Detroit is a great place to spend a family vacation
See a truck being assembled
By Phyllis Steinberg
Detroit is my home town, so expect me to brag about it! I live in Florida where the weather is warmer, but there are a lot of things in Detroit that you simply can't bring down to sunny Florida.
For starters there is the Ford Factory which is acres long and where automobile history was made and continues to be made. About 20 years ago Ford Motor Company and other car manufacturers stopped giving tours of the automobile plants for various reasons. Among them was the issue of competitors checking out their streamlined methods of making automobiles. Another was the safety issue.
Well, the powers recently decided to open up the Ford Rouge plant to the public for factory tours and I was lucky enough to be among one of the first groups of tourists to take the tour.
We had the opportunity to see the making of a Ford truck from scratch in a spotless facility that not a scrap of paper could be found lying on the ground. We witnessed the car being built from the bottom up as tour guides explained what was going on along the way.
The tour also included exhibits on science and water conservation that the factory is undertaking to improve the environment of people who live in Michigan. The tour includes an interactive exhibit which demonstrates the making of an automobile with live special effects, like smoke and stereo music created to make the trip even more memorable.
A great choice for families is the one-day fun pack which includes the Rouge Factory Tour and admission to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. The Henry Ford Museum has a collection of antique memorabilia including the limousines of several presidents, the bus that Rosa Parks rode on when she fought segregation and the chair that Abraham Lincoln got assassinated in at the theater. They also have a new exhibit on the History of Flight in America.
Greenfield Village is great family fun. Here, you can stroll among pioneer homes and see how the early settlers lived. There are also candy shops and souvenir shops which offer unique items.
Detroiters love cars and once a year, in the summer, they have an event, where they ride in their antique automobiles up and down Woodward Avenue. The event, called the Dream Cruise, has grown into the world's largest one-day automotive event. It takes place on the third Saturday in August and attracts more than 1.5 million people. Spectators line the streets and many family-orientated amusements and attractions take place. The participants drive a 16-mile stretch with their antique automobiles.
But Detroit isn't just about cars. It is also is the home of the Motown Museum, a tiny gem of a museum where Barry Gordy lived and where Diana Ross hung out. Here, you can see some of the costumes of the Supremes, Michael Jackson's gloves and hat and visit the Motown studio where many solid gold hits were made.
If rock and roll isn't your favorite thing, you can visit Meadow Brook Hall, the 110-room mansion, 88,000 square feet, former home of the Matilda Rausch Dodge, widow of John Dodge, automobile pioneer and co-founder of Dodge Brothers Motors Cars. The home, is one of the finest examples of Tudor Revivial style architecture in the nation. I've been to the Palace of Versailles in France and I must confess that I'm not easily impressed, but this home is really not a home. It's a palace with rooms and furnishings not seen anywhere else. There are secret staircases and hallways, stained glass windows, commissioned by Tiffany and elaborately carved woodwork throughout. The home is a popular site for weddings, but they do alsor public tours of the property.
The Detroit Institute of Arts has a mural by Diego Rivera on the automobile industry that is not to be missed. The museum also has masterpieces from four continents and the ancient world. The Institute has one of the largest art collections in the world. Plan to spend a day at the museum.
If you visit Detroit in the summer, a fun-family outing is Comerica Stadium where the Detroit Tigers play. There is even a carousel in the ballpark for the kiddies.
Detroit now has three casinos where you can try your luck at everything from craps to roulette to slot machines and hear some outstanding music at the same time.
The downtown area of Detroit is also being revitalized. The Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center is the place to stay in the downtown area. It is 72 floors high and has 1,298 rooms. Everyone one of its guest rooms has incredible views of the city. Hotel rooms start on the 40th floor and go up. On the seventy-second floor is the Coach Insignia Restaurant where guests can dine with a breathtaking view of the city and of the bridge across the water to Canada.
Photos by Phyllis Steinberg