This is not an obvious destination for most people traveling around the United States, but Detroit actually has many charms that aren't well known, including a revitalized downtown area that's loaded with interesting bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Not surprisingly for a city best known as the automobile capital of the world, Detroit is rather spread out. Windsor, Ontario, Canada is just across the river from Detroit, and Toledo, Ohio is in the other direction so this is one huge metropolitan area, though most of the best sights are in Detroit itself. The auto-themed sights are interesting to some, but of course this is also Motown and the home of the sound that defined 1960s pop and r&b.
What to do
The Henry Ford Museum is themed on cars, but it's much more than just various autos from over the years. You'll find JFK's limos and Rosa Parks' bus here, among other interesting historic displays. The Motown Historical Museum, Hitsville USA is very popular with music fans and it does a great job summing up the magic of the musical revolution that founder Barry Gordy Jr. helped break.
In recent years several large casinos have opened in the area, so those interested in trying their luck don't have to go too far, but there is plenty of other nightlife and entertainment packed into the Detroit city center itself. The city has a burgeoning underground arts scene and over 80 galleries downtown alone. The architecture is impressive as much of the International Riverfront area is well preserved, and the area is also loaded with many busy theaters for musicals and plays.
Read: 7 Very Worthwhile Midwestern Getaways.
Thanks to this being one of the hubs of Northwest Airlines, it's usually quite easy to get a cheap flight to Detroit
. The Detroit Metro Airport (code: DTW) is west of the city and serves as the only major airport for this highly populated region. Getting from the airport into the city is not too easy, but most people rent cars here so that is probably your best bet. AmTrak trains connect Detroit with Chicago in 5 hours and New York City in the other direction in about 20 hours.
If you decide to go to the airport by car you can pay for the Detroit airport parking
in advance and save both money and time. Or you can choose the Detroit airport shuttle
to take you to the airport fast and cheap.
Where to stay
Of course there are hundreds of Detroit hotels, and thankfully prices tend to be lower than in many other large American cities. This city is extremely spread out so pay close attention to location if you don't want a nasty surprise when you get there. There are no official hostels in Detroit
yet, but there are a few budget hotels you'll find listed among the hostels, and there will probably be actual hostels opening before long.