with Motor City Tour Company to offer an exclusive Detroit Auto & Brewery History Bus Tour to take place on Jan. 19th and 26th. The tour includes beer and cheese sampling, early brewing history and tours of different auto factories.

D:Hive and Show Me Detroit are just two of The D’s great tour companies. You can browse other tour companies in Detroit that also won’t disappoint.

Art of all ages. Where can you find more than 60,000 works of art and a gigantic Diego Rivera mural depicting workers and machinery at a Ford factory entitled “Detroit Industry”? The Detroit Institute of Arts! Founded in 1885, the museum covers 658,000 square feet that includes more than 100 galleries, an art reference library and a state-of-the-art conservation services laboratory. A hallmark of the DIA is the diversity of the collection. In addition to outstanding American, European, Modern and Contemporary, and Graphic art, the museum holds significant works of African, Asian, Native American, Oceanic, Islamic, and Ancient art. Come on Sundays to experience Family Sundays which include puppet performances and other family-friendly activities.

The Motor City is also recognized for the Motown Sound and a visit to Detroit wouldn’t be complete without a tour at the Motown Historical Museum. Stand in the exact spot where Motown greats such as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Temptations and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, among others, recorded their hits.

Another prominent Detroit musician recently collaborated with the Detroit Historical Society to create an interactive laboratory experience for children and visitors within the Detroit Historical Museum. The Kid Rock Music Lab features an interactive gallery that covers more than 100 years of Detroit music, including jazz, blues, gospel, funk, rock, pop, techno and hip-hop. Visitors can get a glimpse into the music that defined the Motor City and spoke of cultural moments and struggles such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.

Retail revival. Detroit’s shopping scene is diverse and plentiful, ranging from eclectic boutiques like the Peacock Room to Detroit-themed apparel from the Detroit Shoppe (located in Cobo Center, home of the Auto Show) and larger brand names like MooseJaw.

Even though the holidays just passed, it wouldn’t be right to arrive home empty-handed. The Detroit 10 is a list of 10 Detroit-related things that provide new information, tours, itineraries, suggestions or discoveries about Detroit. This list focuses on gifts.

Embrace a Michigan winter! There are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. You’ll see a crowd gathered around the ice rink at Campus Martius Park located in the middle of a round-about. Test your physique with one of Michigan’s many indoor rock climbing locations or plan ahead and make a day of sledding or cross-country skiing at one of the regional metro parks. For more activities, see our Winter Activity Guide.

The night is young. You’ve spent the day drooling over the newest and finest in automotive advancements and now it’s time to party like it’s 1999.

Feeling lucky? Find your way to one of Detroit’s three iconic casino-hotels for some time at the Black Jack tables, near the slot machines, at a spa or in a luxury room suite.

Can you find some “Spare” Time for Bowling? Detroiters are passionate about their bowling. The Majectic’s Garden Bowl was voted best bowling venue by Metro Times because of its vibrant atmosphere, community appeal, glow-in-the-dark bowling, quality pizza and variety of live bands and DJs playing the hottest Detroit tunes.

Tossing a ball down a lane is always a great time, but have you ever experienced featherbowling? Featherbowling, according to the Cadieux Café, “Originally was a Belgian pastime akin to horseshoes and Bocci. These games have many similarities among them. Though little is known about the exact origin of the game, it is probable that the resemblance of the balls to wheels of cheese is no mistake.”

Cadieux Café honors the classic sport and Belgian culture with steamed mussels and a large selection of beers from Belgium. And like only Detroit can, this bar brings the old world and the new world together, mixing the classic, even eccentric sport with lively nightlife.

For more information on what to do, where to eat and places to stay during the Auto Show, go to or interact with us on social media via our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Dan 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 Twitter (@DanFuoco), Facebook, Google+ and periodically on Pinterest.

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