In the early 20th century, Detroit was a tourist destination — a place to see and be seen. And there was no shortage of excursion companies so visitors could take in the sights of a city on the move.
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Seeing Detroit Today
// Here’s a sampling of guided Detroit tours for history-minded day-trippers to consider. In addition to regularly scheduled excursions, most offer private walking and bus tours.
SEE the past:
The organization, founded in 1975 as Preservation Wayne, is Detroit’s foremost architectural-preservation society. Its many activities include the award-winning Detroit Heritage tours, centered on such themes as bootlegging, skyscrapers, cemeteries, theaters, and the auto industry.
RIDE a bus:
Information: 313-922-1990, mcmillantours.com.
Longtime Indian Village resident Stewart McMillan has been enthusiastically conducting Detroit tours since 1968. His most popular bus excursions explore the homes of Detroit celebrities and the sites on the Underground Railroad.
TAKE a cruise:
Diamond Jack’s River Tours
Information: 313-843-9376, diamondjack.com.
Experience the Detroit River as the early French settlers might have — that is, if their canoes had been converted island ferries with lounge chairs and drink specials. The two-hour narrated cruises launch from Rivard Plaza downtown and Wyandotte’s Bishop Park twice each afternoon, Thur.-Sun., all summer.
VIEW the city:
Detroit Tour Connections
Information: 313-283-4332, detroittourconnections.com.
Bob Goldsmith is in his ninth year of organizing tours around skyscrapers, sports, and dozens of other topics. The expeditions, most led by Goldsmith, can take place on foot or via bus or People Mover.
RIDE a bike:
Information: 313-656-2453; wheelhousedetroit.com.
Cyclists of all ability levels are welcome to join one of the $25 tours put on by this bicycle shop on the Riverwalk. (For bike rental, add $10.) The 16-to-30-mile excursions explore neighborhoods, graveyards, churches, and parks, with frequent stops.
TOUR a factory:
Piquette Avenue Plant
Information: 313-872-8759, tplex.org.
The birthplace of Henry Ford’s Model T is a National Historic Landmark and the only early auto factory open to the public.
TAKE a walk:
Detroit Urban Adventures
The local arm of Intrepid Urban Adventures offers a pair of two-hour walking tours of downtown. One focuses on the highlights while the other explores the city’s rise, decline, and ongoing revitalization.