Despite the griping about the weather, Detroit draws crowds downtown the North American International Auto Show. Hosted, as always (almost) at Cobo, the show dates for this year are January 18th-27th. Here's the inside scoop so you can make the best of your visit whether you’re a first timer or an experienced show veteran.
Of course, we at TheCarConnection.com got in before you because we have the coveted Press Pass. But those who are part of the automotive industry run a close second in terms of getting into the show early, but that special access comes at a premium. Tickets for Industry Preview Days run $75 and provide access Wednesday, January 16th from noon–9 p.m. and Thursday, January 17th from 7 a.m.- 9 p.m. E-tickets can be purchased online.
After the pure-business Industry Days, you can don your tuxedo and prepare to rub shoulders with the stars at the annual black tie charity preview. This high profile event happens Friday, January 18th. It runs from 5-9 p.m. and draws nationally renowned celebrities, athletes, and politicians. Funds raised from your $400 ticket go to support vital youth services for children. The night includes a performance by the Barenaked Ladies. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 888.838.7500 or online at the show's official Web site, www.naias.com.
If you're planning to dine before the gala, consider Andiamo Riverfront located in the GM Renaissance Center. Besides the excellent food, the restaurant offers free parking and a shuttle to the preview to those with advance reservations. If you favor some other downtown dining establishment, many offer shuttles to the show…it's worth calling them to check what they offer.
This year the show is open to the public Saturday, January 19th through Saturday, January 26th from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. (no admittance after 9 p.m.) and Sunday, January 27th from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. (no admittance after 6 p.m.). Tickets can be purchased online, at the door or by phone at 248.643.0250 (regular admission $12, seniors and children 5-12 $6, children under 4 admitted free with parent). Group tickets are also available in advance for parties of 25 or more and cost $8 per person. By the way, if you or someone in your party is handicapped, early access for the disabled begins at 8 a.m. at the Oakland Hall Entrance.
Parking — always an issue downtown — is available on the rooftop of Cobo Center. Be warned, these spaces are at a premium. Smaller private lots surround Cobo. If you're inclined to be digital about such things, find where you want to park on-line and pre-order a parking spot at www.clickandpark.com.
If you're visiting the show on a weekend (it's crowded), you might consider the easy option of parking at the Detroit Zoo or The Henry Ford. Shuttles depart from each location every half hour from 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. (8 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Sunday). Return runs happen every half hour between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. (10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday). Tickets can be purchased onsite and are $5 for all passengers over 12 (children under 12 ride free) a flat parking fee of $5 is charged for each vehicle left in the lot.
Riding the Detroit People Mover provides another option to get to Cobo. Many of its stops are a quick walk from parking lots, and riders are dropped off at the show. The cost is 50 cents and the tram runs from 7 a.m. - 11 p.m. If you pick this option, Renaissance Center parking lots are a good choice because the people mover station is inside the Ren Cen. Since the Cobo station is inside Cobo Center, you never have to face the elements.