While most people would prefer to make their city-to-city trips as short and convenient as possible, there are some sights they would miss out on. Most people make the trip from Detroit to Atlanta on route I-75, which is one of the most scenic roads in the country.  Along the route, you can see history unfold through Civil War sites, visit the home of a Civil Rights pioneer, see a rare beluga whale, and sample a piece of tomato pie.  The trip can take you across a beautiful horse park, preserved historical sites, and the pristine country side of the American Midwest.

Why rush to your next destination with all these scenes and attractions available?  Start investing more time into each stop along your route and you will be rewarded with an experience that will stay in your memories for a long time.

An 800-mile trip between Detroit and Atlanta can introduce you to over 30 sights alone.  Included in this article are those gems and scenic locales you may just miss when you are on a rush.

Even if you limit the list of destinations to those that are 3 miles off the freeway, you will still be left with numerous choices.  There are dozens of sights and attractions available that can make your trip an adventurous one. Here are the 10 attractions that must be on your see list:

Luna Pier, MichiganCredit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luna_Pier,_Michigan

1. Luna Pier, Michigan

Located just north of the Ohio border, this small location contains a luminescent sandy beach, beautiful pier, restored lighthouse, and amazing views of Lake Erie.  Make this one of your first stops, you can have a nice time without frequently taking out your wallet or purse.  

2. Toledo Zoo, Toledo

This is a pleasant and well-maintained zoo that is about a couple of miles off the freeway.  Here, you can see endangered polar bear cubs, an African savanna, aquarium, and a children’s interactive park. Be sure not to miss the giant crocodile on the Wild Walkabout attraction. Admission prices are about $14 for adults, $11 for children ages 2-12.  There may be parking fees, but you can still find free spots within walking distance.

3. University of Cincinnati. 

University of CincinnatiCredit: http://www.bluffton.eduTake exit 3 after reaching Cincinnati.  Seen about a mile off the freeway, this campus is a treat for architecture enthusiasts.  The buildings here are known for their influences from Gothic, Art Deco, and stone infrastructure.  The engineering center, opened in 1995, was designed to look like a 4-cylinder engine. There are plenty of great picture opportunities here.  Check out the Vontz center as well for some surreal architectural designs that will make you blink twice.

4. Dayton Art Institute

This fine art museum is just a short hop off the freeway.  It ranks in the top 3% of art museums in North America. The main building is styled after Italian Renaissance design. Take a look at some of the many collections, which feature works from the likes of Warhol, Hopper, Monet, Lichtenstein, and Chihuly.

5. Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, Kentucky

Kentucky Horse ParkCredit: http://Horseguru.blogspot.comThis 1,224 acre piece of land is both a horse farm and theme park that is located ½ mile off the freeway.  The publicly open park gives you the chance to attend popular horse shows and enjoy a horseback ride yourself. It also has a rich history in Thoroughbred racing, with many Kentucky Derby and World Cup winners calling the park their home.  You do not want to miss the museum as well, which has a permanent collection of horse memorabilia.

6. Roebling Bridge, Cincinnati. 

Here is a bridge that will give you some of the best photos for your scrapbook.  The bridge has an extensive history, built by the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, and it spans the Ohio River.  You can make a slight diversion from your trip by taking the bridge across to Covington, you will then be able to re-join the I-75 from there.

7. Norris Dam, Lake City, TN. 

Norris DamCredit: http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/norris-damTake exit 128 and you will see the Norris Dam State Park, located just 2-and-a-half miles off the freeway.  With over 800 miles of shoreline, you can enjoy many activities here.  You can plan for future trips if you have the appetite for boating, fishing, or skiing.  The west entrance of the park has some of the best photo opportunities.  You can get a fantastic view of the TVA dam and lake. If you want to learn some history, you can also visit the Lenoir Museum, which hosts a collection of artifacts on Southern Appalachian history and culture. The park is open to the public free of charge. 

8. Museum of Appalachia, Clinton, TN. 

If you happen to miss out on the Norris Dam, you can still get a piece of Midwest American history at the Museum of Appalachia. Located in Norris, Tennessee, this museum is host to dozens of historic buildings from the pioneer era and early 20th century period.  You can also check out the folk art collection and experience live Appalachian music. Each piece has its own story to tell, and it’s a story worth hearing.  The museum has special dates in which certain Appalachian traditions and holidays are celebrated.  The Museum of Appalachia is a great stop for anyone, not just the history buffs.  

9. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta, GA

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic SiteCredit: http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/atlanta/kin.htmThis 35-acre land contains a museum chronicling the Civil Rights Movement and the life of one of its most famous figures. It has several buildings that were an instrumental part of Martin Luther King Jr’s life, including his childhood home and the church where he and his father pastured. This is a timeless experience for those who want to honor the memory of one of the most enduring names in American history. 

10. Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, GA. 

The Georgia Aquarium is home to more than 100,000 species and over 10 million gallons worth of freshwater and marine exhibits. This is the ideal family stop if you are short on time.  You will definitely want to check out the beluga whales while you are here, the interactive shows let you get up close and personal with these rare sea mammals.  You can also suit up and have a swim with the largest shark species in the world, the whale shark. Get a taste of the prehistoric ocean with the new Sea Monsters Revealed exhibit, where the bones and restorations of past marine wildlife are displayed.

The road from Detroit to Atlanta is a long one, so you will need to get comfortable in a hotel or inn. Here are 3 recommendations:

  • Cumberland Inn, Williamsburg, KY.  This is a fancy establishment that will keep you warm and comfortable on cold nights.
  • Boon Tavern Hotel, Berea, KY. This hotel is more than 100 years old and has plenty of history for guests to experience. You can’t miss a meal here if you enjoy Southern Cooking.
  • Hampton Inn, Caryville, TN. It may not have the home feel of a family inn, but with the amazing views at reasonable prices, its hard to complain.  

There are many other sights to visit and places to stay besides the ones mentioned here, but the point is that there is much more to see on route I-75 than just the road.  Appreciate the rich history and attractive wonders of the American Midwest and South. Make your next trip special and give some of these places a look, you will not regret the photo opportunities and memorable experiences you will have.