B Jake Moran

Detroit Area Museums and Attractions

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I am trying to plan a comprehensive vacation the 1st week of August that is made daunting because we have an exchange student joining us from Germany.  I live in Des Moines Iowa and basically my choices were to go west or east/southeast. 

 

I am a car guy and love automotive history.  My daughter is 17, my guest will be 16 when she visits, I'll have my wife, and I and I am trying to mix in fun kid stuff like zip lines and amusement stuff with some history and activities. 

 

I want to go to Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford museum. I want to go to the Edsel and Eleanor Ford Home.  Wouldn't mind some other Detroit area "must sees" even if it's a bit on the seedy side, like the old Packard factory (or what is left of it).  Any ideas welcome, and link websites if you can. 

 

I might stop at Gilmore on the way.

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Try not to miss the Gilmore. It is FABULOUS!

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Posted (edited)

The old Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is worth a visit as well.

 

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Edited by AzBob
additional photo. (see edit history)
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Greenfield village will take most of a day and is very interesting.

The Ford museum is huge and needs a day, it's some years since I was there, but it is not only cars in there, but planes, trains, weapons, american household appliances, jewellery, silver, china, you name it.

There is also at the same site another museum dedicated to those people who were prominent in automotive history.

 I asked my Canadian sister to take me there and she did so reluctantly, but she was amazed by what we saw and did not get bored. Unfortunately we had only one day there and  to see the Ford museum and village took some doing. No time for the other place. The lady we paid was right, you really need a day at each place to take it all in.

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Studebaker National Museum, which is not too terribly far from the Gilmore Museum is also a 'must see'.

 

Craig

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43 minutes ago, old car fan said:

Auburn is a must as well as the Gilmore,ON your way

 

Absolute best car museum in the world.

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Posted (edited)

In Detroit be sure to go downtown and get a Coney Dog at Lafayette Coney Island. Driving Jefferson Ave. From Cobo Hall north along the river till it becomes Lakeshore Dr. and all the way to Edsel's home is a nice trip. Belle Isle is interesting during the day. There is always the Detroit Institute of Art if you enjoy art museums. 

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Edited by Brass is Best (see edit history)

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B Jake Moran,

the largest car show in the world is the Detroit Woodward Dream Cruise. It’s held August 17th and the week before. A million people and thousands of cars. From Eight mile Road to 18 mile road. Hot rods, classic cars and muscle cars. I drive my antiques in it. If you make your trip last till then, you will be amazed since you can’t describe a ten mile long , ten lane wide, moving car show.

Ron Hausmann P.E. 

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8 hours ago, B Jake Moran said:

I am trying to plan a comprehensive vacation the 1st week of August that is made daunting because we have an exchange student joining us from Germany.  I live in Des Moines Iowa and basically my choices were to go west or east/southeast. 

 

I am a car guy and love automotive history.  My daughter is 17, my guest will be 16 when she visits, I'll have my wife, and I and I am trying to mix in fun kid stuff like zip lines and amusement stuff with some history and activities. 

 

I want to go to Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford museum. I want to go to the Edsel and Eleanor Ford Home.  Wouldn't mind some other Detroit area "must sees" even if it's a bit on the seedy side, like the old Packard factory (or what is left of it).  Any ideas welcome, and link websites if you can. 

 

I might stop at Gilmore on the way.

I live in Michigan and Greenfield Village/the Henry Ford are excellent.  The Gilmore Car Museum in south West Michigan is one not to miss.  Also in the Detroit area check out Stahls. http://www.stahlsauto.com/. Limited hours but a wonderful collection.  The piquette plant is great,though not sure how much you are into model Ts, but a lot of history there.  If you by any chance like Motown then you have to check out the Motown museum where it all began.

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Don't forget Henry Ford's home, Fairlane. Well worth the visit. Also the Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of the Arts.

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STHALS is a must. Use the Henery Ford as a rain day option for the inside museum. ACD is less than 2 hours away. As is Gilmore. I was staying in Angola Indiana last week, and used it as a base for all of the museums listed. When it rained in Auburn, I went north to Gilmore, and it was dry and sunny. Use the local radar to figure things out....works great. Sthals is very diverse and geared to entertain and appeal to non car people compared to Gilmore or ACD. Enjoy!

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I agree with all of the above. I believe Gilmore Museum has their famous Red Barns show the first weekend in August. If you can make it, it is a great car show and swap meet in addition to all that the museum has to offer. Either way, the Gilmore would be the first museum I would visit.

 

In addition to what has been mentioned above:

 

The Detroit Historical Museum is also a great and easy option as it is open seven days a week and is free. Unfortunately, they have very few of their great cars on display, but the museum and its exhibits are excellent and do deal with Detroit's automotive history as well as other important Detroit contributions such as music, art, architecture, culture etc. There is also a great 1880s full size village that is underneath the museum as well as a great operating and static toy train collection. It is a great place to take a family as it would appeal to everyone of all ages and interest. 

 

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is also a not to be missed attraction especially if you are into art. 

 

A drive through the Boston-Edison district will give you a glimpse into how the automotive barons lived during the early 1900s. The estates are amazing and many have been recently returned to their former glory.

 

The Packard plant is certainly worth a drive by as well as some urban-archeological exploring if you get a chance. 

 

There are some great dining experiences to be had in Detroit including Sweetwaters for BBQ, Greektown for Greek food and, of course American Coney Island and National Coney Island-obviously known for their Coney Dogs.

 

If you need any other suggestions, please feel free to email motoringicons@hotmail.com. I spend a lot of time in Detroit.

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Henry Ford's Estate, Fair Lane, has been closed for extensive restoration work.  It is not expected to re-open until at least next year. http://www.henryfordfairlane.org/

 

Other places: 

 

Cranbrook Science Institute https://www.cranbrook.edu/

Meadowbrook Hall https://meadowbrookhall.org/

Durant/GM Building https://www.michigan.gov/mshda/0,4641,7-141-54317_19320_61909-54586--,00.html

 & Fisher Building https://thefisherbuilding.com/

U of M Kelsey Museum (archaelogy) https://lsa.umich.edu/kelsey/

U of M Museum of Natural History https://lsa.umich.edu/ummnh

U of M Museum of Art https://umma.umich.edu/ (rather small, but near the other U of M museums)

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I'm not sure how many car museums you can take a 16-year-old girl to. Be sure to find out her interests, also. I suggest an interesting tour of Detroit that emphisizes its history. "Urban Adventures" has one called Detroit's Rise, Fall and Renewal which looks quite worthwhile.  

 

Phil 

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14 hours ago, motoringicons said:

 

The Packard plant is certainly worth a drive by as well as some urban-archeological exploring if you get a chance. 

One must also be aware of the dangers of leaving a vehicle unattended while in the area, especially as the urge to 'dig a little deeper' into the ruins can draw one's attention away from personal safety.  Just remember the bridge that collapsed without warning over East Grand Boulevard with little or no warning, and thankfully, no one was on or under it when it fell. 

 

Craig

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In Detroit like any other city always maintain situational awareness. Pay attention to what others are doing. The city has come a long way in the last 10 years or so, but it is still Detroit. 

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I'd skip the ruins of the Packard plant, because that's what it is now.  The Packard Proving Grounds is a better alternative.

 

As a previous poster said, the trip will need balance beyond car stuff.  Why not stop in Chicago (lots of options on things to do), then the Gilmore or Studebaker museums make a good stop on the way to Detroit.

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I agree Chicago is a great stop, the Shed Aquarium and the Field Museum are both awesome, I do like driving Motor Row, South end of Michigan Avenue, that is where all the car dealerships were in the 1920s and 30s.  You could head a little North catch the USS Cobia and the Kissel Museum (Wisconsin Automotive Museum) and then take the SS Badger across Lake Michigan Manitowoc to Ludington.... Or just keep going North hit the National Train Museum and spend some time in Door County.

 

The Masterpiece August 4th in Milwaukee, awesome show on the lake, get there early to hear/see the cars drive in (best part of the show)

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Great time of year for a road trip, have fun!

 

 

 

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Lots to see around Detroit, The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Ford Mansion, Ford Rouge plant tour, Stahls, Ford piquette plant, the latter being a little iffy the rest are pretty safe. Some of the above suggestions, like Lafayette (and American) Coney island down on Michigan and Lafayette, I'd steer clear of. This year, Detroit has had a significant increase in violent crime, shootings, robberies, homicides, carjackings etc. Some of the highly protected areas like Greektown are seeing increased crime.  The Lafayette and American coney islands, Boston Edison tour a drive along Jefferson, I'd hold off on that. Stay north of 8-10 mile roads and west of Southfield expressway and Telegraph road. That is how we survive :)

 

It's fun and daring to drive through there, but if you break down or get lost and off the main paths, you could find yourself in a very dangerous situation. Calling 911 is just wishful thinking down there. And too, because Michigan has the highest auto insurance rates in the country, 4 out 5 Detroit residents have no vehicle insurance, so if involved in an accident, they just take off. Google "Detroit hit and run"

 

-Ron

Edited by Locomobile (see edit history)

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