17 Best Road Trips From Detroit, Michigan

road trips from detroit
| 7 min read

Many might agree when I say there is no better way to spend your vacation than on a road trip. Singing along in the car, telling entertaining stories, making short stops to refresh, and exploring new towns are just some of the things that make road trips the best idea for your vacation. If you are in the United States, you are in luck, you will have a wide number of options to choose from. Michigan’s largest city Detroit, renowned for art and architecture, hosts a plethora of attractions - some of which are the amazing Detroit Institute of Arts, Henry Ford Museum, Belle Isle, and GM Renaissance Center. Accommodation options in the city include these top hotels and Airbnb vacation rentals. Detroit also makes an interesting base to explore nearby spots. Continue reading about some of the best road trips from Detroit, Michigan.

1. Toledo, OH

20150824 51 Toledo, Ohio
Source: Photo by Flickr user David Wilson used under CC BY 2.0

The drivable vacation from Detroit to Toledo, Ohio, is approximately 60 miles (96.56 kilometers). The moderate distance makes it a convenient day trip, allowing travelers to experience a change of scenery without extensive travel. Toledo boasts a vibrant arts scene, historical landmarks, and an array of attractions.

The Toledo Museum of Art, renowned for its extensive collection of artworks, promises a captivating cultural experience. Immerse yourself in history at the Toledo Zoo, one of the oldest in the United States, and explore its diverse exhibits. For automotive enthusiasts, the National Museum of the Great Lakes offers insights into the region’s maritime history. Toledo Botanical Garden provides a serene retreat, while the Toledo Firefighters Museum appeals to those interested in local history.

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2. Kalamazoo, MI

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mxobe used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Travelling to Kalamazoo on a weekend trip from Detroit, which is about 140 miles (225.31 kilometers) away, presents an exciting opportunity to explore a vibrant city with a touch of small-town charm and offers an array of attractions that cater to diverse interests. Kalamazoo Institute of Arts boasts an impressive collection of artworks, while the Kalamazoo Valley Museum provides an immersive learning experience for visitors of all ages. Nature enthusiasts can revel in the Kalamazoo Nature Center’s trails and exhibits.

The city’s craft beer scene is renowned, with numerous breweries and taprooms to explore. For history buffs, the Air Zoo showcases aviation and space artifacts, offering an engaging experience. Downtown Kalamazoo offers a mix of boutiques, galleries, and eateries, ensuring a well-rounded visit.

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3. Cedar Point, OH

Cedar Point 085
Source: Photo by Flickr user Jeremy Thompson used under CC BY 2.0

Take the whole family out for a fun weekend getaway from Detroit and drive down to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. It is an amusement park located along Lake Erie and is one of the oldest operating parks in the country, having opened in 1870. From Detroit, passing through Toledo, the distance is about 120 miles (193 km) which takes about 2 hours of driving. Cedar Point is home to 17 roller coasters, and 6 of which are at least 200 ft (61 meters) in height. If you’ve been looking for a place to go with your little ones, this is it!

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4. Shipshewana, IN

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tysto used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Take a break from being in a big city like Detroit and enjoy a change of environment when you visit Shipshewana, Indiana. With 174 miles (280 km) in between, your travel time will be about 3 hours. As of 2019, the town’s population is only 946. It is surrounded by Amish farms and communities and is home to the Menno-Hof Amish & Mennonite Museum. You will learn the ropes of slow and simple living when you visit this town. You can book an Amish buggy or a back road tour to get yourself acquainted with the culture.

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5. Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wisconsin Dells
Source: Photo by Flickr user Amy Meredith used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Wisconsin Dells is an excellent example of urban meets rural. It is home to an active nightlife and entertainment scene, along with various nature activities like skiing and trekking. From Detroit, the drive will take approximately 7.5 hours with a distance of 476 miles (766 km). The city is part of the popular tourist destination, The Dells, which is shared by the nearby Lake Delton. Wisconsin Dells is a destination that’s truly family-friendly, with its abundance of waterparks and other fun attractions. Don’t miss out on the best this city has to offer by checking out what’s new downtown!

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6. Chicago, IL

BigLaw Chicago
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Humbledumpty used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Detroit sure is a vibrant city, but if you need a change of environment without sacrificing the convenience of being in a big city, your next road trip destination could be Chicago! The travel time only takes 4.5 hours with 283 miles (455 km) in between. Chicago is a place that barely needs an introduction, but if we must, it is best known for introducing the genius deep-dish pizza to the world. Besides the famous Chicago-style pizza, the city is known for landmarks and attractions like Millennium Park, Magnificent Mile, and Navy Pier Centennial Wheel.

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7. Mackinaw City, MI

Mackinac Bridge from Mackinaw City
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Peter K Burian used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Just before you leave the lower peninsula of Michigan when driving north of Detroit, you’ll find the beautiful village of Mackinaw City. With 314 miles (505 km) in between, the drive will take around 4.5 hours. The village is a nice place to visit if you enjoy scenic drives and postcard-like attractions. Some of the places you can visit while in Mackinaw City are the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, McGulpin Point Light, and Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park. Of course, a trip here will not be complete if you don’t cross the famous Mackinac Bridge.

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8. Tahquamenon Falls, MI

Tahquamenon Falls - Autumn
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Wfgc used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Bored at home or just checked out of your Detroit hotel and now looking for more Michigan adventure? Enjoy a road trip to Tahquamenon Falls, one of the state’s most visited treasures. For generations, the falls have managed to attract visitors thanks to its unbeatable sights and sounds. What makes Tahquamenon Fall so unique is the fact that it consists of two falls. The main one, Upper Tahquamenon Fall is 50 feet (15.24 metres) tall and 200 feet (60.96 metres) wide while the lower falls can be found 4 miles (6.4 kilometres) downstream. If interested, you can rent a boat and head over the small islands in the river or enjoy swimming in the refreshing water.

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9. Milwaukee, WI

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Towpilot used under CC BY 3.0

When you reach Milwaukee, you will have lots to discover. The city is famous for its breweries which offer tours pointing out its role in the beer industry. At Milwaukee, you will also get to explore Harley-Davidson Museum where you will find exhibitions of classic motorcycles, including one that belonged to Elvis Presley’s. Another site you cannot miss is Milwaukee Public Museum, where you will find a recreation of old Milwaukee comprising the large-scale European Village. When planning for your road trip, make sure you plan your trip accordingly so that you can enjoy the summer fest.

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10. Kenosha, WI

Kenosha Harbor
Source: Photo by Flickr user Tony Alter used under CC BY 2.0

Fancy a quick road trip from Detroit? At Kenosha, you will have a lot to discover. The city is located between Milwaukee and Chicago right on the shores of Lake Michigan. Some of the attractions that will amaze you include Kenosha Public Museum where you will find mammoth skeletons and a model of a Native American village. Also, the region played a big role in the Civil War and you can learn all about the impacts that the war had on the region at Civil War Museum. If you love dinosaurs, then make sure you stop at Dinosaur Discovery Museum where you will find a collection of dinosaur fossils.

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11. Pittsburgh, PA

Source: Photo by Flickr user Patrick Kinney used under CC BY 2.0

Located in the state of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh is a city known for its Gilded Age sites, favourable climate, and incredible culture. Those who visit Pittsburgh normally have lots to discover including Botanical Gardens, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the modern Andy Warhol Museum, and the University of Pittsburgh, one of the nation’s most distinguished universities. After exploring all that the town has to offer, stop at one of the local restaurants and try out pierogies, one of the most preferred food in Pittsburgh. Remember to bring your camera - Pittsburgh boasts some incredible sites you would want to take pictures of.

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12. Monongahela National Forest, WV

Source: Photo by Flickr user Monongahela Natio... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Monongahela National Forest is one of those places you have to visit during your road trip. Ever since it was established in 1920, Monongahela National Forest has been offering visitors with scenic views, flowing streams, and abundant plant and animal life. Located in the Allegheny Mountains, the forest is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the state, home to wildlife including Snowshoe hare, fox squirrel, and American black bear. In addition to being home to unique wildlife, the forest also provides water, timber, minerals, and recreational opportunities for the community. If you love hunting, bring your gears along as hunting is allowed.

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13. St. Louis, MO

St Louis night expblend
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Daniel Schwen used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Grab this opportunity and explore all of the highlights of St. Louis. Here, you will love while in St. Louis is the friendly locals, the amazing culture, delicious food, and countless landmarks to discover. Some of the places and activities you cannot miss visiting while you are in the city are having a panoramic view of the city from Gateway Arch, enjoying a thrill ride at Six Flags St. Louis, treating your kids at Saint Louis Zoo, and immersing in the culture of Forest Park. Bring your camera along and enjoy taking photos of this incredible city.

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14. New York City, NY

Lower Manhattan skyline - June 2017
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user MusikAnimal used under CC BY-SA 4.0

New York City is a city where you have lots to do hence you are guaranteed never to get bored. At New York, you will have so much to discover including skyscrapers like Empire State Building and sprawling Central Park. Just like any other visitor, Manhattan is one of the boroughs you must explore, here you will find plenty of incredible attractions that will blow you mind including Statue of Liberty National Monument, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park. One place you will definitely love is Broadway Theater which is staged in the neon-lit Times Square. Bring your camera along to capture every moment.

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15. Nashville, TN

Nashville Parthenon
Source: Photo by Flickr user Will Powell used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The capital of state of Tennessee, Nashville is known for its music, culture, architecture, and of course, food. Even though the city has countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered, most travellers who visit the city come for the amazing nightlife. You are guaranteed to find night bars and restaurants at all corners all offering delicious food, drinks, and a stage where you can entertain yourself with no limits. Even though eating and partying are what most people do while in Nashville, there are lots of other things to discover including museums, parks, and historical sites. One of the sites you have to visit is Parthenon, a replica of the original Parthenon in Athens.

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16. Marquette, MI

Downtown Marquette, Michigan in Autumn (43657514144)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tony Webster used under CC BY 2.0

People find Marquette an interesting place to be because of the friendly locals, amazing atmosphere, and the changing of seasons. Marquette is one of the drivable vacations from Detroit, and here, you will have lots to do and discover. If you prefer some adrenaline, take part in fun activities such as attending UP200, trying out the Noquemanon Ski Marathon, or taking part in the Ishpeming Ski Jumping Tournament. While exploring the town, it is always encouraged to have a pair of snowshoes or a fat tire bike.

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17. Iowa City, IA

Old Capitol Iowa City
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Billwhittaker used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Located in Johnson County, Iowa is the home of the University of Iowa. The city is highly rated among travellers thanks to the number of attractions and activities you can unravel while you are here. You will be able to spot some of the city’s famous landmarks such as Devonian Fossil Gorge, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, Englert Theatre, Amana Colonies, and The Iowa Children’s Museum. While exploring this beautiful city, make sure that the memories last by bringing your camera along.

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Discover new places in an exciting way

Don’t just sit at home and get bored this holiday. Enjoy a drive down some of the places to visit within eight hours of Detroit you have not seen before. Stop by the best restaurants and museums, and maybe even witness the vibrant festivals in the city! Once your vacation to Detroit comes to an end, it’s time for a scenic road trip. Above are just some of the destinations from Detroit, Michigan, that you might enjoy. Have a great time.

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Frequently asked questions about road trips from Detroit

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Irene Mwikali is a graduate student in Kenya who has a passion for travelling and exploring the world. Currently, her love for travel has taken her to several destinations including South Africa,...Read more

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