The annual Woodward Dream Cruise is one of America's greatest automotive events. It takes place on Woodward Avenue, which runs through the suburbs of Detroit, Mich., from Ferndale to Pontiac. People come from all around with classic cars to cruise up and down the boulevard, offering a unique opportunity to see cars as they were meant to be seen: driving. If you're considering coming, or have already decided to see it, we do have some bits of advice to prepare you for, since we're locals and veterans of the event, and our office is right off of the famous road.
1. Get there early. And by early, we mean you might as well come up now. Cars have been cruising unofficially since the Roadkill Nights drag racing event in Pontiac happened last weekend. Cruisers are out at all hours now. Quasi-car shows are popping up in parking lots near Woodward. The official Dream Cruise starts Saturday, August 19. The early advice still applies, though, if you want a good spot for car spotting. The morning is usually calmer, too.
2. Look for a changing field. Chrome and Fins still reign supreme, but you can also spot more modern muscle cars. The first Dream Cruise was in August 1995. A '57 Chevy wasn't even 40 years old then. We were less than 25 years removed from the end of the first muscle-car era. Those times are getting farther away. One of the great things about the Dream Cruise is that it recreates those memories – but if you like cars from the 1980s and '90s – they're on the strip, too.
3. Use common sense. We've had some excellent weather this summer in Michigan, but even so, be ready for a hot, sunny day, so make sure to bring water and sunscreen. There are scores of amazing restaurants and bars on and around Woodward, too if you wish to hydrate and eat indoors. While you're around for the Dream Cruise, a short trip to Detroit proper can make for a nice break from the rumbling exhausts and unburnt fuel in the air. The Tigers are in town. If you're over-served, Uber or cab it home. Classic cars don't have airbags.
4. Check out what car companies and related companies are up to. Ford is sponsoring this year's cruise and is staging its usual Mustang Alley event at which Mustang owners can show off their ponies and talk with Ford employees about the cars. FCA once again partnered with Roadkill to host drag racing in Pontiac, Mich. on Woodward. Unfortunately, that occurred last weekend, but it's something to remember for next year. The Detroit 3 usually have booths with cars and other things to check out, too, as well as other companies in the auto industry, such as auction houses.
5. Drive the cruise. But be warned, you're going to idle along at five miles per hour or slower. That may not sound particularly fun, but it's a cool experience, and worth doing at least once (again, early in the morning is best). You don't even have to have a classic car to do the cruise. Once you've done it, park somewhere and enjoy it. You can see far more if you let the classic metal come to you. Bicycling or walking are also decent options.
The Woodward Dream Cruise attracts about 1 million people or more every year. It's billed as the largest single-day automotive event in the world. It should be on your bucket list. If you can't make it, we'll have you covered, as always, with photos and videos from the festivities.