8 Detroit Attractions to Add to Your Auto Show Itinerary

The North American International Auto Show feels like the Academy Awards of the auto industry: the excitement, the lights, the jazzed-up displays. 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.

Meridian Winter Blast (Detroit)
Occuring on January 20-22, the Meridian Winter Blast will be held at Campus Martius Park. With an ice slide, ice rink, live music, marshmallow roasting, a zipline and much more, the event is a must-attend for family and friends. The entry fee is three canned food items or $3 to be donated to Matrix Human Services. You can also get free, same day admission if you attended the auto show! So be sure to get the hand stamp as you exit and head over for some winter fun. 

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 Edsel and Eleanor 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.

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.