There is nothing quite like sitting back and enjoying the wind in your hair as you take in an expansive view. The anticipation grows as you climb ever higher, seemingly all the way to the heavens… and then it comes. That beautiful and terrifying pause at the top right before the coaster you voluntarily strapped yourself into starts to plummet to the earth. Your life flashes before your eyes as your body is whipped this way and that, over and under, around and around. You’d scream, but Mach 5 (probably) speed flings any sound right back into you. Then, before you know it, the ride suddenly hisses to a crawl and it’s over. You look at your friend, and then, with a laugh, rush back to get in line. If you agree, the Detroit Free Press ranked the nine best roller coasters within driving distance of Detroit.
Below is the list grouped by location. Do yourself a favor and watch the videos full screen with ear buds in for the full effect. Bonus points if you lean into the turns.
Celebrating its 15th year this season, the Millennium Force has been the roller coaster to beat ever since it debuted in 2000. With speeds of 93 miles per hour, an insane 300 foot drop, and more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan movie, this coaster was clearly designed by a serious adrenaline junkie.
The Maverick is probably the Millennium Force’s main competition at America’s Roller Coast. With a 100 foot drop at 95 degrees, this two and a half minute thrill ride flips its passengers upside down twice at 70 miles per hour.
The coaster hitting the tracks of the former Mantis will be missing on specific feature its predecessor had: floors. The ride, which includes a 137 foot drop has everything you want in a roller coaster from loop-de-loops to steep drops.
This is the coaster that welcomes you with open arms to Cedar Point. Depending on which side you end up on, you’ll get treated to stunning views of Sandusky’s lakeshore before dropping 164 feet at 67 miles per hour and “threading” a couple roller coaster sized needles.
Top Thrill Dragster
Does this legendary, record shattering coaster even need an introduction? Fine. Probably one of the biggest Cedar Point draws, the Top Thrill Dragster slingshots you into the stratosphere accelerating 120 miles per hour in four seconds flat, whipping you 420 feet into the sky at a 90 degree angle only to twist and bring you plummeting the 400 feet back to the sane people on the ground.
Getting away from Cedar Point, King’s Island coaster “Diamondback” boasts an impressive 215 foot drop and top speeds of 80 miles per hour. For three minutes, this ride will get your heart pumping and have you screaming right up until the “splash” at the end.
The longest ride on this list, The Beast definitely earns its name. Ominous music foreshadows the ride ahead as the coaster slowly makes its way up the 110 foot hill. At the top, a steep 141 foot drop plunges you into darkness as the track flies through an underground tunnel.
This all wood ride at Michigan Adventures is a great starter ride for the kiddies. With impressive, but slightly slower drops and no sudden jerks, Shivering Timbers will spark a love in the little ones that will keep them asking to go again.
This coaster is shorter, but well worth it. With an inverted track that drops you before twisting and turning in on itself, this ride is sure to exhilarate any passenger.
Grab your GPS and your friends and hit the road this summer for the best thrill a minute road trip.
READ MORE: “9 Best Coasters Near Detroit”
Roller Coaster stats provided by rcdb.com.