Firing Up Fun in the Motor City

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day everyone!

First off, I’d like to say this was awesome: Star Wars Undercover Boss. Chris Pratt’s still my forever man crush, but keep the Adam Driver coming.

Additionally, keep the new technology coming as well. Today, I took a look around at the buffet of current and future cars at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. You may know Detroit as the home of the Red Wings, or the Tigers, or the Pistons, or let’s not focus on football. Perhaps you recognize it as the only city in the United States directly north of a Canadian city. More than a few people perceive Detroit as the epitome of economic ruin in a once great American metropolis. Unfortunately, that’s not completely wrong, however, it’s not completely true either. Detroit is certainly down, but it is not giving up, and it is still hanging onto some great things beyond its hockey team. Front and center among the non-permanent cultural structures and events is the NAIAS.

Attending the annual showcase of the latest automobiles in the city that still serves as the headquarters for the major American manufacturers (Cobo Hall, where the event is held, is across the street from GM’s towering mission control) has become a regular excursion for me and my friends and family. Over the years we have developed a system that has been perfected to ensure the most optimal enjoyment for us, one that makes parking easy breezy, allows Greg to ogle the always impressive Ford display, and lets me complain about the lack of fully electric cars – pretty much everybody had one out in plain sight this year but I’m still waiting for a more even ratio to cars running on “stinky dinosaur juice”. Those hybrids don’t let you off the hook Volkswagen! Too bad Tesla was not there this year because they cannot legally sell cars in Michigan or much of the United States. Absolute bullshit, right Adam?

If you find yourself in Motown in mid-January and want to see the latest cars from most of the largest auto makers around the world, then here’s what you do:

  • Dress warm – We’re talking about Detroit in January. This should be a no-brainer, but I saw people in shorts today and it was 9°F outside. Except for residents of Barrow, Alaska and other locales in the Arctic Circle, you’ll most likely need more than a thin layer of fabric covering half your body to keep from turning bluer than The Black Keys’ last album.
  • Eat before you go – You might be walking around for a long time, and while there are plenty of vendors selling roasted almonds, Mackinaw fudge, and water, it’s all up-charged and you probably want to avoid shelling out too much for a minimal boost of blood sugar. Plus, as we’ll see, you’ll want to save to splurge later.
  • Get there early – The show usually runs from 9AM – 10PM, so you’ve got a big window to check everything out. Nonetheless, if you want to avoid having to knife through crowds like a salmon swimming upstream to spawn then your best bet is to beat the rush. This is also helped by going on a weekday if you can. Surprisingly, MLK Day is a less crowded day despite being a national holiday!
  • Park in Greektown – Greektown is a fun section of the city and like everywhere else it has a lot of parking. What it does not have is a massive lineup in and out of the garages and lots, nor herds of people crossing the street in front of you when you have the green light. If you can, park in the lot by Old St. Mary’s Church which is cheaper than the casino garage and on par with the lowest price you’ll find citywide. Most days from Greektown you can take a shuttle directly to Cobo for free. If that is not running, you do not want to wait for the next one, or you want to see downtown Detroit from a slightly higher vantage point, then ride the Detroit People Mover, a monorail that makes an oval loop around the major stops of riverside downtown. A ride is only 75 cents and the train runs constantly with the next one not far behind. Not to mention, it beats walking in the frigid, wind-whipping cold.
  • See what you came for first and take your time -There is a lot to see, and you may find yourself growing tired or feeling that you have got your fill before you have rounded every corner, so you want to make sure that you work in what you really want to see as soon as you can. I’m not suggesting that you rush for the Toyota exhibit in the back from the Ford display in the opposite corner. Rather, work your way towards your main interests and observe what you want of the other displays along your way. Once you’ve sufficiently gotten your Ford fix or whatever it may be, start moving around to each of the other sections in a logical pattern. I find walking through the exhibitions in the back earlier so that I can exit when I work my way back upfront is easier than going through the front then heading back then back up to the front to exit. Furthermore, try to exit on the side closest to your ride back to your car or the restaurant you’ll head to directly after the show. However, don’t feel like you have to rush or you might miss something good.
  • Eat at a local restaurant – I’m not simply saying this to make up for encouraging you to eschew the unnecessarily expensive food items in Cobo. Detroit has some really nice places to grab a bite. I suggested parking at Greektown to take in some of its flavor, and that goes double for its food. From PizzaPapalis to my personal favorite, Fishbone’s. Prior to my trip to the actual New Orleans this past summer, the best Creole and Cajun cuisine I’ve had was at a restaurant in Greektown in Detroit, Michigan called Fishbone’s. Fishbone’s has one of the shuttles to Cobo that picks people up and drops them off right in front of the restaurant as well. At the very least you have to hit up the Astoria Bakery on any trip to Detroit. They have a terrific assortment of sweet treats and the string they tie the boxes with is durable and great fun for cats.
  • Get out before sundown – Haha, I’m kidding… kind of.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy your time at the NAIAS if you can get to it, or at least perusing its website if you cannot. If you live too far away from Detroit to justify taking a trip to it then visit one of your own area places of interest and shake off those winter blues! To those of you in the southern hemisphere, disregard.

All power to the engines,


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