loading spinner
Michigan

Signature City Detroit

Program No. 21851RJ
Detroit has the nation's only floating post office and created its first stretch of paved road. Come join our experts for an insider's look at this fascinating city.
Length
6 days
Rating (4.9)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,799

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

Enroll with Confidence

We want your Road Scholar learning adventure to be something to look forward to—not worry about. Learn more

Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Aug 6 - Aug 11, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Oct 15 - Oct 20, 2023
Starting at
1,799
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
2,239
Aug 6 - Aug 11, 2023
Starting at
2,239
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
2,239
Oct 15 - Oct 20, 2023
Starting at
2,239

At a Glance

Explore Detroit's important role in American history and experience the city’s comeback for yourself. Learn about Henry Ford, who invented the assembly line but also was one of America's most important benefactors of innovation and preservation of American history. Delve into the story of the Great Migration of African Americans who flocked to the city to work in the automotive industry. Discover how the wealth of the city transformed it into a center for the arts, at the Detroit Institute of Arts, one of America's most important art museums and trace the origins of the Motown Sound and the musicians who made it. Experience firsthand how businesses large and small have taken on the entrepreneurial role of rebuilding Detroit and the dynamic energy of the city, the revitalized river-front, newly renovated historic buildings and the spirit of Detroit moving forward.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking and standing in museums and on field trips for up to 2 hours, over 2 miles, per day.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Explore the Detroit Institute of Arts, including Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry fresco cycle and other highlights.
  • Learn about Henry Ford and his legacy at the Eleanor and Edsel Ford Estate, The Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village and the Ford Rouge Factory.
  • Examine the Great Migration, Detroit’s African American history and the Music of Motown.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Karin Risko
Karin Risko is the founder of a local excursion company that shows off the rich history of Detroit and southeast Michigan. While the former history teacher is inspired by the past, Karin keeps abreast of all the exciting new developments that are turning Detroit into a popular destination. She's also the co-author of “Michigan Civil War Landmarks,” a History Press publication, which was released in April 2015.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Karin Risko
Karin Risko View biography
Karin Risko is the founder of a local excursion company that shows off the rich history of Detroit and southeast Michigan. While the former history teacher is inspired by the past, Karin keeps abreast of all the exciting new developments that are turning Detroit into a popular destination. She's also the co-author of “Michigan Civil War Landmarks,” a History Press publication, which was released in April 2015.
Profile Image of Samuel Donald
Samuel Donald View biography
A native of Detroit, Samuel Donald has a love for music and his community. After teaching in Detroit area schools for more than a decade, he founded Youth City, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing students with professionally organized programs in music and career development. Currently, he is co-producing the six-part documentary, “Detroit Music,” which intends to educate local youth about notable musicians who grew up in the same neighborhoods. Samuel previously worked as the road manager for Detroit artists David and Delores Winans.
Profile Image of  Robert (Robin) Boyle
Robert (Robin) Boyle View biography
Robin Boyle is a professor of urban planning at Wayne State University, and has served as chair of the Geography and Urban Planning Department, and later as associate dean. Born and educated in Scotland, Robin worked as a visiting professor at several international schools including the Melbourne School of Design in Australia. For more than 30 years, Professor Boyle was also a member of the UK Royal Town Planning Institute. Recently, he completed a study of surface transportation options between Detroit Metro airport and downtown.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum
by Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
Book by Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
Detroit: The Dream Is Now: The Design, Art, and Resurgence of an American City
by Michel Arnaud
Detroit: The Dream Is Now is a visual essay on the rebuilding and resurgence of the city of Detroit by photographer Michel Arnaud, co-author of Design Brooklyn. In recent years, much of the focus on Detroit has been on the negative stories and images of shuttered, empty buildings—the emblems of Detroit’s financial and physical decline. In contrast, Arnaud aims his lens at the emergent creative enterprises and new developments taking hold in the still-vibrant city. The book explores Detroit’s rich industrial and artistic past while giving voice to the dynamic communities that will make up its future. The first section provides a visual tour of the city’s architecture and neighborhoods, while the remaining chapters focus on the developing design, art, and food scenes through interviews and portraits of the city’s entrepreneurs, artists, and makers. Detroit is the story of an American city in flux, documented in Arnaud’s thought-provoking photographs.
Hidden History of Detroit
by Amy Elliott Bragg
Discover the Motor City before the motor: a muddy port town full of grog shops, horse races, haphazard cemeteries and enterprising bootstrappers from all over the world. Meet the argumentative French fugitive who founded the city, the tobacco magnate who haunts his shuttered factory, the gambler prankster millionaire who built a monument to himself, the governor who brought his scholarly library with him on canoe expeditions and the historians who helped create the story of Detroit as we know it: one of the oldest, rowdiest and most enigmatic cities in the Midwest.
Recollections The Detroit Years: The Motown Sound By The People Who Made It
by Mr Jack Ryan
The Motown story involved many people including writers, singers, musicians, disc jockeys and professionals who built the foundations of "The Sound Of Young America". Coming from Detroit and spreading to the entire world, Motown and its unique sound won the hearts and the love of millions from its start in 1959 until today. Relive the magic, the music, the love and the fabulous dancing in "Recollections The Motown Sound By The People Who Made It."
Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story
by David Maraniss
It’s 1963 and Detroit is on top of the world. The city’s leaders are among the most visionary in America: Grandson of the first Ford; Henry Ford II; influential labor leader Walter Reuther; Motown’s founder Berry Gordy; the Reverend C.L. Franklin and his daughter, the amazing Aretha; Governor George Romney, Mormon and Civil Rights advocate; super car salesman Lee Iacocca; Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, a Kennedy acolyte; Police Commissioner George Edwards; Martin Luther King. It was the American auto makers’ best year; the revolution in music and politics was underway. Reuther’s UAW had helped lift the middle class. The time was full of promise. The auto industry was selling more cars than ever before and inventing the Mustang. Motown was capturing the world with its amazing artists. The progressive labor movement was rooted in Detroit with the UAW. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech there two months before he made it famous in the Washington march. Once in a Great City shows that the shadows of collapse were evident even then. Before the devastating riot. Before the decades of civic corruption and neglect, and white flight. Before people trotted out the grab bag of rust belt infirmities—from harsh weather to high labor costs—and competition from abroad to explain Detroit’s collapse, one could see the signs of a city’s ruin. Detroit at its peak was threatened by its own design. It was being abandoned by the new world. Yet so much of what Detroit gave America lasts.
Driving Detroit: The Quest for Respect in the Motor City
by George Galster
For most of the twentieth century, Detroit was a symbol of American industrial might, a place of entrepreneurial and technical ingenuity where the latest consumer inventions were made available to everyone through the genius of mass production. Today, Detroit is better known for its dwindling population, moribund automobile industry, and alarmingly high murder rate. In Driving Detroit, author George Galster, a fifth-generation Detroiter and internationally known urbanist, sets out to understand how the city has come to represent both the best and worst of what cities can be, all within the span of a half century. Galster invites the reader to travel with him along the streets and into the soul of this place to grasp fully what drives the Motor City. With a scholar's rigor and a local's perspective, Galster uncovers why metropolitan Detroit's cultural, commercial, and built landscape has been so radically transformed. He shows how geography, local government structure, and social forces created a housing development system that produced sprawl at the fringe and abandonment at the core. Galster argues that this system, in tandem with the region's automotive economic base, has chronically frustrated the population's quest for basic physical, social, and psychological resources. These frustrations, in turn, generated numerous adaptations—distrust, scapegoating, identity politics, segregation, unionization, and jurisdictional fragmentation—that collectively leave Detroit in an uncompetitive and unsustainable position. Partly a self-portrait, in which Detroiters paint their own stories through songs, poems, and oral histories, Driving Detroit offers an intimate, insightful, and perhaps controversial explanation for the stunning contrasts—poverty and plenty, decay and splendor, despair and resilience—that characterize the once mighty city.
Detroit: A Biography
by Scott Martelle
Detroit: A Biography takes a long, unflinching look at the evolution of one of America’s great cities, and one of the nation’s greatest urban failures. It tells how the city grew to become the heart of American industry and how its utter collapse—from 1.8 million residents in 1950 to 714,000 only six decades later—resulted from a confluence of public policies, private industry decisions, and deep, thick seams of racism. And it raises the question: when we look at modern-day Detroit, are we looking at the ghost of America’s industrial past or its future?
River Rouge: Ford's Industrial Colossus
by Joseph P. Cabadas
In 1914, Henry Ford ordered the construction of a small plant at the confluence of the River Rouge and Detroit River in what was then the rural community of Dearborn, just outside of Detroit. Eventually, that small pilot plant grew into the gigantic 1,100-acre River Rouge Complex, the most famous auto factory of the twentieth century, renowned as the home of Ford's "vertical integration." In 1999, Ford's great-grandson and Ford Chairman Bill Ford III announced that the company would reinvent the complex as the auto factory of the new century, scheduled for completion in 2004. Like "the Rouge" itself, this illustrated 90-year chronological history of the complex will provide a sprawling view of the evolution of automaking and industrial technologies, as well as the exciting new concepts the company is incorporating into the current redesign.
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 4 L 3 D
DAY
1
Arrivals in Detroit, Program Welcome, Lecture
Detroit, MI
D
Courtyard Detroit Downtown

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 PM.

Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 4:00 pm. Program Registration: 3:00-4:30pm. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get any up-updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. Your program materials will be sent to you a few days before the program, digitally, through your roadscholar.org account. This includes your program itinerary, any related handouts, and restaurant/free time suggestions. Please plan to print them out and bring along to the program, utilize the hotel's business center to access them, or view them on your own personal electronic device. Program Orientation: 5:00 PM If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Indicated times are approximate; program activities and schedules may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will enjoy a welcome dinner as a group. Coffee, tea and water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: After dinner, enjoy a lecture by a local expert on the history of Detroit.

DAY
2
The History of Detroit
Detroit, MI
B,L
Courtyard Detroit Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach and riding on a motorcoach for 3 hours. Travel to and from dinner on the People Mover, Detroit’s public transport that circles the heart of downtown and stops at the hotel. Going to Greektown from the hotel is about 20 minutes round trip. The People Mover will take us close to our destinations, but plan on walking a couple of blocks each time we use it.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant, we will enjoy a buffet with an assortment of hot and cold items, including coffee, tea, and water.

Morning: We will start this morning with a walking exploration of the city with a local expert who will provide us with an up-close look at downtown Detroit. Here, we will see how an area once dominated by heavy industry has given way to a beautiful waterfront. We will be amazed by the wide array of architecture styles ranging from mid-19th century to modern and learn how the city has undergone many renaissances. We will feel the energy of a downtown on the rebound - one that, until recently, was known as a ghost town. Return to the hotel for a short break & board the motorcoach at the hotel and transfer to a local restaurant for lunch.

Lunch: At a local restaurant

Afternoon: We'll board the motorcoach with our local expert for an extended exploration of Detroit. In the city's recent past, stories of crime and decline dominated the media. Now dubbed the "comeback city", its turn-around is making news. We will rediscover Detroit's fascinating history and experience the revitalization as we travel aboard a motorcoach throughout the heart of the Motor City and soak up the sights, sounds and scents of this compelling place. Along the way, our local expert will shed light on numerous factors that led to the dramatic rise and fall of this former industrial powerhouse that put the world on wheels, and reveal who's behind the revitalization. Crown jewels, legendary landmarks, and hip new happenings - we'll see it all! We will then enjoy a lecture at the hotel on the effects of gentrification of Detroit.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. With the Group Leader, we'll take the People Mover from the hotel to Greektown, to explore its many eateries on our own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Detroit’s African American History & the Music of Motown
Detroit, MI
B,L,D
Courtyard Detroit Downtown

Activity note: Walking and standing in the museum for 1.5 hours. Walking and standing in the museums for up to 2 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will engage in a discussion with a local Detroiter who grew up in the culture of Detroit's music. During this lecture, we will learn about the history of Motown. Then we will depart the hotel for a field trip to the Charles Wright Museum of African American History for a expert-led visit.

Lunch: Not to be missed, we'll visit a Detroit institution for lunch: American Coney Island – serving up Detroit’s famous hot dogs! They also serve salads, gyros, chili, and other carnival-inspired favorites. Please note that this venue's vegetarian options are very limited.

Afternoon: Following lunch, we will explore the small house where music history was made – now the Motown Museum – the actual recording studio where The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder and so many more artists came to record the albums that changed the way America thought of music. Transfer from the Motown Museum to Food Field for a guided visit. Founded by locals Noah Link and Alex Bryan, this unique urban farm sits on the old site of Peck Elementary School. Their goal is to join in the revitilization of Detroit by developing a successful, community-based business and to meet the need for local, affordable, sustainably produced food in the city of Detroit. We will have the chance to view their greenhouse, aquaponics system, gardens, fruit orchard, beehives and chickens! We will return to the hotel via motorcoach.

Dinner: At a local jazz cafe, we'll enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by a live jazz performance. Includes coffee, tea, and water; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: While at the jazz club for dinner, we'll listen to some of the greatest musicians from around the country perform classic and new jazz tunes at this unique Detroit venue.

DAY
4
The Henry Ford Musuem, Greenfield Village
Detroit, MI
B,L
Courtyard Detroit Downtown

Activity note: This is a big walking/standing day. Be sure to wear your most comfortable shoes and darker pants. The Ford Rouge Factory guided exploration is a walk along a ramp above the factory floor, that is a .3 mile walk for the full circuit. Walking and standing for up to 2 hours at a time. Getting on/off a motorcoach 6 times and driving up to 30 minutes at a time.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will head out via motorcoach to Dearborn for a full day of exploration and discovery of Henry Ford as a collector of American History and as the innovator of the factory assembly line. We will view the actual Rouge Factory in action and examine America’s memorabilia in the collections of The Henry Ford Museum on exclusive expert-led visits.

Lunch: We will receive meal vouchers to be used at any of the dining options at the Henry Ford complex.

Afternoon: We'll explore Greenfield Village. With the included village ride pass, ride the Steam Locomotive, Horse-Drawn Carriages, the Model T and the 1913 Carousel. We will wander through the seven historic districts that illustrate America’s history. We'll return to the hotel via motorcoach.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. Upon arrival back to the hotel, we will walk across the pedestrian passage into the GM Renaissance Center with the Group Leader for an overview of the exhibits and facilities. We'll enjoy a choice of the many eateries in the Center.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
The Ford Estate, Detroit Institute of Arts
Detroit, MI
B,L,D
Courtyard Detroit Downtown

Activity note: Walking and standing for up to 2 hours at a time. Getting on/off a motorcoach 3 times and driving up to 30 minutes at a time.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We'll start the day with a drive along Lake Shore Road to the town of Grosse Point to visit the Ford Estate. The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House illustrates the home life of this prominent American family. Cultural, social and economic leaders of their times, the comfortable yet artfully designed and decorated mansion was the centerpiece of the Ford family’s life. We'll hear the inside stories and visit the mansion and gardens with an expert.

Lunch: A voucher is provided for lunch on arrival at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Afternoon: We will take in the highlights of the Detroit Institute of Arts on an expert-led visit. Then, we'll take some time to visit more of the exhibits on our own. Among the top art collections in America, notable works include Mexican artist Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry fresco cycle, which Rivera considered his most successful work, and Vincent van Gogh's Self Portrait, the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum collection.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will enjoy a plated meal as a group, with coffee, tea and water; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Program Concludes, Departures
Detroit, MI
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Following breakfast, we will have a brief program wrap-up with our Group Leader. Check out by 11:00 p.m. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.