Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Kristin

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Known for institutions like the Motown Museum and Michigan Science Center, the midwestern city of Detroit, Michigan can keep visitors busy for days. And considering its legacy as an automobile manufacturing hub, it’s only fitting that Detroit is also the perfect place to start an adventure on the open road. Here are the best road trips from Detroit.

Fabulous Road Trips from Detroit

Cleveland, Ohio

170 miles / 2 hr. 42 mins.

One of the easiest road trips from Detroit is to swing around Lake Erie to visit Cleveland, a cosmopolitan yet charming lakeside city famous for its professional sports teams, great museums and local food scene. Start downtown with a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to browse music artifacts like stage outfits and liner notes, and browse more than 100 stalls of specialty food items at the West Side Market. Across town on the East Side lies the world-famous Cleveland Museum of Art, whose collection includes more than 45,000 pieces ranging from contemporary photography to medieval artifacts. Round out the day with a trip to the historic Little Italy neighborhood for pizza, gelato, or cannolis. Cleveland is also home to several hip neighborhoods full of galleries and eateries, including Ohio City, Tremont and the Detroit-Shoreway.

Traverse City, Michigan

256 miles / 4 hr. 3 mins.

Take a drive to the pinky on the Michigan “mitten” to historic Traverse City for a charming bayside getaway. The self-proclaimed cherry capital of the world has plenty of farm-to-fork cuisine, wineries and cool shopping. Many of the best places to stay are right on Traverse Bay, where you can also enjoy sandy beaches along with inn-style ambiance or resort fun. >> Recommended hotels in Traverse City

Chicago, Illinois

283 miles / 4 hr. 23 mins.

As the country’s third-largest city, Chicago offers an incredible amount of shopping, dining, nightlife, concerts and sporting events. Start downtown with a jawdropping view from the Willis Tower’s 103rd-floor Skydeck. Or stop by Millennium Park to snap a photo with the famous metallic “Bean” sculpture. When the weather is nice, take an architectural boat tour or explore Navy Pier. Or take the family to the Lincoln Park Zoo or catch a ballgame at Wrigley Field. End with a slice of deep-dish pizza or a classic Chicago-style hot dog. >> Recommended hotels in Chicago

Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

272 miles / 4 hr. 20 mins.

For a unique experience you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the country, cross the state by heading northwest to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The area is known for its gigantic sand dunes overlooking Lake Michigan, which visitors can climb to enjoy spectacular views of the water. When you’re done, catch a sunset from one of the lookout points on the 7.4-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. This loop features several stunning views of the lake and the dunes. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore park also offers campsites, hiking and kayaking.

Indianapolis, Indiana

287 miles  / 4 hr. 30 mins.

Whether you’re looking to take a family-friendly trip or spend a long weekend with friends, Indianapolis has plenty for everyone. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and Indianapolis Zoo are great for both kids and the young at heart. Art and history fans also have a wealth of museums to choose from, from the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. For a night on the town, head to the downtown Massachusetts Avenue cultural district for an eclectic mix of restaurants, wine bars and nightlife venues. >> Recommended hotels in Indianapolis

Louisville, Kentucky

362 miles / 5 hrs. 42 min.

In the spring, it’s most famous as the hometown of the Kentucky Derby, but Louisville makes a delightful getaway year-round, too. Taste your way along Whiskey Row’s downtown distilleries. Explore the Muhammad Ali Center. Or dive into the other cool museums, such the giant 120-foot-tall Louisville Slugger museum and factory, with its giant bat replica outside. Given the rich history and culture the city right off the Ohio River, there is no shortage of things to do. >> Recommended hotels in Louisville

Related: