15 Best Detroit Road Trips: Weekend Getaways & Day Trips

Detroit – the largest city in Michigan, is an excellent place to start your road trip. Detroit is the birthplace of Motown, and proudly the hometown of the late Ms Aretha Franklin. With its hidden culture, you can always find music swinging from bars and award-winning restaurants.

Whether you’re a ‘motor-city-local’ or just visiting the regenerative city, you might be looking for weekend getaways and some top-tier day trips. 

We all know planning and researching for trips can be a hassle. 

To make your journey easier, here are our best 15 Detroit road trip destinations. 

Corktown 

Before you adventure out of Detroit, consider a day trip in the city. Corktown is a neighbourhood in Detroit, full of Irish heritage. 

This quirky, modern neighbourhood is full of thrift stores, modern breweries and record stores. There’s nothing more Irish than getting a pint, so check out McShane’s Irish Pub & Whiskey Bar, a popular choice among locals. 

While in Corktown, also check out The Motown Museum. This inspiring museum is located in the original headquarters and music recording studio of Motown Records. It seeks to preserve and document the legacy of Motown. With authentic and treasured memorabilia of Motown Records, there’s no wonder why it’s a celebrated tourist destination. 

London, ON

One of the best things about Detroit? It’s right on the border. Pop on over to Canada to see some new sights and get some traditional maple syrup along the way. We’ve chosen London, Ontario as our best destination. 

Not only is London only a two-hour drive from Detroit, but it’s a beautiful Canadian city. It’s known as the ‘forest city’, due to its vast amount of parkland and boulevards lined with trees. It’s a great option if you’re looking to get some nature, as well as check out a new city. It has a rich association with privileging the arts, with multiple museums. After you’ve worked up an appetite, check out one of their many quirky restaurants or bars. It’s truly an excellent place to have fun and relax. 

Chicago 

Did someone say, pizza? 

If you’re up for a longer drive, be sure to head to Chicago. If you want to hit the pizzerias, be sure to swing by Pequod’s Pizza for a classic deep dish pizza in a pub-like restaurant. If you have extra cash to splurge, pay a visit to Coda di Volpe. They serve traditional southern Italian pizzas in a chic setting.  

Once you’re done eating, have a stroll through Millennium Park. Or, the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s a world-renowned museum, with many Monet paintings. 

Chicago is one of the best cities to get lost in. With restaurants and bars on every corner, there’s always something to do. 

Munising

Okay – admittedly, this is a longer drive than Chicago. But, it’s still in Michigan, and if you set off early enough, it’s a great place to spend a weekend. 

Munising is the go-to place for nature lovers. It’s a gorgeous city in Alger County, on the shore of Lake Superior. There is easy access to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, where you can get a cruise around the lake. There’s also the option to kayak. It’s a beautiful lakefront, with stunning cliff formations. 

The Hiawatha National Forest is another must-see sight. With gorgeous scenic views, there’s also the option to set up camp. 

Munising is the place to visit for adventures, who are looking to explore the beauty of Michigan. 

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in Michigan. It was nicknamed ‘River City’, as the wonderful Grand River streams through it.

Nowadays, it’s known as ‘Beer City’. The Grand Rapids is the place to go if you’re a beer buff. 

It has an abundance of small to large scale breweries, making it a city that really appreciates and specializes in craft beer. Local favourites for a pint are Grand Rapids Brewing Company. But, if you’d rather have a beer in a former chapel – take a seat at Brewery Vivant. Or if you’d rather sit in a restored Victorian firehouse, pop into The Mitten Brewing Company. With a vast list of breweries, we’re sure you’ll find something you’d like.

If beer isn’t your thing, don’t fret. Grand Rapids has tons of cultural activities to check off your list. If you enjoy modern art, be sure to check out Grand Rapids Art Museum and Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts. If you have kids, pop into Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. It’s a great and fun way to introduce art to your little ones.

If you’re fed up with being indoors – check out Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. It’s a beautiful outdoor space, with some real picturesque views.

Hell, Michigan

A sure-fire way to catch your friends and family’s attention is to take the highway to Hell. 

But to really, quite literally, take the highway to Hell. With receipts, and everything. 

This small southeast community, located in the picturesque Livingston County, is an excellent place to spend an uncanny day. Unsurprisingly, it’s Halloween all year long in Hell. If you’re hungry – pop into Screams Ice Cream for a cooling snack. Or if you’ve worked up an appetite, check into the Hell Saloon or Hell Hole Diner.

Hell has a plethora of signs and attractions for tourists to take memorable photographs. If you want to deliver a postcard, drop into Hell’s Post Office. With an inclusive range of cards, you can request that they ‘scorch’ before sending. There’s nothing quite like a message from the devil.

Mackinac Island

We can’t write an article about a Detroit road-trip, without mentioning Mackinac Island. A childhood treasure to many ‘motor-city-locals’, it’s a fun place to spend the day. 

Given that it’s an island, you’re going to have to take a ferry. Also, no vehicles for personal use are allowed on the island. So, you’re going to have to take a horse and carriage, bike, or simply walk around the island. There’s plenty of shops, restaurants and pubs to choose from. Mackinac Island is famous for its fudge, so you’ll always be able to find a tasty, crafted treat.  

Frankenmuth

Just as Corktown reflects Michigan’s Irish heritage, Frankenmuth embodies its Bavarian heritage. 

Frankenmuth is famous for its Bavarian architecture and cuisine. If you’re looking for a place to stay, or eat – check out The Bavarian Inn Restaurant. It was founded in 1888, and after three generations, is still a functioning inn and restaurant.

There are a plethora of unique shops, such as Frankenmuth Cheese Haus and Frankenmuth Clock Company. There’s also an excellent outdoor mall if you’re looking for modern options. It’s a fun and quirky place to spend the weekend, without having to travel too far. 

Lexington

Another excellent destination for short-distance travel is Lexington, Michigan. 

A small lakeside village, Lexington is great for a quiet weekend. Check out Lake Heron for a relaxing afternoon, and then pop by many of the quaint shops Lexington has to offer. Full of taverns, bars and local restaurants, it’s a great spot for beer and wine fanatics. 

If you’re looking for a fairly peaceful weekend getaway, Lexington is for you. 

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Of course, we’re going to mention Ohio – and before you look away, give this wonderful national park a chance. 

An excellent choice if you’re looking to step away from city life. With 33,000 acres of forests, gorgeous hills and luscious farmland, you’re sure to steep into relaxation. As a refuge for endangered animals such as the bald eagle and peregrine falcons, you’ll feel right at home camping amongst nature. 

Silver Lake State Park, Michigan

Silver Lake is a great option if you want to do some swimming, and with its calm waters – it’s ideal for families with smaller children. You can also enjoy the four-mile Lake Michigan beach, where you can swim, surf, or fish for salmon.

Silver Lake State Park is notorious for its sand dunes. Try out sandboarding, or rent an off-road vehicle to drive across the dunes. Alternatively, you can take an excursion through the sand dunes with Mac Wood Dune Riders. 

If cities aren’t your thing, but adventuring in nature is, be sure to check out Silver Lake State Park.

New York

Adventure on a road trip to The Big Apple. 

Everyone knows that New York City is a beacon of the United States and a must-see destination. From grand restaurants, roof-top bars, to comedy clubs – New York has it all. We advise that you travel with at least one other driver, so you can take turns driving. Alternatively, if you want to stay overnight, you could stop halfway in Pennsylvania. 

Is it a long drive? Yes. Will it make for great memories? Sure. 

Should you do it? Probably.

Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor is another great city to visit in Michigan. It takes less than an hour to drive to, so it’s perfect for a quick day trip. 

It’s a university town riddled with arts and culture. There’s plenty of independent bookstores, restaurants and coffee houses. It’s also great for nature buffs. Take a gander down to the Huron River Water Trail where you can try out kayaking or canoeing. Or, pop into U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens for a coffee and a gentle stroll. 

Birmingham, Michigan

One of our quickest day trip destinations is Birmingham.

It’s the go-to place for shopping. Birmingham’s downtown shopping district has almost 300 retailers, from high-end boutiques to antique shops. It’s also a great place to get some food, whether you fancy European or Indian cuisine – they’ve got it covered. 

Niagara Falls

We started with Canada, and we’re ending with Canada. Living near the border has its benefits – like being able to drive to Niagara Falls, in under 5 hours. 

Witness the captivating natural wonder which is Niagra Falls, and see the wondrous display of waterfalls for yourself. If you fancy a scenic route, – from a different angle, take a ride in Niagara Helicopters. It’s a unique opportunity to witness the waterfalls from above. You can also zipline to the falls, a truly exhilarating experience for thrill-seekers. 

Summary 

Whether you’re looking for a day trip close to Detroit, like Corktown – or you’re in it for the long haul, and you’re packed and ready for Chicago, you’re sure to find a location perfect for you on our list.