Anniversaries, holidays, regular Saturday nights — they all deserve a memorable date night. Lucky for us, there’s never a shortage of things to do in the Ann Arbor area. To help narrow down the options (and avoid another dinner and a movie) we’ve gathered a list of date ideas to entertain any fun-loving couple.
With both daytime and nighttime options for foodies, craft beer geeks, concert goers and budding chefs, this list can keep you and yours entertained for weeks. Enjoy!
Escape rooms are the perfect date night idea for anyone who loves a challenge. Overcome the obstacles together and celebrate when you successfully escape! It’s adrenaline pumping and bonding all at the same time.
As Michigan’s #1 escape game, Decode Detroit offers one of the most interesting and complex options. Minerva’s Trilogy is a three-part team adventure story about Minerva, an adolescent Artificial Intelligence machine with lofty goals. The Minerva Project and Minerva’s Return are the first and last parts, both one-hour escape rooms. And the second part, Minerva’s Escape, is a free puzzle hunt in downtown Ann Arbor! Start with The Minerva Project, but be sure to come back again to try your luck at each of the sections in the trilogy!
Learn how to cook
Food is a date night staple, but you don’t always have to fall back on Ann Arbor’s date night restaurants. This time, you be the chef!
Chances are you already love Zingerman’s Bakehouse. If you want to get a little insight into their delicious breads, pastries, cookies and cakes, try out a baking or cooking class. The class schedule includes pizza, doughnuts, French baguettes, soups, brownies and so much more. And the best part is, Zingerman’s takes care of all the cleanup and you get to take home your leftovers!
Be a kid again
If fun is on your date night agenda, we recommend letting loose at a trampoline park, challenging each other to laser tag or spending your quarters on classic arcade games!
Airtime has locations all over Michigan, including Ann Arbor and Canton. Each park has open jump areas as well as separate dodgeball zones, mosh pits which are Olympic-grade foam pits and a basketball “Jam Session” area for the aspiring basketball star in all of us.
Pinball Pete’s opened its doors more than 30 years ago and has since become the A2 destination for arcade fun. Spend your quarters along the entire wall of pinball machines, play video games, and challenge your date to a game of pool or air hockey!
Get crafty (and painty)
Art pros and beginners alike can enjoy an art-themed date. With a teacher to lead the way, you may even end the night with a new skill! And the best part is, you get to take home your creations to remember the evening.
A date at Ann Arbor Art Center means you can learn a skill and peruse an art gallery in the same evening. Their gallery always has an exhibition, and their class schedule includes an option called DATE NIGHT featuring classes where you and yours can learn things like screenprinting, ceramics, painting and more. Check out the full class schedule here.
This Ann Arbor painting experience offers classes for both adults and children. For date night, we recommend choosing an option that ends after 6 p.m. because these are all restricted to guests 18 years and older. They don’t sell beverages on-site, but painters 21+ are welcome to bring their favorite beer or wine to sip! Check out the schedule to choose your date night and design.
These 2 – 3-hour classes are guided by an instructor and include frequent breaks so you can enjoy your BYOB snacks and drinks. Check the Ypsi studio schedule here to choose your date night painting experience.
Explore a museum
Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has no shortage of educational opportunities. Whether you prefer art, history, gardens or books, there’s something for you and yours in town.
The University of Michigan’s art collection is among the oldest in the nation. Years before the great art museums of Detroit, Toledo or Chicago were founded, UM students and the general public had free access to the on-campus gallery. Today, you can explore more than 20,000 artworks, special exhibits and educational experiences. Admission is still free, but a $10 suggested donation is always appreciated.
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two educational and environmental gardens on the UM campus. The botanical gardens include eleven outdoor spaces full of bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials, and more which bloom seasonally from spring to first frost. For colder months enjoy their year-round indoor conservatory filled with plants from around the world.
Nichols Arboretum is one of the richest landscapes in the region. It spans miles of trails and land with collections of native and exotic trees and shrubs crafted into a landscape that was begun by O. C. Simonds in 1907.
One of two Gerald R. Ford museums, the Presidential Library is located on the North Campus of the University of Michigan. There, you can peruse archival materials on U.S. domestic issues, foreign relations and political affairs during the Cold War era. Then travel to Grand Rapids to learn more at the Gerald R. Ford Museum!
Located on campus, this museum supports teaching and research on Classical, Egyptian and Near Eastern archaeology. With a collection of more than 100,000 artifacts, 1,500 of which are on permanent display, and 2 or 3 annual exhibitions, there’s plenty to learn!
Meet animals (and pet them!)
Let’s face it, we’re all crazy about animals. And when you get to pet them, it’s an even better experience than a zoo!
The Creature Conservancy began back in 2005 when Al the alligator was left abandoned at the door of a local veterinary hospital. He was soon joined by a sloth rescued from a trailer park, a macaw left at a pet boarding facility, ball pythons found in a dumpster, and iguanas wandering loose on the UM campus. Now, you can meet Al, Poco the sloth, Tulip and Maybelline the red kangaroos, as well as all their friends on Saturdays and Sundays between 1 and 5 p.m.
Domino’s Farms began back in 1925 and The Petting Farm, located on what is now a twenty-acre farm, opened its doors in 1984. When you stop by, you can meet alpacas, cattle, chickens, ducks, goats, llamas, peacocks, pigs, ponies, sheep, rabbits and Badger the cat!
This educational facility on the north side of Ann Arbor encourages sustainability, understanding and regular nature encounters. Join the fun and visit the grounds, trails and raptor enclosures outside any day from sunrise to sunset. The Critter House is open most Sundays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and allows you to observe frogs, turtles, snakes and more. Free admission makes this one of our favorite budget-friendly date options!
Watch, dance or laugh at a show
Take your movie date up a notch by catching an indie flick at one of these local theaters. Or buy tickets to a live concert or spend the night laughing until your side aches at local comedy show.
The Michigan Theater Foundation was founded in 1979 to save the Michigan Theater from the wrecking ball — and we’re so glad it was. Founded in 1928, the theater is now home to three screening spaces for independent movies, concerts, comedy shows, national tours and more. Check out the current films here and peruse the special event schedule. Or, head over to the historic State Theatre for more movies and shows!
The Ark is A2’s destination for live music. Founded in 1965 by four area churches, the venue now offers over 300 nights of shows each year in one of the best listening rooms anywhere. In the past, they’ve brought Howie Day, Blind Pilot and the Violent Femmes to town! See all the upcoming events here.
Originally opened in 1984, this comedy favorite offers a lineup of up-and-coming stand-up stars as well as nationally touring acts. The 18+ venue has hosted Tim Allen, Drew Carey and Ellen DeGeneres in the past, and has a calendar full of events every single weekend!
Enjoy a wine tasting
Classic wine tastings are made into special occasions at these local favorites.
Made right here in Ann Arbor, De Angelis wines contain no added sulfites or preservatives — only grapes. Inside the Jackson Road winery, you can enjoy tastings and frequent live music shows. Follow the team on Facebook for event updates.
Thirty minutes outside of Ann Arbor in Northville, this winery and brewery experience is a must! The family-run business is a taphouse for their own wines, ciders and beers, as well as a music venue with shows from local bands and solo musicians. Stop by on a Thursday evening to hear Dead at the Winery, a Grateful Dead Tribute Band, accompanied by some of the region’s best beverages.
Pedal Saloon takes bar tours to the next level. The 100% pedal-powered vehicle offers both individual tickets and group tickets, and you get to tour Ann Arbor’s best bars while sipping your BYOB beverages on board.
This local favorite doesn’t just tour the town’s best bars and breweries — though that is an option! If you’re looking for food, fun and books, get a group date together for the progressive restaurant tour, bookstore tour, or a custom tour of your choosing!
Share your favorites
Do you have a go-to date in Ann Arbor? Let us know in the comments!