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.
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.
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 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.
When A&R's pilots aren't teaching others how to fly, they can be found ferrying people through the skies on sightseeing expeditions. On romantic flights, which showcase the dazzling views of the Detroit skyline at night, couples sip sparkling cider and nibble on chocolates among a sea of rose petals.
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.