Visitors look at a slick looking silver Kia SUV on display at the North American Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan

Cruising Motor City: Top Stops for Car Lovers in Detroit

Visitors look at a slick looking silver Kia SUV on display at the North American Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan

Cruising Motor City: Top Stops for Car Lovers in Detroit

Auto lovers who find themselves in Detroit, Michigan, for business or pleasure will enjoy the many automotive historical museums in this city.

It’s called “Motor City” for good reason. If you’re an auto aficionado who dreams of your next smooth ride, Detroit just might be your ultimate destination. Rich in automotive history that blends perfectly with exciting glimpses of automotive future, this historic city promises to keep your motor running during every spare minute between meetings.

If your business travels take you to Detroit in early January, don’t miss the North American International Auto Show. For two weeks at the beginning of each year, exhibitors and auto manufacturers unveil concept cars and new vehicle technologies. Featuring everything from high-performance supercars, one-off designs, electric vehicles to muscle cars and trucks, this seemingly endless parade of all things automotive will get your heart racing like the engine of a Formula One championship car.

A unique bright orange and yellow small compact Shell Concept Car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan
Source: North American International Auto Show

Detroit Historical Museum

While the auto show may be the holy grail for auto enthusiasts, it’s not the only way for car lovers to enjoy Detroit. Several museums focus on different aspects of the city’s role as the country’s car capital. Start at the Detroit Historical Museum, which offers a deep dive into the city’s past. The museum explains how cars became the building blocks of the city, how Detroit earned its Motor City moniker, and much more. The Automotive Showplace exhibit features rare and unique vehicles from the collection owned by the Detroit Historical Society.

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Once you understand the background of Detroit’s car-studded history, take a closer look at some of the names that built the city, starting with Henry Ford. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation features an extensive collection of cars as well as an exhaustive library of automotive product literature. It’s also home to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, where you can experience how a Ford F-150 is made and even walk through a life-size automotive factory floor.

GM Renaissance Center

Of course, Ford isn’t the only big name in the city, and the GM Renaissance Center — known to locals as the GMRenCen – includes many options for dining, shopping, and entertainment, including the GM Company Store with merchandise that pays tribute to the Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac brands. Fun activities at the center include an immersive experience that uses multi-screen video presentations, interactive experiences, and global vehicle displays to highlight the many aspects of GM’s brand.

Automotive Hall of Fame

The previous museums may provide a better understanding of Detroit’s automotive excellence, but if you want to dig even deeper, make time to visit the Automotive Hall of Fame. This impressive museum is all about the innovators who changed American lives forever. The experience begins with a stunning, 65-foot-long mural that illustrates and celebrates the way the motor vehicle has changed the world’s culture.

The museum combines permanent exhibits with rotating installations, meaning you can make an annual pilgrimage to visit and still walk away with completely new information. From the birth of the automobile and the growth and expansion of highways to industries like trucking and motorsports and the contributions of pioneers who were instrumental in selling cars, the exhibits take even the most seemingly insignificant facts and weave them into the rich texture of an amazing story.

An antique red and black Ford Model T sits on display at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit, Michigan
Source: Ford Piquette Avenue Plant

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant

For your final stop, visit the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant to take one more loving look at automotive history. Billed as “the birthplace of the Model T,” the restored plant features many restored Model Ts as well as other Ford cars inside the original factory. The site is a U.S. National Landmark (2006) and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (2002).

What are your favorite Motor City attractions for car lovers? Share your best photos with us on Instagram.