8 Detroit Attractions to Add to Your Auto Show Itinerary

The North American International Auto Show (Jan. 11-24) feels like the Academy Awards of the auto industry: the excitement, the lights, the jazzed-up displays. If you attend the Charity Preview on Jan. 15, you’ll see crowds in tailored designer getups, too. But the real stars are the cars, and being from the Motor City, we all know Detroit is filled with tons of automotive culture worth exploring.

Whether this is your first time at NAIAS or you’re a seasoned veteran, guest blogger Danielle Schmidt of Visit Detroit shares some can’t-miss sights and things to do in the Motor City. 

First-Timer Tips

If you’re a newbie to NAIAS, don’t sweat it; we’ve got a few tips to hand over so you can focus on finding your new dream ride.

While you’re in town, hit up some of The D’s other auto attractions:

Detroit Historical Museum (Downtown Detroit) This place knows Detroit history. Its car-centric exhibit, America’s Motor City, shows and tells why Detroit got its nickname and how cars are built here.

Car-Centric Exhibit at Detroit Historical Museum

Photo Courtesy of Visit Detroit

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant (Downtown Detroit) This is the actual space where the Model T was dreamt up and built in 1908. It’s a symbol of Detroit’s inventive spirit and its impact on all things automotive. You’ll even see a true recreation of Henry Ford’s office.

GM Showroom (Downtown Detroit) Inside General Motors’ world headquarters is a 40,000-square-foot display of GM’s latest models and initiatives. Take a complimentary tour of the Renaissance Center, which gathers twice daily, Monday-Friday at noon and 2 p.m.

The Henry Ford (Dearborn) With iconic artifacts including the Rosa Parks bus and the Kennedy Presidential Limousine, THF is an American gem. Driving America walks you through the evolution of the automobile. Catch a film at the IMAX Theatre before taking a shuttle to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, a real-working Ford F-150 factory.

Driving America Exhibit at The Henry Ford

Photo Courtesy of Visit Detroit

Automotive Hall of Fame (Dearborn) It’s a space of honor that celebrates the great accomplishments of men and women in the automotive industry. You can get up close and personal to examine exhibits of early automobiles.

Walter P. Chrysler Museum (Auburn Hills) This 55,000-square-foot, three-floor space hosts a collection covering more than a century, with 65 antique, custom and concept cars. Learn the history of Chrysler’s journey through interactive displays and historical exhibits.

Meadow Brook Hall (Rochester Hills) Just outside Detroit, get a glimpse of how automotive royalty lived. This was the home of John F. Dodge’s wife, Matilda Dodge Wilson. A 1920s Tudor mansion with 110 rooms, its impressive walls tell the family’s stories of the Dodge and Wilson families.

Edsel and Eleanor Ford House (Grosse Pointe Shores) This was the home of Henry and Clara Ford. The 1926 mansion designed by famous Detroit architect Albert Kahn sits on 87 acres of land.

The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores

Photo Courtesy of Visit Detroit

Where to Eat

There are many great restaurants near Cobo Center. Here are a few lists to get you started: 9 Restaurants Near Cobo Center Detroit’s Newest Restaurants Downtown Detroit Dining Search If you’re not wanting to venture out, try Cobo’s Made In Detroit Food Court; Go Natural, a healthy concession area; or Cork and Grind, a new coffee and wine bar.

Where to Stay

Extend your trip to explore more of America’s great comeback city. Find a hotel. 

blog bio headshot 1.8

Danielle Schmidt is the Marketing Specialist (aka storyteller) for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. She writes and edits for the Visit Detroit Blog, Visit Detroit magazine and materials that promote The D and its comeback, while taking way too many pictures for Visit Detroit’s Instagram account.

Discover Five Hidden Gems of Michigan’s Auto Heritage

Explore the road less traveled when it comes to Michigan’s auto culture according to Austen Smith, communications coordinator for the MotorCities National Heritage Area Partnership.

Gear heads across the country are familiar with Michigan’s most historically significant sites when it comes to auto culture, but did you know that there is a remarkable auto-related experience awaiting you in nearly every corner of the Great Lakes state? For families seeking a day trip with a reasonable drive and budget, here are five hidden gems perfect for the diehard auto enthusiast divided by region.

Central/North region:

R.E. Olds Transportation Museum
240 Museum Drive
Lansing, Michigan 48933
(517) 372-0529

Classic Oldsmobiles at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. Photo courtesy of Austen Smith.

Classic Oldsmobiles at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. Photo courtesy of Austen Smith.

Explore this fascinating museum examining the life and career of Ransom Eli Olds who created a motor empire in Oldsmobile and later the REO Motor Car Company. This quaint site is nestled away near the campus of Michigan State University and showcases some of the state’s most prized pieces of auto history such as one of the first three Oldsmobile autos ever made and the very last Oldsmobile car to be produced in Lansing.

Alfred P. Sloan Museum
1221 E. Kearsley Street
Flint, Michigan 48503
(810) 237-3450

Sloan Museum in Flint, Mich. Photo courtesy of the Sloan Longway Museum.

Sloan Museum in Flint, Mich. Photo courtesy of the Sloan Longway Museum.

Alfred P. Sloan was a maverick of the burgeoning days of Michigan’s auto industry having been named President and CEO of General Motors in 1923. Sloan helped to establish the legacy of General Motors within the Flint community. View classic GM and Buick muscle at the Sloan Museum and Buick Gallery, and then stay for a show at the Longway Planetarium – all sites located on the Flint Cultural Center campus.

West region:

Gilmore Car Museum
6865 W Hickory Road
Hickory Corners, MI 49060
(269) 671-5089

Shell Station at the Gilmore Car Museum. Photo courtesy of the Gilmore Car Museum.

Shell Station at the Gilmore Car Museum. Photo courtesy of the Gilmore Car Museum.

Visit the 90-acre, historic campus of the Gilmore Car Museum, located in bucolic Hickory Corners just 17 miles northeast of Kalamazoo, to experience a wealth of automotive history and Americana. Gilmore features nearly 200 historic autos and two dozen beautifully restored buildings including a 1930s service station, historic barns, a functioning 1941 diner and car dealerships from a bygone era according to the website. The Gilmore Car Museum is hailed as one of the finest auto experiences in the nation showcasing rare exhibits such as an 1899 Locomobile and the elusive Tucker ’48.


Walker Tavern Historic Site
13220 M-50
Brooklyn, MI 49230

Grounds of the Walker Tavern in Irish Hills. Photo courtesy of the Walker Tavern Historical Site.

Grounds of the Walker Tavern in Irish Hills. Photo courtesy of the Walker Tavern Historical Site.

Experience a genuine pioneer stagecoach stop at the Walker Tavern located in Michigan’s Irish Hills area. The site served as a tourist destination during the early years of automotive travel and today is a 66-acre State Historic Park. Visitors can tour the restored tavern, hear stories about the experiences of travelers along the old Chicago Road and view exhibits about historical vehicles, road building and tourism in the Irish Hills.


The Automotive Hall of Fame
21400 Oakwood Boulevard
Dearborn, MI 48124
(313) 240-4000

The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Mich. Photo courtesy of the Automotive Hall of Fame.

The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Mich. Photo courtesy of the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Much of the innovation that “Put the World on Wheels,” came directly from the Detroit and Dearborn communities thus cementing the legacy of the Motor City. So it is appropriate that the Automotive Hall of Fame, a museum dedicated to those pioneers and innovators, is located in historic Dearborn next to the campus of the Henry Ford. Museum exhibits highlight many of the auto industry’s celebrated entrepreneurs, visionaries and innovators. Be inspired by a 65- foot ceiling to floor mural and displays that showcase each of the members of the Automotive Hall of Fame.

In addition, check out these automotive-inspired events coming up that you don’t want to miss in August. Visit our monthly events round-up for more ideas, or for a complete listing view our Events Calendar.

  1. Back to the Bricks Cruise & Car Show - August 11-15, 2015 in Flint. Come visit Flint and Genesee and be part of one of the biggest car events featuring a rolling cruise, kick-off party, live entertainment, automotive displays, vendors, food, antique fire trucks and dragster exhibits, contests and a Saturday car show that will amaze all with over 30,000 participants and over 300,000 spectators.
  2. Corvettes on Woodward - August 12, 2015 in Bloomfield Hills. This gathering of Corvettes from around the country has grown and offers a special exhibit each generation.
  3. Harbor Springs Car Festival – August 13, 2015 in Harbor Springs.
  4. Woodward Dream Cruise – August 15, 2015 in Detroit. With more than 40,000 muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector and special interest vehicles on display, the Motor City definitely shifts into cruise mode for the Woodward Dream Cruise, an all-star display of car culture.
  5. Pure Michigan 400 – August 16 at Michigan International Speedway. Last chance before summer ends to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as it returns to Michigan International Speedway, NASCAR’s fastest racetrack.
  6. Old US 27 Motor Tour - August 18-19, 2015 in Coldwater. Cruises of Coldwater Country are mapped out for this fun event. Goody bags, door prizes and lots of fun await you in Coldwater.
  7. Tecumseh’s Classic Car and Bike Show – August 20, 2015 in Tecumseh.
  8. Corvette Crossroads Auto Show - August 21-22, 2015 in Mackinac City. Hundreds of Corvettes will be on display with vendors, music, awards and more. 
  9. UAW-GM Spirit of Detroit HydroFest - August 22-23, 2015 in Detroit. While not automotive, this fun hydroplane race is sponsored by UAW-GM. The action-packed 2015 UAW-GM Spirit of Detroit HydroFest marks the 99th running of the hydroplanes on the Detroit River.
  10. Blanchard Steam and Gas Engine Show – August 28-30 in Blanchard. Enjoy tractor pulls, steam engine exhibits, live music, a flea market and more!
  11. Fire Truck Muster - August 29, 2015 in Ypsilanti. A diverse collection of fire trucks will range in era from the 1920′s through the late 1970′s.


Austen Smith press photoAbout the author: Austen Smith is the Communications Coordinator for the MotorCities National Heritage Area, a non-profit group affiliated with the National Park Service that promotes and preserves auto heritage. To learn more about MotorCities and its mission, visit the website at motorcities.org.

Spot the Pure Michigan Mustang this Summer

The Pure Michigan 400 Mustang at the 2012 Tulip Time Festival

Since we announced the Pure Michigan 400 Mustang sweepstakes last month, have you spotted the vehicle on the road?

Starting with the Tulip Time Festival in Holland last week, the custom-made Roush Mustang began making its way around the state. Now through the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in August, let us know if you spot the car at various Pure Michigan events!

Here are a few places to look out for the Mustang:

Hot Rod Power Tour
What better place for the Pure Michigan Mustang than at the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour? The tour will come to Muskegon on June 3rd, and will include a performance fair with booths and displays of everything on the car enthusiast’s wish list.

Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
In advance of the Pure Michigan 400, head to the Irish Hills on June 17th for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Besides the Mustang, see NASCAR stars, such as former MIS winners Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, who will return to MIS for this action-packed day of side-by-side racing.

International Bridge Walk
On June 30th, walk one of the most picturesque 2.8 mile walks during the Sault Sainte Marie International Bridge Walk. People of all ages and at all fitness levels are encouraged to take part in this walk to enjoy fantastic views while snapping pictures (maybe one of the Pure Michigan Mustang) that will last a lifetime.

National Cherry Festival
From July 7th – 14th, enjoy family fun in Traverse City at the annual National Cherry Festival. Look out for the Pure Michigan Mustang while taking in colorful parades, marching bands, music shows, sporting events, amusement rides and more.

Let us know if you see the Mustang on the road or at events this summer by posting a photo to the Pure Michigan Car Culture Facebook page or tweeting us at the Pure Michigan cars Twitter handle.

For more information on how you can win the custom-made ride, visit michigan.org/mis.