Day trips from Detroit

While Detroit is a fascinating city indeed, there is much to see if you go outside of it for a day, too. There are many very interesting cities nearby as well as numerous charming little towns with a very unique feel. You don’t even have to leave the state of Michigan to reach most of them. Therefore, there are plenty of options for day trips from Detroit. Here’s what you should pay attention to in particular.

Day trips from Detroit, Michigan



90+ minutes 


The best way to get to Frankenmuth is with a car, really. If you don’t have one with you, maybe rent it because it will be well worth it. All you have to do is follow the I-75 north and in about an hour and a half you’ll be there. If you don’t have a car and don’t want to rent one, things are slightly more tricky but can still be done. You will have to get on a bus to Flint (Greyhound prices start from 12 dollars) and then get a cab or an Uber to Frankenmuth. Just to give you a rough estimate, an Uber ride for this distance is about 30 dollars and it will take you more than two hours in total to get to Frankenmuth, so getting there by car (even if renting one) seems like a cheaper and quicker solution.

Riverside Shops, Frankenmuth, Michigan
Riverside Shops, Frankenmuth, Michigan, Author: Christopher Woodrich, Source: Flickr


Frankenmuth is a beautiful little tourist town in which everything is done to remind you of Germany, especially Bavaria. An hour and a half away from Detroit, this place has a whole lot of castle-shaped buildings and offers plenty of things to do and experience, including a ride in a carriage. It’s a great place to go shopping for souvenirs, but you can also visit Frankenmuth Aerial Park for some ziplining adventures. And of course, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the “largest Christmas store in the world”, as they call themselves, is a must year-round but especially during Christmas time, of course. At that point, the whole town turns into a real fairy-tale.  

Frankenmuth, Michigan
Frankenmuth, Michigan, Author: Dane, Source: Flickr


Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland – Monday to Thursday from 9 to 5, Fridays from 9 AM to 9 PM, Saturdays from 9 to 5.30, Sundays from noon to 5 PM.

Frankenmuth Aerial Park – opens on April 27 and works to October 28. It is recommended that you make reservations before you visit as they are usually open only Friday through Sunday (although in summer they work on Mondays and Thursdays, too). They close at either 7 or 9 PM, depending on the day, whereas the time they open depends on the day and the part of the year. Tickets are around 35$, although you can get them for 25$ if you buy them two hours or less before closing time. 


Marv Herzog Hotel

Ann Arbor


45 minutes or more, depending on the mode of transportation



You have several options if you want to get to Ann Arbor. First and foremost, if you have a car, take the I-96 westward and then switch to M-14 and there you are. Simple, right? However, if you don’t have a car, you can take a Greyhound bus starting from just 8 dollars. In this case, it will take you a little over an hour to complete the journey. The final option is to take an Amtrak train. This will set you back about 15 dollars, with the ride lasting between 45 minutes and an hour, which makes it a fast and comfortable option.

Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, Author: Nick Amoscato, Source: Flickr


A town of young people and arts, Ann Arbor is also home to the University of Michigan which also has some very interesting museums for you to enjoy (a few of them are particularly attractive for kids). The centre of the city also has a lot of shops where you can easily spend a few hours, and Matthei Botanical Gardens are also worth a visit. In short, this day trip from Detroit has a bit of everything and is a great choice if you want to spend an active day and relax at the same time. Shopping, culture, good food, the energy of a student city… it’s all there and you are going to love it.

Ann Arbor, Matthei Botanical Graden Michigan
Ann Arbor, Matthei Botanical Graden Michigan


Matthei Botanical Gardens – open every day from 10 AM to 4.30 PM except on Wednesdays when they work until 8 PM. The admission is free.

University of Michigan 

Although there are several museums of the University of Michigan, two of them are meant for the public – the Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History. They charge nothing for the admission, but will appreciate a donation of around 10 dollars. For the former, the gallery is open from 11 to 5 from Tuesday to Saturday, from noon to 5 on Sundays and closed on Mondays. Building hours are from 8 AM to 8 PM, though. The Museum of Natural History opens in April and from then on works every day from 9 to 5.


Ann Arbor Bed and Breakfast



About 90 minutes


First of all, if you’re using some kind of device to help you plot a course to this lovely village, be careful not to mix up Lexington, KY with this place. You don’t want to go south to Kentucky but north to Lake Huron. With that said, your only option in this case is a car, and it will take you about an hour and a half to get to Lexington. You simply follow the I-94 north and then switch to M-25 all the way to your destination.

Lake Huron, Lexington, Michigan
Lake Huron, Lexington, Michigan, Author: VasenkaPhotography, Source: Flickr


It would be a shame to come to Michigan and not visit the Great Lakes. To do that, you should heat to the village of Lexington which, as mentioned above, lies on the coast of Lake Huron. This is a particularly good destination in summer, when you can head to Lexington Park and enjoy a nice day on the beach. The place also boasts a variety of cute shops and restaurants, so a day here will surely recharge your batteries in a flash.



Less than 90 minutes


Bus seems to be the best mode of transportation for this journey as you can choose between Greyhound and megabus for fairly reasonable prices (about 10 and 15 dollars respectively). The trip lasts just under hour and a half, so you should have plenty of time to explore Toledo once you arrive. On the other hand, if you’re going by car, the trip couldn’t be any simpler – you just take the I-75 south and it will literally bring you right to Toledo.

Toledo Museum of Art
Toledo Museum of Art, Author: Mike Steele, Source: Flickr

WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT: If you have the energy for an action-packed day trip from Detroit, head across the state line to Ohio, to Toledo. There really is something for everyone there. Toledo Museum of Art houses a very big collection of pieces from the Renaissance period, the botanical gardens are a beautiful place to relax and unwind, and if you fancy an active vacation head to Swan Creek Preserve for some hiking. Foodies will also love it here, as the city boasts a number of excellent Italian restaurants and steakhouses.


Toledo Museum of Art – free admission, unless a special exhibition is in the museum. You can visit the place from 10 AM to 4 PM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 10 AM to 9 PM on Thursdays and Fridays, from 10 AM to 5 PM on Saturdays and from noon to 5 PM on Sundays. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Toledo Botanical Garden – open every day of the week from 7 AM to 7 PM. The admission is free, although you will have to pay a 10$ fee if you want to get in to listen to some nice jazz on Thursday nights during summer.

Swan Creek Preserve – open every day from 7 AM till dark.


Renaissance Toledo Downtown Hotel

Grand Rapids


At least two and a half hours


Taking the car seems like the best option here because you have a fairly big chunk of road to cover. Still, by following the I-96 west you can be in Grand Rapids in about two and a half hours, which leaves plenty of time for a pleasant day trip from Detroit. Bus is also an option, although it will take you about an hour longer to get there, but on the plus side – you can get tickets from just 17 dollars. Train is also available, but given that the ride takes 5 hours and costs at least 40 dollars, it doesn’t seem like a viable option for this kind of trip.

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan, Author: Paul Hart, Source: Flickr


For those who appreciate US cities, a trip from Detroit to Grand Rapids is a must. You see, Grand Rapids is the second largest city in the state of Michigan and a place with a flourishing art scene. It also has a lot of things kids can enjoy, including Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, so coming here and spending a whole day with your family seems like a great idea. Visit the Blandford Nature Centre if you’re an outdoorsy type and check out the food scene in the city – you won’t regret it!


Grand Rapids Children’s Museum – doesn’t work on Mondays, from Tuesday to Saturday it’s open from 9.30 AM to 5 PM (8 PM on Thursday), while on Sundays you can visit it from noon to 5 PM. Tickets cost 8.50$.

Blandford Nature Centre – admission fee is 3 dollars per person if you’re not a member, otherwise it’s free. The visitor centre is closed on Sundays, while any other day of the week it works from 9 AM to 5 PM.  


Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown



From 90 minutes onwards


By car, there really shouldn’t be any problems – just take the I-96 west and you’ll be in Lansing in an hour and a half, maybe even faster! However, the bus is also an enticing option because a one-way ticket can cost you as little as 8 dollars, although that depends on the day and the company you choose. Do be careful when choosing your bus, though, because the time it takes to make the trip can vary a lot: from just over two hours to more than three and a half. Trains don’t seem like a good choice because they usually include at least one transfer and therefore take too long


Lansing is the capital of the state of Michigan and you can see that they are very proud of that from their beautiful State Capitol building which has a huge dome on top of it and dates back to the 1870s. However, that’s just the beginning. Lansing River Trail will make every visitor very happy thanks to its numerous galleries, museum and awesome views. Apart from that, you have a great planetarium in this town (something kid will find especially interesting),  while car enthusiasts will surely want to visit the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, one of the best of its kind in the country. As you can see, there’s something for everyone in Lansing.  

R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, Lensing, Michigan
R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, Lensing, Michigan, Author: Joe Ross, Source: Flickr


Michigan State Capitol – open every weekday from 8 AM to 5 PM, from 10 AM to 4 PM on Saturdays, closed on Sundays. The tours you can get here every half hour are free.  

R.E. Olds Transportation Museum – open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM and on Sundays from noon to 5 PM in the period from April to October. During the rest of the year the museum is closed on Sundays, just like every Monday in the year. Tickets are 7$ per person, but families can pick up tickets for parents and three children for just 15$.

Lansing River Trail – as stated, there are plenty of things to do here, so here are just a couple of examples. Impression 5 is essentially an interactive exhibition perfect for children. They are open from 10 AM to 5 PM from Tuesday to Saturday and from noon to 5 on Sundays. Tickets are 8.50$ dollars. Potter Park Zoo will cost you just 3 dollars to visit (2$ for kids) until March 31, but up to 12$ (4$ for kids) after that. It is open every day from 10 AM to 4 PM (9 AM to 5 PM after March 31).


Hyatt Place Lansing


If you have any other propositions for this Day Trips from Detroit, feel free to share them in the comments below!

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Anca One Day Itinerary
Anca B.
Travel writer at One Day Itinerary

Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).

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