I love exploring my home state of Michigan, which is how I found myself sitting in a vintage Ford Model A in Detroit last November. But let’s rewind – I want to introduce you all to the absolute most unique tour in Detroit: Antique Touring. If you are headed to Detroit (and I hope my love for this city can convince you to!), then you seriously need to book this tour in Detroit.
What if you don’t like spending your travel time on city tours? I hear you, I hear you! I am not big on traditional city walking tours either – I often find the delivery canned, the experience stale, and much of the information easily available online or at the sites themselves. That’s why I love city tours that buck that stereotype: tours that are unique, mix modernity with history, and most importantly are delivered in a refreshing way. And while Antique Touring’s delivery may take place in a 90-year old vehicle, it is truly refreshing!
Curious already? Check price and availability for Antique Touring tours here.
*We received our tour with Antique Touring complimentary as part of a press trip with Visit Detroit. However we did request this tour personally as we thought it would interest readers, and it just sounded, well, amazing! As always, all opinions are my own.
Try the most unique tour in Detroit with Antique Touring
Antique Touring is a company that offers tours in Detroit in a genuine, vintage Ford Model A. It is the only company in Detroit that offers vintage car tours – an experience that is truly special to have in the birthplace of the automobile industry itself.
They offer two different routes:
Historic Belle Isle Tour
The signature route (which we did) that takes you through Detroit to beautiful Belle Isle. Get a lesson in Belle Isle’s history – from architecture to historical characters and more.
Check availability and rates for the Belle Isle tour here.
Tinkers to Titans Tour
This newer route follows Woodward Corridor and focuses on the evolution of the auto industry in Detroit. It would be especially interesting for car-lovers and history buffs.
Check availability and rates for the Tinkers to Titans tour here.
Why go on a vintage car tour with Antique Touring?
Truthfully, I am neither an automobile nor a history buff. Neither is Dan, who went on this tour with me. But we were both blown away by our experience with Antique Touring. As you probably know, Detroit was the birthplace of the automobile, and the seat of the world’s automotive industry for decades. It has truly driven this city, state, and economy (pardon the unintentional pun!).
You can’t talk about Detroit without talking about cars. Which is why I would recommend this tour in Detroit to any and all travelers who want to pay homage to the soul of the city. In Paris you see the Eiffel Tower and eat croissants… in London you see Big Ben and eat fish and chips… In Detroit you go on a vintage car tour (and eat Buddy’s Pizza, lol)!
There are other reasons to go on a vintage car tour with Antique Touring, too! As a company, they are actually a social enterprise. They employ local Detroiters from Milwaukee Junction – a once thriving heart of the auto industry which is now a disadvantaged and forgotten neighborhood.
Employees earn a living wage and as true Detroiters can give you special insight to the evolution of this city. You know how important I believe it is to travel responsibly, and supporting a local social enterprise like Antique Touring is an amazing way to do just that.
Related: A Complete Gluten Free Detroit Guide
Our vintage car tour in Detroit
Which brings me, of course, to our own vintage car tour in Detroit last November! The normal Antique Touring season runs June through the end of October, but Lisa Stolarski, the founder of Antique Touring, agreed to give us a special off-season tour. I was so excited… until we woke up on the day of the tour to a massive snowstorm! (Yes, what a welcome to Michigan for Dan, the poor Brit fresh off the airplane from balmy Heathrow).
Being, y’know, delicate 90-year old authentic automobiles, the Ford Model A’s are not able to be driven on the streets once they’ve been salted. Luckily, Lisa agreed to still do the tour – in her 2018 Ford F-150! Talk about full circle.
Dan and I did a tour of the Ford Piquette Plant prior to meeting Lisa for our tour – this is where Ford first designed and produced the iconic Model T vehicle. I would recommend this to anyone visiting Detroit, and it’s especially convenient as Antique Touring is located in a garage right beneath the plant. After our visit to Ford Piquette Plant, Dan and I headed over to meet Lisa (and clamber on the Ford Model A’s).
Although we didn’t get to ride in one, due to the weather, Dan and I still got the formal introduction to the Ford Model A’s. We even got to sit in them, and it really does feel a bit surreal to think of the history those cars have seen!
The tour itself was incredible – we had a private tour in which Lisa drove us through Detroit and over to Belle Isle. For those who aren’t familiar, Belle Isle is a small island in the Detroit River. It is accessible via the MacArthur Bridge and has fabulous views of the Detroit sky line, as well as the Windsor (Canada) skyline. You really are situated between two countries and although small, the island carries the immensity of that feeling elegantly.
We spent nearly two hours cruising around Belle Isle, getting out at different points and exploring the landmarks with Lisa telling us centuries of stories! The tour really felt more like a conversation than a history lesson, but man, does Lisa know her history. I would recommend this tour in Detroit just to witness the vastness of Lisa’s knowledge – from the art deco movement in Detroit to modern housing crises to even the origin of the word “canoodling” (hint: It’s somewhere in Detroit…).
The tour finished back at the Piquette Plant, at which point Lisa drove us back to our hotel, and we parted as friends. Now I’m not saying you’re going to get a ride home after this tour in Detroit, but I do think that goes to show the hospitality and sense of connection you will get from Antique Touring! Like I said, we were really blown away by the whole experience, and I think Dan and I can agree it was our favorite part of our weekend in Detroit.
Related: Michigan Bucket List: 50+ Things to do in Michigan
What you can expect from your tour in Detroit with Antique Touring
If you’d like to schedule your own tour in Detroit with Antique Touring, you can book the Belle Isle History tour here or the Tinkers to Titans tour here.
Each tour lasts about two hours, and the Model As can accommodate two, three, or four people. You are given a head set which helps you clearly hear the guide over the sound of the vehicle and traffic. The tour will stop a few times for you to get out, stretch your legs, and see some monuments up close. You can also book Antique Touring for private events.
Who? Antique Touring
What? A tour of Detroit in a vintage Ford Model A, run by a local Detroit social enterprise.
When? Tours are available 10am-8pm every day except Tuesdays. The season runs June 15-October 31. Advanced booking is required.
Where? Tours start from their garage at 461 Piquette Avenue, below the Ford Piquette Plant/Museum
How much? Prices vary on season and number of guests. Check prices here.
Book your stay in Detroit…
If you’re making it a long weekend in Detroit (and I think you should!), then I recommend Trumbull & Porter, which is an artisan boutique hotel in Corktown, the Irish neighborhood in Detroit. Ideal location and we loved our stay!
Other Michigan blog posts…
- Gluten Free Detroit Guide: Best Gluten Free Eats in the D!
- A Quirky Michigan Bucket List
- Things to do in Lansing, Michigan
- A Complete Guide to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
- How to Get the Most out of Art Prize in Grand Rapids
- A Weekend in Detroit
- Michigan Dog Sledding with Nature’s Kennel
- And MORE!
Have you ever been to Detroit? What about a vintage car tour? Let me know your thoughts and any questions in the comments!
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*We received our tour with Antique Touring complimentary as part of a press trip with Visit Detroit. However we did request this tour personally as we thought it would interest readers, and it just looked pretty dang cool! As always, all opinions are my own.
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