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Navigating the US: Getting Around in Detroit, Michigan

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Charles Brady King Drives First Automobile - Getting Around Detroit

Charles Brady King Drives First Automobile – Getting Around Detroit

Detroit is known as a rough-and-tough city. Once the automotive capital of the U.S, Detroit was neglected for decades. Today, Detroit is reclaiming its place as a cultural and tourist capital with new athletic stadiums, a massively-renovated theater district, and the automotive spirit that once built Detroit is renewed as carmakers like Chrysler and Ford breathe new life and energy into it.

Recommended Modes of Transportation

Detroit spans over a large area, so we recommend getting around by car. The extensive freeway system and numerous well-placed public parking garages make Detroit one of the most car-friendly cities in the U.S. Car rentals are reasonable, and the spoke-and-wheel street system is fairly easy to understand.

If you plan on staying in the downtown region, you may consider biking or walking if the weather is pleasant. There is an abundance of one-way streets which could make walking or biking a faster option for seeing downtown Detroit.

North American International Auto Show logo

North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI.

Major Highways and Roadways to Know

Detroit’s street system in comprised of a unique wheel-and-spoke grid, with six major roads stretching from downtown through the rest of the city. In clockwise order, they are: Fort Street, Michigan Avenue, Grand River Avenue, Woodward Avenue, Gratiot Avenue, and Jefferson Avenue. Woodward Avenue runs northwest-southeast and divides the northern half of Detroit into east and west. Downtown, the roads become a smaller grid network comprised of many one-way streets.

Detroit also hosts several major freeways, most of which saw an overhaul in preparation of Super Bowl XL, which Detroit hosted in 2006. They include I-75, I-696, I-96, and I-94. As with any major city, these highways tend to get clogged up during normal rush hours.

Alternative Ways of Seeing the City

Consider using Detroit’s People Mover, an elevated rail network that runs a three-mile loop around the downtown area. A round-trip excursion covers 13 stops, takes a total of 20 minutes, and features amazing views of the city and major landmarks. The People Mover is the best way to see everything downtown Detroit has to offer. The standard fare is $0.75, a steal for a tour of downtown.

Best Places to Park

There is an abundance of parking garages located throughout the city of Detroit, making parking easy. Specifically, the Greektown Casino located in downtown Detroit features a free 13-story parking garage. Premium parking right next to the stadium is also available, and well-worth the extra price on game days.

Airports and Car Rentals

The Detroit Metropolitan Airport serves the city of Detroit, and is located in Romulus, about 20 minutes west of the city, at the junction between I-275 and I-94 with plenty of nearby hotels. Detroit Metro is a major Delta hub, although the airport also serves most other major airline carriers.

The quickest and easiest way to get to downtown Detroit is to rent a car or take a taxi. Expect to pay $45-$50 for a taxi. Detroit Metro is also home to many car rental agencies, making it easy to hop in a rental car and be on your way. We recommend making advance reservations, just to be sure a car with your name on it awaits your arrival!

Hotels and Attractions

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Detroit is home to some impressive cultural and historical attractions. Some of the most highly-rated attractions include: