The Biggest and Best Car Shows in the US

May 27, 2019Fun Facts and Lists
Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.

Going to the best car shows is a great way to witness firsthand the latest innovations and improvements in the automobile industry. Or to marvel at the skill and ingenuity of engineers from an already distant past. They are also envisioned as a sort of a window shop for those looking to purchase a brand new four-wheeler in the near future.

These events attract millions of dedicated petrolheads every year, but even if you’re not so crazy about cars or you have driving stress, you’ll at least be able to enjoy the spectacle and appreciate the amount of knowledge invested in engineering these machines. We’ve singled out a few of the biggest and best exhibitions that would be a shame to miss if you’re nearby.

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Detroit Is Home to Woodward Dream Cruise, a Classic Auto Event

Woodward Dream Cruise is the largest one-day celebration of classic car culture on the planet, taking place every third Saturday of August in Detroit, Michigan. It attracts around 1.5 million visitors annually, who flock here to watch more than 40,000 oldtimers ride a cruise of sixteen miles along Woodward Ave.
Woodward Dream Cruise has a mission of celebrating the love and passion for autos, and it’s symbolically held in the birthplace of the American automobile. Even though it started as a small fundraiser for a children’s soccer field in 1995, it evolved into an event that draws people from all over the globe.

car on the street
The Woodward Dream Cruise features around 40,000 machines produced in the 50s through the 70s.

North American International Auto Show (NAIAS)

Another show taking place in the Motor City is the famous North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), held in June at the Convention Center in downtown Detroit. It is one of the largest events of its kind in North America, and many car manufacturers use it to present their latest products. You can witness newly designed vehicles, even take a spin in some of them and feel their power.
NAIAS was first organized in 1899, and in the first few decades of its existence, it only showcased automobiles produced by regional manufacturers. International car-makers started exhibiting in 1957, and now you can see the latest models of Hyundai, Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet, BMW, Buick, Audi, Lexus, and many others.
At this event, two important awards are presented – EyesOn Design and Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year. It starts with a press preview, industry preview, and a charity preview, which is held for raising money for local children in need.

four wheeler on the street
NAIAS is the place to be if you want to see all the big reveals in the industry of autos

SEMA Show – a Huge National Delight With Custom-Made Motor Vehicles

Every November, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) organizes the so-called SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Even though you’ve probably already heard about it, we’d like to say a few words about how big and important this event is in the automotive world.
A group of small manufacturers in 1963 formed SEMA with a mission to develop standards for specific products used in motorsports competitions. Thousands of companies, designers, producers, and suppliers of specialty products have since joined this organization, which is now worth almost $30 billion. There are nearly 6.5 thousand corporate members who make, buy, or sell specialty parts to restyle and make improvements on vehicles. The annual trade show increased from having only a hundred booths to an international level of more than two thousand exhibiting companies.

You’ll See Not Only Sports Cars but the Top Models of Pickup Trucks and SUVs

Custom made, lifted, and lowered astonishing models of vehicles, and the top-rated SUVs will be at a display and even taken for a drive. You’ll see thousands of accessories, parts, supplies, and safety enhancements at this premier automotive show.
However, keep in mind that this event is not open to the public, so the only ones who can attend are qualified individuals who work in the motor vehicle aftermarket industry. If you’re able to get a badge and get in, then what can we say but lucky you! You’ll be able to attend seminars, meet industry celebrities, and enjoy the view of the hottest products.

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Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance Is a Competition of Elegance

If you’re talking about beautiful, elegant, and rare cars, don’t miss this beauty pageant in the world of automobiles. It’s held on every second weekend in March in the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida.
True car lovers must take time to visit one of these exhibitions where the judges choose the top three cars in each class. There are also honorary judges, who give awards to recognize the autos which stand out from the rest, regardless of class ribbons. They give memorial awards as well, which are created to honor important and famous people from the automotive industry. The non-profitable foundation donates millions of dollars, with more than three hundred volunteers engaged. Come to see the most wonderful achievements of the car industry in terms of design and engineering.

white jeep car
Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island is a luxury resort with hotels, sandy beaches, and pristine nature, but also the venue of one of the most exceptional car events.

Monterey Car Week Is Like a Dream Come True for Every Car Enthusiast

Every August in California’s Monterey Peninsula, the world’s best autos, both futuristic and historical ones, meet and compete for a week filled with a number of spectacular events. There are rallies, reunions, and celebrations of Italian and German automobiles and auctions (if you were wondering, here are tips on how to buy a car from a dealer who bought it from an auction).
It’s one of the most anticipated and accessible events in California since many of these events are free to visit. It’s very well organized, there are food and drinks, and you can see the true legends of the automotive world. We recommend that you read the descriptions of every event since there are just too many of them.

The Pebble Beach Car Week Has Been Celebrating Cars Since 1950

This special charitable occasion is held as a finale of the Monterey Car Week. This is not just a “car show” – it’s about celebrating pure elegance and traveling back in time to the era of classic cars. The finest 200 ones are allowed to join the unmatched tradition of automotive excellence.
If you wish to be a spectator, know that the tickets are somewhat pricey, and there are different packages – from $400 to $3,500. But even with these prices, there are about 15,000 visitors. It’s the most prestigious event of its kind, and it has raised millions of dollars over the years for charity.

City Shows That Make US One of the Countries With the Best Car Events

There are several other international events held all over America that you must visit, so we listed a few of our favorites. If, by any chance, you wind up in one of these cities, make sure not to miss these spectacles.

New York International Auto Show

Come to Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan and dive into an incredible collection of the latest automotive trends. The displays of almost one thousand newest motor vehicles are set up on more than four floors, and the tradition goes way back.
North America’s first motor vehicle exhibition was held in 1900 in New York, and despite the years that have gone by, the NYIAS continued to bring innovation to the automotive industry.

Miami International Auto Show

Ever since 1971, the MIAS has featured autos from all around the world. Crazy looking prototypes, muscle cars, expensive consumer autos, and new models from manufacturers like McLaren and Lamborghini are all on display. Classic automobiles are exhibited as well, such as spectacular looking Chevys and Fords from the fifties and the sixties.

The fact that the show is held at the brand-new Miami Beach Convention Center makes a promising combination that will surely win your heart. You can enter for just fifteen bucks and enjoy the experience. Kids under five years old can enter for free, and children up to twelve years old pay six dollars for a ticket. Between 20 and 50 thousand visitors come to this show annually, and more than 500 exhibitors show up.

The Chicago Auto Show – Nation’s Largest One

This show has quite a history – it has been held more times than any other exposition of autos in North America, and it’s still the largest one. It takes place in Chicago, Illinois, and it utilizes more than one million square feet in the McCormick Place complex.
There are more than one thousand different vehicles on display yearly, including imported and domestic cars, sport, and concept ones. There will also be collector autos and antique models that are shipped in enclosed trailers. Adults pay $13 for a one-day ticket, while seniors over 62, and kids between 7-12 years pay only $8. Kids younger than six can enter for free.

Los Angeles Auto Show

Every year, ten days in early December should be booked in your calendar for the LA international exhibition. The LA show has been displaying cars since 1907, it’s open to the general public, and the tickets aren’t expensive.
It’s one of the largest events of its kind, with one thousand autos on display in more than 760,000 square feet of exhibit space. You can get free test drives throughout the LA Convention Center, shop for a vehicle, or just watch and admire the latest technological achievements of the industry. There are also interactive exhibits with VR and simulators. Brands that want to announce their models for the North American market and see what the public makes of them typically come to LA Convention Center to make a debut.

San Francisco Auto Show

It’s the number one exhibition of any kind in northern California and the Bay Area’s most significant annual car show taking place in 1.2 million square feet space. It has been around for more than 60 years, and it continues to expand and grow, offering its spectators the opportunity to see the latest products of domestic and international manufacturers, have test drives, and enjoy specialized exhibits. Alternative fuel vehicles, as well as the electric and hybrid ones, as well as the new technology, are displayed annually.
SFAS offers something for everyone – look at the model you want to buy and gather information about it, have a fun day with your family, or just absorb info about innovations in the car industry.

Philadelphia Auto Show

January and early February every year is reserved for the Philly show that welcomes more than 250,000 visitors annually. The show started a long time ago – in 1902, and it has rapidly grown over the past few years. Now it is a venue that showcases more than 700 autos.
You’ll get the chance to see so many amazing automobiles, sit inside, and pop the hood of all vehicles except the concept and exotic ones. This is a non-selling show, so no one will bother you to buy anything, and if you wish to present your vehicle, you can.
However, if you want to get into the Exotics display, you need to purchase a ticket to the Black Tie Tailgate. It is a party with the purpose of raising money for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. You can enjoy the world’s finest automobiles and have fun while listening to live music, grabbing a drink from the open bar, and doing a good deed at the same time.

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