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Globetrotting A to Z: Detroit

VP Joe Biden gave a speech about the future of the auto industry at Detroit's 2014 North American International Auto Show at Cobo Arena, Jan 16, 2014
VP Joe Biden gave a speech about the future of the auto industry at Detroit's 2014 North American International Auto Show at Cobo Arena, Jan 16, 2014
Bill Pugliano, Getty Images, Jan. 16, 2014

Detroit may sound like the last place you want to visit right now. After all, you're enjoying 80-degree walks on the Malibu beach while the Motor City is struggling to come out of the single digits.

But wait until spring. That's when Detroit earns its bragging rights and L.A. starts to feel the full wrath of climate change (you can remember those 110-degree evenings last May, right?)

So don't delay. There are many reasons to book a RT ticket to Detroit for you and your sweetie. Here are five of them:

  1. Civic pride. Detroit is part of the state that had the chutzpah and heart to come up with this video. The Pure Michigan singalong, which joined citizens of 50 towns and cities throughout the state, is genius. According to a Michigan resident, the video actually doubled (or was it tripled?) tourism to this Midwestern mecca, formerly known more for its shuttered car dealerships and Aunt Agnes's layover en route to New York.
  2. Henry Ford Museum. In the late 1800s, the successful carriage industry in Detroit inspired one Henry Ford to create the first automobile, in a rented space on Mack Ave. By 1903, the legendary Mr. Ford had started Ford Motor Company, a move that would inspire the likes of a Mr. Chrysler, Packard and the Dodge Bros. to follow suit. Many events will inspire the kid in you, from tinkering and inventing to returning at Christmas to watch that magic choo-choo train complete its journey. Visiting this museum dedicated to the man responsible for the American romance with the auto is a Bucket List must.
  3. Motown is yo town. Maybe you forgot that Smoky Robinson, Gladys Knight & The Pips, the Temptations or Diana Ross & the Supremes and many more great R&B singers and performers began under the original Motown Records label. They may have moved to L.A., but the origination of the "Motown sound" was and forever will be here in Detroit. Younger visitors will thrill to realize Ted Nugent, Bob Seger and The White Stripes came through here. Visit the Motown Museum and relive the magic Berry Gordy founded in 1959.
  4. Riverboat cruises. Riding aboard the Detroit Princess will remind you of the Natchez in New Orleans and a scene from "Showboat" all rolled into one. On their website, the nice folks at Princess urge one to book now. (Obviously, not a big demand now for tours of the icy river, but just wait till spring.) As for that resemblance to the Southern ship, not surprising. It was orginally a Louisiana cruise ship that later served as a Merv Griffin casino for many years. When it was bought for Detroit, it couldn't even fit on the Upper Mississippi and had to be taken round Florida and all the way up to Maine and over. This spring enjoy moonlight or "Motown Cruises", all for a reasonably priced tour of the Detroit River near Lake St. Clair.
  5. Michigan Science Center. MSC is remarkable for a traveling show that teaches kids about everything from Newton to nature. Adults visiting the Center will be equally enchanted by a host of exhibits, artifacts and shows at one of five theaters, including a planetarium which promises to show you "9,000 stars". Last time we checked, that's an even better deal than you'll find on that Walk of Fame of yours.

Round-trip from L.A. to Detroit mid-April will run you about $320 on Expedia if you book soon. If you are in a romantic mood, though, consider an Amtrak trip up the coast to San Francisco and then fly to the midwest. Or, just take Amtrak all the way from LA, perhaps lingering in Chicago after you've hit Detroit. Amtrak touts three lines for getting around Michigan and surrounding states.

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