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Looking For Great Views? Check Out Detroit, The Place That Invented The Scenic Drive

Detroit is the birthplace of the automobile. We gave the world the cars that get us to and fro, and we basically invented the idea of the "Sunday Drive." The Motor City is the home to the first concrete road in America, and cruising around in our cars to see the sights is practically a sanctioned pastime here. Here are some of the best places for a scenic drive near Detroit, so pack the family or friends into your sedan and hit the road!

Belle Isle
Is there any better way to see the skyline and Detroit Riverfront than with a cruise down to Belle Isle? We think not. Cross over the famous bridge from Jefferson Avenue, and watch as the Detroit River rolls along beneath you. Come across and follow the road around for spectacular views of not only Detroit, but Windsor as well! Depending on the time of year, you can pass by the massive freighters headed up to Lake St. Clair and hopefully get the captain to blast the horn for you! For those in the city, this is the best chance to get a scene of the Detroit buildings in full view from your car. Pack a lunch and have a picnic at the rest site before you head back!

Woodward Avenue Cruise
Woodward Avenue and scenic cruises go together like peas and carrots. For decades, Detroiters have been loading up their Fords, Chevys and Chryslers and taking the miles long drive up and down Woodward. The best part about this cruise is being able to see all of Detroit for what it really is. Start out from the Royal Oak and Ferndale area near 12 Mile and 13 Mile, and head south all the way until you run smack into the Renaissance Center downtown. From historic 8 Mile Rd., all the way through the Cass Corridor and Wayne State University, down to the new developments and areas of Detroit seeing astounding changes in downtown, there's no better way to see firsthand just all the promise that a new Detroit will bring (not to mention all the great street art and public installations, as well). NOTE: Do NOT miss seeing the famous "Joe Louis Fist" monument at the southernmost end of Woodward in downtown!

Historic Hines Drive
Hines Drive is a historic 17-mile long road that makes its way along the Rouge River from Dearborn to Northville in the West Detroit suburbs. The path itself is as old as Detroit, originally being used by the Native Americans in the area as a trading route. In 1949, Henry Ford donated the land and road to make way for Hines Drive (named after former Wayne County Road Commissioner Edward Hines). Along this scenic drive are many of the natural lands that make up the way all of Detroit used to look, as well as old mills and buildings that were a part of Detroit's long automotive history. There's also plenty of parks, picnic areas and other stops along the way to take a break and enjoy some of the settings.

Lakeshore/Nautical Mile Scenic Drive
Jefferson Avenue runs parallel along the riverfront in downtown Detroit and many great sights can be seen in this urban oasis. Yet, as you make your way east, you come to Lakeshore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores and the natural beauty of the trees shimmering along Lake St. Clair take over. This affluent area is home to many of Detroit's wealthiest families, and Lakeshore Road is the best way to see how the "other half" lives on the waterfront. In Grosse Pointe Park, where Jefferson Ave. turns into Lakeshore Rd., you can drive along and see the Detroit River open up into massive Lake St. Clair and check out all the sights along the beach. If you're a fan of seeing great boats, this route will also give you a great peek into the coolest watercraft on the water these days, too!

Huron River Drive
The incredible Huron River makes its way in a diagonal cross all the way from out past Ann Arbor, into the Detroit suburbs. Along the way, there are many great car paths to drive alongside the river and see so much of the nature that envelopes the river these days. Whether you start out in Ann Arbor, nearby Belleville, the Huron Lake MetroPark or neighboring New Boston, Flat Rock or Rockwood, there are plenty of paths near the river to get started along and make your way east (or west, depending on your preference) and hit all the sights along the way. From the rural, wooded areas along the Huron River between the cities, to the quaint downtowns at the heart of each major stop, this scenic drive is a perfect way to see the outskirts of Detroit and the natural beauty along the waters, as well.

Related: Best Kayaking Around Detroit

Michael Ferro is freelance writer and a graduate of Michigan State University where he majored in Creative Writing and received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. Born and bred in Detroit, he currently resides in Ypsilanti Township. Additional writing can be found at
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