Transit Guide: Detroit’s Cultural Center

Planning a trip to Detroit’s cultural center? Detroit may be the Motor City but that doesn’t mean that cars are the only way to get there. I put together this handy guide on reaching the museum district by bus, streetcar, bicycle and more.

Detroit’s Cultural Center

The Cultural Center is located in the area of Woodward Ave. and Warren Ave. just 2 miles from downtown Detroit. It consists of the Detroit Public Library (1921), Detroit Institute of Arts (1927), Detroit Historical Museum (1951), College for Creative Studies (1958), Michigan Science Center (1978), Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (1985), Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2006) and Hellenic Museum (2009). The area is also home to Wayne State University, several Mid-Century buildings designed by Minoru Yamasaki, East Ferry Ave Historic District and the Scarab Club.

Detroit Institute of Arts (Photo by David Gifford)

Public Transit in Detroit

Detroit transit consists of the QLine Streetcar, The Detroit People Mover, city & regional bus providers and MoGo, the bikeshare system.

How Much Does it Cost?

QLine Detroit, SMART & DDOT use a shared fare system called DART. The basic cost is $2* for a 4-hr pass which is good for unlimited trips and transfers on all three systems. You can pay with cash onboard, buy prepaid passes in person or online or use the DART Mobile App.

  • Reduced fares are available for students, seniors & the disabled with proper ID.

How To Plan Your Trip

TransitApp is one of the best ways to plan your trip. SMART also offers an app. Both are good for planning trips but you cannot purchase fares on them.

Bus drop off & pick up at the McNamara Terminal (Photo by John Good)

Cultural Center from DTW Airport

If you are flying into DTW, you can hop on a regional bus to downtown from both terminals. From the North Terminal, take the sky bridge across to the parking garage and head down to the “Ground Transportation” area. From the McNamara Terminal you’ll need to head back up to the drop off area & wait outside at the Air France gate at the bus sign. Your will board SMART’s regional route #261 FAST Michigan. This route will take you across Michigan Ave through Dearborn, past Ford World Headquarters, The Henry Ford/Greenfield Village, John Dingell Transit Center, Corktown and let you off downtown Detroit at Grand Circus Park. From downtown you can transfer to the QLine, SMART or DDOT Woodward Bus #4 up to the Cultural Center at no additional cost.

Transfer to DDOT, FAST Woodward and QLine just one block away.

Directions from the Suburbs

There are three all day suburb bus routes on Michigan, Gratiot & Woodward Ave run by SMART called FAST (Frequent, Affordable, Safe, Transit). You can drive to a Park & Ride lot and take the bus down to save on parking costs. FAST Woodward stops at Warren Ave. From FAST Michigan and FAST Gratiot, you’ll need to transfer downtown and ride north to the Warren transit stop.

Directions inside Detroit

Let’s say you’re already in the city, living or visiting. There are several ways to reach the Cultural Center without a car. You’ll save money on parking fees and $45 parking tickets should your meter run out.

  • DDOT Bus Most city buses intersect with Woodward Avenue. The Woodward bus route is #4 and runs 24/7 and is accessible from Plum Market downtown and all along Woodward. It stops north of Warren on either side near the DIA. Other popular routes include #16-Dexter (on Cass) and #8-Warren. Click here for a system map.
  • SMART Bus Most SMART buses operate in the suburbs but some run during rush hour and the FAST routes run all day. They run on Gratiot, Woodward & Michigan Ave so you can transfer to them to reach the Cultural Center. Click here for a system map.
  • QLine StreetcarThe QLine runs from downtown Detroit to Grand Boulevard. It has stops near the DIA at Farnsworth and at Ferry Street. Click here for a system map.
  • MoGo BicycleThere is a MoGo station behind the DIA’s main entrance on Farnsworth close to John R. There is another station by the Detroit Historical Museum at Kirby. Click here for a system map.
  • Scooters — You’re likely to find a Bird, Spin, Lime or Boaz scooter on just about every street corner. Be careful riding on the sidewalks due to pedestrians and turning cars. Use caution if riding in the streets. In the Cultural Center the only street with bike lanes is Cass.
There are several bus and streetcar stops within the Cultural District along Warren, Woodward and Cass.

For more information, check out www.transitguidedetroit.com

Avid transit blogger from Metro Detroit. www.transitguidedetroit.com