NAIAS 2014 Review – A Fun Family Afternoon

Yesterday we visited the 2014 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) at Cobo Center in Detroit. We had a great time at the show. Since our cars are both 2004 model years, we are going to be replacing both of our vehicles in several years. NAIAS gives us a chance to evaluate the features and size of various car models without needing to visit multiple show rooms.

My daughter enjoyed getting to climb in the vehicles and see all of the cool features. Since our cars are 10 years old, the technology in the new cars is amazing and are looking forward to the improved gas mileage. We are also looking forward to having Bluetooth for phone and radio, navigation, and more. However, as a Mom, I wish that the manufacturers factored car seat and booster seats into the vehicle design more. Many of the middle seats were elevated and very narrow which would make installing a seat there a challenge. I would love to be able to fit 3 booster seats across my back seat to transport my daughter and her friends.

In addition to the car models, there are a few interactive displays. Ford had an interactive racing game. Unfortunately, they said that the line was taking about an hour since only 2 people could race at a time. My daughter was disappointed that we didn’t wait in line for it. Then there was a relatively short line at the Mazda interactive driving display. Unfortunately, Mazda had a minimum age of 16. We did find a racer at the AISIN display that was perfect for kids and had a short line (~5 minutes).

The Ford display also had the opportunity to have your picture taken with a Hot Wheels car which they then photoshopped onto a photo below and sent you via e-mail. My daughter’s photo is below:

P.S. Bring a penny…the Ford display had a squished penny machine that only required a penny. My daughter really loves squished pennies and fortunately a passerby heard us tell her we didn’t have a penny and gave her one.


The auto show is huge and you could easily spend hours there (we spent about 3.5 hours) and didn’t get to every manufacturer. If you want to seriously gather information on cars, it may be worth going without your children so you can focus on the cars more. For us, we were able to rule out a few cars and found others that we are interested in test driving.

Tickets are $13 for adults and $7 for children ages 7-12 or seniors 65+. Children 6 and under are free with a parent’s admission. You can purchase your tickets online in advance. However, the tickets cannot be printed t home and need to be picked up at will-call. You also cannot purchase a child’s or senior ticket online. Because of these restrictions, we decided to just buy our tickets when we arrived. (around noon on Sunday). There were numerous electronic kiosks to use your credit or debit card and numerous cash-only ticket windows. We were able to walk up to both a kiosk and a cash window.
There are numerous parking garages available in the vicinity of Cobo Center. We parked in the Joe Louis garage ($10) and walked to Cobo Center (you could also use the People Mover from there). Closer lots were available at $15 and $20.
There are limited snacks available on the show floor including roasted nuts, water, and fudge. There is a food court downstairs.
Coat Check:
A coat check is available for a donation. Since the auto show is held in the middle of a Michigan winter, it is typically very cold and you will want to wear a coat into the show. However, with the number of people and the walking, it can get warm in the show. It is nice not to have to carry your coat with you. The coat check line was actually longer than the ticket line, but only took a few minutes both when we arrived and when we left (at noon and 3:30). If you are arriving near opening or leaving near closing, you may encounter longer lines at coat check.

We definitely recommend visiting the North American International Auto Show every few years, especially if you are in the market for a car. My husband’s parents were in town and we were glad that they were able to visit with us.

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Ann Arbor with Kids is your go-to source for Ann Arbor Family Fun. It got its start in an activity list that I was compiling for the playgroup I ran at our church. When my daughter started preschool, the other moms were thrilled to hear about my list. I decided to take the list public in 2009.

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