Once the headquarters and hometown of Borders, an Ann Arbor bookstore that grew to have locations nationwide, Ann Arbor is a famous book-loving city. And despite Borders closing in 2011, our indie bookstores and reading community are still thriving. In Your Guide to Ann Arbor’s Independent Bookstores, Mapped, we got to share information and stories from 10 local stores all located within Ann Arbor.
And here, we’re sharing even more about book clubs, libraries, nonprofit organizations, book-centered events and more. So if you love books as much as you love Ann Arbor, keep reading!
As a mark to Ann Arbor’s history, entrepreneurial character and book-loving nature, our town has become a haven for indie bookstores—both longstanding institutions and shops that opened to replace the Borders headquarters. We rounded up Ann Arbor’s bookstores in Your Guide to Ann Arbor’s Independent Bookstores, Mapped. And below, you’ll find features on several of the largest.
Hilary and Mike Gustafson opened Literati Bookstore in 2013 as a book lover’s 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. Using compiled notes, essays and photos collected over the years, the team published “Notes From A Public Typewriter” in 2018, and in 2019, Literati Bookstore was named the Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year! And in addition to their public typewriter, their huge inventory of books and their friendly staff, they offer a full-service coffee shop upstairs.
Nicola’s is a bookstore for everyone with everything and every title you could dream of. That’s because this premier independent bookstore specializes in book searches — especially if your dream book is out of print or hard to find. In addition to this unique skill, they also offer an inventory of bestsellers, new releases, classics, children’s book and more.
Co-founder Peter Blackshear worked at Ann Arbor’s Borders for nearly two decades. When it closed for good, he and his wife decided to pursue their dream of opening their own community bookstore, and since our book-loving community offered the perfect setting, they opened Bookbound right here in 2013. Today, they’re a favorite in town offering new releases and bestsellers alongside classics and nonfiction, children’s books, bargain books, gifts, special orders and more.
Our community libraries are great places to find books and do research, of course, but they’ve also grown into fun institutions for community events and gathering, education and classes, and even gardening. For more information on a couple of our area library districts, keep reading!
The Ann Arbor District Library provides services at no charge to all residents living within the library service area, and residents outside the service area can still access available services for a fee. In five different locations, these guests can access millions of items, print and digital research materials, computer and Internet training, free WiFi, library exhibits, special events and more. Their long history also features Friends Books Shop which is an independent bookstore in the Downtown Library and a publishing imprint focused on local authors called Fifth Avenue Press.
In addition to providing classic library services, research materials and education opportunities in the City of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township and a portion of Superior Township, Ypsilanti District Library locations are home to The Learning Garden, a pollinator garden, the Seed Library and Beezy’s Café, a hometown cafe located inside the Whittaker Road library.
In a book-loving community like Ann Arbor, you’ll find plenty of other book lovers, and many of Ann Arbor’s indie bookstores offer discounts to book clubs! In addition to the formal clubs and discussions listed below, you can find even more organized gatherings through Meetup here.
Washtenaw Reads is an annual initiative organized by our area libraries to promote reading and civic dialogue. Launched in 2003 by the University of Michigan Life Sciences, Values and Society Program, the project has grown to include participating libraries in Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Northfield Township, Saline and Ypsilanti so you can read and discuss with our entire community! After everyone reads, events include author discussions, film screenings, book discussions, community discussions and more. For more information on this year’s selection, click here.
One of four book clubs hosted by Literati Bookstore, this option is free and open to the public. Each meeting is about 90 minutes long and if you buy the chosen book from Literati, you get 15% off. You can see the current book and upcoming meeting here.
One of four book clubs hosted by Literati Bookstore, the Feminist Book Club fosters a fun, thoughtful and safe environment where participants can discuss current issues and topics regarding feminism and equality. To see past books, the current book and upcoming meeting dates, click here.
One of four book clubs hosted by Literati Bookstore, the Eco Book Club meets once every few months. At meetings, guests talk about the featured book and discuss matters concerning sustainability, climate change and the environment. To get more information on upcoming books and dates, click here.
One of four book clubs hosted by Literati Bookstore, the Poetry Book Club meets once a month at Literati Coffee. Guests can sit back and relax while reading poems aloud, discussing, and sharing reflections. For information on upcoming books and dates, click here.
Scheduled on one Friday per month, the Crazy Wisdom Monthly Book Discussions explore selected books from the bookstore’s diverse inventory. Each selected book is available in the store for 30% off and attending the discussion is always free. For information on the next event and book, click here.
A nationwide program, The Barnes & Noble Book Club brings readers together in their local stores to discuss some of the most compelling books being published today. For more information, click here.
Organizations + programs
Our communities are home to countless nonprofit organizations assisting every family, child and person living here. Below, you’ll find a handful that are focused on small book businesses, literacy and youth education. You can find even more local charities in our guide, 23 Local Charities in the Ann Arbor Area and How You Can Help.
The Book Industry Charitable Foundation began in 1996 as the Borders Group Foundation. In the beginning, employees and executives of Borders Group, Inc. worked to help bookstore employees and booksellers in need. Today, the foundation is alive and well as The Book Industry Foundation and they still serve struggling bookstores around the country affected by natural disasters, medical expenses, violence, the threat of eviction, essential utility shut-off, or the unexpected loss of household income.
Striving to completely eliminate illiteracy in Washtenaw County, this nonprofit organization provides literacy support at no cost to adults through a network of trained tutors, and they’ve been doing so for more than 40 years. Since 1971, they have served over 20,000 learners and trained and fully supported over 10,000 volunteer tutors. You can find information on joining that team here. Or you can donate directly here.
826michigan inspires school-aged students to write confidently and skillfully with the help of adult volunteers in their communities. They do this through tutoring, workshops, drop-in writing opportunities, field trips, in-school projects and even publishing opportunities.
Ann Arbor and our neighboring community, Chelsea, host some of the region’s biggest events in book arts and literature. And together, these happenings offer nearly a full month of books, authors, arts and fun!
Now more than ten years old, the Midwest Literary Walk is an event presented by Chelsea District Library that invites community members, authors, readers and eaters to celebrate literature. Each author presentation is within walking distance of the next in downtown Chelsea, so you don’t have to miss a minute of the action.
The Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair takes place annually in the Michigan Union. When the fair returns in 2020, guests can shop and learn about first editions, old and collectible books, literature, children’s books, Americana and prints. For just a $5 admission fee, you can access all of this and more, and the money benefits the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan.
For nearly two decades, Kerrytown BookFest has celebrated books in one of Ann Arbor’s most beloved neighborhoods. Highlighting literature, authors, printers, publishers, sellers and readers, the event is centered around the Ann Arbor area’s rich heritage in the book and printing arts and showcases local individuals, businesses and organizations.
This multi-week festival celebrates culture and arts of all kinds but is heavily anchored by authors, and it has been for the past three decades. Including both free and ticketed events, the schedule always offers interactions with authors, performers, artists, topics and projects that are Jewish or have significant Jewish connections.
In our Ann Arbor area communities, April showers bring May festivals. Though summer doesn’t officially start until June, our cities and towns are already celebrating the warmer weather with outdoor events, including car shows, art walks, fairs, fundraisers, 5Ks and river days.
We rounded up the can’t-miss events happening this May so you can take part in all the fun—from indoor film screenings to outdoor community cleanup days. Read more about them below, find links to tickets and registration where necessary, and get ready for a fun-filled month!
Specially curated for the community of Southeast Michigan, Cinetopia features the best feature-length dramas, comedies and documentaries shown at the world’s best film festivals, including SXSW, Sundance and more. Outside of screenings, special pre- and post-film events include presentations, discussion panels, and Q&A sessions with directors, writers and stars. The Ann Arbor venues are the Michigan Theater, State Theater and The U-M Hatcher Library with various other events happening in Detroit and the surrounding area. You can see all the ticket and pass info here.
An Ann Arbor tradition for nearly two decades, the Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival is teaming up with Cinetopia Film Festival in 2019. The special program explores the global Jewish experience through the art of filmmaking and you can see all the featured films here.
Now in its 32nd year, this car show celebrates all variations of Volkswagens. If you have a vehicle to display, you can pay $15 at the gate, but spectators can enter for just $5 on the day of the festival. Don’t miss the Slow Speed Slalom on Saturday!
Westside Art Hop is presented as Michigan’s quirkiest Art Walk. The twice-yearly event showcases high-quality arts and crafts for sale to the public in a festive atmosphere. While exploring the Old West Side, you can peruse artwork, meet the artists and perhaps even find a new piece for your home!
Hosted by Main Street Area Association in Downtown Ann Arbor, Bloom Fest is a celebration of spring with our local businesses. Nearly all day on Saturday, you can enjoy special sales, events, deals, treats and more. To see all the offerings, click here.
May 16, 5 – 8 p.m. | Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace
Meals on Heels is a fundraising event hosted by Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels. On Thursday evening in Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace, guests can enjoy a glamorous, Gatsby-themed evening celebrating the style of the 1920s while showcasing the flavors and colors of spring in Ypsilanti. Enjoy plenty of local food, drinks and music as accompaniment, plus live demonstrations like cocktail mixing, cooking and floral arranging. You can learn more and get tickets here.
Previously called Ypsilanti Proud, this annual event began as a class project by the 1995 graduating class of Leadership Ypsilanti. Now celebrating its 24th year, the event fosters community pride and encourages local business growth through simple beautification projects. Join more than 500 volunteers on May 18th and help clean up litter, paint and plant flowers. For more information on locations and projects, click here.
This family-friendly event in Milan invites guests to enjoy tasty food trucks, live music and the beautiful sight of hundreds of floating, illuminated lanterns floating on the water at Milan Beach. Your ticket comes with a floating lantern and a marker so you can write your own inspiring message before placing it on the water. For tickets and more information, click here.
Huron River Day is an afternoon full of free, family-friendly river activities at Gallup Park. Attractions will include live music, a butterfly house from the Michigan Native Butterfly Farm, an antique and classic boat show, water activities with the University of Michigan Natural History Museum, live animals from the Leslie Science & Nature Center, and so much more!
In 2019, Milan Fair highlights include a carnival, a parade, an artisan market, fireworks, kids’ activities, and an entertainment tent that features live music, dancing, food and adult beverages. In total, the three-day festival includes 18 spectacular events in Wilson Park with something fun for everyone in the family.
The Color Run is coming to Riverside Park on May 11th. This wildly happy and fun event includes an untimed 5K run. At each kilometer mark, runners are doused from head to toe in a different colored powder so you can cross the finish line completely tie-dyed. To register, click here.
This Mother’s Day event includes fun pre-race warmups, a 5K course, a one-mile fun run and a 200-meter dash for kids. As a celebration of all the women in our community, you can run individually or run as a couple in the Mother-Daughter category, or invite your grandma to run in the Three Generations of Women category! Get all the details and registration info here.
Hosted by Humane Society of Huron Valley, this fundraising event assists in the rescue and care of the most vulnerable animals in our community. Bring your family and your pup on race day to enjoy a 5K run or a one-mile walk, as well as games and fun for everyone!
May 18, 5 – 8 p.m. | Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace
A fundraiser to benefit Growing Hope, Ypsi Food Fight brings together six local restaurants, five judges and hundreds of guests (that’s you!). The restaurants will battle it out in a friendly, foodie, high-energy competition and all guests get to sample the dishes and vote for their favorite. To get your tickets, click here.
As one of Southeast Michigan’s favorite annual events, Camp Bacon brings together food lovers, historians and community members for an entire week of fun and bacon. The main event, Camp Bacon, is scheduled for May 31st from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Zingerman’s Cornman Farms. However, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses is hosting several other events throughout the week at various venues, including the Camp Bacon Film Festival on May 29th, the 10th Annual Bacon Ball on May 30th, and the Camp Bacon Street Fair on June 2nd. For more information and the full schedule, click here.
When considering your future, the economic and social data of any given area can tell you a lot about your prospects. Ann Arbor’s estimated unemployment rate for 2018 was 3.3, which is significantly lower than Michigan’s at 4.1. According to data from the American Community Survey, our city’s mean household income is $89,295. Since household income includes all people who occupy a housing unit regardless of relationship, that number includes families with multiple breadwinners, roommates and individuals. Looking only at non-family households, the mean non-family income is $56,115, and per capita income is $39,253. That’s about $8,000 more than the United States per capita income and about $10,000 more than the state of Michigan’s.
3. Entrepreneurs are welcome.
If your career sights are set on starting your own business, Ann Arbor is a great place to do it. For local, real-world examples, look to Domino’s Pizza or hyper-local Zingerman’s Community of Businesses.
And research supports our entrepreneurs, too. On America’s Most Innovative Cities, research conducted by 24/7 Wall St., Ann Arbor lands the sixth spot out of 25 cities. In their write-up, they mention Ann Arbor SPARK, an economic engine that works to incubate and accelerate start-ups and assist entrepreneurs. In another study conducted in 2019 by the Center for American Entrepreneurship, Ann Arbor ranked among the top cities for female founders! You can learn more about that research here.
4. There are a variety of industries.
The list of Ann Arbor’s top employers is heavy with education and health, but that list also includes automotive research and development, software development and technology, government, analytics, manufacturing, food, energy, and even book printing. At the top, you’ll find the University of Michigan, and Ann Arbor Public Schools is high on the list, too. Together, they employ more than 33,000 people.
According to the United States Census Bureau, median household income in Ann Arbor is $61,247, which is higher than both Michigan and the United States. Widening the range to the entirety of Washtenaw County, the median household income jumps to $65,618. Interestingly, Ann Arbor’s per capita income is $39,253 and Washtenaw County’s is lower at $37,455 which could be due to Ann Arbor’s higher population of working age individuals; that percentage makes up 71.2% of Ann Arbor’s population.
Looking to housing, the median value of owned homes is $271,600 and median gross rent is $1,166. Measured with the median household and per capita income numbers we discussed, Ann Arbor is one of the country’s more affordable places to live—especially when compared to major urban areas across the country.
If starting a family is on your post-college to-do list, you’ve chosen a great place to call home. Thanks to our beautiful parks system, year-round family-friendly events, strong school districts and educational attractions, Ann Arbor is one of the most kid-friendly and family-friendly cities in the state and in the country. Livability even ranked Ann Arbor on their list, 5 Best Cities for Families in Michigan, and WalletHub ranked us in Best Places to Raise a Family in Michigan.
8. You never have to miss a Michigan game.
We know, this should probably be reason number one. As a college town (and one of the best in the country), our city takes pride in its college sports. When you stay here in Ann Arbor, you can keep attending every tailgate, every basketball game, and every other University of Michigan Athletics event.
We said it before and we’ll say it again: Ann Arbor offers the fun of a college town, the amenities of a city, and the open space of a charming, rural town. It’s the urban center of Washtenaw County, but also offers proximity to the huge Waterloo State Recreation Area and Pinckney Recreation Area near Chelsea and Dexter. These quieter and historic communities—along with others like Milan, Saline and Ypsilanti—are home to some of Michigan’s best hidden gems, from entertainment at The Purple Rose Theatre Company to coffee and beer at Cultivate.
For more ideas on things to do in Ann Arbor, follow along on the Reinhart blog where we get to talk about our favorite local hangouts and restaurants, the region’s most exciting events and more.
Looking for a career?
If you’re interested in a career in real estate, you can learn more about working with Reinhart here. On our career page, we provide resources covering your first steps to starting a real estate career to the specific advantages of joining our team and everything in between.
Q. Can you describe the architectural style of the home?
Elegant transitional two-story brick style home, impeccable and meticulously maintained. Open floor plan with vaulted ceilings, spacious rooms and numerous large windows inviting the outdoors in.
Q. What distinctive features set this home apart?
Exceptional home located in a quiet cul-de-sac with low traffic. Impressive two story foyer with sweeping staircase and gleaming Brazilian cherry wood floors. Light filled walkout level with numerous daylight windows and 9 ft ceilings provides 2,252 sq. ft. including two guest rooms, a full bath, wet bar, exercise room, and plenty of space to socialize.
Q. What are the advantages of the location & neighborhood?
This stately home is located in The Pines of Lake Forest, a distinguished neighborhood of fine custom homes, in a beautiful setting surrounded by nature areas yet only four miles from downtown Ann Arbor.
Q. Have there been any recent renovations or upgrades?
The home was built with attention to details and quality finishes. Recent upgrades include a new roof (2019), main floor was freshly painted (2019) and a new water heater (2017).Q. What makes the price of this home so great?
Very spacious home, with a total of 6,326 square feet including 4,074 sq. ft. above grade and an addition 2,252 sq. ft. in the lower walkout level. The home was built with attention to detail, and has been lovingly maintained.
Q. What amazing views will the new homeowner be able to enjoy?
The home has a large fenced yard with beautiful surroundings and lush vegetation, including: plum, peach, apricot, pear and apple trees. The quiet setting invites wildlife which you can enjoy watching from inside the comfort of the home.
Q. Can you tell us a fun fact about the home?
Huge bonus room over the garage can be used as a hobby or playroom.
April 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Ann Arbor West Side United Methodist Church
Free and open to everyone, West Side UMC is hosting an Easter egg hunt on the grounds of their church on April 13th. Children through 5th grade are welcome to hunt for eggs and stick around for games, crafts and storytime.
The Pet Emporium is hosting a kid and pet-friendly event where all ages and all types of pets can meet the Easter Bunny and get photos taken. Photo sheets cost $15 and all profits support Greyhound Expressions. For more information, check out the Facebook event here.
Local dog daycare and pet sitting service, Fur Ball Society is hosting the Fur Ball Egg Hunt for dogs on April 14th. The event will feature a large fenced area where dogs can find plastic eggs filled with prizes. Make sure to stick around to snap a photo with the Easter Bunny! To get your tickets, click here.
Woodside Bible Church in Plymouth is hosting a free evening of Easter fun complete with an egg hunt, crafts, food, games and more. The event is open to the entire community so bring the whole family along!
April 19, 10:30 – 11 a.m. | Zingerman’s Upstairs Next Door
The Zingerman’s Just for Younger Kids tasting series invites kids between the ages of 2 and 5 to hear a story and learn to taste like an expert. And this special event will have a festive twist—kids’ admission costs $10 and parents attend for free! You can reserve your spot here.
The City of Dexter is hosting their beloved Easter Eggstravaganza for the 9th year in a row on April 20th. Attractions include live bunnies, egg scrambles, pictures with the Easter Bunny, face painting and more. You can purchase tickets in advance at a discount, or on-site for $3 per child and $5 for two or more children. For more details, click here.
April 20, 11:30 a.m. – 1:40 p.m. | Saline Recreation Center
Saline Recreation’s SpringFest is a family-friendly event packed with spring and Easter-themed fun. During the event, you can join in the egg hunt with your own basket, have lunch with Mr. Bunny, meander the Hippity Hop Trail, and dive in the leisure pool for the Egg Dive. For full event details, check out the event on Facebook here.
April 20, 10 – 11:30 a.m. | Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor
The annual egg hunt at Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor is a favorite local Easter event. Free and open to all, this year’s event will begin with breakfast at 10 a.m. followed by an egg hunt, inflatables, pony rides, face painting and a petting zoo. For event updates, check out the Facebook event here.
Spring Bunny Tea is an event hosted by Eat More Tea and designed specifically for kids. For $12 per person, you can enjoy an afternoon tea complete with light refreshments. Reservations are required and you can make yours by leaving a message at (734) 882-2787. For updates, check out the Facebook event here.
Unicorn Feed & Supply is celebrating Easter weekend with dragon eggs instead of chicken eggs. At this drop-in workshop, you’re invited to create your very own magical dragon egg guided by local artist Amy Balzer-Pemberton. Open to all ages, this event costs $12 and you can get more information on the Facebook event page here.
April 21, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. | The Village Conference Center
The Village Conference Center at Comfort Inn is hosting an Easter brunch on Sunday morning complete with a chef-attended omelet and waffle station, gourmet macaroni and cheese, applewood smoked ham, and more. Reservations cost $25 per adult, $21 per senior, $13 for kids aged 6 to 12 years, and children 5 years and younger are admitted for free. Make your reservations by calling (734) 433-8000.
April 21, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. | The Polo Fields Golf & Country Club
The Polo Fields Golf & Country Club is hosting an Easter brunch open to members and non-members. A few of the breakfast attractions include an omelet station, a crepe station, a seafood bar and a carving station. You can see the full menu and get price details here.
Paesano is an award-winning Ann Arbor restaurant famous for its Italian-inspired meals and their impressive wine list. On Easter Sunday, you can join them for a special Easter brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. but reservations are required. Call (734) 971-0484 to make yours.
Spring sees the last of our bitter cold days and welcomes the warm, summer sun back to Ann Arbor. Through the transition, our community celebrates with huge annual events, blooming gardens, bountiful harvests, and plenty of outdoor adventure.
To help you make the most of the season, we created a guide to spring activities in Ann Arbor and our surrounding communities. From the hyper-local community gardens and farmers market events of Ann Arbor to the wilds of Waterloo Recreation Area in Chelsea, here’s everything you need to do this spring. Enjoy!
Spring is planting season, and here in the Ann Arbor area, you don’t have to have an at-home garden to celebrate. In fact, Project Grow operates more than 20 garden sites around Ann Arbor, including plots at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Leslie Science and Nature Center, and West Park! To learn more about community gardens in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Chelsea and Dexter, check out our list of Community Gardens in the Ann Arbor Area. Our guide includes garden plots you can rent and grow yourself, as well as community gardens maintained for charitable and educational purposes.
3. Go to the dog park.
As snow melts and we get sneak peeks of summer weather, there might be no one else who is as excited as your dog. Your pups are free to play and explore outdoors without snow or cold and in some regional dog parks, they can even play in the water! To help you and your four-legged family members explore the area, we rounded up The Best Dog Parks Near Ann Arbor, Mapped. It includes details on local spots like Brighton Recreation Area where your dog can play on one of the state’s only dog-friendly beaches, Mill Pond Dog Park which is the only local park that offers off-leash water access, and Swift Run Dog Park right here in Ann Arbor — at ten acres, it’s the largest dog park in the city!
Here in Ann Arbor, you can shop the Ann Arbor Farmers Market year-round on Saturdays. But beginning in May, market hours get longer and you can shop two days a week—Wednesday and Saturday. Monthly Food Truck Rallies return in May, too! These community events bring together some of Michigan’s best food trucks once a month from May through October for a full evening of fun in Kerrytown. For complete details, hours and dates on this year’s market, click here.
5. Sign up for a CSA program.
In addition to local farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture—or CSA programs—are an excellent way to get local meat, veggies, fruit and/or eggs directly from a local farmer. These programs invite people of the community (like you!) to invest in a local farm for the season and those paying members get to enjoy the annual harvest however abundant it may be. Typically, you pay a one-time fee at the beginning of the season. Then, you get to be a part of the farm community and enjoy a portion of the harvest every week.
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two educational and environmental spaces on the UM campus. The botanical gardens include eleven outdoor areas full of bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials and more. The arboretum spans miles of trails and land with impressive collections of both native and exotic trees and shrubs. Together, they provide trails, lawns and stunning gardens—especially stunning during full bloom in the spring.
7. Kayak the Huron River.
Ann Arbor and its surrounding communities have developed along the banks of the Huron River amid countless lakes and ponds suitable for paddle sports. So, whether you want a challenging route down the river or a peaceful float atop a lake, you’ll find the perfect setting right here.
Some of the best places to get on the river can be found in Argo Park and Gallup Park, which are connected by the Huron River and home to the Argo Canoe Livery and the Gallup Park Canoe Livery, respectively. Through these facilities, you can embark on guided adventures, rent equipment and even attend river-themed events like the Huron River Day Festival, which happens every May!
Directly adjacent to Pinckney Recreation Area, Waterloo Recreation Area offers more than 20,500 acres of outdoor paradise just minutes from Ann Arbor near Chelsea. Especially famous for its campgrounds, mountain biking trails and educational opportunities, guests in the park can walk or ride more than 40 miles of multi-use trail, boat and fish, visit the Gerald Eddy Discovery Center, bike the DTE Energy Foundation Trail, rent kayaks and canoes, play on swimming beaches, camp, hunt, play disc golf on an 18-hole course, and even ride horses. There are 18 miles of horseback riding trails accessible to anyone, and Horse ‘N Around Stables offers guided trail rides and riding lessons.
Together, Pinckney Recreation Area and Waterloo Recreation Area offer a combined 31,500 acres of wilderness to explore and they’re connected by the 36-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Trail.
10. Grab a spot on the patio.
Our Ann Arbor community certainly loves being outdoors—whether we’re lounging in a park, exploring a nearby trail or simply enjoying a meal under the sun. And there are plenty of places to do all three. When you’re looking for a meal and a patio, check out The 16 Best Outdoor Patios in Ann Arbor. Our guide includes local businesses like Bill’s Beer Garden, a beer garden and community gathering space that’s open seasonally from March through October, and Dominick’s, a local legend famous for potent sangria, Italian-inspired eats and outdoor seating.
With a combined population of about 74,000, Ypsilanti and adjacent Ypsilanti Township represent some of Michigan’s best and most interesting hidden gems, including dining destinations, outdoor recreation, historic attractions, craft breweries and events.
Throughout its history and continued today, this town has played an important role in the development of the automobile and the community has served as a driving force in national aviation technology. Several of our favorite local attractions and events showcase these stories which have been brought to us from the 1920s and World War II.
Further hallmarks of the town’s history include Eastern Michigan University which is located in town, 12 parks in the city and another 30 in the township, and some of the region’s best events encompassing everything from Elvis to motorcycles and orphan cars.
Keep reading to find out what you need to see, where you need to eat and what you need to do in Ypsilanti.
Sidetrack has been a local destination since it opened its doors in 1850 and it’s easy to explain why. They serve some of the best pub food, pour some of the best beer, and offer it all in one of the best Ypsi atmospheres. Their burger—Our Famous Burger—was included on GQ’s 2005 round-up of The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die, and that’s just one of the reasons we recommend stopping by.
This Ypsi favorite offers a seasonally rotating menu made with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients and they pair that with a lineup of artisan cocktails, craft beer and wine. And these approachable, gourmet eats cater to all kinds of diets, including vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores.
Any place that has Fried Chicken Tacos and Churro Biscuit Donuts on the menu is worth a visit. At Ma Lou’s, a small, counter-serve spot, they offer both and serve them alongside some of the best fried chicken in the state. Come for the chicken, stay for the wings, and don’t leave without dessert.
This old-school diner has been an Ypsi staple since it opened in 1936. Surrounded by aviation inspired decor, you can get one of the county’s best breakfasts right here in the Bomber dining room, and their huge menu of American classics offers more than 35 options.
One of Ypsilanti’s highest-rated eateries, Casablanca serves authentic Moroccan and Arabic cuisine for dine in, carry out and delivery. From fresh hummus to chicken shawarma, this is the best way to explore global cuisine in town.
Both a beloved coffee shop and a delicious cafe, Beezy’s is a hyper-local option in downtown Ypsilanti. Every day, they make two different soups, whip up fresh, homemade salad dressings, bake hot, fresh bread and prepare everything with a local sensibility and local products from nearby vendors and farmers.
The Maíz team has brought a fresh approach to traditional, Mexican favorites and Tex-Mex specialties. Everything on their menu is made from scratch daily and it’s made with ingredients from local purveyors and farmers, too!
Both a coffee roaster and a craft brewery, Cultivate is one of our favorite hangouts in town. Built around the mantra, “craft, community and cause,” you’ll find some of the area’s best beverages served alongside regular community events, fun series and philanthropic support of worthy causes.
When the Greffs opened the doors to Arbor Brewing Company in 1995, it was the first brewpub to open in Ann Arbor and only the fifth brewpub to open in the entire state of Michigan. On a trip to Belgium, the couple was further inspired to innovate and they brought the first sour program of its kind to the state of Michigan. Today, they operate the Ann Arbor brewpub and Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti, a casual hangout for craft beer, board games, events and food.
In 1927, Carl L. Miller opened this Hudson Sales and Service franchise as an automobile dealership and repair shop. After a merger and the discontinuation of the Hudson line, the fate of the shop was in jeopardy, but Carl’s son Jack continued Miller Motors by selling Hudson parts and cars until the museum was founded. Thus preserving the dealership’s authentic condition, the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum was opened in 1995 and now hosts some of the region’s best car shows and events, including the Show & Shine Car Show, the Orphan Car Show and the Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Car Show.
Housed inside a restored firehouse, the Michigan Firehouse Museum covers more than 26,000 square feet; this includes the original 1898 firehouse and a modern, multilevel exhibit display area. Here, they display 25 changing exhibits, including antique fire trucks and early fire rigs, multiple displays of historic artifacts and the largest collection of fire truck bells in the country.
Yankee Air Museum is an aviation, aerospace and science museum located at Willow Run Airport just a few minutes outside of Ypsilanti. Exhibits offer hands-on experiences and insights into World War I and World War II, Willow Run and Rosie the Riveter, The Vietnam War, aircraft restoration and so much more.
Dreamland Theater is unlike any other theater in Michigan. This small, non-profit puppet theater and community space is located in downtown Ypsilanti and offers classes and performances in puppetry, theater, music, independent film and other arts. To find out what’s going on right now at Dreamland, check out their Facebook page here.
The Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra story begins after Ypsi Pride Day in 1998 when two friends discussed the idea that our local musicians needed a community to develop their skills and our community needed an avenue to enjoy orchestral music. Soon after, a small group of friends and musicians gathered at Abe’s Coney Island to plan and the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1999. Today, they host several concert events throughout the year at Towsley Auditorium on the Washtenaw Community College campus.
Operating for more than 180 years and open every fall, Wiard’s Cider Mill and Apple Orchard offers u-pick apples, a u-pick pumpkin patch, delicious cider, a corn maze and haunted thrill park, mini golf, hayrides, and more. Throughout the months of September and October, Ypsi locals, Ann Arbor locals and Michiganders from all over the state flock to the orchard for both spooky haunts and family fun.
Maintained by Washtenaw County, Rolling Hills County Park encompasses 439 acres and represents one of the most recreational diverse destinations in the county. And it’s one of the most popular places to visit during the summer thanks to the Rolling Hills Water Park! Other attractions include walking trails, a fishing pond, a playground, an 18-hole disc golf course, sports fields and horseshoe pits.
Located on the Huron River in the center of Ypsilanti, Riverside Park consists of 13.8 acres and connects downtown Ypsi with Depot Town. When you’re not fishing, dog walking, picnicking or sunbathing, we recommend heading to the park for one of Ypsi’s best annual events, including ElvisFest, Michigan Summer Beer Festival and the Orphan Car Show.
Developed in partnership with Huron River Greenway, the Border-to-Border Trail is a non-motorized pathway that connects cities, parks, neighborhoods and trails throughout Washtenaw County. Eventually, the trail will span 70 total miles. And a section of those miles already connects Ypsilanti to Ann Arbor and even on to Dexter and Chelsea.
First Friday in Ypsilanti is a self-guided monthly art walk hosted at multiple venues throughout downtown Ypsi. When you participate, you can explore our community’s local businesses and enjoy free art activities, presentations and tastings.
This family-oriented fitness event is an annual fundraiser for Ypsilanti organization Dawn Farm. Community members at any fitness level are invited to register for one of four bike rides: a 5K/10K, a 25-mile, a 40-mile and a 58-mile. Registration includes a celebratory lunch and all the proceeds benefit Dawn Farm. For more information on this year’s event, click here.
Ypsilanti Proud began as a class project by the 1995 graduating class of Leadership Ypsilanti. Now a community celebration for more than 20 years, the event fosters community pride and encourages local business growth through simple beautification projects. Join more than 500 volunteers for this year’s event and you can help clean up litter, paint and plant flowers. For more information, click here.
Each year, Depot Town honors Independence Day with Michigan’s oldest parade. This tradition has been going strong and growing for nearly a century and fills our streets with patriotism, red, white and blue every July.
The oldest of the Michigan Brewers Guild’s four annual festivals, the Summer Beer Festival hosts more than 100 local breweries sampling more than 1,000 different craft beers. Guests can also enjoy live music from Michigan bands and food available for purchase. This event takes place every summer in July or August.
Ton-Up Motorcycle and Music Festival has been an Ypsi tradition for a decade now. Serving to promote and educate the public about the art, science and history of the motorcycle, motorcycle safety, and awesome music, this one-day event brings vintage and custom motorcycles, scooters and mopeds to Arbor Brewing Company’s Corner Brewery and also adds plenty of local music and tons of fun.
An indie art fair like none other, DIYpsi is a handmade art fair that takes place in Ypsilanti’s business districts once each summer and winter. Alongside incredible homemade foods and drinks, the event features unique handcrafted gifts that are sold by and in support of local, Ypsilanti artists.
Each year, the Ypsilanti Heritage, Arts, and Entertainment Festival gets bigger and better than ever before. In past years, they’ve had two stages in the music, entertainment and beer tent, local arts and crafts vendors, a juried competition, a Magical History Tour, a children’s entertainment area, and so much more! To stay up-to-date on everything coming this year, follow the team on Facebook.
Presented by Wayne County Airport Authority at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, this family event brings the United States Air Force Thunderbirds to Southeast Michigan. The air show features presentations from Team Oracle and Quicksilver P-51D as well and is a celebration of our region’s important aircraft history.
From the same team that brings FestiFools and FoolMoon to Ann Arbor every April, ypsiGLOW is a light-filled celebration through Downtown Ypsi. In the weeks leading up to the event, local artists, businesses and organizations host GLOWorkshops so you can create your own luminary and costume. Then, you can join the community in October for a celebration of Ypsilanti and art.
Through decades of history, our Ann Arbor area communities have been built around agriculture. As a result, our neighborhoods are home to thriving family farms, year-round farmers markets, several food and agriculture-based organizations, and dozens of community gardens.
This history has cultivated some of the most important organizations serving our communities, too! For example, Food Gatherers runs a Plant-A-Row program which invites gardeners anywhere to grow extra food for community food pantries. A few community gardens even have designated areas for Plant-A-Row and Food Gatherers.
We the People Growers Association is another force behind urban farming in Washtenaw County. This local farm business was founded by Melvin Parson, the man behind several community gardens in the area, and is working to build the We the People Opportunity Center, a world-class, nonprofit, urban farm in Ypsilanti. To find out how you can help, follow the team on Facebook here.
If you want to grow your own food, build community and help our local organizations, gardening is one of the best ways to do it. And while community gardens are great settings, these plots aren’t always easy to find. To help you find your new gardening home, we rounded up more than 35 community gardens operated by volunteers and organizations throughout Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Chelsea and Dexter.
Keep reading to learn more about each garden or organization, and keep in mind some sections have information on more than one garden site. Happy planting!
Project Grow is one of the driving forces behind urban farming and community gardens in the Ann Arbor area. This organization operates more than 20 garden sites around Ann Arbor, including plots at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Leslie Science and Nature Center, and West Park. On the list, you’ll also find three different Discovery Gardens which offer raised beds for limited mobility gardeners. To see the full list, click here.
The Pittsfield Township Master Plan includes initiatives to increase local food availability and their first community garden is working to do just that. Open Spring 2019, the Community Garden at Prairie Park will feature more than 15 different beds, six of which are located on an ADA Accessible surface. Other on-site materials include compost bins, an equipment shed, a pollinator garden and rain barrels. For more information on reserving your plot, click here.
The community garden at Frog Island Park is maintained by the adjacent neighborhoods at the north end, and plots are available to rent on a sliding scale. Open to all residents of the City of Ypsilanti and all skill levels, gardeners are welcome to grow both vegetable and flowers. For more information, check out the group, Frog Island Community Garden (FICG)on Facebook.
Parkridge Community Garden | Ypsilanti
Developed and maintained on city-owned land next to Parkridge Community Center, the Parkridge Community Garden is a hidden gem in Ypsilanti operated by a dedicated group of volunteers and community members. To find out how you can help cultivate the garden and when you can attend special events, join the group on Facebook here.
With assistance from Growing Hope and nearby neighborhoods, Normal Park Neighborhood Association developed three community gardens around Ypsi, including Recreation Park Community Garden, West Middle School Community Garden and Midtown Community Garden, which was developed with the Midtown Neighborhood Association. Plots in these gardens are available through registration and are open to all skill levels for planting organic fruits, vegetables and flowers.
The Chelsea Community Garden at Timber Town Park has plots available by reservation so residents can grow their own organic vegetables and flowers. And as a gardener in this tight-knit community, your household is expected to contribute at least six hours per plot in the gardening season to help with composting, mowing, weeding, administrative duties and more. For full details, click here.
Dexter’s community garden is located at 7651 Dan Hoey Road and plots are assigned to residents on a first come, first served basis. They offer three different sizes and types of plots, which you can reserve here.
Gardens developed for educational + charitable purposes
The University of Michigan has several gardens on campus, including the Campus Farm available to students and interns. Many of these gardens aren’t open to community members, but the Help Yourself Garden at the School of Dentistry is open to everyone! Begun in 2014 as a community resource, the garden is maintained by staff, students and faculty from the School of Dentistry. Anyone walking by is welcome to plant, water and weed, take photos, and even harvest your own veggies to take home. For more information, click here.
This community garden began at the Washtenaw County Youth Center in 2008 by local celebrity Lisa Gottlieb. Today, the garden is directed and guided by a group of Washtenaw County Master Gardeners and community volunteers, but students do all the planting, tending, harvesting and cooking. Together, they grow more than 40 types of vegetables and 10 herbs.
Ypsilanti District Library maintains gardens at YDL-Whittaker, YDL-Michigan and YDL-Superior. These include a community vegetable garden, The Learning Garden and a pollinator garden developed specially for bees. Through these gardens, you can learn about growing and cultivating your own garden. The Learning Garden welcomes any aspiring gardeners to lend a hand and learn. Additionally, fresh produce is given away to library visitors during the growing season!
The Seed Library is another great resource for local gardeners at Ypsilanti District Library. Available to anyone at YDL-Whittaker and YDL-Michigan with or without a library card, this library is a collection of seeds that anyone can take from and contribute to.
The land that is now home to St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor was once a family farm, and in 2010, they honored that history by breaking ground on one of the first hospital-based farms in the United States. Today, The Farm serves both as a staff community garden and as a tool for hospital patients and the community to learn, heal and eat locally grown food. If you want to taste the food for yourself, stop by the farmers market that pops up in the main lobby every Wednesday. To learn more about the educational opportunities and facilities on-site, click here.
Growing Hope is a local organization that serves to improve our lives and our communities through gardening and through increased access to healthy food. The Growing Hope Urban Farm began with just 1.5 acres in 2008 and has grown into a community gathering space, educational facility and setting where vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers can flourish. To get hands-on at the farm, check out Growing Hops events here which include Farm & Garden Volunteer Days, cleanup days, special celebrations and more.
This farm is located on 64 acres of the Dawn Farm property in Ypsi. When it began, the program served to put the land to better use and that mission has grown into a beautiful cooperative of varied growers, farmers and stewards who have built the perfect setting for flower growing, beekeeping, vegetable harvesting and even sheep raising. Currently, the land is home to an eight-acre food forest, bees, personal gardens, a market garden and Project Mow which is a sheep lawn mowing service. And the member program is driven by a gift and service system rather than a monetary one. Each member is encouraged to give back to Dawn Farm in an appropriate way of their own choosing, whether it’s through homegrown food, education, system design, community outreach or something else. To stay up-to-date on Cooperative events, follow the team on Facebook here.
If we missed your favorite community garden, tell us about it in the comments below.
Good news, Ann Arbor. Spring is officially here! To welcome the new season, our community is hosting Earth Day celebrations, seasonal expositions and some of our favorite annual events (looking at you, FoolMoon!).
We rounded up the essential events happening throughout the Ann Arbor area this month, so you can celebrate Easter, Earth Day and more. Enjoy!
Michigan State University is hosting a science festival during the month of April with events on campus in East Lansing and all around the state. Here in the Ann Arbor area, you can join in the educational fun at events at Sherzer Observatory on the Eastern Michigan University campus, at Yankee Air Museum, and even in Detroit. To see the full schedule of events, click here.
April 13, 6:30 p.m. | North Campus Research Complex, Building 18
On Saturday, April 13th, the UMS Ambassadors, UMS Board Chair and UMS Cabaret founder Sarah Nicoli are celebrating with an evening of food, fun and show tunes provided by University of Michigan musical theater students and alumni. The best part is all proceeds support UMS K-12 Education programming! For tickets, click here.
April 13 – 14, various times | Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds
Once during the spring and again during the fall, the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds are filled with fiber products of all kinds. Come by to shop, learn and meet makers of wool, linen and cotton crafts, see real alpacas and more! Children 12 years and under are admitted for free, while adults pay just $4 cash for one day or $6 for two.
Considered one of the community’s favorite annual events, FoolMoon is the nighttime kick-off event to a very foolish weekend hosted by Wonderfool Productions. This year, the celebration is taking place in Kerrytown at the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, but it will still have all the dancing, laughing and luminaries we’ve come to love. Other attractions include interactive installations, laser shows, live performances, DJs and a beer tent. You can even make your own luminary at several workshops in advance. For details, follow the Wonderfool Productions team on Facebook here.
FestiFools is Wonderfool Productions’ daytime event of foolishness and art. The enormous public art spectacular showcases creations made by members of the community and U-M students. You can make your own puppet or come down to Main Street to watch the procession of colorful, bizarre, human-powered paper-mâché creations for an entire hour of fun!
April 20, 11:30 a.m. – 1:40 p.m. | Saline Recreation Center
Saline Recreation’s SpringFest is a family-friendly event packed with spring and Easter-themed fun. During the event, you can join in the egg hunt with your own basket, have lunch with Mr. Bunny, meander the Hippity Hop Trail, and dive in the leisure pool for the Egg Dive. For full event details, check out the event on Facebook here.
April 28, 12 – 4 p.m. | Leslie Science & Nature Center
The Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival is an annual celebration hosted by the Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival Planning Committee, a coalition of local environmental nonprofits and agencies, and the Leslie Science & Nature Center. At this free, family-friendly event, guests can enjoy displays from 40 local organizations, live animal demonstrations, hands-on activities, live entertainment and much more.
This family-oriented fitness event is an annual fundraiser for Dawn Farm. Community members at any fitness level are invited to register for one of four bike rides: a 10K, a 25-mile, a 40-mile and a 58-mile. There will also be a Farm Fun 5K Run/Walk, and a celebratory lunch will be provided after the races. Family members not participating are asked to register for the $5 lunch only option so there is enough food for everyone. You can register for all the options online here.
HopCat Ann Arbor is teaming up with California’s Lagunitas Brewing Co. for an epic beer pairing dinner this April. The event will feature five beers and four courses made with locally sourced ingredients in the HopCat kitchen.
The local restaurant inside The Kensington Hotel, rel-ish, is celebrating on April 26th with a specially paired, five-course dinner. Two James Spirits is the first licensed distillery in the city of Detroit since Prohibition, and their contributions to the event include artisanal gin, vodka, whiskey, rum and absinthe. For full menu details and tickets, click here.
Want to submit your next event for our monthly guide? Send us an email at ReinhartPR@booj.com.
Washtenaw County and Southeast Michigan offer some of the best and largest parks in the state as well as lakes, river access, hiking trails, biking opportunities and more. But when you’re looking for off-leash opportunities for your dog, it can be tough to navigate the rules, permit requirements and available areas.
To help, we rounded up the Ann Arbor area’s best dog parks available to both residents and non-residents. We also included links to important rules and permit information where necessary.
Keep reading to find your dog’s new favorite play area and be sure to mark your calendar for the annual Doggy Dip at Rolling Hills Water Park! It happens every year around Labor Day and you can get more information here.
Though not an off-leash area, Brighton Recreation Area offers one of the state’s only dog-friendly beaches. Available on a section of shoreline at Chilson Pond, dogs are welcome to play in the water but must be on leash and under control at all times. For more information on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources pet policy, click here.
Located in one of Ann Arbor’s best community parks, the off-leash dog play area at Broadway Park is nestled along the Huron River with a designed area for small and large dogs. For more information on the park, required permits, leash laws and other dog policies, click here.
The Northville park system currently includes two dog parks. The Cady Street Dog Park offers 0.7 acre of fenced-in play area behind the Northville Art House and has open hours every day of the week. A dog park membership, fee and mandatory education session are required before you and your dog can be admitted. That means the environment is kept safe for all dogs and owners! For more information, click here.
Available year-round to dog park members, Canton Dog Park offers six acres of fenced-in, outdoor space for dogs to run and play off-leash. The park’s separated sections are reserved for dogs under 20 pounds and dogs over 20 pounds so large and small pups can play safely, and owners are asked to keep watch over their dogs at all times. For membership information, click here.
Available year-round from sunrise to sunset, the Lyon Oaks Dog Park offers 13 acres of fenced play area, a separated small dog area, benches, shelter and picnic tables. All licensed dogs are welcome, and owners are asked to keep watch over their dogs at all times. To learn more about all the dog parks managed by Oakland County, click here.
The second of Northville’s dog parks, the off-leash play area at Marv Gans Community Park offers four acres of room to roam. The park also has its own parking lot for easy access. Before you and your dog can be admitted, a dog park membership, fee and mandatory education session are required. That means the environment is kept safe for all dogs and owners! For more information, click here.
Boasting a whopping 54 acres total, Mill Pond Park is the largest community park in Saline. In addition to boat launches, sports fields and walking trails, visitors are welcome to enjoy the Mill Pond Dog Park. Covering one acre, it’s the only local park that offers off-leash water access, so water-loving dogs will definitely have fun!
Located behind the Novi Ice Arena, Novi Dog Park offers three acres of off-leash fun with a separate area for small and timid dogs which covers 3/4 of an acre. The remaining one and a half acres are available to all other dogs. To enter the park, you’ll need to take the dog park quiz and be approved for a membership; for more information, click here.
One of three dog parks managed by the City of Ann Arbor, the dog run at Olson Park is conveniently located next to the parking lot. The fenced area is just one of the attractions in the 54-acre park. For more information on the park, required permits, leash laws and other dog policies, click here.
Paw Run Recreation Area is a private, 18-acre dog park in Dexter. Located on quiet, private property, the park boasts nearly one mile of mowed trails, a play area with a pond, an agility yard, a secure double-gated entry system, seating for humans and water for both humans and dogs. For information on the required temperament test and the various types of memberships and passes available, click here.
Swift Run Dog Park is jointly managed by The City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. Located at the northeast corner of the Swift Run landfill, the off-leash area covers ten acres making it the largest in the city. For more information on the park, required permits, leash laws and other dog policies, click here.
Where do you take your dog?
If you have a favorite place to take your dog in the Ann Arbor area, tell us about it in the comments below!