My husband and I have a thing for tall buildings. He has a rational fear of them and I, like any good wife would, make him go to the top of them. I’m a bit evil like that. The first time I took him to Chicago we went to the top of the John Hancock. He was white knuckled and dizzy. Since then, he proposed atop the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas, and in Paris we made it to the top of the Montparnasse Tower and to the second stage of the Eiffel Tower.
So, it only seemed natural to go to the top of the RenCen (also known as the GM Renaissance Center). But here’s the thing, all those other places you have to pay to get to the top. However, the RenCen has a free, one-hour tour that ends up in the Coach Insignia Restaurant with breathtaking views of Detroit and Windsor.
Did you hear that? A free tour! It’s a great opportunity to see the city of Detroit and learn a bit about its history and layout. You’ll also learn about General Motors, the RenCen, and other historical buildings in the city. I’m going to say it again, people, it’s free! And it makes for a nice day out.
The tours run Monday through Friday at 10am, noon, and 2pm and no advance registration is required (groups over 10 will need to call ahead). When we went, there were only two other people on the tour, a young Italian couple. The girl was just as afraid of heights, if not more so, than my husband. Our tour guide, Ann Duncan, took care of them both, she was very personable and she was passionate about Detroit.
A few tidbits that we learned:
- the RenCen has it’s own zipcode (48243)
- the GM Wintergarden has free wi-fi
- that you’ll have to walk around the glass walkway that connects the four towers 8 times to make a mile.
The fact that there were only 4 of us on the tour and that we were split between Metro Detroiters and tourists, got me thinking. I made a call to Kim Rusinow, who is the Tour Coordinator for the RenCen. She told me that 45,000 people take the tour a year; and in the height of the season, which begins in April, that they’ll see approximately 600-1200 people a month. She didn’t have an exact number on how many of those are Metro Detroiters or “hometown visitors,” as she put it. Kim did say, however, that they have “hometown visitors” on every tour.
Kim also told me something I didn’t learn on the tour, the Detroit River has it’s own zipcode too (48222). The J.W. Westcott II delivers mail to ships in the Great Lakes.
Summer is upon us, go and take the tour! Take your kids or your parents!
Have you taken the tour? Did you know it existed and that it was free?