It feels to us like summer just started. But alas, the Fourth of July has come and gone and we’re just realizing how fast time flies. Fall will be here before you know it, so you should take advantage of the fun summer opportunities the Ann Arbor area has to offer while you can!
While this summer, just like everything else in 2020, is bound to look a little different than usual, there are still plenty of fun, warm-weather activities to engage in this season. From outdoor adventures to scenic exploration, and ice cream to al fresco dining, here are a few things in Ann Arbor that you just have to do before summer ends. Have fun out there!
Go Hiking in Waterloo Recreation Area
About a 30-minute drive from the heart of Ann Arbor, you’ll find the Waterloo Recreation Area, which offers more than 20,000 acres of outdoor paradise to explore. In addition to campgrounds, mountain biking trails and educational opportunities, this open space is also full of a variety of trails available for hiking. A few of our favorites include the nature trails at the Discovery Center and the 36-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Trail that traverses from Big Portage Lake to Green Lake and further into Pinckney Recreation Area. Additionally, the DTE Energy Foundation Trail offers more than 10 miles of loops and will soon consist of 25 miles to explore. How many trails can you navigate before the summer ends?
Dine on a Patio Downtown
When the weather heats up in Ann Arbor, our usual craving for local food, Michigan beer and artisan cocktails combines with our need for summer sunshine. The ideal places to satisfy that desire include garden patios, beer gardens, and patios bathed in cozy string lights or shaded by trees along Main Street. And, what with social distancing measures in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more restaurants are moving their business outside to give their patrons room to spread out. Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Saline are just a few local towns that have closed down streets to allow restaurants to open makeshift patios in the street. So this summer, take advantage of all the outdoor dining opportunities! If you’re looking for recommendations, we even have a list of the best outdoor patios in Ann Arbor for you to visit.
There’s no better way to cool off in the summer than by making a splash! Make it a point this season to adventure to a new swimming spot while the sun is still hot. We’ve rounded up our favorite public pools, rivers, lakes, swimming holes and more for your convenience, so what are you waiting for? Jump on in! The water’s great.
It’s worth noting that due to the pandemic, many local swimming spots are open but do not have a lifeguard standing by. We recommend being cautious and aware of your surroundings at all times, especially when swimming with small children.
Visit the Farmers’ Market
There’s no doubt about it—meals just taste so much better when prepared with fresh ingredients purchased at your local farmers’ market. But even if you’re not going to stock up on groceries for the entire week, meandering around the nearest market is one of our favorite summer activities. You’ll find fresh produce, warm pastries, colorful flowers, artisan-crafted trinkets and so much more. Shop local before the season ends using our complete guide to 2020’s farmers’ markets in the Ann Arbor area.
Go for a Bike Ride
Ann Arbor is a bike-friendly city with more than 87 miles of bike lanes, over 900 bike parking spaces downtown and, of course, plenty of incredible bike trails to explore! One of our favorites is the Border-to-Border trail, which currently consists of 40 miles of trails perfect for biking, walking, jogging and more throughout Washtenaw County. Click here for more information about B2B from Washtenaw County’s website, including a map, a destination list and information on future construction.
Visit Ann Arbor’s Best City Parks
City of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation maintains a whopping 159 parks and 15 park facilities. Their list includes neighborhood pocket parks, larger community parks, golf courses and huge, undeveloped nature areas that are open to explore. In our blog post, Your Summer Guide to Ann Arbor’s City Parks, Mapped, we rounded up the largest and the best—offering kayaking, picnicking, disc golf and dirt bike courses, hiking trails, tennis and basketball courts, softball fields and even dog parks!
Due to the pandemic, we recommend checking the Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation website to check for closures before you go. Many parks are open but may have closed playgrounds, restrooms and other amenities. You can see the full list of park amenity closures and get real-time updates here.
Sip a Cold One at Bill’s Beer Garden
Photo courtesy of Bill’s Beer Garden
Open seasonally March through October, Bill’s Beer Garden is a community gathering place that offers an impressive lineup of Michigan, domestic and imported craft beers and wines. Located right next door to Downtown Home & Garden, the outdoor beer garden has long tables and shaded areas perfect for enjoying the warm weather with a cold beer. They are currently open with social distancing measures in place, including limited capacity, face mask requirements, six-foot markers around the garden and more. For a full list of COVID-19 safety guidelines, click here.
Play a Round of Golf
Ann Arbor’s terrain makes it a perfect destination for golfers, and thankfully, we have a number of lush, championship golf courses in the area. No matter what your skill level is, you’re sure to have a blast. Stonebridge Golf Club is a high-quality course that offers 18 holes and a driving range. Another one of our favorites, Leslie Park, is one of the top municipal golf courses in Michigan featuring a variety of holes at all levels of difficulty. For more local golf recommendations, check out our list of the best golf courses in the area—which includes COVID-19 information!
Go on a Road Trip
As much as we love Ann Arbor, sometimes it’s nice to get away. And while the summer is almost over, it’s not too late to plan a trip. When you’re feeling an escape ASAP (or just looking to save a bit of travel dough), a road trip can be the best option. To give you a head start, we’ve gathered up some of our favorite scenic drives within easy reach of Ann Arbor. So, grab your sense of wanderlust and hit the road—adventure awaits!
Get Ice Cream
You’re going to need a sweet treat to reward yourself after all that adventuring, and there’s no doubt that ice cream is the universal favorite when it comes to summer desserts. Next time you and your family are screaming for a scoop, shake or a sundae, check out our list of the top ice cream shops in the Ann Arbor area. These spots are sure to satisfy even the most stubborn sweet tooth!
Enjoy the Rest of the Season!
What are your favorite things to do in Ann Arbor during the summertime? Let us know in the comments.