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Best Road trips from Detroit

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Road Trips From Detroit

Road Trips From Detroit
Detroit | Photo Credit – Laughlin Elkind

Planning for road trips from Detroit? This city is the largest city in Michigan and owing to that it’s quite close to a bunch of other cool cities. While Detroit itself is packed with things to do and very delicious food, stepping out of the city via a road trip can be quite refreshing.

All you need is a good base to start from hence road trips from Detroit are a must-do vacation. Also, road trips are one of the best ways to spend your vacation. Through road trips, you can explore new towns and some unexplored places. Owing to its close proximity to other places, Detroit offers quite interesting options for a road trip.

Here are a few options you can consider for a road trip from Detroit.


Road Trips From Detroit
Cedar Point  | Photo Credit – Jeremy Thompson

If you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway, this one is for you. Sandusky is full of fun things to do and hence making it to the list of road trips from Detroit.

Cedar Point amusement park is a major attraction for kids as well as adults to explore the child hidden in them. It is famous for its thrill rides like 18 roller coasters, family-friendly rides, entertainment venues, a wave pool, and a lazy river. It is also home to three hotels and a campground where you can opt to stay during your trip.

For some water-based adventure, Kalahari is a popular indoor/outdoor water park and if you prefer staying dry Safari Outdoor Adventure Park is another fun attraction here. You can also do activities like zipline, and climbing walls and even meet some cute animals.

If you’re up for some more outdoor adventure, take a day trip to nearby Put-in-Bay or Kelleys Island. If you choose to do both you can easily spend two days doing so. Also,  Jet Express offers day various excursions. Some of the most famous ones are lighthouse tours and trips to Point Pelee.

The Merry-Go-Round Museum is quite unique as it features nostalgic and historical merry-go-round artifacts. Another interesting museum is the Maritime Museum of Sandusky.

Lastly, you can get a perspective of Sandusky from the water via an airboat trip. It’s perfect for a night activity as the vibrant light scene is spectacular.

2. Cleveland

Road Trips From Detroit
Cleveland | Photo Credit – Matt Boulton

The bustling city of Cleveland is full of theatres, museums, and tons of attractions. Being Ohio’s second-largest city it’s one of the best options for road trips from Detriot.

For music enthusiasts, visiting the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a must. Here, the history of music is spread all over six floors. Also, the eye-catching building is an art in itself. Cleveland is home to tons of museums, hence you can spend a whole day or even more exploring it. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and Museum of Contemporary Art are some of the famous ones.

The Cleveland Aquarium, housed in a beautiful historical building, is home to  2,500 animals spread across 300 species. You can befriend some stingrays here. For some more animal interaction, The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has a lot of cute and exotic animals from around the world.

The theatre district is home to nine theatres that run separately. They host some beautiful broadway performances, comedy, dance, opera, concerts, and family shows.

If you want to entertain your adventurous self, Chestnut Mountain Resort offers tons of fun activities.  From skiing, snowboarding, Zipline to indoor swimming, you can easily spend a day or two here.

Check out our detailed article on things you shouldn’t miss doing when in Cleveland.

3.  Chicago

Road Trips From Detroit
Chicago | Photo Credit – Pedro Szekely

A non-stop drive from Detroit to Chicago will take around four hours, making it a good one if you are looking for road tips from Detroit with a moderate driving time. Chicago is everyone’s favorite and hence makes for quite a satisfying trip destination. It is culturally rich, has beautiful architecture, and offers delicious food.

For art lovers, there are numerous places to enjoy at. Especially, The Art Institute of Chicago. It is home to a variety of pieces from a variety of media like painting, prints, photography, sculpture, decorative arts, textiles, architectural drawings, and more.

Located in downtown Chicago, the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park is a major attraction. You can also visit Lurie Garden, which is open to the public at no cost year-round.

For some adventure head to The Navy Pier an amusement area and Chicago’s most popular tourist attraction. There is a 150 ft Ferris wheel and a historic carousel as well as gardens, shops, restaurants, concert venues, and parks.  Chicago Children’s Museum is also located here. For water adventure, various Cruise ships leave from here on various sightseeing excursions.

Along the edge of Lake Michigan, is the famous Lincoln Park, a six-mile stretch of green space where you can enjoy activities like biking and jogging. There are a number of significant statues, Augustus Saint Gaudens’ Standing Statue of Lincoln being the most famous one. It is also home to the lovely Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the country.

For a detailed explanation of attractions read things to do in Chicago.

4. Toledo

Road Trips From Detroit
Toledo | Photo Credit – Phil Fiddyment

The Toledo is not very popular but its close proximity makes it one of the easiest road trips from Detroit. The city is not just at a short distance but it also is historically rich and has plenty of entertaining things to do.

One of the best ways to explore it is via the Volunteer canal boat. It offers a part of the Miami and Erie Canal towpath, a gristmill, and visiting one of the last working canal locks. You can also enjoy some trails, picnic spots and get to know about canal life back in the 19th century.

To meet some elephants, otters, camels, gorillas, and other cute animals, The Toledo Zoo is the spot. It is home to more than 10,000 animals and you can even closely interact with them like feeding the Masai giraffe.

For art enthusiasts, the Toledo Museum of Art is globally famous for its exotic collection. the collection varies from Greek, Asian, Egyptian, and African artwork to medieval, modern, and contemporary pieces. National Museum of the Great Lakes and Toledo Firefighters Museum are some other museums you can visit for a wholesome day.

Lastly, don’t forget to have the famous Tony Packo’s Hungarian hot dogs at Tony Packo’s Café.

5. Pittsburgh

Road Trips From Detroit
Pittsburgh | Photo Credit –Matt Evans

A picturesque metropolis is a perfect destination for a road trip. Out of all the options of road trips from Detriot, this one is one of the most famous ones. Pittsburgh has something for everyone.

Firstly, it is home to four Carnegie Foundation museums. The Museum of Natural History is the most famous one. It has exhibits exploring dinosaur fossils, the science behind the discovery and understanding of the earth, animal life, and much more. The museum is not just for adults, it has attractions for kids too. Discovery Basecamp, interactive exhibits, Bone Hunter’s Quarry are some of the favorites. Carnegie Science Center, The Andy Warhol Museum, and the Mattress Factory are some other museums where you’ll find plenty to explore.

Pittsburg is also home to one of the country’s largest fountains. It is located in Point State Park and symbolizes the birth of Ohio.

Next, for outdoor enthusiasts, Downtown Pittsburgh offers various hiking trails and some of them even lead to beautiful waterfalls. In summer, you can also try kayaking in the river. For some fun, you can visit The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Here you can find many animals like Masai giraffes, lions, rhinoceroses, African elephants, and zebras. In winters, you can even play with a flock of penguins.

6. Mackinac Island

Road Trips From Detroit
Arch Rock, Mackinac Island | Photo Credit – Russ

If you’re up for a relaxing and historic getaway, keep this one on your list of road trips from Detroit. This small town in Michigan is a summer favorite of many. The state park covering more than 80% of the island’s area offers scenic views of ravines, natural bridges, caves, and much more.

The town has quite a historic vibe and hence horse-drawn carriage “taxis” are a common sight here. To know more about the history, Colonial Michilimackinac is a living history area. The area is home to 16 historic buildings which have many demonstrations and exhibits. Colonial MichilimackinacFort Mackinac, and the Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park are some of the national historic landmarks.

Mackinac Island State Park offers tons of things to do. One of its most famous attractions is Arch Rock. This natural limestone formation has a height of 146 feet. Sugar Loaf is another natural landmark. Carved by the waters of Lake Huron, Skull Cave is a natural cave. It also has several freshwater springs, Dwightwood Springs is the best one. Fort Holmes is also located here only.

Don’t miss out on Historic Downtown, it is home to several historic homes.

7. Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park | Photo Credit – U.S. Department of the Interior

Be it summer or winter, fun is always a guarantee at Indiana dunes national park.
It offers tons of fun things to do all year round. From swimming and sunbathing in the summer to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, Hiking is something that you can do in all seasons. But during spring, from late September to October the trails are absolutely stunning. Bird watching is also favorable in this period.

The park also offers a horseback ride through ancient dune formations on the Glenwood Dunes Trails system. The trail is 15 miles long and getting a horse is your responsibility.

 Kayaking or canoeing on Lake Michigan is a very popular activity. The Lake Michigan Water Trail, Burns Waterway, and the Little Calumet Water Trail are some of the popular trails you can opt for. If you simply want to relax, there are 18 miles of beaches there where you can relax while enjoying the sun the sand.

To spend a night under the stars, Camping facilities are available.

8. Grand Rapids, Michigan

La Grande Vitesse | Photo Credit – Scottb211

Just 157 miles away from the largest city of Michigan is the second-largest city of Michigan. Grand Rapids is one of the most family-friendly road trips from Detroit. From major attractions for kids to entertaining things for adults, Grand Rapids can keep everyone busy.

The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is home to various beautiful sculptures backed by equally beautiful surroundings. It is also home to The Lena Meijer Conservatory which has plants from all over the world. Another outdoor fun place is John Ball Zoo. It’s quite famous among kids because it offers a ride on a camel and is home to many cute animals like lovable sloths, bears, penguins, and pelicans. 

The city was the boyhood home of Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States, and therefore is home to Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. The museum includes many insights into the life of the President. It even includes collections of items from his early days.

The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a must-visit for the kids. Here, the kids can live the life of adults and even perform jobs like being a doctor, examining an x-ray, or managing a grocery store. It also has classic games like Legos and Lincoln Logs.

Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum, and Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts are some of the other museums you can explore in the city.

9. St. Louis, MO

Gateway Arch | Photo Credit – Brent Lind

Another one to include in the options of long road trips from Detroit. The drive will take around seven hours. Some of the famous stops along the way are  Fort Wayne,  Noblesville, Terre Haute, and  Altamont.

Being the largest city in Missouri St. Louis so many things to do that you can easily spend a weekend here. It is home to the tallest monument in the United States, the Gateway Arch, a symbol of the city’s role as the “Gateway to the West.” There are many ways to enjoy it. You can either head to the observation platform on the highest point of the arch or via water by riverboat cruises or via air in a helicopter tour. Advance booking is recommended.

The Saint Louis Zoo is home to 12,000 animals across 500 species. This free attraction provides shelter to Asian elephants, hippos, gorillas, tree kangaroos, jaguars, and sea lions. The Sea Lion show is a favorite among the kids. Some fun rides, the miniature Zooline Railroad, and a 4D theatre will surely make for a fun day.

The beautiful Missouri Botanical Garden, also known as the Shaw Garden is home to various attractions. A beautiful rose garden and a Japanese Garden, an “aqua-tunnel” under a water-lily pool, and a herbarium are some of the major ones.

For a detailed article on all the attractions in the city, check here.

10. Toronto, Canada

Toronto, Ontario | Photo Credit – VV Nincic

With just three hours of drive, you can make your trip international and land in the Great White North’s biggest city, Toronto, Ontario. There is no shortage of entertainment here. The best part is that most of the attractions are in close proximity to each other making the trip a smooth one.

The 553-meter CN Tower needs no introduction. It can be seen from almost everywhere in the city and hence is almost impossible to miss. If you fear height, you can simply adore it from the ground itself but you can also head to Sky Pod, the highest viewing area. If you opt to spend a few days in the city, it is recommended to do so in the center of the city, near the CN tower. Check our recommendations, here.

The Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Aga Khan Museum are some of the must-visit museums in the city.

Underwater tunnel | Photo Credit – shankar s.

Toronto zoo, home to approximately 5,000 animals is a favorite among kids. The animals vary from pygmy hippos, lions, tigers to giraffes, penguins, and many more. For marine animals, the Ripley’s Aquarium has a lot of them. The huge underwater tunnel allows a close view of sharks, sawfish, and other big residents. Whereas, the main highlight is the jellyfish display because it is accented with creative lighting and offers a beautiful view.

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