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The 10 Best Detroit Tours
Get to know the historic and quirky side of Motor City.
Detroit's rich and varied history is best explored on a guided tour led by an enthusiastic local.Getty Images
Note: Some tour providers on this list may have ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.
If you only think of the auto industry when you think of Detroit, then it's time you acquaint yourself with this fascinating and complex city. Its many attractions include museums, parks, impressive buildings, public art and numerous watering holes. Rather than exploring on your own, begin your trip with the help of an informative local. U.S. News determined the following tours as some of the best available based on traveler opinion and expert input. No matter how you choose to tour – whether by antique vehicle, a bus or your own two feet – you're sure to leave with a new appreciation for Motor City.
Detroit Urban Adventures – Detroit's Rise, Fall, & Renewal
Explore downtown Detroit's architectural marvels on this two-hour walking tour. Among the notable structures on the route are the Penobscot Building and the Guardian Building (both designed by Wirt Rowland), the Detroit Athletic Club (designed by Albert Kahn) and the Renaissance Center (headquarters of General Motors Co.). Tour-takers find the guides passionate and knowledgeable about the city. The tour takes place every day except Wednesday at 4 p.m. Tickets cost about $30 per person, which includes a ride on the People Mover (an elevated train encircling the area) and a beer (or other beverage) at the Detroit Beer Company. Urban Adventures also leads walking tours of a few of Detroit's neighborhoods.
For this unique excursion, you do the driving in your own car; the guide, Joe Krause, becomes a backseat driver and directs you around the city based on your interests. Along the way, Krause offers stories and insights regarding Detroit's history, current state and possible future. For groups too large to fit in a single vehicle, or for those who prefer to explore on foot, customizable walking tours are available. Tour-takers enthuse about Krause's informed and engaging commentary. The duration of these private tours depends on patrons' preferences. Prices vary accordingly, but typically start at $200 for two-hour outings and $250 for three-hour tours.
By The Sidewalk Food Tours – Classic Ann Arbor by The Sidewalk
Thanks to its proximity to Detroit, Ann Arbor makes a great daytrip option – especially when there's food involved. This approximately three-hour walk explores Ann Arbor's Kerrytown district and downtown area and samples an array of food that may include Cuban, Italian, Korean and Mexican fare at various restaurants and stores. Along the way, guides offer insights regarding not only the cuisine, but also the area's history and architecture. Tour-takers appreciate the diverse culinary mix and say the food is delicious. Tours start at 11 a.m. Friday through Sunday. Tickets cost around $60, which includes enough food for a full lunch.
City Tour Detroit – See the D: Downtown Detroit Walking Tour
In addition to its distinctive skyscrapers, downtown Detroit features notable public art, including the Spirit of Detroit statue and the Monument to Joe Louis. These are just two of the spots visited on this 2 1/2-hour walking tour, which also encompasses The Belt (an art-adorned alleyway), the riverfront, the Greektown entertainment district and, of course, the city's famous skyscrapers. Walkers enjoy the informative, enthusiastic guides' commentary. Tickets costs about $30 for adults and $15 for anyone 17 or younger. From late April through September, tours depart every day at 10 a.m. with an additional 6 p.m. start on Wednesday and Sunday. From October through December, tours are offered less frequently, and only private tours are available the rest of the year. City Tour Detroit also runs a tour about the city's involvement in the Underground Railroad.
Show Me Detroit Tours – Daily Sightseeing Tours
You can glimpse many of Detroit's most popular attractions during this two-hour van ride, which moves through the downtown area and beyond. Among the sights visted are the district where the city's ballpark and arenas are located, Midtown, Eastern Market and Belle Isle. Visitors regularly praise drivers for their insights about the city's architecture, history and culture. Tickets start at $65 for adults and discounts are available for students, seniors and children. The price includes round-trip transportation from select hotels. Excursions are offered daily at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Show Me Detroit also runs private outings.
Explore Motor City in a classic vehicle during a trip with the Antique Touring Company.(Courtesy of Antique Touring Company)
Antique Touring Company – The Motor Cities Heritage Tour: From Tinkerers to Titans in the Auto Age
Explore Detroit's automotive heritage while riding in an antique Model A Ford. This tour focuses on car manufacturing in the early 20th century by visiting sites of factories, company offices and homes of leaders who oversaw the transportation revolution. You'll also visit the factory where Ford built its famous automatic assembly line. Car enthusiasts find this a fun way to learn about Detroit's legendary car history. The 2 1/2-hour tours are offered from mid-April to early November. Tours typically run Wednesday through Sunday multiple times daily. Prices vary depending on how many tickets you book. Antique Touring Company also offers tours of Belle Isle in its antique Fords.
The Detroit Bus Company – Drunks of Antiquity: The Historic Bar Tour
Visit four of Detroit's oldest bars along this four-hour ride in repurposed school buses. As you drink your way around, you'll visit a bar that's been open since 1874 and learn of the city's drinking history and culture from expert guides. You're also welcome to bring your own beverages for the bus ride. Participants regularly praise the bars visited and are complimentary of guides and drivers. Tours take place on most Fridays and Saturdays around 7 p.m., though area pickups begin a bit earlier. Tickets cost around $45 with discounts for seniors and groups. All revelers must be at least 21 years old. The company also runs a prohibition-themed tour, as well as a sightseeing tour of the city.
Detroit Segway – The Whole Shebang
Ideal for travelers short on time, this three-hour Segway tour covers approximately 5 miles of downtown Detroit. It departs from the Eastern Market, Detroit's main farmers market, and then proceeds along the Dequindre Cut Greenway. You'll then zip alongside the river, see the Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park before heading through the redeveloped Brush Park neighborhood on the way back to the starting point. Riders enjoy the tour, calling it a fun way to see the city. Tickets cost around $90, which includes the use of the Segway. Tours are available from May through mid-November on Wednesday at noon, Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Rider restrictions may apply. Detroit Segway offers a number of other tours around the city, including one that glides around Belle Isle
Riverside Kayak Connection – Belle Isle Blue Heron Lagoon Tour
Paddle your way through Blue Heron Lagoon to observe its beautiful wildlife on this kayak excursion. In addition to the natural scenery, you'll also get a glimpse of some of Belle Isle's historic structures, including the Detroit Yacht Club and the William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse. Kayakers find the guides knowledgeable about the area's history and say the excursion is well organized. Tours last approximately two hours; there is an additional 30 minutes of preliminary preparation and instruction. It costs about $45 to tour; the price excludes the entrance fee to the park. Outings are available starting at 9:30 a.m. on select Saturdays and Sundays during the summer. Participants must be at least 14 to tour, but no previous kayaking experience is required. This company also offers several other kayaking trips near and around Belle Isle.
Detroit History Tours – Wild Women of Detroit Bus Tour
This 4 1/2-hour bus ride spotlights the integral role women played in Detroit's history, from the wife of its French founder to the female stars of Motown. It also stops for drinks at two area bars. Because of the adult nature of some of the stories, as well as the bar stops, participants must be at least 21 years old. Reviewers rave about the tour, saying they learn a lot from the guides, who are expert storytellers. Buses depart from the historic Eastern Market on select Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost roughly $50 and do not include drinks at the bars. The company also runs a Detroit food tour as well as a Detroit mobsters bus tour.
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