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Can I Leave Detroit Airport During a Long Layover?

When faced with a long layover at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), you may wonder if it’s possible to explore the city of Detroit and make the most of your time. Detroit, known as the Motor City, has a rich history, vibrant culture, and a range of attractions to offer visitors. In this article, we will delve into the topic of whether you can leave Detroit Airport during a long layover and provide you with some essential information to consider.

Understanding Your Layover

The first step in determining whether you can leave Detroit Airport during a long layover is to understand the duration of your layover. A long layover is typically defined as a layover lasting six hours or more. If your layover falls within this timeframe, you have a good chance of being able to leave the airport and explore Detroit. However, it’s important to consider other factors such as transportation options, traffic conditions, and the distance between the airport and your desired destinations.

Transportation Options

Detroit Metropolitan Airport is located approximately 20 miles southwest of downtown Detroit. Fortunately, there are several transportation options available to help you navigate between the airport and the city.

1. Rental Cars

One of the most convenient ways to explore Detroit during your layover is by renting a car. Several car rental companies have counters at the airport, allowing you to pick up a vehicle and hit the road. Renting a car provides flexibility and freedom to explore the city at your own pace. However, it’s important to consider factors such as traffic and parking availability when opting for this mode of transportation.

2. Ride-Sharing Services

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are readily available in Detroit. You can easily request a ride using a smartphone app and be on your way to explore the city. This option provides convenience and eliminates the need to navigate unfamiliar roads and parking.

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3. Taxis and Shuttles

Traditional taxis are available outside the airport terminals, and you can hire one to take you to your destination in Detroit. Additionally, there are shuttle services that operate between the airport and various locations in the city. These shuttles often provide shared rides and can be a cost-effective option, especially if you are traveling with a group.

4. Public Transportation

Detroit has a public transportation system operated by the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART). While public transportation may not be as convenient as other options, it can still be a viable choice for exploring the city during your layover. Buses and trains connect various parts of Detroit and its surrounding areas.

Exploring Detroit During Your Layover

Detroit offers a diverse range of attractions and experiences that can be enjoyed during a long layover. Whether you’re interested in history, music, sports, or culinary delights, the city has something to offer for everyone. Here are a few notable places and experiences to consider:

1. The Henry Ford Museum

The Henry Ford Museum is a must-visit destination for history and automotive enthusiasts. Located in Dearborn, just outside of Detroit, this museum showcases the history of American innovation and features iconic artifacts such as the Rosa Parks bus and the original Ford Mustang. Explore the exhibits, learn about the country’s industrial heritage, and gain a deeper understanding of American culture.

2. Detroit Institute of Arts

Art lovers should not miss the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), home to an impressive collection of artworks from around the world. The museum boasts renowned masterpieces, including works by Vincent van Gogh, Diego Rivera, and Rembrandt. Take a leisurely stroll through the galleries and immerse yourself in the world of art and culture.

3. The Motown Museum

Detroit is known as the birthplace of Motown music, and a visit to the Motown Museum is a must for music enthusiasts. Located in the house where Berry Gordy Jr. founded Motown Records, the museum offers a glimpse into the history of Motown and its impact on popular music. Explore the exhibits, learn about legendary artists like Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross, and even step into the famous Studio A.

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4. Detroit Riverfront

Take a leisurely stroll along the Detroit Riverfront and enjoy the scenic views of the Detroit River and the skyline. The riverfront offers parks, trails, and public spaces where you can relax and take in the beauty of the surroundings. If you have more time, consider taking a river cruise for a unique perspective of the city.

5. Detroit Sports

Detroit is a city with a rich sports tradition. If you’re a sports fan, try to catch a game and experience the energetic atmosphere firsthand. The city is home to professional sports teams like the Detroit Tigers (MLB), Detroit Lions (NFL), Detroit Pistons (NBA), and Detroit Red Wings (NHL). Check the schedules and availability of tickets to plan your visit accordingly.

6. Gree### 6. Greektown

If you’re a food lover, make sure to visit Greektown, a vibrant neighborhood in downtown Detroit known for its Greek cuisine and lively atmosphere. Indulge in delicious Mediterranean dishes, explore the unique shops, and immerse yourself in the cultural ambiance of this lively district.

7. Detroit Historical Museum

To delve deeper into the history of Detroit, consider visiting the Detroit Historical Museum. This museum showcases the city’s rich history, from its early days as a French fur trading post to its rise as a major industrial hub. Explore the exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays that highlight the city’s past, including its role in the automotive industry and the civil rights movement.

8. Belle Isle Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by visiting Belle Isle Park, a beautiful island park located in the Detroit River. This 982-acre park offers stunning views, walking trails, a conservatory, a zoo, and recreational activities such as kayaking and fishing. Take a moment to relax and enjoy nature before heading back to the airport.

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Time Considerations and Precautions

While exploring Detroit during a long layover can be an exciting opportunity, it’s crucial to consider the time needed to travel back to the airport and go through security procedures. Allow ample time to return to the airport, especially during peak travel hours or if you encounter unexpected traffic delays.

Another important aspect to keep in mind is the safety of the city. Like any metropolitan area, Detroit has its share of neighborhoods with higher crime rates. It’s advisable to research the areas you plan to visit, stick to well-populated and tourist-friendly areas, and exercise general safety precautions.


In conclusion, if you have a long layover at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, it’s usually possible to leave the airport and explore the city of Detroit. With various transportation options available, you can visit attractions such as the Henry Ford Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Motown Museum. Enjoy the culinary delights of Greektown, experience the sports culture, or spend time in nature at Belle Isle Park. Just remember to account for travel time back to the airport and prioritize your safety while exploring the city. Make the most of your layover and create memorable experiences in the Motor City.

Can I Leave Detroit Airport During a Long Layover?
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