In our totally unbiased opinion, everyone should make a trip to Ann Arbor at least once. Our quirky, historic and charming community is home to several things you can only find here, including the country’s largest stadium, hidden fairy doors and, of course, the Fragel.
As a local, it’s easy to forget all the best places to show off when you have guests in town. To help jog your memory, we rounded up a few of our must-visit local businesses and attractions. Our guide includes food, shopping, education and outdoor experiences, so there’s a good chance your guests will fall in love with Ann Arbor, too.
If you need more ideas, follow along on the Reinhart blog where we continually highlight the area’s best local businesses, restaurants, events and more!
Try the Fragel from MD Bagel Fragel
MD Bagel Fragel is a beloved bagel shop in town and they’re the only place where you can still get a Fragel! A 30 year Ann Arbor tradition, a Fragel is raisin-packed dough fried golden brown and coated with cinnamon sugar. The perfect combination of bagel and donut, it’s a must-try for every A2 local and visitor. Alongside Fragels, you’ll find an impressive lineup of freshly baked bagels in sweet and savory flavors, as well as homemade cream cheeses available in 20 different flavors!
Grab a cup of coffee
Photo courtesy of Black Diesel Coffee
The small town feel and college atmosphere of Ann Arbor make it the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee in a cozy setting. Because our community loves to support local businesses, there are countless neighborhood cafes. In fact, we rounded up The 16 Best Coffee Shops in the Ann Arbor Area, which includes favorites like Literati Coffee located above Literati Bookstore, Roos Roast and Black Diesel Coffee. So why not take a coffee tour of Ann Arbor?
Find all The Fairy Doors
Fairy doors have been popping up all over Ann Arbor in various locations for as long as we can remember. Today, you can find these charming, artistic, miniature doors at The Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor District Library, The Ark, Nicola’s Books and at least four other documented locations in town. Check out the map here and see if you can spot them all!
Photo courtesy of Literati Bookstore
When Ann Arbor’s original, local bookstore, Borders, closed its doors all over the country, Hilary and Mike Gustafson moved back to their home state and opened Literati Bookstore as a book-lovers haven in downtown Ann Arbor. On the store’s lower level, they set out an old typewriter and invited anyone and everyone to type a note on it. Over the years, they accumulated thousands of love notes, poems, sentences and salutations. Published in 2018, Notes From A Public Typewriter compiles some of their favorites alongside essays, photos and more. Stop by and type your own note to be a part of local history!
One of the most obvious attractions in Ann Arbor is the University of Michigan campus. But you can do a lot more than just people watch in The Diag. Located on campus, the University of Michigan Museum of Art is one of the largest university art museums in the country. Their collections represent 150 years of art collecting and include everything from 1000 BCE Middle Eastern artifacts to 21st-century paintings. Admission to the museum is always free, but a $10 donation is also appreciated. Get full details and plan your visit here.
Part of the excitement of being in Ann Arbor is the opportunity to explore the surrounding communities that make Southeast Michigan the enchanting place that it is. Just 20 minutes northwest of Ann Arbor, the seasonal Dexter Cider Mill in Dexter, Michigan is the oldest continuously operating cider mill in the entire state. Today, the team makes cider the same way it was made 120 years ago: using locally grown, hand picked apples on an oak rack press. Even their equipment is over 100-years-old! In addition to natural cider, fresh apples, doughnuts, apple nut bread, made-from-scratch apple pies, apple strudel, apple turnovers and hand rolled gingersnaps, you can also sip homemade hard ciders made on-site.
Go out for brunch
It’s not a trip to Ann Arbor without getting a taste of the local flavor. Our local restaurants have helped make our town a hidden gem in the foodie community — and we can’t get enough. A good starting point is brunch, AKA the most important meal of the week. Check out The 16 Essential Brunch Spots in Ann Arbor to see a few of our favorites!
Visit one (or more!) of the famous Zingerman’s businesses
Photo courtesy of Emma Boonstra via Zingerman’s Creamery
Zingerman’s Community of Businesses began humbly in 1982 as a small delicatessen in a historic building that was once a neighborhood grocery store. Instead of following the typical franchise model, deli founders Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig decided to expand locally. Today, there are more than ten businesses operating under the Zingerman’s umbrella — from Zingerman’s Bakery and Miss Kim to Zingerman’s Food Tours and Zingerman’s Cornman Farms in Dexter. To learn more about all of them, check out Your Guide to 14 Zingerman’s Businesses in Ann Arbor.
Repeatedly named as Ann Arbor’s best cocktail bar, The Last Word is a hidden gem, literally. Located underground with no exterior signage, and offering dim lighting and an outstanding bar program, it’s a bar designed in true speakeasy fashion. The drink menu includes high-quality wines and craft beers alongside cocktails prepared with fresh ingredients and house-made syrups and bitters. The food menu includes crafted dishes like Pork Belly Tostada, Duck Confit Hash and Fried Chicken Buns — and it’s available until midnight during the week and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday!
The Ann Arbor Farmers Market is open year-round on Saturdays. During the summer, you can enjoy it twice a week on Saturdays and Wednesdays with six food truck rallies scheduled on the first Wednesday of the month, May through October!
Because it’s located in Kerrytown, shopping the market will also give you the chance to explore one of Ann Arbor’s most charming districts. Home to places like 16 Hands, Everyday Wines, The Lunch Room Diner & Canteen, Monahan’s Seafood Market, and a beautiful outdoor courtyard, there will be plenty of other activities to enjoy post-market.
See a game in The Big House
Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the United States and the second largest stadium in the world. Though the official capacity is 107,601, its record attendance is 115,109 — which occurred on September 7, 2013. To find out when you can cheer on the Wolverines at home, check out the schedule here. And superfans can also tour the stadium and the Crisler Center at just $15 – 20 per person! Get information on tours here.
Photo courtesy of Joseph Saborío via Comet Coffee
Located in downtown Ann Arbor and adjacent to the University of Michigan campus, Nickels Arcade is home to some of the best cafes and shops in town. Now over 100-years-old, the covered mall is filled with natural light and local flavor. A few of the highlights include Comet Coffee, Arcade Barbers and University Flower Shop.
Enjoy a live show at The Ark
The Ark is Ann Arbor’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.
Order a full English tea at TeaHaus
Photo courtesy of TeaHaus
Ann Arbor’s favorite tea spot, TeaHaus offers options suited for a quick stop or an entire afternoon. Available Tuesday through Sunday, the full English tea is a three-tiered service brought out to each table and complete with white china and linens. The experience includes all the tea you can drink, four finger sandwiches, the soup of the day, two scones with jam, jellies, lemon curd and clotted cream, and three desserts. Get all the details here and be sure to make your reservation a few days in advance. Happy sipping!
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 the 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.
This 24-hour diner is a true Ann Arbor institution, thanks in large part to their famous Hippie Hash. If you haven’t tried it for yourself, Hippie Hash is a dish of homemade hash browns with grilled tomato, green pepper, onion, mushroom and broccoli topped with feta cheese. The entire menu is available 24 hours, so stop by whenever you get a craving!
Where are you headed?
If you’re an Ann Arbor local, let us know which spots are on your tour itinerary in the comments below!