15 Best Road Trips From Detroit, Michigan - Updated 2021

road trips from detroit

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 the 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 of 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. Check out some of the best road trips from Detroit, Michigan.

1. Cedar Point, OH

Cedar Point from the air
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Nyttend used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Take the whole family out for a fun weekend road trip 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!

2. 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.

3. Wisconsin Dells, WI

Downtown Wisconsin Dells
Source: Photo by Flickr user Daniel M. Hendricks 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!

4. Chicago, IL

Source: Photo by Flickr user Conal Gallagher used under CC BY 2.0

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.

5. Mackinaw City, MI

Mackinaw City Michigan Hotel District
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Royalbroil used under CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

6. Tahquamenon Falls, MI

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

Don’t just sit at home and get bored, enjoy a road trip to Tahquamenon Falls, one of Michigan’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.

7. Milwaukee, WI

Leisure boating, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Source: Photo by user [Unknown] used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

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.

8. Kenosha, WI

Kenosha WI Marina
Source: Photo by user B Garrett 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.

9. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Source: Photo by user phillq23 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

10. Monongahela National Forest, WV

Monongahela National Forest - panoramio
Source: Photo by user Idawriter used under CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

11. St. Louis, MO

St Louis night expblend
Source: Photo by 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.

12. New York City, NY

I Ritz Tower, New York City, NY, USA (3)
Source: Photo by user Elisa.rolle 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.

13. Nashville, TN

West Meade Nashville, TN
Source: Photo by user Kentondickerson used under CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

14. Marquette, MI

Downtown Marquette, Michigan in Autumn (43657514144)
Source: Photo by 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.

15. Iowa City, IA

Englert Theatre in Fall Foliage - 221 E Washington St Iowa City, IA
Source: Photo by user Matthieu Biger used under CC BY-SA 4.0

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.

Discover new places in an exciting way

Don’t just sit at home and get bored this holiday, enjoy a road trip to places you have not seen before. Once your vacation to Detroit comes to an end, it’s time a for a scenic road trip. Above are just some of the destinations from Detroit, Michigan, you might enjoy. Have a great time.

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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