Dearborn Michigan was the hometown of the famous automobile inventor Henry Ford. Today, it’s a thriving, multicultural community that is best known for its welcoming atmosphere and authentic flavor.
One of Michigan’s largest cities, Dearborn is also one of the best towns in Metro Detroit. The attractions range from historic experiences to cultural endeavors, making it one of the most exciting places to explore in the Great Lakes State.
Of course, the fact that it is home to the Ford Motor Company’s world headquarters means that it’s a community that has earned global recognition as well. And, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about spending time in Dearborn Michigan.
Outdoor Things to Do in Dearborn Michigan
If you are looking to soak up the summer sunshine in Dearborn, then these are some of the best outdoor activities to enjoy.
Visit Greenfield Village
Greenfield Village is an outdoor living history museum unlike any other. When you step through the gates, you are greeted by the sound of a steam engine that is ready to chuff across the tracks. You have officially stepped back in time.
You are able to stroll through a picturesque village that includes the homes and historic sites of some of America’s most influential people.
During your time at Greenfield Village, you can stand inside the courthouse where Abraham Lincoln once practiced law. You can meander through Noah Webster’s home, and see where he lived when he wrote the dictionary. You have the chance to experience what life was like at Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory, or you can visit one of several working farms on the property.
Showcasing more than 300 years of American life, this is one of the most comprehensive collections of American homes and buildings in the United States.
Beyond the historic properties, Greenfield Village offers rides, attractions, and food for the whole family. Your visit will not be complete without a ride on the Herschel Spillman carousel, which is more than 100 years old, or a cruise throughout the village on an authentic Model T. There’s a playground, a custard shop, and several restaurants as well.
If you happen to visit on the weekend, stop by Walnut Grove to take in a game of Historic Baseball, which is played according to the baseball rules of the 1860s — and that means no gloves allowed.
Explore the Rouge River Gateway Trail
With the trailhead conveniently located across from The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, the Rouge River Gateway Trail is the perfect way to get into nature without leaving the comforts of the city.
This scenic trail winds for 2 miles through the forested areas that surround the Rouge River. In addition, two bridges cross over the mighty river, which has long defined the way of life in this community. It’s one of the best places to enjoy a bike ride in Dearborn.
Spend a Day at Ford Field Park
If you are looking to spend a day relaxing and enjoying views of the sparkling Rouge River, Ford Field Park should be included on your Dearborn Michigan itinerary. It’s the largest green space in the city, and it offers some of the best views of the river.
Plus, you can access the Rouge River Gateway Trail from this park. Other amenities here include tennis courts, picnic pavilions, kayak rentals, and a play area. The park is anchored by a charming covered bridge, so don’t miss out on the photo opportunity before you leave.
Go Shopping in Downtown Dearborn
Historic downtown Dearborn is known for its plethora of locally-owned shops and restaurants, highlighting the flavor and culture of this community.
Whether you want to grab the latest record at Dearborn Music — one of the few local music stores in the region — or you want to commemorate your trip with a timeless souvenir from the Dearborn Shop, you are sure to find the right spot in this beautiful, walkable area of the city.
Tour the Gardens & Grounds of Fair Lane Estate
The Fair Lane estate is the impressive home of Henry and Clara Ford, and it is currently being renovated and preserved for generations to come. The gardens and grounds of the estate are open daily for the public to enjoy for free. It is important to note, though, that there are no restrooms available.
Indoor Things to Do in Dearborn Michigan
Dearborn is an up-and-coming cultural hub, with plenty of indoor attractions for people of all ages to enjoy. These are some of the best things to do in Dearborn.
Visit The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation
The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is dedicated to preserving the stories and legacies of some of America’s greatest minds.
Throughout the massive museum, you will find exhibits that showcase the innovations and inventions that defined America’s history, as well as artifacts that tell of the country’s storied past.
You could spend an entire day wandering around the museum and still not have seen it all, but it is certainly worth a visit during your time in Dearborn Michigan.
Some of the most famous artifacts on exhibit include the chair that President Abraham Lincoln was shot in at the Ford Theater and the horse-drawn carriage that Theodore Roosevelt used for transportation throughout his presidency.
Of course, one of the most monumental experiences that you can enjoy is stepping onto the bus that Rosa Parks rode on the day that she refused to give up her seat. You can even sit in the same seat and hear more about her courage, bravery, and fortitude in the face of adversity.
Ford Rouge Factory Tour
At the time it was designed and developed by Henry Ford in the early 20th century, the Ford Rouge Factory was the most impressive manufacturing facility of its kind.
Ford’s dream was to create a facility that offered continuous production from when raw materials were collected until the product was ready for consumer use. He succeeded, and at its peak, the factory was churning out more than 4,000 vehicles daily thanks to its team of 100,000 workers.
Against all odds, the factory is still setting records and making history today. The factory itself has been designed and re-imagined for sustainable, 21st-century manufacturing, and it is where the Ford F-150 body is currently made.
Visitors are invited to step into this historic site and learn more about its past, as well as the role it plays in today’s manufacturing world.
Tour buses leave from the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation regularly, bringing guests to the factory where they can embark on a self-guided tour. Tour highlights include two theater spaces, a tour through the truck plant, and a visit to the “Living Roof.”
Automotive Hall of Fame
Conveniently located in the parking lot of The Henry Ford complex, the Automotive Hall of Fame is the perfect complement to any vehicle-themed itinerary.
This facility is dedicated to telling the stories of the most innovative minds in the automotive industry, recognizing their accomplishments, and telling the history of the industry itself.
There are both permanent and rotating exhibits on display at the hall, many of which focus on the rise of the automotive industry around the world and the features of automotive design throughout the years.
Giant Screen Experience
The Giant Screen Experience is a massive movie screen that relies on the latest 4K digital projection technology and advanced sound to create an immersive environment for all theatergoers.
It is located on the grounds of the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, and throughout the year it brings blockbuster hits, family-friendly features, insightful documentaries, and vintage film experiences to movie lovers of all ages.
If you decide to buy tickets, don’t forget to grab a bucket of popcorn — you will need it as you soak up this larger-than-life experience.
Stop by the Arab American National Museum
Fittingly located in the community that boasts the largest concentration of Arab American residents in the United States, the Arab American National Museum is the only museum in the country that is dedicated solely to documenting the Arab American experience.
When it opened in 2005, the museum worked to grow its collection to preserve the written and oral histories of Arab Americans.
Today, it boasts an expansive collection that includes photographs, artifacts, art, and more. In fact, it’s the only museum in the country that works to collect art created and designed by Arab American artists.
Take a Class at the Glass Academy
For a hands-on learning experience during your stay in Dearborn Michigan, consider taking a class at the Glass Academy.
This glassblowing business is located in a 14,000-square-foot, vintage tool-and-die facility in the heart of the city. It is dedicated to preserving the art of glassblowing and providing instructional classes to those who are interested in learning more about this craft.
During a class, you will be able to create your own authentic glass piece, and you can choose a class based on the project that you want to make.
Examples of projects include an introductory class that creates a meditation globe and a more advanced class where you can make your own Sporella mushroom garden accent. There are often seasonal classes throughout the year, such as icicle classes in the winter or strawberry classes in the summer.
If you are too intimidated to try your hand at glassblowing, you can still stop by and shop for a one-of-a-kind souvenir at the Glass Academy. A store on-site sells some of the works created by the staff and owners of the facility.
Restaurants in Dearborn Michigan
With its rich cultural heritage, it comes as no surprise that Dearborn is home to some of the most flavorful and delicious Mediterranean restaurants in the state. On top of that, it has emerged as a haven for eclectic local restaurants, making this one of the best places to dine in Michigan.
One up-and-coming restaurant in Dearborn is Mint 29, an upscale fusion restaurant that is located in a historic bank building that was built in 1929. In fact, the restaurant is named after the vintage coins that were found in the walls during the renovation.
At Mint 29, you will enjoy a vibrant atmosphere and an eclectic menu, including many artfully-crafted seafood dishes.
For authentic Mediterranean flavor, consider dining at Sheeba Restaurant. This Yemeni dining locale prides itself on presenting ancient food prepared using the most modern techniques, offering an enticing flavor that cannot be found anywhere else in Dearborn Michigan.
On the menu, you will find a variety of traditional entrees, such as fahsah, lamb haneeth, and chicken zorbain. Known for its noble and elegant ambiance, yet relaxed atmosphere, this restaurant is the perfect place for a casual meal or a memorable celebration in Dearborn.
Serving everything from nigiri to sashimi and sushi rolls of all kinds, Koja Sushi is a fantastic place to satisfy a craving for Japanese food. Along with sushi, the menu includes bento entrees, soba and udon noodles, tempura, and other entrees.
Dearborn Michigan Hotels & Lodging Options
With so many attractions to explore in Dearborn, you might want to stay for a little while. Several locally-owned hotels in Dearborn will allow you to rest easy, knowing that you can make the most out of your time in the city.
By choosing a local accommodation in Dearborn Michigan, you will enjoy personalized service and attention to detail. Not to mention, you will be able to connect with the staff members who live and work in the area and who can give you insider tips for seeing the best that the city has to offer.
The Hotel Chataura is a budget-friendly boutique hotel that is known for its recently renovated rooms and sleek, modern decor.
It’s conveniently located near not only some of Dearborn’s best attractions but also the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and some of Detroit’s hottest spots, including Comerica Park and Fox Theater.
For more private accommodations, consider booking this charming townhouse. Located in a quiet, historic neighborhood with two bedrooms, this home can sleep up to six people.
This vacation rental is particularly suited for families because it has a spacious kitchen and dining area and an outdoor play area and garden. Plus, this townhome has access to a water park.
More to Know About Dearborn Michigan
Currently, Dearborn is most famous for being the home to the Ford Motor Company’s world headquarters, but it’s a community that has a long and storied past. By taking a glimpse into the past, you can begin to understand how Dearborn became the thriving town that it is today.
History of Dearborn
The Rouge River has long been the heart of civilization in this area, first drawing Native Americans to its shores and then attracting European settlers.
The first European residents arrived in the late 18th century, and they primarily consisted of farmers. For nearly a century, Dearborn Michigan was a quiet agricultural settlement, but the industrial revolution soon changed all of that.
In the 1830s, the Detroit Arsenal was relocated to the area, establishing a link between Detroit and Chicago and developing a military presence in this region.
The arsenal was an expansive compound, consisting of 11 buildings, as well as a powder magazine, military docks, and a military reserve area with woods, grasslands, and other natural resources that the military may need to use to protect and defend the United States.
The arsenal earned the nickname Dearbornville — after a Revolutionary War hero — and the name became synonymous with the area.
By the 20th century, Dearborn transformed from a military town into a manufacturing hub. Inventor Henry Ford established the first automobile factory here, bringing the assembly line to life and ushering in a new era in American manufacturing.
While it was first known as the Ford Motor Company’s Fordson Assembly Plant, it was renamed the River Rouge Assembly Plant. At its peak, the plant employed more than 103,000 workers, making it one of the largest employers in the region.
Today, the Dearborn Michigan city limits are actually the result of a merger. In 1929, the cities of Fordson and Dearborn consolidated to create one large suburban community.
During this time of unprecedented growth and development, Dearborn became a haven for immigrants who were looking to find work and enjoy their share of the American dream.
In the late 19th century, immigrants from Lebanon came to Dearborn, with many more Arabic immigrants arriving during the early years of the 20th century for manufacturing jobs. Today, that rich Arab-American heritage plays a significant role in Dearborn’s culture and atmosphere.
The flavor and character of the community are heavily influenced by the incredible contributions of Arab Americans over the past century.
Situated just beyond the borders of Detroit in Southeast Michigan, Dearborn enjoys four glorious seasons throughout the year. Winter weather typically lasts between late November and late March, with temperatures hovering between 20 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the season.
Spring can be wet and dreary, but warm weather arrives in earnest by the middle of May. During the summer, you can expect sunshine and clear skies in Dearborn, with high temperatures ranging between 70 and 85 degrees throughout June, July, and August.
FAQs About Dearborn Michigan
What is Dearborn Michigan most famous for?
Dearborn Michigan is most well known for being the place where Henry Ford established the first automobile manufacturing facility.
Today, the most famous attraction is The Henry Ford complex, an indoor-outdoor entertainment facility designed to educate visitors about America’s past while inspiring innovation for the future.
It consists of the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, and more.
Does Dearborn Michigan have the largest population of Arab Americans in the United States?
Dearborn Michigan is considered one of the largest Arab American communities in the United States, with nearly half of the population identifying as Arab American.
The city has the largest Muslim population per capita of any city in the United States.
What are the top attractions in Dearborn Michigan?
Aside from The Henry Ford complex, excellent attractions in Dearborn Michigan include Fair Lane, the Automotive Hall of Fame, and the Arab American National Museum.
Experience All That Dearborn Michigan Has to Offer
For a cultural experience unlike any other in Michigan, head straight to Dearborn. In this city, you will be able to witness first-hand the impact that the automobile industry has had on the entire state. Also, you will have the opportunity to soak up the culture and flavor of the Arab American community.
Whether you have a day or a week, you won’t regret spending some time in this eclectic Michigan city, which has been heavily influenced by the automobile industry and enriched by the contributions of the Arab Americans who have long called it home.