Fun stops between Chicago and Detroit
June 26, 2014 8:50 PM   Subscribe

We'll be flying to Chicago, spending a day or two there, then driving to Detroit. What are some fun, interesting, or picturesque stops between the two cities?
posted by exhilaration to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm on my tablet, and if I navigate away from the open tab to grab links, my comment disappears. So I'm going to give you names without links and assume you know how to google.

From Chicago to Detroit, you'll be going east on I-94 across southern Michigan. There will be wineries/winery outlets on the west side of the state; you'll see billboards. I've never been to any of them.

At exit 100, you can go to Binder Park Zoo. This is a lovely little zoo; the enclosures are mostly designed so that they blend into the surrounding landscaping. The "Africa" area has a walking trail that includes wooden walkways up in the trees so that you are looking down on the monkeys, or see them off to the side of you; it's really cool as those things go.

At exit 110, Shuler's restaurant is a one-of-a kind place, very interesting, with good food.

I-94 will take you right by Ann Arbor, so look at an Ann Arbor visitor guide if you want to stop there for dinner or something cultural. The Ark is a music venue that gets a lot of acts that are folky, interesting, off-the-beaten-track kind of things, and the Michigan Theater is a restored movie palace that is big fun to see a show at. The Arboretum is a lovely place for a nature walk.
posted by not that girl at 9:06 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check out the fairy doors in AA.
Get pie at the Village Inn in Middlebury IN.>
posted by brujita at 9:22 PM on June 26, 2014

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Saugatuck, Michigan.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:44 PM on June 26, 2014

Grand Haven, MI. There's a place there with really great corn dogs, but the name escapes me.
posted by Team of Scientists at 9:48 PM on June 26, 2014

You're gonna want to drive by the giant tire.
posted by slmorri at 11:07 PM on June 26, 2014

Go to Common Grill in Chelsea, MI or see Jeff Daniels' Purple Rose Theater.
In Ann Arbor, there is lots to see - the Big House, Ann Arbor Summer Festival (or Art fair! depending on when you are passing through), walk around Main Street, Zingerman's.
posted by superfille at 11:11 PM on June 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

The corn dog place with the cult following that Team of Scientists recommends in Grand Haven is named Pronto Pup but I'm not sure that it matters -- Grand Haven isn't on the direct route between Chicago and Detroit (neither is Saugatuck, for that matter, which was part of another recommendation.)

There's a very well-regarded small brewery in Kalamazoo, Bell's, that'd be worth a stop if you are into beer.

It has been a while since I've been there but unless it has changed considerably I second superfille's recommendation for the Common Grill in Chelsea -- their food was always quite good and yes, it does combine well with an evening at the Purple Rose Theater. Ann Arbor Art Fair is another thing to check out if it's going on while you're passing through, but it draws crowds like you wouldn't believe. The University of Michigan Arboretum is a nice place for a walk, too, though you've *just* missed my favorite time of year there (blossom season in their peony garden.)

If you've got a bunch of time and a nice summer day there are a bunch of nice parks along the Huron river between Ann Arbor and Dexter. When I lived in Ann Arbor we enjoyed renting a canoe from the canoe livery at Delhi Metropark, which will drop you off about 10 miles upstream, allowing you a leisurely paddle down a slow and (mostly) shallow river, past farms and fields and through the small village of Dexter. Stop and picnic at the park about midway.

You'll have a lot of options when you get to Detroit but I recommend the Motown studio tour if you like the music at all -- I didn't expect much but was pretty impressed. Visit Eastern Market on the weekend for fresh produce, flowers, crafts, and people-watching. If you like ceramics stop at Pewabic Pottery, which is a historic pottery studio which makes beautiful tiles, vases, etc.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:33 AM on June 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

Frankenmuth ("Michigan's Little Bavaria"), has a kind of touristy perfection all it's own!
posted by fairmettle at 4:46 AM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

An airplane museum! The Yankee Air Museum is closer to Detroit, East of Ypsilanti, and they have a B52 (holy shit is that thing HUGE). I haven't been to the Air Zoo, but it looks fun too - planes and space and tigers. Both are right off 94.

There's also the Henry Ford Museum right outside of Detroit in Dearborn. I could spend days there.
posted by youngergirl44 at 5:28 AM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Frankenmuth is north, near Flint, but well worth the hour or two drive. There aren't many places like Frankenmuth in America. If you go, you have to get a Zehnders chicken dinner.

Ann Arbor's Matthei Botanical Gardens are nice. Zingermans Deli is good but with New York prices. Ann Arbor isnt half as funky as it was twenty years ago, kind of like Austin, but if you like Austin, you'll like Ann Arbor. But find out if you'll be in Ann Arbor around the Art Fair because its quite crazy.

Dearborn would be a great day trip. Henry Ford is great and relatively more compact than Greenfield Village. Afterwards you can seek out excellent middle eastern food.
posted by mitschlag at 7:20 AM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Kalamazoo is half-way between detroit and chicago, and as such has long been a major lay-over for the exact trip you are on.

Downtown kalamazoo is beautiful and very walkable, with tons of little shops, antique markets, restaurants, and 6 microbreweries all in the downtown area, as well as a number of local coffee shops - waterstreet coffee, kalamazoo coffee being two major roasters.

I live in kalamazoo so feel free to memail me if you have any questions or want recommendations.
posted by rebent at 8:26 AM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Kalamazoo Air Zoo that youngergirl44 links is pretty great. They have a SR-71 blackbird, which is a little uncommon.
posted by garlic at 9:48 AM on June 27, 2014

Western Michigan University has lovely campus, and it borders a lovely tree-filled neighborhood. Might be good for a relaxing short break from the road.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 1:39 PM on June 27, 2014

Nthing Kalamazoo. The downtown is a bit far from the highway, but it's great. In the summer, they still have A&W rootbeer stands relatively close to I94 (the Stadium Drive exit, go north, it'll be on your left after Kilgore Road, I think). If you turn right at Kilgore, and drive about three-five minutes, Milham Park is still one of the nicest parks I've ever been too, with a meandering stream with several islands, with bridges connecting to them. Even if just for an opportunity to stretch your legs, it's fantastic.

In terms of local stuff, I'm pretty far removed from when I lived there, but the breweries are fantastic (especially Bell's), and for a pretty unique nerditry/pizza experience, there's Bilbo's pizza, which is pretty good pizza and sandwiches, all named after characters from Tolkien.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:48 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Air Force Jobs: Cyber Security vs. Computer...   |   Morning Routine Mp3 Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.