The annual Woodward Dream Cruise is one of America's greatest automotive events — attracting 1 million people or more every year, it's billed as the largest single-day car celebration in the world.
It takes place on Woodward Avenue, which runs through the suburbs of Detroit from Ferndale to Pontiac. People come from all around with classic cars — thousands of them — 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, we do have some bits of advice to prepare you, since we're locals and veterans of the event. Autoblog's office is even right on the famous road.
1. Get there early. And by early, we mean you might as well come up now. Cars have been cruising unofficially for many days now, with cruisers out at all hours and spectators in lawn chairs lining the street. Quasi-car shows are popping up in parking lots near Woodward. The official Dream Cruise is Saturday, Aug. 18. The early advice still applies, though, if you want a good location 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 re-creates 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 — bring water and sunscreen. There are scores of amazing restaurants and bars on and around Woodward, too, in case you wish to hydrate and eat indoors. While you're around for the Dream Cruise, a short trip to Detroit proper to experience the city's rebirth offers more culture and food options. If you're over-served, please remember to grab a taxi or use a ridesharing service such as Lyft or Uber.
4. Check out what automakers 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 hosted a drag racing event in Pontiac on Woodward last weekend featuring hundreds of Vipers to honor the end of that car's production. The Detroit Three usually have booths with cars and other things to check out, too, as well as auction houses and other auto industry companies.
5. Drive the cruise. But be warned, you're going to idle along at 5 mph 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). That photo gallery at the top of this story is from last year's event, and the video below is from our Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore's drive of the 2014 Dream Cruise in a new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. But you don't have to have a muscle car or a classic to do the cruise.
And once you've cruised, park somewhere and enjoy the show. Bring lawn chairs. You can see far more if you let the classic metal come to you. Bicycling or walking are also decent options.
The Dream Cruise should be on your bucket list. If you can't make it, maybe next year. As for this year, we'll have you covered, as always, this Friday night and Saturday with photos and videos from the festivities.