Discover the best day trips from Detroit

The historic Belle Isle Bridge traverses the Detroit River. Bell Isle Park is one of the best day trips from Detroit.

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By The 'Gander Staff

June 7, 2024

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Detroit for a day? Explore the best day trips from Detroit with this comprehensive guide. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, art, or thrills, there’s something for everyone within a short drive of the Motor City. From historical villages to stunning parks, here are some of the top day trip destinations to consider for your next adventure.

A Historical Journey to Greenfield Village

Distance from Detroit: 20 minutes

Take a captivating leap back in time with a visit to the remarkable Greenfield Village, situated just a mere 15 minutes away from downtown Detroit. Nestled in Dearborn, this historic museum is a gateway to a bygone era. As you step through the gates of Greenfield Village, you’re transported into a world where history comes alive right before your eyes.

Spanning across an expansive landscape, the village is home to more than 80 authentic historic buildings, each telling its own unique story of American innovation, perseverance, and heritage. Wander through the working farms, explore the residences of famed individuals such as the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison, and marvel at the craftsmanship in the artisan shops.

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One of the highlights of Greenfield Village is the opportunity to experience the innovation of American transportation firsthand. You can cruise down a tree-lined street in a genuine Model T Ford. Or, if you prefer a slower pace, climb aboard a horse-drawn carriage and clip-clop your way through history. For families and history buffs alike, Greenfield Village offers a full day of education, entertainment, and exploration.

Natural Wonders at Belle Isle Park

Distance from Detroit: 20 minutes

Belle Isle Park is a retreat amidst the urban landscape, offering a small reprieve from city life without having to go too far from the city itself. This enchanting island park is nestled in the Detroit River. As you cross the bridge onto Belle Isle, you’ll be welcomed by an array of activities on the island. Lace up your sneakers for a scenic jog, or pedal along the winding bike paths that offer stunning views at every turn.

For a more leisurely pace, meander through the meticulously landscaped gardens, or find a quiet spot to picnic under the shade of a sprawling tree. The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is a must-visit historic greenhouse. You can also check out the Belle Isle Aquarium, the nation’s oldest continuously operating public aquarium. Belle Isle offers a perfect, convenient retreat from Detroit’s city life.

Art and Culture in Ann Arbor

Distance from Detroit: < 1 hour

Ann Arbor is just a short drive down the road from Detroit, and it is a vibrant heartland of art, culture, and intellectual stimulation. As you make your way to this culturally rich city, you are greeted by an atmosphere that is both energetic and inviting, a testament to its spirited community and the prestigious University of Michigan that calls this city home.

Downtown Ann Arbor is a bustling mosaic of creativity, with streets lined with independent bookstores, artisanal cafes, and galleries showcasing local and international art. It’s a place where every corner and every turn presents an opportunity to witness the creativity and passion that thrive within this community.

Engage with the art scene by visiting the University of Michigan Museum of Art where you can encounter over 20,000 works that span continents and centuries, offering glimpses into civilizations and stories through the medium of art. The cultural journey continues at the Michigan Theater, a historic theater that is a must-visit for those drawn to the performing arts and historic architecture. A day trip to Ann Arbor is all about artistic and cultural treasures.

Tranquility at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Distance from Detroit: 2.5 hours~

For those seeking a serene retreat from the energetic pulse of city life, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids beckons as an idyllic sanctuary, a little over two hours from Detroit.

This sprawling 158-acre haven combines the beauty of art and nature, offering a unique blend of peacefulness and inspiration that captivates the hearts of all who visit. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is renowned for its remarkable outdoor sculpture collection, featuring pieces from iconic artists like Auguste Rodin and Dale Chihuly. Each sculpture is thoughtfully placed, creating a dialogue between art and the natural world that surrounds it, inviting contemplation and reflection. One of the park’s crowning jewels is the serene Japanese Garden.

The indoor portion includes a visit to the tropical conservatory, a lush, climate-controlled environment that houses an exotic array of plants from around the globe. The warmth and vibrancy of the conservatory offer a stark contrast to Michigan’s cooler climates. Special exhibitions and events frequently take place within this vibrant space, further enriching the visitor experience with culture, education, and beauty. The Frederik Meijer Gardens is a peaceful oasis, a perfect day trip for those in search of tranquility and inspiration outside the hustle and bustle of Detroit.

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This story was generated in part by AI and edited by The ‘Gander staff.





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