Things to do at DTW

Detroit Metro Airport – 10 Tips & Things To Do at DTW Airport

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport—also known as Detroit Metro or DTW—is the major international airport for southeast Michigan and northern Ohio. As a hub of Delta Air Lines, it’s a frequent stop for international travelers to Asia and is the third busiest gateway to Europe. Its massive McNamara terminal was built in 2002 and hosts 21 major airlines. It typically exceeds moving over 33 million passengers a year.

Detroit Metro Airport

Detroit Metro Airport (DTW), located just a short drive from downtown Detroit, serves as a major gateway to the Motor City and the broader United States. With its extensive network of domestic and international flights, DTW is one of the busiest airports in the nation, efficiently handling millions of passengers each year. The airport’s two main terminals, McNamara and North, are praised for their modern facilities and a wide array of dining and shopping options, providing travelers with comfort and convenience.

Strategically positioned about 20 miles southwest of downtown Detroit, DTW facilitates travel to and from the heart of the Motor City and acts as a critical hub for the automotive industry and other businesses in the region. The airport’s role as a significant gateway is enhanced by its comprehensive flight schedules, including direct connections to major cities across the United States and key international destinations. This connectivity makes DTW a pivotal point for leisure and business travel, embodying the dynamic spirit of Detroit and its storied automotive heritage. Here are some top ideas if you are looking for things to do at Detroit Metro Airport.

#1 Explore the Art of the Light and Sound Tunnel Between Concourses at DTW Airport

If you have a few minutes in between flights, it’s worth a walk to the famous light tunnel between the A and B/C concourses.

Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) Light Tunnel

This 700-foot underground light tunnel is a unique display of sight and soothing sounds. It is accessible via escalators and elevators in the center of the concourses. You can walk the entire length or the moving walkways through the tunnel, which runs under the terminal and two active taxiways. Jets are typically rolling by overhead.

The one-of-a-kind work of art tunnel is made of sand-blasted art-on-glass panels created by Foxfire Glass of Pontiac, Michigan. This glass artwork is illuminated by 9,000 ft. of LED lighting design. The music is synchronized to an original piece composed by Mills James of Columbus, Ohio.

#2 Take Advantage of Off-Site DTW Parking

DTW parking - DTW Airport - Detroit Metro Airport

You would think that parking on the DTW airport property would be extremely convenient, but that isn’t always the case. If you’re by yourself with only a carry-on bag, then parking on-premise may not be a problem. However, if you’re traveling with a group or have luggage to check in, there are advantages to parking off-site at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Advantages of Off-Premise Parking at Detroit Metro Airport

  • Shuttle service direct to your vehicle. Offered 24 hours a day.
  • Lighted, monitored lots with lots of activity.
  • Employee discounts for off-prem parking are offered by many employers in Southeast Michigan
  • Generally cheaper by a dollar or two per day.
  • Offers mechanical assistance services such as battery jump starts.

Major Off-Premise Parking at Detroit Metro Airport

Did you know that you can save about $1.00 a day on airport parking with an Internet coupon? We were given the heads-up by a veteran traveler. While it seems small it does add up if you are going to be gone for a week or more. Click on the links for your coupon.

NameOn-Line RatingCoupon RateRegular Rate
Park-N-Go3.9 Stars $11.00 $12.00
Airlines Parking 4.2 Stars $12.00 $14.00
Qwik Park 4.2 Stars $12.00 $13.00
US Park4.1 Stars$12.00 $13.00
Rates from 2022. Subject to change

Renting a Car At Detroit Metro Airport

mercedes benz parked in a row
Photo by Pixabay on

Securing a rental car at Detroit Metro Airport is a hassle-free process designed to get you on the road swiftly for your next trip. Once you’ve landed, you can find the rental car services conveniently located at the airport’s dedicated rental car campus, accessible via free shuttle services. These shuttles run continuously, departing every few minutes from both the McNamara and North Terminals. Simply follow the well-marked signs after you collect your luggage to reach the shuttle pick-up area.

Upon arriving at the rental car campus, you’ll find yourself in a large parking lot where multiple renowned rental car companies have their counters. This centralized location makes it easy to compare options and choose a vehicle that best suits your travel needs. The companies offer a range of cars from economy to luxury models, ensuring that whether you’re in town for business or leisure, you have the perfect car waiting for you. With quick check-out processes and cars ready in the parking lot, you can expect to be driving off to your destination in no time.

Did You Know?
Detroit Metro Airport has been the location of 13 movies and television productions.

#3 Another Parking Option – DTW Hotels, Park, Sleep, and Fly

Things to do at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) Hotel
Sleep then fly at Detroit Metro Airport

Another unique option is to stay at a hotel at the beginning or end of your trip and park at the hotel while you’re away. Just about every hotel clustered around the Detroit Metropolitan Airport offers this option at competitive rates.

For travelers looking for a “Park, Sleep, Fly” option near Detroit Metro Airport, several local hotels in Romulus offer packages tailored to make your travel experience seamless and stress-free. One popular choice is a Romulus hotel that not only provides comfortable accommodations but also includes free parking for the duration of your trip and a complimentary airport shuttle service. This shuttle runs 24/7, ensuring that you can reach the airport terminals quickly, regardless of your flight schedule.

Choosing a “Park, Sleep, Fly” package can significantly enhance your travel experience, allowing you to start your journey well-rested and worry-free. These hotels focus on delivering a good experience by ensuring that their guest services are top-notch. From the moment you check-in, you can expect clean rooms, friendly staff, and all the amenities needed for a pleasant stay. The convenience of leaving your car in a secure parking lot and catching a free airport shuttle makes these packages ideal for business travelers and families, setting the stage for a stress-free trip right from the start.

Check directly with the hotel you are interested in or do an internet search for “Park, Sleep, Fly, DTW” for more information and rates.

#4 Relax in the Sky Clubs and Lounges at DTW Airport

If you are facing a long layover, consider using one of the Delta Sky Clubs at DTW. The clubs are clean quiet and offer a place to read, do work or relax. The clubs provide a variety of hot appetizer foods, warm cookies, and other snacks.

Things to do at Detroit Metro Airport - DTW Airport
Delta’s Sky Club Source: Delta Air Lines

There is an assortment of cold beverages and self-serve beer, wine, and cocktails. There is also satellite programming, real newspapers, and magazines. If you have a problem with your flight, representatives are available to assist. Since these clubs are geared toward business travelers, Wi-Fi and power outlets are located near each chair or workstation. There is also flight status information available in the main area.

Delta Airlines has four sky clubs at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW)

  • Concourse C, at gate level near the entrance to Concourse C
  • Concourse A, 2nd level at Express Tram North Station across from Gate A68
  • Concourse A, 2nd level at Express Tram South Station across from Gate A18
  • The main Delta Sky Club is on the second story in the McNamara Terminal in concourse A across from Gate A38. It is one of the largest and therefore can get crowded. There are showers available.

Access to the clubs involves holding a membership with Delta Sky Club or purchasing a single-use pass. If you hold an American Express SkyMiles card, you can get access at a reduced rate.

Other Airport Lounges at DTW Detroit Metro Airport

Because DTW is a large international airport, other major airlines also have amenities for their travelers. The Lufthansa Business Lounge is located in the North Terminal (Concourse D). The facility is open only during the week and closed on weekends and holidays. Passes are available for purchase online.

Active military service members can relax in the Michigan Freedom Center’s located in both terminals at DTW. The centers provide military service members with an opportunity for rest and reflection as they travel for deployment or return home.

#5 The Water Feature at Detroit Metro Airport

One of the most interesting yet little-noticed unique items at Detroit Metro Airport is the water feature in the center of the McNamara terminal. This fountain/living art has 45 “leapfrog” devices that shoot synchronized laminar water flow streams. It is 39-ft. wide, elliptical-shaped of black granite made by WET Design of Burbank, California. Continuous water flows over the granite and creates a mirror-like smooth surface that travelers love to touch. All the coins flipped into the water feature are donated to local charities.

DTW - Water Feature

Hint: The feature is surrounded by cafes and coffee bars. It is a great place to grab an espresso, and people-watch. The fountain is in a great central location to the tram station and the main Delta Sky Club.

#6 The Tram at DTW McNamara Terminal – Ride on a Bed of Air

Covering nearly a mile, the main McNamara Terminal is the world’s second-longest airport concourse. Luckily DTW has a set of trams that run the entire length of the concourse. The tram can get travelers from one end to the other in about three minutes. Needless to say, it is a great way to see the entire terminal and not limit yourself to restaurants and shops on only one end.

Detroit Metro Airport Tram

Cruising at about 30 mph, each of the trams rides on a half-inch of air created by 72 air pads on the bottom of each train. It’s a fantastic sight, and the tram is so quiet that you hardly notice its whizzing by above you.

#7 Meet at the Westin Hotel at Detroit Metro Airport

The Westin Hotel at Detroit Metro Airport stands out as a highly convenient hotel option for travelers. Located directly inside the McNamara Terminal, it offers unparalleled access to airport amenities and gates. The guest rooms are designed with comfort and tranquility in mind, featuring the signature Westin Heavenly Bed® and soundproof windows to ensure a peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. Each clean room is equipped with modern amenities such as high-speed internet and a spacious work area, catering to both business and leisure travelers. The hotel also includes additional facilities like an indoor pool, a fully equipped fitness center, and an on-site restaurant, making it an ideal choice for anyone looking for a restful and rejuvenating stay right at the airport.

If you’re meeting up with friends or family at the airport, consider joining them at the Westin Hotel’s atrium lobby. This is the only on-site hotel located on the airport property. Renovated in 2017, the hotel’s skylight atrium restaurant offers a classy rendezvous point away from the terminal crowds. You can enjoy a meal or a craft beer and watch your flight’s status on nearby monitors.

Reflections Lounge in the Westin Hotel Atrium. Detroit Metro Airport
Reflections Lounge in the Atrium. Source: Westin Hotel

When you’re ready to travel, you can go through security at the hotel’s private security checkpoint, located in the lobby. If you’re staying at the hotel, the Westin offers a unique Beyond the Screening Checkpoint Program, allowing registered overnight hotel guests to visit the shops and restaurants in the McNamara Terminal. Shopping is one of the highlighted things to do at Detroit Metro Airport.

#8 Pet and Service Dog Rest Stop at Detroit Metro Airport

For those traveling with pets and service animals, Detroit Metro Airport has facilities for their relief.

DTW Airport service dog rest area sign
Even our furry companions need a break

The McNamara Terminal has two Service Animal Relief Areas. The main terminal, it’s near Gate A-34. The other is outside the International Arrivals area at the lower level. Both sites provide plastic bags and a container for the disposal of solid waste.

#9 Picking Up Arrivals at Detroit Metro Airport DTW

One of the frustrating aspects of DTW is picking upon arrival. The pick-up area for both the North Terminal and McNamara can be quite busy, and sitting for long periods of time in the arrival zone will result in the attention of airport security and the local sheriff.

Things to do at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) pickup

Fortunately Detroit Metro has two cell phones waiting for areas. They are free and offer a fairly good vantage point to watch take-offs and landings as you wait for your arrival. Look for signs directing you to the lots as you arrive.

South Lot – Off of Eureka Road

North Green Lot – Off of the East Entrance Service drive

When your party lands have them give you a call then head for their arrival terminal. It’s a stress-free and very convenient way to navigate at DTW airport.

Cell Phone Waiting DTW Airport
Cell Phone Waiting Lots Source: Wayne County Airport Authority

#10 Using Driver Services Like Uber and Lyft at Detroit Metro Airport

There are thousands of drivers in Southeast Michigan providing their services using mobile apps from Lyft, Uber, and Zoom. Using driver services is a great way to arrange for transportation to and from DTW from just about anywhere.

Due to airport regulations, rideshare services must stage their drivers in a waiting area outside the departing passenger area. Using a mobile app of your choice’s rideshare service, you can arrange for pick up using the first available driver in the waiting area.

Getting to Ann Arbor From Detroit Metro Airport

Traveling from Detroit Metro Airport to Ann Arbor is a straightforward and convenient journey, ideal for both newcomers and seasoned travelers. The drive typically takes about 25 minutes via I-94 West, a direct route that offers a smooth transit with clear signage guiding you towards Ann Arbor. For those not renting a car, there are several shuttle services available that provide comfortable and efficient transportation directly to various points in Ann Arbor, including the University of Michigan campus and downtown areas. Additionally, ride-sharing services with friendly drivers are readily available at the airport, ensuring that reaching your destination is hassle-free and timely.

Getting To East Lansing From DTW

Getting to East Lansing from Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) is both economical and comfortable using bus services such as the Michigan Flyer. This bus service is well-regarded for its reliability and convenience, offering multiple departures daily that sync well with various flight schedules. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, providing a direct route to East Lansing with stops typically at Michigan State University and downtown East Lansing. The coaches are equipped with free Wi-Fi, charging ports for your devices, and ample luggage space, making it a favored choice for students, professionals, and tourists alike. The Michigan Flyer’s schedule and bookings are easily accessible online, making it simple to plan your trip in advance.

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Michael Hardy

Michael Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. Michael was born in Michigan and grew up near Caseville. In 2009 he started this fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

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