Woodward Dream Cruise Survival Guide
Nothing embodies the Motor City in the summertime like the Woodward Dream Cruise.
If you’re a Dream Cruise regular, you probably know how to prepare for the day. But if it’s been a while since you’ve been one of the million-plus annual attendees – or you are brand new to it – this survival guide should get you ready to fully enjoy this iconic event.
Dress and pack accordingly
Packing for the Dream Cruise is a bit tricky because you want to pack lightly since you’ll likely bounce around a lot during the day. But at the same time, you need to be fully prepared. Bring these essentials:
- Drinking water and snacks
- Portable camping chairs and/or a large blanket that you don’t mind dirtying up
- Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
- Umbrellas and/or ponchos if rain is in the forecast
You’ll probably walk a lot, so wearing comfortable shoes is a must. It might be tempting to whip out the cowboy boots for style points or flip flops for convenience, but your feet will thank you later if you wear a reliable pair of sneakers.
Know the parking situation and parade route
A handful of participating cities offer municipal parking at these locations:
Birmingham: All activities are within walking distance of the city’s downtown parking decks.
Ferndale: The municipal parking lots are surrounding downtown Ferndale, near Woodward Avenue & Nine Mile Rd.
Pontiac: Municipal parking lots and parking structures are in surrounding downtown Pontiac.
Royal Oak: Guest parking is available at municipal parking lots and walking distance from Woodward. You can also try:
- Royal Oak Golf Center: Corner of Coolidge and West 13 Mile Road.
- Gunn Dyer Park: South of Normandy between Coolidge and Woodward.
- Upton Park: South of West 14 Mile Road and Coolidge.
The Woodward Dream Cruise now partners with the ParkStash parking app for smartphone users. The app lets you search for spots, book your spot well in advance and extend your bookings. ParkStash is available on the App Store and through Google Play.
The 16-mile Woodward Dream Cruise route runs on Woodward Avenue from Ferndale to Pontiac. Between those two cities the route encompasses seven other municipalities: Pleasant Ridge, Huntington Woods, Berkley, Royal Oak, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Bloomfield Township.
Other advice and recommendations
Arrive early: The Dream Cruise runs all day long, typically from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. If you’d like to beat traffic and set up shop at your first viewing destination, you might want to get to your parking spot as early as a couple of hours before the cruise begins. Conversely, you may want to leave before 9 p.m. to get ahead of that outgoing traffic.
Highly regarded spots to watch from: Some of these destinations have been shouted out by the Detroit Free Press and other publications over the years:
- Woodward Ave. and 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak.
- Along 12 Mile Road from Coolidge to Greenfield in Berkley.
- On 9 Mile Road, east side of Woodward, in Ferndale.
- The 555 Building in Birmingham.
Popular places to stop for food
If you’re looking for places to fuel up along the route – and we’re not talking about your car – keep these nearby restaurants in mind:
- Imperial – open-air street taco spot – 22828 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale.
- Como’s – Detroit-style pizza place – 22812 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale.
- Vinsetta Garage – diner in an ex-garage that serves classic grub and Detroit eats – 27799 Woodward Ave. in Berkley.
- Hunter House Hamburgers – Classic burger joint – 35075 Woodward Ave. in Birmingham.
- Nicky D’s Coney Island – Detroit-based coney chain – 32657 Woodward Ave. in Royal Oak.
Visit the Woodward Dream Cruise official website at this link for hotel information, ancillary events happening on the weekend of the cruise and much more.
Photo credit: Simons-Michelson-Zieve (SMZ)