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.
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.
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; in addition to advocating for preservation of historic buildings and sites, Preservation Detroit recently undertook the digitalization of its archives, ensuring that the rich collection will be around to educate future generations.
Challenge Nation pioneered the urban-adventure race with a race season that includes visits to 35 cities across the country. Each scavenger hunt is personalized to the hosting city, exploring its many diverse neighborhoods with a series of clues that would test even the most skilled children's-book detective. The teams—comprised of at least two people—vie for a $300 first-place prize. The Amazing Race–style competition rewards quick wits and wise planning over physical fitness, so the best way to prepare is by doing logic puzzles while eating Funyuns and lounging in a La-Z-Boy. The top 25 teams qualify, the top five receiving free entry, to compete in the national championship, which rewards winning teams with a $5,000 cash prize.
The sage-like city prowlers of Inside Detroit lead groups of tourists and natives through Detroit's history-rich hubs, charming watering holes, and evolving cultural centers. Walking tours bring urban nomads through the major landmarks of Detroit's downtown, such as the underground railroad's Second Baptist Church and the 40-story Guardian Building, an Aztec-inspired architectural masterpiece built during the 1920s, when it was thought to guard the city from hay fever.
It's dark within Scare House Windsor, and visitors never quite know what lurks down the next hallway or within the next room. A maniacal clown might elicit screams, or a madman may wield his chainsaw until he's offered a job as a lumberjack. Or maybe visitors will run into Shawn Lippert, one of Scare House Windsor's sinister creators. Along with a band of volunteers, Mr. Lippert has crammed horror into every inch of the 20,000-square-foot haunted house, which has become an annual Halloween staple. Mr. Lippert's creation is so authentically spine-tingling, in fact, that he's using it as the setting for a horror film of the same name.
The FAA-licensed instructors at A&R Aviation showcase the open skies above Oakland Troy Airport as students enjoy casual discovery flights or train to earn a pilot’s license. During instructional flights, instructors place pupils in front of the steering column of a pair of Cessna aircraft—models 150 and 172. The flying machines are kept up to date by an FAA-certified maintenance professional, allowing the student to focus on real world training scenarios without fearing real world technical difficulties, like when nacho cheese is accidentally spilled all over the cockpit.