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. 

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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.

Pure Michigan January 2015 Events Roundup

The New Year has almost arrived and we couldn’t be more excited about everything happening throughout Pure Michigan in 2015. From snowshoeing tours to the world famous North American International Auto Show, January is filled with events for everyone to enjoy. For a full list of events in Michigan, visit michigan.org/events.

Week of December 29 – January 5

Marquette New Year’s Eve Ball Drop
December 31 – January 1
Every New Year’s Eve at the intersection of Washington St. and Front St. becomes the location where locals and visitors come together in a large crowd to welcome in the New Year. On the 12th strike an illuminated ball is lowered from the historic Savings Bank Building. This year will mark the 26th anniversary!

Charlevoix Bridge Drop
December 31 – January 1
Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a bang! Charlevoix’s second annual Bridge Drop will ring in 2015 with a downtown party full of festivities and fun. Daytime family friendly activities include a winter petting zoo, camel rides, snowman building, food trucks, s’mores and bonfires. The evening’s events of live music and activities throughout Charlevoix’s restaurants, bars and shops will culminate with the “bridge drop” and firework display at midnight. Fun for all, and all for fun!


Family Snowshoe Hike
January 3, Midland
Whether you’re a beginner or have strapped snowshoes on many times before, the whole family is welcome to join a walk on the Chippewa Nature Center trails. You’ll be trained how to look for animal tracks, birds, and other points of interest and enjoy the snowy scenery.

Full Moon Night Skiing
January 3, Roscommon
Experience the magic of winter in a whole new light! Every full moon during the ski season, the Trapper’s Cabin trail will be lit with torches, creating a truly unique and memorable nighttime experience. There will also be a bonfire and hot chocolate served at Trapper’s Cabin!

Brides To-Be Show
January 4, Clinton Township
The holidays are over and you got engaged! How exciting! Now that you have all your family still here in town, why not have them join you at our biggest Eastside bridal show of the year at the Fern Hill Golf Club in Clinton Township. Find everything you need to plan the perfect wedding. Up to $20,000 in prizes including three different honeymoons, free tuxedos, and so much more! View over 80 local wedding professionals showcasing all the latest trends in weddings!

Week of January 5 -12

Ultimate Fishing Show
January 8-11, Novi
Follow the stream to Novi to experience Michigan’s largest pure-fishing show. This show is all about fishing tackle, fishing trips, fishing boats and will features Lake Ultimate, Trout Pond, Hawg Trough, Seminar Stages, Fish Fry, and more. The show appeals to anglers of all ages with all levels of experience.

Sleepy Hollow State Park Ice Art and S’mores
January 10, Laingsburg
Meet at the beach to create your own masterpiece of ice art and have a s’more when you’re done! Sleepy Hollow State Park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with family while you create memories and beautiful works of icy art.

Dog SleddingMuskallonge Lake State Park 16th Annual Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race
January 10, Newberry
Have you been waiting to see a sled dog race? Here’s your chance! The Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race is a combination of pro and sport classes with professional 12-dog and 8-dog teams running 60 and 40 miles respectively, and with sports classes of 2- to 6-dog teams running from four to 30 miles. “Mush!” your way to Newberry to check it out!

Advanced Auto Parts Monster Jam
January 10, Detroit
Monster Jam stars the biggest performers on four wheels: Monster Jam Trucks! The twelve-feet-tall, ten-thousand-pound machines will bring you to your feet, racing and repping up a custom-designed track full of obstacles to soar over – OR smash through!

Winter Wetland Wildlife
January 10, Bay City
Discover Michigan’s winter survivors, the animals that are active throughout this long cold season of hardship. Learn how you can landscape your backyard to help them survive the harsh winter of Michigan through various plantings and artificial shelters. Take a look at the different feeder designs available and construct a feeder to take home.

Week of January 12 – 19

Wine About Winter
January 16, Grand Haven
Quit whining about winter and do something about it! What could be better than a multi-venue, multi-vineyard wine tasting focused solely on Michigan wines? Also featured will be appetizers and Michigan artists. Rick Sigsby, the noted Michigan author, will be present and signing copies of his book: Michigan’s Holy Water (The Great Lakes Wine Bible). Wander the snow-free warmth of heated sidewalks and a cozy downtown and discover your new favorite Michigan vintage. All you have to lose is your case of the winter blues!


Bay City Recreation Area under the Ice
January 17, Bay City
Ever been ice fishing? Ever wonder what happens under the ice? Come discover who sleeps all winter and who is wide awake, actively seeking out food and shelter and avoiding predators under the ice. Includes live animal encounters!

Tecumseh Ice Sculpture Festival
January 17 – 18, Tecumseh
Enjoy watching ice carvers as they create glistening works of art before your eyes. There will be ice carving demonstrations, dueling sculpture carving competitions, interactive ice sculptures, the Winter Warm-up Beverage Walk, Chocolate Walk, Children’s Craft Activities, merchant sales and specials, Lost Arts demonstrations, live music & Bell Choir performances, ice skating at Adams Park and much more!

Kalkaska Winterfest
January 17 – 18, Kalkaska
Top sled dogs and their drivers from all over North America will attend this two-day race of heart-pounding excitement. Other activities include IWPA dog weight pull, outhouse races, Corvettesilent auction, craft show and more!

North American International Auto Show
January 17 – 25, Detroit
Now in its 27th year as an international event, the NAIAS is among the most prestigious auto shows in the world, providing unparalleled access to the automotive products, people and ideas that matter most – up close and in one place.


January 19 – 26

Tip Up Town USA
January 23 – 25, Houghton Lake
2015 is the 65th year for Tip-Up Town USA, a family festival held on Houghton Lake. Activities for all ages that include parade, ice fishing contest, ice slide, family fun tent, carnival, outdoor games, snowmobile drag races and more.

Parrots of the Caribbean | Concert
January 24, Coldwater
To combat the winter weather, enjoy a trip to Margaritaville. Voted the number one Jimmy Buffet tribute act in the country, this group of five musicians brings excitement, energy and a night filled with warm-weather flair.

Michigan Historical Museum: A Statehood Day Celebration
Michigan-Historical-Museum1-300x200January 24, Lansing
This year, our annual Statehood Day celebration honors the 178th birthday of the Great Lakes State. In the museum, you’ll discover how Michigan joined the United States and what life was like for pioneers; plus, you’ll enjoy hands-on activities, costumed interpreters and unique artifacts.

Chili Winter Evening
January 24, Lansing
Warm up with a steaming hot bowl of chili on this cold winter evening. This family-friendly event includes a horse-drawn sleigh ride to see the beautiful trails of Woldumar Nature Center in the winter, campfire to warm up near, and live music.

Harlem Globetrotters
January 26, Saginaw
The world famous Harlem Globetrotters will bring their unrivaled family show to The Dow Event Center on Monday, January 26, 2015, at 7pm. They will face a great challenge, the Washington Generals!

January 27 – 31

Festival of the Arts
January 29 – February 28
The Festival of the Arts is an annual series of entertainment, educational and cultural events offered daily throughout February in Big Rapids. The Festival features a variety of art, film, and music presentations, as well as interactive workshops and contests. All Events are held in Big Rapids.

Little Red Riding Hood
January 31, Grand Rapids
The timeless tale of a spunky young girl and a crafty wolf whose plans are foiled by a modern day twist. Featuring the Grand Rapids Symphony and the dancers of the Grand Rapids Ballet. Don’t miss the chance to experience this exciting and classic “tail”!

Muskegon Snowfest
January 31, Muskegon
Celebrating its 31st anniversary, the Muskegon Snowfest brings fun activities for the young at heart and all families and visitors of Muskegon County. This one day festival, centered on Western Avenue, brings the traditional soup/chili cook-off by area restaurants, kidsfest, snow cornhole tournament, snow volleyball, and an entertainment tent with live music, plus – it’s heated!

Ice Breakers 2015
January 31 – February 2
West Michigan’s predominant and growing winter festival is showcasing dazzling ice sculptures, Chili Cook-off, Pub Slide, horse drawn wagon rides, kid crafts, and many more exciting events. A major highlight of the event is the sculpting of more than 50 blocks of ice, weighing 300 pounds each, into incredible works of frozen art. While admiring all the amazing ice displays along the way

Do you have an annual January tradition to kick off the New Year? Share it by commenting below!

A Sneak Peek at the 2014 North American International Auto Show (Plus a Giveaway!)

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) kicks off at the Cobo Center in Detroit this weekend! The show will officially be open to the public January 18 – 26, but we were able to snap some photos during media preview days to share. Check them out in the gallery below and learn more about the show at michigan.org.

Will you be attending NAIAS this year? See the bottom of this post for your chance to win free tickets to the show!

If you’re looking to keep the automotive excitement going after the show, check out these 5 awesome automotive attractions in Pure Michigan. 

Do you want to score free tickets to NAIAS in Detroit? Simply tell us in the comments section below why you want to go to the Auto Show and who you would take with you. We’ll then select one lucky winner at random to win two tickets to the show. To be eligible, simply submit your comments (along with your email address) by this Wednesday, January 15that 11:59 p.m. EST. We’ll contact the winner Thursday morning using the email address provided (we won’t share it or sell it to anybody).  UPDATE: This contest has ended. The winner has been selected and contacted via email with their prize. Thank you everyone for the comments!