Disclosure: This post is part of a sponsored campaign with A Girls Guide to Cars. It also contains affiliate links. When you reserve your hotel or make a purchase through one of these partner links, I may earn a commission. Of course, this is at no extra cost to you, and all opinions are my own
I was invited to cover the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit during the media preview days. This was my first time ever attending the Detroit Auto Show — and I am a born-and-raised Metro Detroiter!
My coverage of the Motor City’s largest event is in partnership with A Girls Guide to Cars, a website dedicated to empowering women to be smarter and happier car owners.
Whether you are a Michigander attending the Detroit Auto Show for the first time like I was or you are an out-of-towner visiting the Motor City, I’m compiling all you need to know to navigate Detroit for a delicious, luxurious, and cultural visit.
Visiting Detroit’s Annual Auto Show
The Detroit Auto Show has been a time-honored tradition since the early 1900s. It’s especially important to the Motor City, where the three largest American automakers — General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford — are headquartered.
Now called the North American International Auto Show, the Detroit Auto Show attracts automotive brands from around the world to showcase their collections and reveal new models and concept cars.
So, why should you attend the Detroit Auto Show?
First, if you are shopping for a new car, you’ll get a broad overview of the market. Though I wasn’t in the market for a new vehicle, I found the show absolutely fascinating. You’ll see practical applications of advanced technology that would have blown your mind 20, 10, five, or even one or two years ago. For example, Google’s Waymo autonomous self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hitting the streets soon in Arizona and California without drivers is still boggling my mind.
What You Shouldn’t Miss At This Year’s Detroit Auto Show
Concept cars, new reveals, and Eye on Design award-winning vehicles — there are so many automobiles to see! At the 2017 auto show, Lightning McQueen was on hand to promote the theatrical release of Cars 3.
What You Need To Know For Attending The Auto Show
- Where: Huntington Place, 1 Washington Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226
- Media Day: September 14, 2022
- Industry Tech Days: September 14-15, 2022
- Charity Preview Day: September 16, 2022
- Public Show: September 17 – 25, 2022
Eating & Drinking Around The Motor City
Whether you are looking to brunch beforehand, break for lunch, dash to dinner while downtown, or grab drinks after a day at the Detroit Auto Show, you’ll find plenty of options. The food scene has exploded in Detroit, and my suggestions here are only the places I’ve personally tried and highly recommend.
Favorite Brunch Spots
Dime Store — I’m all about the Bennys — the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict that is. You’ve got to try it!
Honest John’s — A good hearty breakfast spot in Midtown. The smothered hash browns are the bomb. Pair it with a mimosa!
Casual Dining in Detroit
Mercury Burger & Bar — Tasty burgers with salty tots or fries and a selection of Michigan craft beer in Corktown.
Slows Bar BQ — Mouthwatering slow-cooked bbq, comforting mac & cheese, and more craft beer in Corktown.
Dinner in Detroit
Ottava Via — Oh, the Italian restaurant that transported me from Corktown back to Europe. Split a pizza and some small plates!
Pegasus — If you are going to dine in Greektown, this restaurant is a classic.
Union Street — Home to the iconic Dragon Eggs pictured above, Union Street is a bar and grill dishing up Detroit classics. Are you brave enough to conquer the fiery Dragon Egg?
Drinking in Detroit
Detroit Beer Company — A downtown brewery serving craft beer and pub fare. The Broke Down Honey Brown seems appropriate for a post-Auto-Show beverage!
Detroit City Distillery — Classy, handcrafted cocktails like those pictured above are made with the distillery’s own whiskey, gin or vodka.
Ghost Bar — The third-floor bar at the historic Whitney has a delicious Witching Hour cocktail. Stop by for happy hour!
Grand Trunk Pub — Formerly a 1900s train station, this bar has an incredible high arched ceiling and a fantastic selection of Michigan craft beer.
Sugar House — From classic to innovative, just tell the bartender what kind of cocktail you like and wait to be amazed. You are required to have a seat, so this fantastic cocktail spot can fill up quickly. No worries though because that would be the perfect excuse to explore the foodie neighborhood of Corktown, which brings me to my next point …
Five Places To Explore Beyond Downtown In Detroit
While you are in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, be sure to carve out time to explore the city. By taking the People Mover from Cobo Center, you can loop through downtown quite easily. Detroit offers so much more in its neighborhoods outside downtown, so here are five more ideas to add to your itinerary.
The island surrounded by the Detroit River offers views of the downtown Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, skylines. Don’t miss the James Scott Memorial Fountain and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. If you are visiting with kids, the Belle Isle Aquarium is worth a visit.
Pro Tip: Purchase your Michigan Recreation Passport ahead of time. It’s $11 for Michigan vehicles and $5 for motorcycles and grants you access to all 102 Michigan State Parks until your next license plate renewal date. For out of state visitors, a day pass costs $9.
Michigan Central Station
If you plan to eat at Slow’s or Mercury Burger & Bar or sip cocktails at Sugar House, you’ll only be a block away from this iconic Detroit landmark. Once a beautiful and bustling train station, it has become a reminder of the city’s vibrant past.
Detroit Institute of Arts
One of the finest art museums in the United States, the DIA has 100 galleries with a diverse collection including American, European, modern, contemporary, and graphic art. Highlights include Vincent Van Gogh’s self portrait and Mexican artist Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals depicting scenes from Ford Motor Company’s River Rouge Plant.
Pro Tip: General admission is free for Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties’ residents with a valid driver’s license or state ID. Special exhibits are not included.
Food trucks and a farmers’ market converge on Eastern Market each Sunday morning. I’d recommend strolling through the market with a coffee from one of the vendors. Then stop by Rocky’s for peanuts or Germack’s for more nuts, candies, and/or coffee beans to take home.
In Southwest Detroit, Mexicantown is full of Mexican restaurants, markets, and bakeries. Save room for dessert from La Gloria Bakery!
Where to Stay in Detroit
Need a place to stay during the Detroit Auto Show? Below are our top picks for Detroit hotels!
Luxury Hotels in Detroit
Mid-Range Hotels in Detroit
- Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney
- Element Detroit at the Metropolitan
- The Siren Hotel
- Trumbull and Porter
Have you ever been to the Detroit Auto Show or a similar event?
I’ve never been to the Detroit auto show (or even Michigan), but this makes me want to venture north and see & taste Detroit!
Lot’s of good information on how to visit the NAIAS and also take in the Detroit cultural and food highlights. Love all the quality pics, especially the pic of Lightning McGueen. Great job! Well written and so informative.
Can you take me to Detroit right now? I have never been to an auto show (my husband has been, of course) but I think it would be interesting to attend. More when you have the opportunity to see the latest models and technology. In terms of the food and places to visit, Detroit seems interesting. Maybe too interesting. I would not pass the opportunity to visit. #WeekendWanderlust
Ahhh cool!! You got to see Lightning McQueen!! He’s my fave 🙂 And I love all that you included in this post, especially the spots to get a yummy drink! Our favorite thing to do in a new city is to find food and drink spots to enjoy while we explore 🙂
I currently have a travel link up going on and this post would be a great addition! Feel free to join in on the fun http://www.lifessweetwords.com/2017/01/traveltuesday-12-30-places-to-see-in-my.html
Have a great weekend!
Very cool post! I’m not very much into cars, but my in-laws are originally from Detroit and they often talk about the decline of the city. So I’m glad to see a guide that talks about the other side and makes Detroit seem like a place worth visiting! #WeekendWanderlust
This is wonderful information! I will be sure to pass it along!
Amanda | The World Incorporated
Such amazing suggestions here! You definitely mentioned all of the “must eat” places.
It was so nice meeting you; can’t wait to follow all your epicurean adventures!
Aww, thanks! It was lovely meeting you, Amanda. Let’s meet up again sometime soon for more Detroit adventures!
Erin, OMG.. fantastic post. I am sad I missed the media event this year. I want to go to the auto sow now more than ever after reading your post. Looks like we missed a lot. The food looks awesome, and I totally want to check out some of those cars.
Thank you, Amber, that really means a lot to me. I knew I’d love any excuse to be in Detroit, which has some serious foodie cred these days, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed seeing the cars. They’re all so shiny and sleek! It was a visual feast, for sure.
Your food pics here are drool-worthy 🙂 yum. I’m headed to Detroit tomorrow for Phantom of the Opera, originally was going to do Green Dot Stables but I think parking will be nuts near the Opera House, so I’m going to try Punch Bowl Social instead – we did a blogger event there that was great.
I’ve STILL never been to Sugar House too. It’s on my list, lol.
Have you seen Phantom of the Opera before? It has been years, but I saw the show twice in Toronto. It’s wonderful. I noticed it was at the Detroit Opera House while I was doing research for this post and was bummed that I probably won’t have time to see it before it leaves town. Also, Green Dot Stables has totally been on my Detroit to-do list for years. I should just dedicate a weekend to staying in Detroit and fully experiencing the city like a tourist.
Great post!! I wish I could have gone with you guys but I’m recovering. The food would be my favorite part. LOL
The food is ALWAYS my favorite part. 😉 I hope we’ll cross paths at a Michigan bloggers event soon, Rachel!