21 weekend roadtrips for when you need to escape Detroit

Sometimes you just need to get the hell outta Dodge, but where?! Here are 15 easy day trips within driving distance of the Motor City, all with travel times of three hours of less.

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Ann Arbor
Estimated time: 46 minutes
The home of the University of Michigan is so close that it barely feels like you’ve left the city, but when it comes to art and culture it is a world of its own. Named on “best” lists ranging from Budget Travel’s most beautiful list to Fodor’s best Main Streets, the pleasures of Ann Arbor’s thriving art and culture scene are well known. With galleries that specialize in everything from modern ceramics to fine art, it is the place to go for a one-of-a-kind piece for your home. The historic Michigan Theatre hosts everything from late night showings of cult classics to live theatre performances for the whole family, and the University of Michigan supports museums of the arts, history, and nature that make Ann Arbor a destination worth returning to time and again. (Photo Credit: northville2004 on Instagram)
Ann Arbor
Estimated time: 46 minutes
The home of the University of Michigan is so close that it barely feels like you’ve left the city, but when it comes to art and culture it is a world of its own. Named on “best” lists ranging from Budget Travel’s most beautiful list to Fodor’s best Main Streets, the pleasures of Ann Arbor’s thriving art and culture scene are well known. With galleries that specialize in everything from modern ceramics to fine art, it is the place to go for a one-of-a-kind piece for your home. The historic Michigan Theatre hosts everything from late night showings of cult classics to live theatre performances for the whole family, and the University of Michigan supports museums of the arts, history, and nature that make Ann Arbor a destination worth returning to time and again. (Photo Credit: northville2004 on Instagram)
Chelsea
Estimated time: 1 hour
Just minutes from Ann Arbor, Chelsea often seems overshadowed as a destination by its bigger neighbor. But the quaint little town, best known as home to Jeff Daniels and his Purple Rose Theatre, has plenty to offer daytrippers. Peek inside one of Michigan’s most iconic brands with a free tour of the Chelsea Milling Company, makers of Jiffy Mix, shop the city’s historic downtown, and raise a locally brewed pint at the Chelsea Alehouse, or explore the art and historic charm of the community by taking a self-guided Sculpture Walk. (Photo Credit: raisingdickjane on Instagram)
Chelsea
Estimated time: 1 hour
Just minutes from Ann Arbor, Chelsea often seems overshadowed as a destination by its bigger neighbor. But the quaint little town, best known as home to Jeff Daniels and his Purple Rose Theatre, has plenty to offer daytrippers. Peek inside one of Michigan’s most iconic brands with a free tour of the Chelsea Milling Company, makers of Jiffy Mix, shop the city’s historic downtown, and raise a locally brewed pint at the Chelsea Alehouse, or explore the art and historic charm of the community by taking a self-guided Sculpture Walk. (Photo Credit: raisingdickjane on Instagram)
Flint
Estimated time: 1 hour, 4 minutes
There’s more to the former GM company town than tainted water and blight. The birthplace of General Motors remains a repository of the auto industry’s history with sites like the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, where GM began, and the Sloan Museum, where the Buick gallery displays cars from every era. While you’re in the area, check out the rest of what the Flint Cultural Center has to offer - Michigan’s second largest art museum, the historic estate of C. S. Mott, and live theatre and music organizations that foster a lively arts culture. And if you happen to be in town on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday don’t miss the Flint Farmer’s Market in its new downtown digs. Named one of the 15 Great Places in America by the American Planning Association, the indoor market is open year-round and is the place to go for fresh foods from local artisan bakers, cheesemakers, and more. (Photo credit: Michigan Municipal League on Flickr)
Flint
Estimated time: 1 hour, 4 minutes
There’s more to the former GM company town than tainted water and blight. The birthplace of General Motors remains a repository of the auto industry’s history with sites like the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, where GM began, and the Sloan Museum, where the Buick gallery displays cars from every era. While you’re in the area, check out the rest of what the Flint Cultural Center has to offer - Michigan’s second largest art museum, the historic estate of C. S. Mott, and live theatre and music organizations that foster a lively arts culture. And if you happen to be in town on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday don’t miss the Flint Farmer’s Market in its new downtown digs. Named one of the 15 Great Places in America by the American Planning Association, the indoor market is open year-round and is the place to go for fresh foods from local artisan bakers, cheesemakers, and more. (Photo credit: Michigan Municipal League on Flickr)
Frankenmuth
Estimated time: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Yeah, we’ve all been there. Michigan’s Little Bavaria has been a mecca for school trips and family weekends for longer than anyone remembers. But some things are classics for a reason. Downtown Frankenmuth is home to scores of little shops with quirky specialities like used and rare books, radio control cars, and novelty socks, making it an ideal escape from the big-box world we’re living in. Get your drink on with Michigan spirits at the Grand Traverse Distillery or beer from Michigan’s first brewery at Frankenmuth Brewery, or pair your drink with artisanal meats and cheeses at Prost Wine Bar for a change of pace from the classic chicken dinners that made the city famous. (Photo Credit: letsgoandrea on Instagram)
Frankenmuth
Estimated time: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Yeah, we’ve all been there. Michigan’s Little Bavaria has been a mecca for school trips and family weekends for longer than anyone remembers. But some things are classics for a reason. Downtown Frankenmuth is home to scores of little shops with quirky specialities like used and rare books, radio control cars, and novelty socks, making it an ideal escape from the big-box world we’re living in. Get your drink on with Michigan spirits at the Grand Traverse Distillery or beer from Michigan’s first brewery at Frankenmuth Brewery, or pair your drink with artisanal meats and cheeses at Prost Wine Bar for a change of pace from the classic chicken dinners that made the city famous. (Photo Credit: letsgoandrea on Instagram)
Hell
Estimated time: 1 hour, 2 minutes
So what if it is a tourist trap full of terrible puns? It is still fun to say “I’ve been to Hell and back.” and mean it. Hell, Michigan is little more than a map dot, population 266, where the entire business district exists to capitalize on the community’s unusual moniker. You can stop in to get married at the Hell Wedding Chapel, grab an ice cream at Screams, or just have your picture taken under the Gates of Hell. And during the winter, you can see what a snowball’s chances really are. (Photo Credit: renetrio on Instagram)
Hell
Estimated time: 1 hour, 2 minutes

So what if it is a tourist trap full of terrible puns? It is still fun to say “I’ve been to Hell and back.” and mean it. Hell, Michigan is little more than a map dot, population 266, where the entire business district exists to capitalize on the community’s unusual moniker. You can stop in to get married at the Hell Wedding Chapel, grab an ice cream at Screams, or just have your picture taken under the Gates of Hell. And during the winter, you can see what a snowball’s chances really are. (Photo Credit: renetrio on Instagram)
Holly
Estimated time: 55 minutes
The historic - and haunted! - Holly Hotel alone is worth a visit to this little town in northern Oakland County. After all, where else can you catch a comedy show, enjoy Edwardian high tea, or linger over critically acclaimed cuisine, all in a building that is considered one of Michigan’s most haunted places? But the hotel isn’t all Holly has to offer. It is a year-round outdoors destination, thanks to its location near Mount Holly ski area, at the head of the Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail, and just down the road from Hollygrove, home to the Michigan Renaissance Festival. A downtown populated by intriguing antiques, delicious eats, and tempting sweets ensures Holly has something for everyone to enjoy. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Holly
Estimated time: 55 minutes
The historic - and haunted! - Holly Hotel alone is worth a visit to this little town in northern Oakland County. After all, where else can you catch a comedy show, enjoy Edwardian high tea, or linger over critically acclaimed cuisine, all in a building that is considered one of Michigan’s most haunted places? But the hotel isn’t all Holly has to offer. It is a year-round outdoors destination, thanks to its location near Mount Holly ski area, at the head of the Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail, and just down the road from Hollygrove, home to the Michigan Renaissance Festival. A downtown populated by intriguing antiques, delicious eats, and tempting sweets ensures Holly has something for everyone to enjoy. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Kalamazoo
Estimated time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
So this one cheats the two-hour rule just a bit, coming in at 2 hours and 15 minutes from Detroit, but the beer alone is worth the extra miles. Boasting more than a dozen breweries, Kalamazoo has risen to the top of Michigan’s craft beer scene. With all that beer flowing it should be no surprise that the nightlife is vibrant. The downtown entertainment district is home to clubs for every taste, from an upscale piano lounge to a downhome country saloon complete with mechanical bull. Had enough of the wild side? Take in some culture at one of 10 live theatre venues, visit the city’s charming art museum, or explore the history of flight at the Air Zoo. (Photo Credit: discoverkzoo on Instagram)
Kalamazoo
Estimated time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
So this one cheats the two-hour rule just a bit, coming in at 2 hours and 15 minutes from Detroit, but the beer alone is worth the extra miles. Boasting more than a dozen breweries, Kalamazoo has risen to the top of Michigan’s craft beer scene. With all that beer flowing it should be no surprise that the nightlife is vibrant. The downtown entertainment district is home to clubs for every taste, from an upscale piano lounge to a downhome country saloon complete with mechanical bull. Had enough of the wild side? Take in some culture at one of 10 live theatre venues, visit the city’s charming art museum, or explore the history of flight at the Air Zoo. (Photo Credit: discoverkzoo on Instagram)
Lansing
Estimated time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Spartan fans, relax. We haven’t forgotten about the home of the green and white, which is every bit as worthy a destination as the Wolverines’ home town. Explore the history of our state with a visit to the state capitol and the Michigan Historical Museum, then unwind with a ride on an old-fashioned riverboat. Not ready to call it a day just yet? With more than a dozen wineries, breweries, and distilleries, Lansing is becoming a hotspot for tastings and tours. The Makers & Shakers trail is the ultimate visitors guide to sampling the local libations. (Photo Credit: ksuemead on Instagram)
Lansing
Estimated time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Spartan fans, relax. We haven’t forgotten about the home of the green and white, which is every bit as worthy a destination as the Wolverines’ home town. Explore the history of our state with a visit to the state capitol and the Michigan Historical Museum, then unwind with a ride on an old-fashioned riverboat. Not ready to call it a day just yet? With more than a dozen wineries, breweries, and distilleries, Lansing is becoming a hotspot for tastings and tours. The Makers & Shakers trail is the ultimate visitors guide to sampling the local libations. (Photo Credit: ksuemead on Instagram)
Leamington, ON - Pelee Island
Estimated time: 55 minutes
It isn’t often a trip to Canada can be described as heading south, but Leamington and its island neighbor fit the bill. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the giant fiberglass tomato that serves as the town’s visitor center, but the Tomato Capital of Canada has more to offer than greenhouses and ketchup. The unconventional Leamington Arts Centre highlights the intersection of art and everyday life with exhibits on subjects like the creativity of building toys and the adult coloring book trend, and the ErieQuest Marine Heritage Museum brings Great Lakes shipwrecks to life with artifacts retrieved from the lake’s bottom. Or visit the town’s marina district to catch a ferry across to nearby Pelee Island, home to Canada’s oldest estate winery and an eclectic community of artists whose works fill the island’s retail shops. (Photo Credit: kommander352 on Instagram)
Leamington, ON - Pelee Island
Estimated time: 55 minutes
It isn’t often a trip to Canada can be described as heading south, but Leamington and its island neighbor fit the bill. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the giant fiberglass tomato that serves as the town’s visitor center, but the Tomato Capital of Canada has more to offer than greenhouses and ketchup. The unconventional Leamington Arts Centre highlights the intersection of art and everyday life with exhibits on subjects like the creativity of building toys and the adult coloring book trend, and the ErieQuest Marine Heritage Museum brings Great Lakes shipwrecks to life with artifacts retrieved from the lake’s bottom. Or visit the town’s marina district to catch a ferry across to nearby Pelee Island, home to Canada’s oldest estate winery and an eclectic community of artists whose works fill the island’s retail shops. (Photo Credit: kommander352 on Instagram)
Lexington, MI 
Estimated time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
For a slice of up-north spirit without spending hours on I-75, head out to this community of cottages and kitsch on the shores of Lake Huron. Cruise in to Lakeside A&W for an old-fashioned drive-in dining experience, or explore the emerging winemaking community of Michigan’s Thumb with stops at 3 North Vines and the Blue Water Winery. Then head downtown to park the car and do a little shopping for unique home decor, country kitchen essentials, and handmade Michigan fudge. The town is also home to a vibrant music scene, with weekly free concerts throughout the summer, two fall festivals, and year round shows at the Lexington Village Theatre. (Photo Credit: emmaeatsdetroit on Instagram)
Lexington, MI
Estimated time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
For a slice of up-north spirit without spending hours on I-75, head out to this community of cottages and kitsch on the shores of Lake Huron. Cruise in to Lakeside A&W for an old-fashioned drive-in dining experience, or explore the emerging winemaking community of Michigan’s Thumb with stops at 3 North Vines and the Blue Water Winery. Then head downtown to park the car and do a little shopping for unique home decor, country kitchen essentials, and handmade Michigan fudge. The town is also home to a vibrant music scene, with weekly free concerts throughout the summer, two fall festivals, and year round shows at the Lexington Village Theatre. (Photo Credit: emmaeatsdetroit on Instagram)