Wednesday January 3, 2024

Music, Motors & Mitts: A Family Day Trip To Detroit

Original blog by Holly Ing

After spending a few days exploring Windsor Essex Sunshine and her family took a quick ride over to Detroit from their downtown Windsor hotel on the Tunnel Bus for a fun-filled day exploring Detroit! Click here to read about their Windsor Essex Family Road Trip and keep reading below for some great sights to see right across the Detroit River!

It was great to be back in the city of Detroit with the family after seven years. My husband and I fell in love with the energy and the pride that Detroiters have 10 years ago. I remember in 2012, an impromptu road trip led us to Motown Museum, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the outdoor art installations of the Heidelburg Project and Detroit Jazz Festival. Then in 2014, we went back for our babymoon vacation and fell in love with the architecture of the abandoned train station. We then brought our twin boys back in 2015 to experience the jazz festival. And so, we were happy to hear that the tourism boards, Visit Detroit in partnership with Windsor Essex County pulled together an itinerary for the family to visit the Henry Ford Museum and watch a Detroit Tigers game. And what should have been a day trip, turned out to be two additional day trips to attend the Jazz Festival and to re-explore the city.

GETTING TO DETROIT

From Toronto – west of Toronto, it’s approximately a 3.5-hour drive on the 401 West
From Windsor – a 15-minute drive from the downtown core
Quick Tip – take the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Bus (current fare at the time of this writing is $10 each way) as it’s way faster to get into the city.

HENRY FORD MUSEUM, FORD ROUGE FACTORY TOUR and GREENFIELD VILLAGE

Quick Tips for Planning Your Day
• 250 acres so wear comfortable shoes and bring a stroller, however there are many spots where you can take relax and recharge
• Henry Ford Museum is an indoor experience museum
• Greenfield Village is outdoors with small shops and offers a steam powered train and vintage Model T. experience (not included with entrance fee)
• Ford Rouge Factory Tour – a bus takes visitors to the factory and leaves every 15 minutes
• We were scheduled to spend six hours at all three locations (lunch and afternoon coffee break included). I can honestly say the timing is perfect. However, we could have spent another hour just hanging out at Greenfield Village because it is just so charming and quaint
• We did not know that there is an IMAX Theatre onsite, and the boys were begging us to watch a movie. If we had time, it would have been the perfect end to spending the day.

Henry Ford Museum

With over a dozen exhibits, there is something of interest for the entire family. We expected a history lesson on just cars, but the highlight for them was the Mathematica exhibit. With the aim to inspire the playfulness of math, there were several interactive STEM activities like the Multiplication Cube which also gave a history lesson.

I learned a lot from the With Liberty and Justice for All exhibit which had displays from four different eras one of which was the Civil Rights Movement. The bus that Rosa Parks rode on was featured and there were several artifacts and story boards outlining the timeline during this movement.

Ford Rouge Factory Tour

I started my career in manufacturing and I was excited to get a tour of the factory that makes the Ford F-150 trucks. The tour is self-guided and more of an educational experience. You get to view a documentary on the Ford Motor Company in their theatre, then head up to their Observation Deck to see their living roof and the Assembly Plant Walking Tour. Ford has it down to a science and we were there to witness a Ford F-150 truck assembled by skilled workers and robotics in ONE minute. Unfortunately, no cameras were permitted.

Greenfield Village

When you visit, you are really stepping back into time. There are 7 historic districts to check out. After walking through the museum, we chose to sit back, relax and ride the steam engine train and enjoyed the history and tour highlights from our train conductor. We then decided to walk through the village and take in all it’s charm. Really cute shops with some shopping, candy parlours which my boys enjoyed, dining options and a kids play area.

DETROIT TIGERS GAME

The Perfect Combo – Detroit Pizza and a Detroit Tigers Game

Just want to say that we were spoiled in Detroit and my husband was a happy man in his happy place at the baseball game. But before I go into that, I just have to shout out Buddy’s Pizza on Broadway St. We are a basic pepperoni pizza kinda fam, but this pizza was far from basic. We got the Detroiter and the crust was crispy, the perfect amount of cheese and it didn’t have us feeling “bleh” after. The staff was friendly and it was a great dinner to have just before the game.

So, now let’s talk about the Detroit Tigers baseball game. Buddy’s Pizza is walking distance to the Comerica Park, which opens up 90 minutes before the game. I would recommend heading there early just to have that buildup of excitement. We got there 45 minutes early and the boys bought Detroit Tigers hats, we got some ice cream and the one big surprise that we didn’t know was the Big Cat Food Court which has a Carousel featuring 30 hand painted tigers and two chariots. The weather was perfect, we had great seats and it was nice to just sit back and watch the game after a day at the museum.

DETROIT JAZZ FESTIVAL

So, I mentioned that we went back to Detroit for two additional day trips. We had plans to spend a few nights, but hadn’t realized how easy it was to go back and forth through the Windsor-Detroit tunnel. It just made sense to stay put. The festival is celebrated every Labour Day Weekend and it is the world’s largest free Jazz festival. My husband and I aren’t avid jazz enthusiasts but Detroit has just got this really great vibe and experiencing the festival a third time, we didn’t want to miss out. The first day of the festival which opened in the early evening, we spent at the main stage in Hart Plaza. There were food trucks and a vendor market and that evening many locals were coming in with lawn chairs in hand. It was just nice to see good people coming together, by the riverfront, listening to some good music. The second day we went to the other stage at Campus Martius Park. The two stages are within a 10-minute walk and there are street performers to keep you entertained and food trucks to fill your belly along the way. The Campus Martius Park stage is a great venue but not as intimate as Hart Plaza. You can watch the artists right up front or further back by the fountain on the big screen while enjoying a lunch or coffee.

Monroe Street Midway

Along with some jazz, we had to get in on the family fun at Monroe Street Midway. An outdoor recreation area with mini golf, life size chess, soccer play area, basketball courts. I came prepared with my roller skates in hand. Roller skate rentals were free that weekend and my sidekick Brandon who was always curious had to get in on it. It was a lot of fun to just be hanging out with other local families and just watching the kids play and of course joining in because that what parents do. Thank you, Detroit, for hosting our family, we have a lot of love for you and we can’t wait to come back.

Shine Lily xo

 

For more Two-Nation Destination planning inspiration read Travelling Mitch’s ‘A Weekend In Windsor’ blog and start planning!

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