Detroit might be known for its car-famed history, but "The Motor City" -- a mere four-hour drive up I-75 -- has a lot more to offer than auto museums. Of course, the musuems are pretty rad (if we do say so ourselves). Let's hit the road and see what D-Town supplies in food, fun, and an overall experience.
Get your motor running with these must-sees:
Detroit Historical Museum
To get the inside scoop on how a city came to exist, one of the first stops when traveling should always be the history museum. While the legacy of Detroit has been in national headlines for its auto industry, there is always more to the story. Learn about the inventors of the washing machine, lane markings on streets, Tupperware, and paint-by-number sets: all products of Detroit. Get a firsthand look at a full-sized assembly line designed by Henry Ford, or tour the early days of Motown, seeing how the label got its start with an $800 loan. (NOTE: Plan to spend 2-3 hours taking it all in.)
Known to have one of the largest and most eccentric collections in the United States, King Books specializes in rare and used literature. With over one million items in its inventory, the bookstore occupies four floors of an old warehouse. Visitors are given a map upon arrival to navigate to their favorite section. The labyrinth of topics is meticulously organized, yet features all handwritten signs and labels on the shelves. This store is a must-visit for any bibliophile or those searching for a hard-to-find paperback gift.
Art Deco lovers ooh and ahh when it comes to the Guardian Building -- a terra cotta and limestone skyscraper built in 1928 in the Financial District. While the top floors are home to offices, guests are welcome to tour the grand lobby and gift shop. Known as the Cathedral of Finance, vaulted ceilings are detailed in moasics of Rookwood tile and Pewabic pottery. At 36 stories tall, with two distinct spires, it's an easy-to-spot icon of the downtown landscape.
Michigan Central Station
One of the forgotten relics of Motor City, Michigan Central Station was erected in 1913 and transported as many as 4,000 railroad passengers a day during its peak service. Come World War II, use of the facility declined drastically and changed ownership regularly for the next 20 years. By the late 1970s, Amtrak invested in renovating the property for service but was only in use for six years. Since then, it's sat abandoned as a haunting image visible for miles to those who pass through along I-75. Many have found the beauty in its blight: the station has been used as a setting in Hollywood productions such as the Transformers movie and Eminem's 8 Mile. While you can no longer go inside Michigan Central, tourists can stop by in-person, bask in its immense size, and take pictures of the historical landmark from the sidewalk.
Head to the 72nd floor of one of the glitziest skyscrapers in Motor City for booze and views. Enjoy the ride up in the glass elevator, then find a scenic spot at the bar to sip and take in the sights: the Detroit River; the Detroit and Windsor, Canada skylines; and the International Waterway. Day or night, this is an experience that won't disappoint.
Henry Ford Museum
Plan ahead to spend a half day or more among the extensive collections of Henry Ford. With 16 exhibits and multiple theatres, the museum features much more than the legacy of the automotive giant. A history on the pioneers of aviation, a collection of presidential limousines, and a journey through two centuries of manufacturing innovations round out some of the most interesting offerings of the museum. World's Premiere Auto Exhibition outlines the story of cars from conception to mainstream dominance on highways & beyond (i.e. their influence on the first McDonald's drive thru). A 30-foot-tall, 50-ton gothic steam engine may be the most massive artifact on display in the great hall. The most memorable? That's a tie between the Rosa Parks' bus and the Ford's Theatre chair where Lincoln was assassinated.
Green Dot Stables
A $3 Long Island, Moscow Mule, or Mint Julep anyone? Green Dot Stables, a laid back pub, serves up high quality, low cost drinks and miniature sandwiches. Just try and spend more than $20 on a meal for two people. It won't happen. Choose from 21 different sliders, priced $2-$3 each. Stick with a classic burger, or try a tiny gyro, fried bologna, or corned beef with kraut. Adventurous eaters will enjoy the Korean beef with peanut butter and kimchi, lamb burger with rosemary hummus, or BBQ beef with sweet potato. Vegetarian? Green Dot has several temptatious meat-free sliders, too: Quinoa burger with kale and chimichurri, tempeh burger with wasabi mayo and wakame salad, or the black bean burger with tomato, avocado, and sour cream. Plus, if you like any of the carnivorous burgers, you can sub out the beef for the veg-friendly protein of choice.
What are you waiting for? Rev up your engine and hit the road to experience the new Motor City!