Category: Michigan
Author: Michael DeFranceschi • Updated

The 11 Most Fun Things to Do in Dearborn, MI [2024]

Most of these start with 'Ford'...
Replica of an old McDonald's inside the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, MI.


Dearborn is the next door neighbor to Detroit-- located only about 12 minutes away from downtown Detroit.

Even though you can find so much to do in the Motor City, much of what earned Detroit the nickname 'the Motor City' can be found in... Dearborn!

In fact, I'd wager that no vacation to Detroit would be complete without checking out some of the iconic attractions you'll find in Dearborn!

Everyone's heard of Henry Ford. The founder of Ford Motor Company was born in... yep, you guessed it-- Dearborn! Thus, many of the fun things to do on this list bear his name.

Whether you're a local (like me) who's looking for other fun things to do in metro Detroit besides going to downtown Plymouth or Northville or a visitor wanting to make the most of your trip to Michigan, here are 11 essential things you must do in this historically significant metro Detroit hotspot.


For 2024, here are the 11 most fun things to do in Dearborn, MI...

01 // The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

A 1909 Ford Model T on display at the Henry Ford Museum. Visiting this museum is one of the most fun things to do in Dearborn, MI
I think I just found my next ride...

Pictured already twice in this article is an establishment I think anyone visiting Detroit and/or Dearborn should visit is none other than the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.

I'm going to be honest: I don't like cars that much and even I enjoyed this museum! So just imagine how much car enthusiasts will love visiting here!

It is so fascinating to see the progression of the automobile from the early 20th century to present day. Personally, I prefer the aesthestic of the old Model T's to models seen in the 1950's. The museum has a plethora of these classic vehicles on display in all of their fun and exciting colors.

You can see the vehicles used to drive around U.S presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

There isn't just car exhibits inside this museum: there are also large airplane and locomotive exhibits as well! You can say inside this museum you'll see... planes, trains, and automobiles!

Some exhibits have interactive components, such as being able to simulate driving a car with no power steering.

Also... be sure to check out the Mathematica exhibit! No... seriously. Even if you hated math in school, you'll be entertained by the "multiplication cube" (you give the cube any three single-digit numbers and the cube lights up the product), the Mobius Strip, or a large pachenko-looking machine demonstrating probability.

For me, a former math major who studied at the Dearborn campus of the University of Michigan, Mathematica was delightful. And side note: while visiting the University of Michigan campus is definitely something you should do in Ann Arbor, there's no point to visiting the Dearborn campus.

There is a food court in the museum: mainly a place called Lamy's Diner.

The Henry Ford Museum is equally enjoyable as it is educational and you can easily spend 3+ hours here without getting bored!

Entry to the museum is $35. For those who live nearby, you might want to consider an annual membership, which is only $75/year. The membership grants you free admission to the museum, Greenfield Village, classic film viewings at the "giant screen", amongst some other worthwhile perks!

Hey... speaking of Greenfield Village...

Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124
Hours: 9:30 a.m - 5:00 p.m

02 // Greenfield Village

The Cape Cod Windmill inside Greenfield Village, one of the most fun things to do in Dearborn, MI.
Step back in time to the days of Henry Ford at this outdoor history museum!

The second item on our list of the best things to do in Dearborn, MI is a place most Michiganders I know personally have been to at least once: Greenfield Village.

Spanning 90 acres, this metro Detroit staple attraction is an outdoor living history museum. Nearly all of the buildings on the lot, such as the Wright Brothers' bicycle shop and Thomas Edison's laboratory are faithful reconstructions for visitors to admire.

Most of the employees on the lot are costumed interpreters who speak and act as if they are from earlier centuries. You can ride in an actual Model T here-- driven by an entertaining man or woman staying true to character!

Besides the Model T ride, you can also explore parts of the museum in a horse-and-carriage. Other than those two vintage modes of transit, you'll be walking.

During the summer, you can see people play baseball with rules from 1867! What's different from the way baseball is played today? I'll tell you one thing: they didn't play with gloves back then!

Wondering if you should eat before? There is no need. There are two restaurants serving meals one would eat in the 19th century: the Eagle Tavern and A Taste of History. There is also a dessert stop called The Frozen Custard. Their Superman ice cream is the best Superman ice cream I've ever tasted!

Last, you should definitely take a ride on the train, as it is the only operating 19th century steam locomotive in the United States. It just costs $7 to ride. You'll see more of the campus that's not normally accessible to the public.

Just like the Henry Ford Museum, expect to spend at least 2 hours here. Many visitors make a whole day out of Greenfield Village.

Tickets for adults are $38.

Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124
Hours: 9:30 a.m - 5:00 p.m (Eagle Tavern 11:00 a.m - 3:00 p.m, Frozen Custard 11:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m)

03 // Ford Rouge Factory Tour

A classic Ford Thunderbird in the the lobby area of the Ford Rouge Plant. The Rouge Plant is one of the best things to do in Dearborn, MI
The only place in the Rouge Plant I was able to get a picture! Details why below...

Have you ever wanted to enter a factory and see a vehicle being assembled in real time? Then book yourself a tour of the Ford Rouge Plant today, as seeing Ford's iconic truck the F-150 constructed in real time is the highlight of the visit!

Again, let me reiterate that I am not a big fan of automobiles in general and I found the Rouge Factory Tour to be an amazing experience!

To get to this assembly plant, you have to take a bus from the same campus as the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. Due to the bus schedule, this is the only Henry Ford attraction where you have to book for a specific time. However, the tour is self-guided (which I was personally very happy with).

The buses are extremely punctual. Do not be late or you'll have 20 minutes for the next bus!

Big recommendation: visit the Rouge Plant when it is in production. Effective August 1, 2023, the plant will not be in production on Saturdays. Sundays are also out so you'll have to visit during a weekday. Dates of production can be found here.

There is one interactive exhibit in the factory. You can simulate attaching a steering wheel to the truck using a tool shaped like a gun. Instructions on the wall tell you how long you should hold the tool for. If you let go of the tool when the light is green, you would have successfully installed a steering wheel!

However, I should let you know that you will not be able to take any pictures nor video when touring the factory. The only spots onsite you'll have opportunities for photos and/or video is in the lobby and outside the building.

Tickets for adults are $24.

Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124
Hours: M-S 9:30 a.m - 5:00 p.m. Closed on Sundays.

04 // Automotive Hall of Fame

An exhibit inside the Automobile Hall of Fame. The Automobile Hall of Fame is one of the best things to do in Dearborn, MI
For a less expensive museum experience, check out the Automotive Hall of Fame!

When I first published this article, I accidentally called this museum the Automobile Hall of Fame. Turns out... I got the name wrong. It should be the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Compared to the $35 admission fee for the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, it only costs $10 to enter the Automotive Hall of Fame. Budget travelers rejoice!

The purpose of the Automotive Hall of Fame is to commemorate people, past and present, who have made or are currently making vital contributions to the automobile industry.

There are separate exhibits in the museum honoring only women and African-Americans who have greatly impacted the industry.

As you may know, Detroit and metro-Detroit are home to the headquarters of Ford Motor Company(obvious one here) General Motors, and Stellantis (formerly Chrysler). That being said, other automobile brands, such as Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes Benz, get their spotlight inside this museum as well.

It is possible you could do the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, the Ford Rouge Plant, and the Automotive Hall of Fame in just one day if you are tight on time. Definitely two days if you have the whole weekend.

Address: 21400 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124
Hours: Th-Su 10:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m.

05 // Ford's Garage

Bar area with a Ford car aesthestic.
One of the two bar areas inside the Ford's Garage restaurant.

Located off Michigan Avenue and less than a ten minute drive from the Henry Ford campus is the Ford-themed bar & grill, Ford's Garage.

The restaurants serves standard American cuisine, specializing in burgers and craft beer.

One slight caveat to this restaurant is that it's not unique to Dearborn. In fact, the first location didn't even open up in Michigan! It was actually in Fort Myers, Florida, less than a mile from Henry Ford's winter home. A Michigander spending time in Florida? Who would've guessed...

Even though the food is decent here, there is one other food suggestion I want to make that'll give you a true Dearborn culinary experience...

Address: 21367 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI 48124
Hours: M-Th 11:00 a.m - 10:00 p.m, F-S 11:00 a.m - 10:30 p.m, Su 10:30 a.m - 9:00 p.m

06 // Dine at a middle-eastern restaurant

Bar area with a Ford car aesthestic.
You'll find the best cuisine from this region of the world here in metro Detroit! Source: Shutterstock

Metro Detroit (and Dearborn, specifically) has the nation's largest Arabic speaking population. Take advantage of your visit here and treat yourself to some middle eastern cuisine! I have friends from Ohio and Florida who say it's really hard to find middle eastern food where they live.

Keep in mind: the "Middle East" is a region. Thus, Lebanese food will differ from Egyptian or Syrian, for instance.

Most of the restaurants I've dined at in Dearborn are Lebanese. No particular preference for that cuisine; there just happens to be more of them. Additionally, I can't say I've ever had bad "middle eastern" food in Dearborn.

Two restaurants I personally recommend: Andalus Mediterranean Grill (Lebanese) and Alnawras Restautant (Yemenite).

07 // Ford Drive-In Theater

Image coming soon.
Image coming soon.

How often do you see drive-in movie theaters anymore? Once you explore the aforementioned museums and dine at a middle eastern restaurant, end your evening in Dearborn by pulling your car into the Ford Drive-In Theater!

Going to a drive-in theater is quite different than going to a regular movie theater. If you're not prepared, you'll ruin and waste the experience. And, of course there's some etiquette involved too.

Here is everything you should do to maximize the fun you'll have at the Ford Drive-In Theater:

First, you only need to purchase one movie ticket per vehicle. Common mistake for first-timers. Do not buy tickets for everyone in the vehicle.

Second, you should bring a portable radio with spare batteries, as the movie's audio is transmitted to a specific FM frequency. You can use your own car's radio but if you have a larger vehicle and you're sitting in the trunk, it'll be harder to hear the movie over the vehicle's radio.

Third, get there early. Parking is first come first served.

Four, try to show up in a sedan, not a larger vehicle, like an SUV. Even if you arrive early, larger vehicles may be asked to move toward the back so they don't obstruct the view of others.

Fifth, dress warm or have some blankets in the car. And on the topic of bringing stuff, you are allowed to bring your own refreshments. Stock up on snacks and drinks!

Finally, sixth: expect to be at the drive-in longer than a normal theater.

Address: 10400 Ford Rd, Dearborn, MI 48126
Hours: Movies typically start at 9:30 p.m.

08 // Fair Lane (the home, not the mall)

Fair Lane is the home of Henry Ford and his wife.
Part of the Fair Lane estate where Henry Ford lived.

Not to be confused with Fairlane Town Center. There is a mall also bearing the name 'fair lane' (though the mall spells it as one word whereas the Henry Ford estate is two words). I would personally advise to not visit the mall-- it's not been the safest of areas in recent years.

Located between the banks of the Rouge River and the Dearborn campus of the University of Michigan is Fair Lane-- the beautiful home of Henry Ford and wife, Clara.

The grounds of the estate include a picnic area, gardens, wide-spanning yards, and views of the Rouge River. You can also enter the house, although at the time of this writing, the house is currently closed off to the public due to renovations. When the house re-opens, I'll have to visit it too!

This is one of the two items on this list that is entirely free to explore. The other free thing to do in Dearborn is below...

Address: 1 Fair Lane Drive, Dearborn, MI 48128
Hours: 8:00 a.m - 6:00 p.m

09 // Arab American National Museum

Bar area with a Ford car aesthestic.
Second floor the Arab American National Museum in downtown Dearborn.

Located in Dearborn's downtown is the least expensive museum on this list: the Arab American National Museum.

This museum is the first and largest in the world of the history museums dedicated to Arab American culture.

The museum is divided into three floors. The main floor is mostly dedicated to intellectual achievements, such as contributions in mathematics, whereas the upper floor is moreso centered around culture.

There is some artwork on the lower level but there isn't really that much to see on this floor.

Admission to the museum is $8.

Address: 13624 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI 48126
Hours: Th-F 11:00 a.m - 6:00 p.m, S 12:00 p.m - 6:00 p.m, Su-W closed

10 // Dearborn Historical Museum

Stairway in the Dearborn Historical Museum.
One of the stairways inside the museum.

For a fast and free thing to do in Dearborn, head over to the Dearborn Historical Museum.

With two floors to explore in the museum, visitors can learn the significant impact Arab Americans have had on the city of Dearborn.

If you're visiting the museum with kids, the downstairs area has two rooms for young children to play in.

The outside of the museum is pretty to walk around too.

Address: 915 S Brady St, Dearborn, MI 48124
Hours: M-F 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Closed Sat & Sun

11 // Padzieski & Rotunda Art Galleries

Bar area with a Ford car aesthestic.
Two colorful pieces of artwork in the Padzieski Gallery.

The list of recommendations for things to do in Dearborn, MI comes to an end with two free attractions: the Padzieski & Rotunda galleries.

Both of these galleries are in close proximity to one another. The Padzieski is located on the first floor of the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center. The Rotunda is located on the first floor of the Henry Ford Centennial Library.

As mentioned earlier, both galleries have free admission. One other detail about the galleries is that they are quite small. One could easily view all the art in a matter of minutes.

What is Dearborn Michigan known for?

Dearborn is arguably the most famous city in the metro Detroit region for two reasons: the first being the birthplace of famous businessman and innovator, Henry Ford, and the second being the city's significant contribution to the 20th century boom of the automotive industry.

Today, visitors and especially automobile enthusiasts should visit the multiple interactive and informative museums which detail Michigan's influence on the automobile industry. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is perhaps the city of Dearborn's most popular museum.

Greenfield Village is also a relatively famous attraction in the United States. One reason why Greenfield Village also stands out as a prime tourist attraction is that it possesses the only running 19th century steam locomotive in the entire country.

Travelers especially fond of history museums will have reason to check out Dearborn as well.

Is Greenfield Village worth visiting?

Yes-- Greenfield Village is absolutely worth visiting! If it weren't one of the city's top attractions, I would not have placed it in the article! But why is Greenfield Village worth visiting?

A big reason to check out Greenfield Village is the simulated experience of life in the 19th century. Many of the employees dress up in costume the way ordinary citizens would back then. You also can be escorted around the village in a real Model T!

Greenfield Village is an amazing attraction for single travelers, couples, and families. To walk the entire campus would take several hours. It's a locale where you can spend a whole day.

Is Dearborn MI a nice area?

Dearborn is definitely one of the nicest areas in the metro Detroit region. One big reason why Dearborn is considered a "nice area" is due to its very low unemployment rate. Dearborn also has lower crime rates than both the national average and that of the state of Michigan.

One more reason Dearborn can be considered a "nice area" is its median income. In 2021, the city of Dearborn's median income was $60,184.

Does Dearborn have a downtown?

Yes-- Dearborn does have a downtown. However, it is not a particularly exciting downtown, in that most of Dearborn's most notable attractions are not located in downtown. The restaurant Ford's Garage is on the outskirts of downtown.

A primary reason for anyone visiting Dearborn's downtown would be to eat at one of the city's many middle eastern restaurants. Or, more broadly, dining out in general.

Is Dearborn a walkable city?

No-- Dearborn is not particularly a walkable city. If you are visiting downtown Detroit and want to include Dearborn's museums in your itinerary, you will need to have access to a car.

A primary reason why Dearborn is not a walkable city is that hardly of the city's most fun things to do are not located in downtown. The city is definitely designed with cars in mind and you'll hardly see anyone walking around.


Dearborn is one of the most historically significant cities in the metro Detroit area and offers plenty for single travelers and even families to do! It's a fun place especially for those fond of museums! The abundance of museums is also great for things to do on a rainy day!

When visiting Detroit, Dearborn should 100% be on your itinerary. Much of what gives Detroit its legacy in the United States can be found in Dearborn.

I hope you enjoyed my list of what I think are the 11 best things to do in Deaborn, MI! Think I missed anything? As a Michigander, I'd especially like to know! You are more than welcome to contact me and let me know if I should include anything else!

Thank you for reading! Like... seriously. So many people just skim sh*t and don't read anything past the headline. You're one of the good ones!

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