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Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport | © Nick Harris / Flickr
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport | © Nick Harris / Flickr

What to Do on a Layover in Detroit, Michigan

Picture of Tim Marklew
Updated: 24 January 2018

Around 30 minutes southwest of the city is Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), one of the country’s busiest national and international air travel hubs. If you find yourself there with a few hours to kill between flights, here are some of the best ways to make the most of your time in Motor City.

If you have one hour…

If you don’t actually have time to leave the airport, you can still get a taste of Detroit at one of DTW’s food and drink options. National Coney Island serves up Detroit’s most famous hot dog style, while Harvest & Grounds offers coffee from Ann Arbor’s Mighty Good Coffee and baked goods from the city’s popular Avalon International Breads.

If you have three hours…

Three hours is a tricky amount of time to fill, and it’s really just enough time to do one thing. Luckily for you, one of the country’s best museums and a journey into Detroit’s history is just a 20-minute drive from the airport. The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village in Dearborn celebrate much more than cars, with millions of artifacts dedicated to American culture, history, and people. Must-see items include the Rosa Parks bus and JFK’s limo. You won’t have nearly enough time to explore the massive complex of exhibitions, but you can have a fun and fascinating couple of hours nonetheless.

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The Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford | © Fred Ortlip / Flickr

If you have five hours…

With a couple of more hours to spare, there’s no reason to not head into the city. A whistle-stop tour of the city should include a quick visit to one of the city’s renowned museums, such as the Motown Museum or the DIA, a walk around the resurgent downtown, and a visit to some of Detroit’s famous folk art, such as the Heidelberg Project or Hamtramck Disneyland. To fuel you during your time in the city, be sure to grab one of Detroit’s iconic dishes, such as deep-dish pizza or a few Coney Island hot dogs.

The Heidelberg Project | Courtesy of the Heidelberg Project

The Heidelberg Project | Courtesy of the Heidelberg Project

If you have seven hours…

With most of a day to see the city, you can take the above tour at a more relaxed pace. Enjoy a longer visit at the museum (be sure to see the Detroit Industry murals if you go to the DIA), and go inside some of the impressive old buildings around downtown. Have a walk around the city’s green spaces, such as Belle Isle or the Riverwalk, and throw in some shopping at Shinola or Third Man Records. Also, enjoy a better exploration of the city’s strong restaurant scene, with high-end eats from across the globe available.

Diego Rivera's 'Detroit Industry' | © Onasill ~ Bill Badzo/Flickr

Diego Rivera’s ‘Detroit Industry’ | © Onasill ~ Bill Badzo / Flickr