If you have found yourself with a layover at Detroit International Airport, you may now be wondering what to do with your time….besides sleep! While options are limited, you should be fine for a short visit.
Here are eight things to do on a layover at Detroit Airport.
1. Grab a bite to eat
Detroit airport offers a decent amount of sit-down restaurants, so you can take your time if you’re in no rush. Of course, you’ll have a selection of more casual options, including bars, a winery, cafes, and to-go eateries. In McNamara Terminal, your top bets are Bigalora Cucina, Andiamo (a local chain), Cat Cora’s Taproom, and Harvest & Grounds. The North Terminal has fewer options, but National Coney Island offers the local take on hot dogs. Eateries close by 11 p.m., so if you’re spending the night, plan ahead, as vending machines are your only option when you’re awake in the middle of the night.
2. Relax in a lounge
Not all lounges are exclusive conclaves for First Class flyers! With the Lufthansa lounge, if you are departing from the North Terminal, you could purchase a pass regardless of your airline or class of service. It’s as easy as pre-booking a pass online or using a lounge membership program to gain entry, and you can spend your layover in a relaxing lounge with food, WiFi, and other included amenities. Check out our Detroit Airport Guide for details.
3. Check out the Light Tunnel
If you’ve seen a picture from Detroit Airport, chances are good it was from the Light Tunnel. The 700-foot tunnel connects Concourse A, B, and C while putting on a great coordinated light-and-music show, perfect for selfies. Another excellent installation is the mesmerizing water feature in Concourse A. Spend a few minutes here, and you may forget you’re in an airport!
4. Go shopping
You can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the shops. McNamara boasts plenty of airport staples, specialty shops, and a few international fashion brands. Unique options like Michigan Sports, the PGA Tour Shop, and EA Sports showcase the area’s seeming obsession with all things sports. If you’re in the North Terminal, your shopping options are limited to the Duty-Free and a few newsstands and convenience stores.
5. Hit the spa
The Be Relax Spa in Concourse A provides the between-flights pampering you may need. Services include chair and table massages, mani/pedi, waving, hair styling, and oxygen and aromatherapy treatments.
6. Go sightseeing
When the weather is good, spending more time in an airport may feel claustrophobic – so head outside for fresh air and see what Detroit offers. Plan for at least six hours away from the airport. You have a couple of options for getting downtown:
During weekday rush hours (6-9 a.m., 3-6 p.m.), SMART buses connect the airport and downtown Detroit with fixed-route fares of $2. If you’re outside those hours or it’s Saturday or Sunday, you’ll have to take the SMART bus and then transfer to a Detroit local bus.
Opt for a taxi or ride-sharing app to get a direct ride downtown. Taxi ranks are located outside both terminals. It will cost a little bit more, but it’ll save time.
Just so you know, there are no luggage storage options at the airport, so you should plan ahead.
Once downtown, hop on the Detroit People Mover (75 cents/ride), connecting to 13 popular stops, including Comerica Park, the MLB Detroit Tigers home, and the adjacent Ford Field, where the NFL Detroit Lions play. Famous museums are the Detroit Institute of Arts and Motown Museum. You could stop by the Eastern Market, a farmers market operating since 1891 (days and hours vary). A short ride from downtown, Belle Isle Conservancy sits on an island in the Detroit River. Visitors can enjoy picturesque views of Detroit and Windsor, Canada, as well as hiking and a museum dedicated to regional maritime history.
You should leave plenty of time after your explorations to return to the airport and process through Security before your next flight.
7. Get connected
Stay connected to friends and family, update your social media accounts or surf the internet using the airport’s free WiFi.
You shouldn’t have much of a problem if you must spend the night at the airport. Of the two terminals, travellers say McNamara is cozier, and it’s generally quiet except when the Express Tram rolls through. The terminal layout offers some private nooks, perfect for getting some shuteye. The far end of Concourse B is said to be peaceful, and Gate B21 has a couple of ample leather loungers. The smaller North Terminal isn’t as busy but can get noisy. Wherever you’re camping out, earplugs and a blanket will help you get through the night. Note that the airport makes cots available if you’re stuck here because of significant flight delays or cancellations. If sleeping in the airport isn’t quite your thing, the Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport is connected to McNamara Terminal at Gate A36, with free shuttles and day rooms for rent. Other hotels are located within a few minutes drive. See our Detroit Airport Guide for details and locations.
These are just a few things to do on a layover at Detroit Airport. Visit our Detroit Airport Guide for more information about services and facilities, such as food, WiFi, mobile charging, luggage storage, nearby airport hotels, and much more.