It's almost here -- have you stocked up on bottled water and canned goods? Planned an escape route? Scheduled a last-minute trip fleeing Detroit?
While some have already begun to drive up and down the Avenue or are packing their Model Ts with care for the trip, there are plenty who dread America's biggest car parade. The Dream Cruise officially only lasts Saturday but tends to spill into surrounding days, bringing more than 40,000 classic cars and a million visitors to the area.
Some may say the Dream Cruise is a major Motor City event, extolling the virtues of the tradition replete with a haze of exhaust and branded t-shirt swag. But despite offering drivers an imitation of the 50s and 60s "cruising" pastime, the drive that takes over one of the metro area's main arteries is still in its teenage years.
The Cruise also causes headaches for local residents and business owners, a problem the Magic Bag Theater on Woodward has called attention to with scornful and hilarious marquee slogans condemning the Cruisers. The traffic causes detours and delays for SMART bus riders and does not deign to drive into Detroit itself, instead cruising 16 miles from 8 Mile Road to downtown Pontiac. That's why we've come up with alternative events for those who aren't looking forward to the the heavy traffic and car craze.
Head on over to the Woodward Dream Cruise official website or just set up your folding chair at 9 Mile Road and Woodward if you're content with the main event. But if not, check out our list below of activities that don't require a roadster for a good time.
Flickr photo by Patricia Drury has been modified.
2009 Woodward Dream Cruise
If this image fills you with dread, click through the slideshow for alternative events to the 2012 Woodward Dream Cruise. <em>Flickr photo <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/patriciadrury/3828039436/" target="_hplink">by Patricia Drury</a></em>.
Detroit Beautification Project Bicycle Tour
Rather than sitting and watching the classic cars drive by, get active on two wheels and take a bike tour of Detroit Beautification Project street art in the city and Hamtramck. The ride starts at 11 a.m. Sunday; <a href="http://www.facebook.com/events/399897126713820/" target="_hplink">find out more and register here</a> and read more about the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/11/detroit-beautification-project-sever-death-to-street-art-mural-hamtramck-michigan_n_1508123.html" target="_hplink">Detroit Beautification Project here</a>.
African World Festival
If you're looking for the crush of people without the cars, the <a href="http://thewright.org/african-world-festival" target="_hplink">African World Festival</a> will be in full swing this weekend at the Wright Museum. World's longest soul train, dancing, parade, food -- what more could you want?
Inside|Out Art Tour
Go on your own driving tour, but make it an artsy one far from Woodward. Check out famous masterpieces in the open air from the Detroit Institute of Arts' Inside|Out program, which <a href="http://www.dia.org/calendar/special-event.aspx?id=3182&iid=" target="_hplink">places reproductions of art works around the metro area</a> until September. There's plenty to see, though we recommend avoiding the sites in Ferndale and Royal Oak.
Or, Just Go Visit The Detroit Institute Of Arts
If you'd rather see the real masterpieces, spend some time at the Detroit Institute of Arts on a stretch of Woodward that won't have official Cruise traffic. On Saturday, there is a drop-in workshop to make Tibetan prayer flags and of course, the must-see Patti Smith exhibit, "Camera Solo." And even better, museum admission is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/dia-millage-detroit-institute-of-arts-_n_1753989.html" target="_hplink">now free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents</a>.
The <a href="http://www.michrenfest.com/" target="_hplink">Michigan Renaissance Festival</a> begins Saturday in Holly, lasting weekends through September. It might be a trek, but with jousting, mermaids, microbrews, "wench pressing" (lifting ladies overhead, seriously), a singing troll and fairies, what more could you want for entertainment?
Detroit SOUP In Highland Park
Detroit SOUP is <a href="http://www.facebook.com/events/442538062452113/" target="_hplink">taking a field trip to Highland Park Sunday night</a>. For the uninitiated, at a SOUP event, different groups pitch project ideas and attendees vote on which to support with their $5 admission fee. The $5 also buys a delicious dinner!
MicroFest USA: Detroit
<a href="http://ensembletheaters.net/programs/micro-fest-usa-detroit-revitalize/" target="_hplink">MicroFest USA: Detroit</a> takes place all weekend, a whirlwind tour of the city's highlights as participants look at ways in which art has shaped communities. The <a href="http://ensembletheaters.net/programs/micro-fest-usa-detroit-revitalize/schedule/" target="_hplink">extensive program</a>, which blocks out most of the hours between Friday night and Sunday morning, includes the 7:30 p.m. Saturday show of "Boom Town, Bust Town, Bangtown!" by the Hinterlands Ensemble and Power House Productions, a "neighborhood tour/vaudeville inspired performance."
The Henry Ford
Not a fan of the Dream Cruise, but still have a secret desire to see some classic cars? Luckily, the Henry Ford is an extensive museum that will let you see the cars from the country's history and get the story behind their creation. You might not hear any engines revving, but the "<a href="http://www.thehenryford.org/exhibits/drivingamerica/DrivingAmerica.aspx" target="_hplink">Driving America</a>" exhibit offers a lot more context. And you won't have to suffer slow traffic if you want to check out any of the other gems, whether the Titanic exhibit, an IMAX movie or Greenfield Village.
See What You'll Miss
Footage from the 2011 Woodward Dream Cruise