SemSeg's Segway experts equip urban explorers to cruise through Detroit at up to 12.5 miles per hour during self-guided tours. A brief orientation covers proper techniques for turning, stopping, and impromptu jousting. Then, motorists hop aboard scooters and travel up to 24 miles on a single charge. The long battery life allows motorists to cruise down the Riverfront, circle 14-acre Hart Plaza, and crisscross the Rivard Plaza in a single trip. Though SemSeg encourages DIY tours, their guides lead weekend tours through downtown and down the Riverwalk.
Offering unique "backseat" tours of Detroit, tour guide and Michigan native Joseph C. Krause hops into tourists' cars where he guides them through the streets and sights of the city. Often taking roads less traveled, his tours take visitors on an insider's route through the ever-evolving metropolis where he sheds light on little-known facts. Tour routes are entirely customizable, Krause is a wealth of knowledge on any trip, which can last anywhere from a few hours up to an entire day.
As the sun rises and sets on the shore of Lake St. Clair, it illuminates a historic mansion surrounded by 87 acres of gardens, meadows, and lagoons. The light catches the elm and sugar maple trees, blue lilacs, and other local florae, treating guests to the same idyllic views that Edsel Ford—the only son of Henry Ford—used to enjoy with his wife, Eleanor Clay Ford, and their children. Built in 1929 and now open to the general public, this historic house and its surrounding grounds give visitors a glimpse into the everyday lives of one of America's most prominent families.
Edsel and Eleanor Ford were renowned for their progressive design tastes and support of the arts, and these forward-thinking sensibilities are readily apparent throughout their Gaukler Point home. Detroit architect Albert Kahn chose to characterize it as a cozy escape from city life by recreating the aesthetic of a Cotswold village cottage, complete with stone roofs, vine-covered walls, and lead-paned windows. But the Ford's decidedly modern style is still visible—for every antique and stuffed and mounted Model T, guests can also spot the sleek, custom-made furnishings and leather-paneled walls recommended by interior designer Walter Teague. The acres outside those walls were shaped with equal care by renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen, who chose to accentuate the area's natural beauty without giving any indication of manmade interference.
Of course, the Ford House would be incomplete without the invention that made the Ford name—the automobile. Reflecting that legacy and Edsel's own passion for designing vehicles, the garage houses a 1934 Brewster Town Car, a 1938 Lincoln K Brunn Brougham, and a 1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet, each of which was customized to Edsel's specifications. The crown jewel of the exhibited collection—when it is not being displayed at car shows and museums across the country—is Edsel's treasured 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster, a vehicle that he personally spent years conceptualizing and then refining into a sleek, aluminum-bodied roadster.
Preservation Detroit, founded in 1975, is Detroit's oldest group dedicated to historic preservation. Over the past three decades, the architectural preservation organization has become a leading advocate for the protection and rehabilitation of Detroit's historic abodes, skyscrapers, and culturally rich sites. They have used a variety of educational and research programs, along with advocacy and awareness campaigns to help grow support for the conservation Detroit's built heritage. Part of this mission includes encouraging the redevelopment of neighborhoods throughout the city around these historic structures, providing an anchor for residential areas and helping increase economic investment.
An all-volunteer organization, Preservation Detroit's staff continues to nurture their community's passion for historical treasures through lectures, seasonal newsletters, and tours. The organization continues to live up to its name; it recently helped conduct a historic preservation resource survey that recorded property-by-property information in six historic Detroit districts.
The Detroit River's international waters stretch out for miles in either direction, winding along the Detroit skyline and kissing the Canadian border. As ships snake their way through the current, they pass lighthouses on small green islands, bridges stretched across overhead, and workers milling about on the riverside docks. Building on 20 years of boating, the captains of the Diamond Jack, Diamond Belle, and Diamond Queen let passengers take in these sights to the tune of guided narration as their ships' white and sea-foam green hulls slice through the water. The three ships have proven impervious to squalls and Poseidon's road-construction crews since their maiden voyages in the mid- to late 1950s, and safely gather up to 250 passengers on their panoramic upper decks or in protected lower cabins. Today, passengers on these storied steel decks can sip beer, wine, and soft drinks or nibble on snacks from an on-board snack bar during tours. Captains also pilot each ship on private group excursions, as well as school field trips past the river's ships, yacht clubs, parks, and docks.
Regardless of which tour you crawl along with, you'll be traveling under the flapping jaw and friendly wings of a veteran Inside Detroit guide. Along the way, your guide will help arrange personal time with each bar's staff and pull a few strings designed to shower you in a few complimentary surprises (complimentary surprises vary by tour and do not involve pulling shiny pennies from behind your ear). Fill your cranial cup with local Detroit history and culture while enjoying each brew house's distinct lineup of taps and tipplers. While you're at it, strike up a conversation with fellow tour goers, who may be presumed to have at least four common interests—bars, tours, stuff that is "pretty neat," and conversation.