The art scene in Ann Arbor is nothing if not diverse. The world-class museums, vibrant galleries, public art displays and accessible art classes make it a perfect destination for art enthusiasts.
Luckily, even with only 24 hours in A2, it’s possible to soak up all it has to offer artistically—the only challenge is deciding what to see first! Our guide includes the best ways to spend your day, starting with coffee at the artsy Common Cup and ending with a stay at one of Ann Arbor’s most beloved bed and breakfasts: The Burnt Toast Inn. Have fun exploring!
To kick off our day of art and exploration: coffee is a must! The Common Cup is a gathering place for students, community members and visitors alike. As a true A2 café, they source dairy products from Michigan’s own Guernsey Farms, tea from Ann Arbor’s TeaHaus, and coffee beans from Ypsilanti’s Hyperion Coffee Co. In addition to designing a warm, cozy space for conversation and great coffee, The Common Cup is a non-profit coffeehouse run through University Lutheran Chapel. Sit and relax for a little while, and take in all of the local art lining the walls—you can read about all the current featured artists on the Common Cup’s website.
After you’ve gotten your caffeine fix, head to a local art gallery to soak up some of Ann Arbor’s creativity! One of our favorite local galleries is Stamps, a dynamic space where the entire community can experience the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design’s scholarship, values and transdisciplinary creative work. Here, you’ll find the work of students and other upcoming artists in a variety of mediums including painting, sculptures and short films.
Photo courtesy of Mikette Bistro & Bar
Whether you’re seeking a traditional three-course dining experience or a more communal, tapas-style lunch, the team at Mikette is ready with mouth-watering dishes and superb service. They’re mainly known for their hearty French dishes—like steak frites and fondue—and communal tables. But the delicious food isn’t the only reason we’ve put it on this itinerary! This bistro also happens to be a destination for art lovers all across the area. At Mikette, you can find works of art literally all over the restaurant, from massive French posters lining ceilings to quirky mirrors and prints on the walls.
We couldn’t create this art-filled itinerary without including one of Ann Arbor’s greatest treasures! 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 appreciated. Plus, if you get a bit peckish during your exploration, stop into the brand new Museum Cafe for a drink and a light snack.
5 p.m. — Dinner at Gratzi
Photo courtesy of Gratzi
Housed inside what was once the historic Orpheum Theater, this elegant Italian restaurant is practically a work of art in itself. A popular destination for upscale dinners, Gratzi features jaw-dropping dishes like Gnocchi di Aragosta (Maine Lobster topped gnocchi with sweet corn, wild mushrooms and black truffle butter), Saltimbocca di Zucca (prosciutto-wrapped butternut squash with lemon sage brown butter) and decadent Amaretto Creme Brulee for dessert. Enjoy your meal while examining the massive and historic mural that is the focal point of the entire restaurant.
Located in downtown Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Art Center is our local headquarters for enjoying art exhibitions, connecting with local artists, and learning new art skills. Their education experiences are available for all ages and topics cover everything from painting and ceramics to jewelry making and metalsmithing! They offer special evening classes during the week so you can stick in a little education before after-dinner drinks. Click here to see what courses they’re offering this month!
9:00 p.m. — Drinks at Mash
This speakeasy-style bar is the perfect place to end the day. Cozy and dimly lit, Mash is one of the most intimate places to hang out in Ann Arbor—making it a perfect date night destination. And the antique mirrors, light fixtures, and art-deco ambiance make it an art lover’s dream. As an added bonus, Mash offers live music nearly every day of the week so stop in, enjoy a drink and listen to local music to ring in the evening.
Photo courtesy of Allison Okuyama via the The Burnt Toast Inn
Since opening as an inn in 2004, Burnt Toast has been one of Ann Arbor’s best places to stay. Just three blocks west of Main Street, the small, family-owned and -operated bed and breakfast offers eight beautifully appointed rooms between two properties which can be rented individually or as whole houses. The food is mostly organic, locally made and locally sourced, and the breakfast offerings change daily. Plus, this quaint bed and breakfast hosts several craft markets and participates in monthly art walks throughout the year so you’ll have front row seats to some interesting, local art whenever you stay.
What did we miss?
What artsy destination did we miss in our itinerary? Let us know in the comments!