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Everything You Can Do in Waterloo Recreation Area

things to do in Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

Waterloo Recreation Area offers more than 20,000 acres of outdoor paradise just minutes from Ann Arbor in Chelsea and is the largest park in the Lower Peninsula. 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, and even ride horses.

Directly adjacent to Pinckney Recreation Area, the two open spaces offer a combined 31,500 acres of wilderness to explore and it’s all connected by the 36-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Trail!

To learn about all the ways you can explore Waterloo, keep reading.

 

 

Ride horses with Horse ‘N Around Stables.

things to do in Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

Waterloo Recreation Area offers 18 miles of horseback riding trails accessible to anyone. If you don’t have your own horse, stop by Horse ‘N Around Stables for guided trail rides, riding lessons and even kid-friendly summer camps! Their trail ride offerings include moonlight rides and special occasion BBQ picnic rides with Hotel Hickman Chuckwagon BBQ; to see all the options, dates and prices, click here.

If you do have your own horse, the park also offers equestrian camping at the Waterloo Equestrian-Rustic Campground where sites are available on a first come, first served basis.

 

Bike the DTE Energy Foundation Trail.

The DTE Energy Foundation Trail is a multi-use trail that loops through Waterloo Recreation Area. Though it’s still being developed and grown—with plenty of help from international mountain biking associations—the trail already offers multiple different loops and more than 10 miles to explore. The planning vision includes five loops with one loop built per year over five years for a total of 25 miles. For more information and updates, click here.

 

Visit the Gerald Eddy Discovery Center.

A great way to introduce yourself to our natural surroundings inside Waterloo, The Discovery Center explores the glacial geology of the region, the diverse natural habitats and the many recreation opportunities available in the park and the Chelsea area. Established in 1981, the facility offers educational exhibits, special programs and even year-round events.

 

Play disc golf.

Located near Portage Lake—along with a boat launch, the public beach, a concession stand and a campground—you’ll find an 18-hole disc golf course open to the public. Be sure to bring your own frisbees!

 

Camp overnight.

things to do in Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

As the largest park in the Lower Peninsula, Waterloo Recreation Area is one of the most popular places for camping. In total, the park offers nine different campgrounds, which include equestrian camping, modern camping, rustic camping with limited amenities, a group campsite, an accessible and reservable yurt, multiple rustic cabins and a modern cabin. The Sugarloaf Campground even has an ADA accessible playground! To see a full list of campgrounds, click here.

 

Go fishing.

With a whopping 11 fishing lakes inside the park, this is a popular activity in Waterloo. While doing so, you may catch bass, panfish and pike, but be sure to get your fishing license first! For more information on that, click here.

 

Take a hike.

A variety of trails are available for hiking, including 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 new DTE Energy Foundation Trail offers more than 10 miles of loops and will soon consist of 25 miles to explore.

 

Watch wildlife.

Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

One of the most popular activities in Waterloo is viewing sandhill cranes which nest and migrate throughout the region. Directly adjacent to the park on the west side, you’ll find the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Audubon Sanctuary, a bird sanctuary that consists of more than 1,000 acres and is famous for its sandhill cranes. Also in the park, you may encounter deer, wild turkeys, ducks, coyotes and more.

 

Visit Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Audubon Sanctuary.

As we mentioned, the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Audubon Sanctuary is an Audubon sanctuary located on the west end of Waterloo. Though outside the park, the sanctuary offers more than 1,000 acres of trails and wildlife observation opportunities. Renowned for its sandhill cranes, a record 8,177 cranes were counted on one fall afternoon as they landed in Mud Lake Marsh. To learn more about visiting the sanctuary, click here.

 

Kayak on a lake.

things to do in Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

One of the most popular activities in Southeast Michigan, Waterloo offers spectacular settings for still water kayaking. The park’s 11 inland lakes are all available for paddle sports and you can even rent rowboats at the Portage Campground near Portage Lake. Campers can also rent kayaks, canoes and rowboats at Sugarloaf Campground.

 

Swim at the public beach.

With 11 inland lakes and the recreation gem that is Portage Lake, Waterloo offers tons of water recreation opportunities. Day-use swimmers should head to the public beach at the Portage Lake Unit, and registered campers can also take a dip at the beach accessible from the Sugarloaf Campground.

 

Hunt for deer, turkey and small game.

Waterloo Recreation Area is open to hunting for all species following regular state regulations. Opportunities include deer, wild turkey and small game throughout the mix of open brush, open meadows, wetland habitat and mature hardwood forest. Hunters should be aware of private lands, hikers and equestrian trails throughout the open hunting areas; to learn more about the open areas, check out the Mi-HUNT map here. And to learn about the proper licenses, click here.

 

Hit the trails for cross-country skiing.

During our snowy months, all the trails within Waterloo are open for cross-country skiers, offering more than 40 miles of ungroomed exploration. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources put together a map of recommended cross-country ski trails, which you can see here.

 

Hike on snowshoes.

things to do in Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

All the trails within Waterloo are open to snowshoeing throughout the winter. Though they’re not groomed, this offers more than 40 miles of snowy trekking. To see a list of all the park’s trails, click here.

 

Go snowmobiling.

When snow falls, the majority of the park is open to snowmobiling. Check out the snowmobile map here to see these specific areas.

 

 

What do you love about Waterloo Recreation Area?

Are you a camper, a horseback rider or a cross-country skier? In the comments below, let us know what you love to do in our region’s largest park!

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Kid-Approved Dining in the Ann Arbor Area

the best restaurants for kids in Ann Arbor

We know, kids can be the pickiest eaters in the world. And apparently, so do our local eateries, because many of them offer menus and environments that can make even the pickiest kids want to eat dinner.

We rounded up 15 of the best restaurants in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Dexter and Saline that offer specially designed kids menus, a comfortable and fun atmosphere, and weekly specials — and some on this guide even offer all three!

 

 

The Blue Nile | Ann Arbor

221 E Washington St | Facebook

The Blue Nile is a casual Ethiopian restaurant in Downtown Ann Arbor offering both delectable plates and all-you-can-eat platters. Both options offer meat and vegetarian foods. On the lunch menu, the all-you-can-eat feasts are available for half the price for children under 12 and children under 5 years old eat for free! You can see the lunch menu online here.

 

Conor O’Neill’s | Ann Arbor

318 S Main St | Facebook

the best restaurants for kids in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Conor O’Neill’s

Taking inspiration from real, historic pubs in Ireland, Conor O’Neill’s is the place to go for community fun, social gathering, Irish hospitality, hearty food and great drinks. The pub was even designed and built in Ireland! And their menu amps up the Irish culture even more with meals like fish and chips, Mighty Murray’s Corned Beef & Cabbage, Kate’s Shepherd’s Pie and more. They made this list for the fun atmosphere and their Tuesday special when kids under the age of 12 eat for free with the purchase of an adult meal.

 

Fresh Forage | Ann Arbor

5060 Jackson Rd | Facebook

Fresh Forage fills Ann Arbor’s need for both convenience and health as well as quick and locally sourced. The team’s ingredients are sourced from their own family farms and other local farms, and several are even sustainably foraged from Michigan’s deep woods. Using 100 percent compostable materials, they prepare these meals rapidly so the busy people of Ann Arbor can fuel up on the go. Their Kids Menu offers all these healthy ingredients at a low price and prepared in approachable, kid-friendly meals. You can see it here.

 

Frita Batidos | Ann Arbor

117 W Washington St | Facebook

the best restaurants for kids in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Steve Julin via Frita Batidos

At Frita Batidos, the burgers are the main attraction because a frita is a traditional Cuban burger made from spicy chorizo served with shoestring fries on a soft egg bun. And a batido is a tropical milkshake made with fresh fruit, crushed ice, sweetened milk and rum (optional, of course). The team’s Kid’s Menu offers all of that fun in mini sizes plus shoestring fries and fresh fruit. You can see the full menu here.

 

Harvest Moon Café | Ypsilanti

5484 W Michigan Ave | Facebook

Harvest Moon Café has been a staple of the Ypsi community for more than 30 years, and their home-style menu offers something everyone can love, including the kids! That’s because their Kids Menu is one of the largest on this guide and offers smaller portions of some of their best creations: fish and chips, a slow-roasted turkey dinner, linguine with marinara sauce and more. To see the menu, click here, and don’t forget to order your free kiddie drink!

 

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales + Kitchen | Dexter

2319 Bishop Cir E | Facebook

the best restaurants for kids in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales + Kitchen

Founded by Ron Jeffries in 2004, Jolly Pumpkin began in Dexter and now operates pubs and tap houses in Dexter, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Traverse City, Royal Oak, Grand Rapids and Chicago. In the Dexter tasting room and kitchen, you can enjoy their signature sour beers while your kids enjoy kid-sized portions of fried drumsticks, burgers and cheese pizza. On Family Night every Wednesday, kids can eat free with the purchase of any full price sandwich or pizza.

 

Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery | Ann Arbor

311 S Main St | Facebook

This famous brewery was born in Dexter in 2004 and operates pubs and tap houses in Dexter, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Traverse City, Royal Oak, Grand Rapids and Chicago. In Downtown Ann Arbor, you’ll find Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery, a full-service brewpub serving lunch, dinner, brunch, late-night eats and a large kids menu that offers simple selections alongside adventurous choices (plus three delectable desserts!).

 

Maíz Mexican Cantina | Ypsilanti

36 E Cross St | Facebook

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 is made with ingredients from local purveyors and farmers, too! Every Sunday from 12 to 10 p.m., kids ages 10 years and under can enjoy up to two free kids meals with the purchase of any adult entree, and they’ll be enjoying some Mexican classics like quesadillas, tacos and arroz con pollo.  

 

The Original Cottage Inn | Ann Arbor

512 E William St | Facebook

Back in 1948 when it opened, The Original Cottage Inn was Ann Arbor’s first restaurant to serve pizza. Today, they still serve some of the best pies in town as well as classic American, Italian and Greek cuisine. On that extensive menu, you’ll also find several smaller, lower priced, kid-friendly selections, including Pita Pizza, Grilled Cheese and Spaghetti with Meatballs.

 

The Pretzel Bell | Ann Arbor

226 S Main St | Facebook

the best restaurants for kids in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of The Pretzel Bell

The Pretzel Bell was the place to be for students, townies and visitors for more than 50 years. When the doors reopened after a brief closing, it became one of the Tree City’s warmest and coziest spots while still functioning as a popular student hangout. The menu offers a modern take on traditional American comfort food with hearty items like fried chicken and signature burgers. That gourmet style extends to the kids menu where you’ll find items like the Lil’ Bell Burger and Mini Mac topped with a Goldfish cracker topping. From Sunday through Wednesday, kids eat free!

 

Red Brick Kitchen & Bar | Dexter

8093 Main St | Facebook

Red Brick is a small, family-owned restaurant in the heart of Downtown Dexter where their team offers fresh, innovative food alongside craft cocktails and a warm community atmosphere. Adults can enjoy some of the region’s best, most creative comfort foods, and the kid’s menu doesn’t skimp on quality, either. Approachable selections like homemade mac and cheese and chicken tenders come with a side of fries, sweet potato fries, chips, fruit, sauteed vegetables or celery and peanut butter, and on Mondays, kids eat for free with the purchase of an adult entree!

 

Revel & Roll | Ann Arbor

1950 S Industrial Hwy | Facebook

With more than 2,400 square feet of video screens, 100 different arcade games and 27 lanes of bowling, Revel & Roll might be the most kid-approved option on this list. Because, in addition to offering tons of entertainment, they also offer a gourmet menu that covers all the pub favorites—from buffalo chicken nachos and loaded tater tots to a PB&J burger and mouth-watering pizzas.

 

Salt Springs Brewery | Saline

117 S Ann Arbor St | Facebook

Named for Saline’s ancient, historic salt springs, this hometown brewery and restaurant is housed in a beautiful, 118-year-old former church. Undoubtedly one of the most impressive settings in Southeast Michigan, you can enjoy true-to-style ales, wine and cider alongside locally sourced food with stunning stained glass as the backdrop. On Tuesdays, kids eat for free from a menu that includes burgers, sandwiches, pizza and poutine.

 

Zingerman’s Delicatessen | Ann Arbor

422 Detroit St | Facebook

The first business that opened in the Zingerman’s Company was this historic deli; it opened in 1982 with a staff of two. Today, the deli is still located in the small, red brick building across from the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, but you can now choose from an enormous menu of both classic and creative sandwiches, breakfasts, salads, housemade Jewish specialty foods, handmade pot pies and more. In addition to offering a great Kids Menu (which you can see here), they host regular events, including storytime tastings and classes! You can check out that schedule here

 

Zingerman’s Roadhouse | Ann Arbor

2501 Jackson Ave | Facebook

At this all-day restaurant, the Zingerman’s team showcases their favorite things about American food—both locally and nationally. The regular menu includes grits inspired by South Carolina, Maryland-inspired crab cakes, Carolina barbeque, local meat from Washtenaw County, produce from local farms, artisan cheeses, micro-brewed beers, and fine wines sourced from all over the country. The Just for Kids menu offers more approachable, smaller portions of some of our favorite Roadhouse flavors, from Mac n’ Cheese and the BBQ Slider to Roadhouse Corn Dogs and a Fish Plate with the fresh catch of the day. You can see the menu here.

 

Do you have a kid-friendly favorite?

Tell us about it in the comments below!

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The Ultimate Guide to Kayaking in Ann Arbor

Huron River Kayak Ann Arbor Michigan

Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and the entirety of Southeast Michigan are famous destinations for paddle and water sports. This is thanks in large part to the Huron River, a designated National Water Trail that winds through the entire region and has been developed into one of the best, most beautiful, and easily accessible recreation opportunities in Michigan.

So, if you want to try your hand at kayaking or canoeing, this is a great place to start. Keep reading to find out where you can rent or buy the necessities, where you can sign up for programs, classes and guided trips, and where you can go to paddle both on the river and off.

 

 

Where to Go

The primary reason Southeast Michigan is a haven for kayakers is the rejuvenated Huron River, which meanders through Island Lake Recreation Area over to Dexter, through Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, then all the way to Lake Erie. And though the river offers fantastic waters for kayaking, it’s not the only place where you can practice your paddling!

 

Huron River Water Trail

As we mentioned, the Huron River is a huge kayaking attraction through Southeast Michigan. It winds through some of our favorite communities and is one of only 18 designated National Water Trails. The river trail sees more than 100,000 visitors every year who paddle, float and fish along the water. The 104-mile river offers 32 access sites, an all-abilities access point in Gallup Park and more accessible access points planned.

 

Waterloo State Recreation Area

The largest state park in the Lower Peninsula, Waterloo Recreation Area encompasses 20,000 acres. Home to 11 inland lakes, visitors can paddle in several different surroundings. Overnight campers can rent paddle boats at Sugarloaf Campground and all visitors can rent at the Portage Campground. For more information regarding park activities, click here.

 

Independence Lake County Park

Operated by the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, Independence Lake Park offers countless year-round attractions. During the summer months, the park’s 360 acres feature trails for biking and hiking as well as fishing, boating and swimming in Independence Lake. Featuring both a small dock and a boat launch, you can take off in your own kayak across the water, or rent paddle boats and rowboats on site.

 

Kensington Metropark

Just 40 minutes from Ann Arbor directly above Island Lake Recreation Area, Kensington Metropark is one of the most popular parks in the state of Michigan. Throughout the 4,486 acres, you’ll find an 18-hole golf course, a 27-hole disc golf course, a nature center, a farm center, beautiful picnic areas, and the 1,200-acre Kent Lake. Paddle boats, canoes, kayaks and rowboats are available at the boat rental building near Maple Beach; you can get more information here.

 

Seven Lakes State Park

An hour north of Ann Arbor, Seven Lakes State Park is made up of farmland, rolling hills, forested land and 230 acres of water. During the summer months, you can rent or bring your own rowboats, canoes and paddle boats. Near the swim beach, you’ll find a boat launch, a concession stand for snacks, restrooms and changing courts as well as horseshoes, volleyball and playground equipment.

 

 

What You Need

There’s more to kayaking than just the kayak. Especially if you’re a beginner, there are a few safety items you may want to look into and maybe even a fun accessory or two! If you’re wondering where to start, we suggest stopping by any one of these local facilities or businesses. There, you’ll find local experts, rentals and more.

 

Gallup Park Livery and Argo Park Livery

Argo Park guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

The City of Ann Arbor operates two rental facilities: Gallup Park Livery and Argo Park Livery. Here, they maintain and offer hundreds of boats available on a first come, first served basis. They also offer guided river trips, still water paddle excursions, river programs, festivals, camps for kids, and an annual canoe and kayak auction. Whether you need a boat, need to ask a question, or want expert guidance on the water, start here.

 

Adventure Leadership Rental Center

Adventure Leadership Rental Center is a University of Michigan facility that rents outdoor and recreational equipment to students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. To see their operating hours, click here.

 

REI

Our Ann Arbor REI is a great place to ask questions about local recreation and buy your own equipment. They also offer regular classes and trainings in recreation topics, from the How to Pack a Backpack Workshop to Kayaking Basics and everything in between.

 

Dunham’s Sports

Dunham’s Sports is the Midwest’s largest sporting goods chain. When they opened in 1937, they were just a small bait and tackle shop in West Bloomfield. Today, they have 230 stores, including one in Ann Arbor and one in Ypsilanti. Their available equipment includes kayaks, canoes, boats, life vests and more.

 

Play It Again Sports

Play It Again Sports is the go-to sporting goods store for gently used, lower-priced sports and recreation equipment. The Ann Arbor store is located at Westgate Shopping Center.

 

 

How to Learn

Paddle sports can be dangerous in some cases, and learning the ropes through classes, workshops or guided trips is always a good idea before you take off alone. If you want to practice with an expert or take a class on the basics, keep reading!

 

Gallup Park Livery and Argo Park Livery

Gallup Park guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

In addition to boat rentals, Gallup Park Livery and Argo Park Livery offer great places to learn through guided river trips. In addition to these seasonally available daily trips, their calendar includes special classes and camps in kayaking, fishing and stand up paddleboarding. To see their programs, click here.

 

REI

Our Ann Arbor REI hosts regular classes in several outdoor and recreation topics. That calendar often includes workshops like free Kayaking Basics, free Women’s Kayaking Basics, and even SUP Basics. To see the calendar, click here.

 

Skip’s Huron River Canoe Livery

Guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Skip’s Huron River Canoe Livery

Located at Delhi Metropark, Skip’s Huron River Canoe Livery is open seasonally and offers some of the best, guided river trips on one of the most scenic stretches of the Huron River. Their lineup includes tubing and kayaking trips between one and four hours and new Guided Glow Paddle trips, which take place at night in kayaks equipped with color-changing LED lights. To learn more, click here.

 

Tecumseh Paddling Company

Located right on the water in Tecumseh, this family-run paddling company offers guided river trips on River Raisin—one of the world’s most crooked rivers—and paddle practice and excursions on Globe Mill and Standish Ponds. Paddle the Ponds is an especially good option for beginners and kids! For more information, check out the website here.

 

Heavner Nature Connection & Canoe Rental

Heavner Nature Connection & Canoe Rental have four locations to make traveling the Huron River easy and convenient. Their main location is at Proud Lake State Recreation Area with others at Island Lake State Recreation Area, Kensington Metropark and Newburgh Lake in Livonia. Their team offers a variety of trips ranging from one-hour, self-return trips to multi-day journeys with transportation back to the canoe rental. To learn more, click here.

 

 

Do you have any tips?

If you love paddling in Southeast Michigan, share your local tips in the comments below!

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The Book Lover’s Guide to Ann Arbor

Book Lovers Guide to Ann Arbor Michigan

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!

 

Jump ahead:

Bookstores | Libraries | Book clubs | Organizations + programs | Annual events

 

White space

Bookstores

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.

 

Literati Bookstore

Literati Ann Arbor independent bookstores

Photo courtesy of Literati Bookstore

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 Books

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.

 

Bookbound

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.

 

 

Libraries

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!

 

Ann Arbor District Library

Ann Arbor District Library locations

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor District Library

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

 

Ypsilanti District Library

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.

 

 

Book clubs

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

Book Lovers Guide to Ann Arbor Michigan

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.

 

Literati Book Club

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.

 

Feminist Book Club

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.

 

Eco Book Club

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.

 

Poetry Book Club

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.

 

Crazy Wisdom Monthly Book Discussion

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.

 

The Barnes & Noble Book Club

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

Bookstores Ann Arbor Michigan

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.

 

Washtenaw Literacy

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

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.

 

 

Annual events

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!

 

Midwest Literary Walk

April

Midwest Literary Walk Chelsea Michigan

Photo courtesy of Burrill Strong Photography via Midwest Literary Walk

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.

 

Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair

May

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.

 

Jewish Book & Arts Festival

November

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.

 

Do you have a tip for local book lovers?

Share your insider tips in the comments below!

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10 Reasons to Stay in Ann Arbor After Graduation

University of Michigan Law School Ann Arbor Michigan

Ann Arbor offers the fun of a college town, the amenities of an urban city, and the open space of a charming, rural town. We’re sure, whether you’re a graduate of the University of Michigan, Concordia University, Washtenaw Community College or even Eastern Michigan University, you’ve already fallen completely in love with our hometown.

We’re exploring both the fun and the practical reasons you should stay in Ann Arbor after graduation. If you need a little more convincing, keep reading!

 

1. It really is one of the best places to live.

10 Reasons to Stay in Ann Arbor After Graduation

If you already live here, you know. Ann Arbor is consistently ranked on lists of the country’s best cities to live in, visit and go to school. Some of our favorites include College Ranker’s The 50 Best College Towns to Live in Forever, WalletHub’s Best College Towns & Cities in America, which puts Ann Arbor at number three, and Livability’s 5 Great College Towns to Settle In Post-Graduation.

 

2. The economic data is promising.

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.

10 Reasons to Stay in Ann Arbor After Graduation

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.

Other major employers in Ann Arbor include NSF International, Domino’s Pizza Inc., IHA Health Services Corp., Toyota Research Institute, Inc., Washtenaw Community College, Thomson Reuters, Sheridan and Eastern Michigan University.

 

5. It’s an affordable place to live.

10 Reasons to Stay in Ann Arbor After Graduation

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.

 

6. The fun never stops.

November 2018 events Ann Arbor Michigan

As far as culture and fun goes in Ann Arbor, college students are probably the most in-the-know. We already mentioned our hometown shows up on lists of the best places to live, but it also makes appearances on The 10 Best Cities for Coffee Lovers in America and The 10 Most Walkable Neighborhoods in the Midwest which names downtown Ann Arbor the number one walkable neighborhood.

If you’re staying in town, you can keep events like FestiFools, Sonic Lunch, Ann Arbor Blues Festival, The Ann Arbor Art Fair, Ann Arbor Folk Festival, and Ann Arbor Summer Festival on your itinerary.

 

7. It’s a great place to raise a family.

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.

Things to do in Ann Arbor this September 2018

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.

 

9. Arts and culture are alive and well.

10 Reasons to Stay in Ann Arbor After Graduation

We already mentioned several noteworthy events—check out Ann Arbor Blues Festival, The Ann Arbor Art Fair and Ann Arbor Folk Festival—but Ann Arbor is also the home of Shakespeare in the Arb each summer, Ann Arbor Symphony OrchestraKerrytown Concert House, The Michigan Theater, The State Theater and the Ann Arbor Art Center, a nonprofit exhibition, gallery and retail space. The University Musical Society also hosts hundreds of musical and cultural events each year and brings world-class artists to our community. Through these venues, we get to enjoy local and touring dance performances, art exhibitions, cinema, concerts, huge annual festivals and more. You can’t leave without attending Cinetopia Film Festival, right?

For a little more on Ann Arbor’s art scene, check out The Music Lover’s Guide to Ann Arbor and Your Guide to Ann Arbor’s Independent Bookstores, Mapped.

 

10. It’s the perfect mix of urban and rural.

10 Reasons to Stay in Ann Arbor After Graduation

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.

But even within Ann Arbor, our city maintains 159 parks, and graduates will already be familiar with Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. These come alongside fun spots like The Ark, Arbor Brewing Company and Ann Arbor Art Center, as well as huge institutions like the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the brand new University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.

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.

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What to Do in Ann Arbor in the Spring

what to do in spring in Ann Arbor Michigan

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!

 

1. Attend a seasonal event.

Zingerman's Camp Bacon 2019

Photo courtesy of Emma Boonstra via Zingerman’s Community of Businesses

Though community events don’t ever stop here in the Ann Arbor area, they certainly increase during the warmer months. Spring brings us some of our most beloved happenings, like FOOLmoon and FestiFools, Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival, Cinetopia Film Festival, Camp Bacon, Ypsilanti Proud, and so many more.

On the Reinhart blog, we post monthly event guides so you can stay up-to-date on our community’s most exciting events. First, check out The 11 Essential Ann Arbor Area Events to Attend April 2019. Follow us on the blog here or on our Facebook page here for our upcoming May and June guides, too!

 

2. Visit a community garden.

community gardens in the Ann Arbor area Michigan

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!

 

4. Shop the farmers market.

Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Farmers Market

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.

Since Southeast Michigan has been built largely upon our agricultural history, our community boasts several thriving, local and family-run farms, and many of these farms offer CSA programs! A few of our favorites include Tantré Farm, Community Farm of Ann Arbor, Raindance Organic Farm and Sunseed Farm.

 

6. Visit Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

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.

Huron River Kayak Ann Arbor Michigan

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!

 

8. Explore our city parks.

The City of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation maintains 159 parks and 15 park facilities offering everything from hands-on experiences at Cobblestone Farm to swim lessons at Fuller Park Outdoor Pool. On the long list of activities available throughout these outdoor areas, you’ll find disc golf courses at Bandemer and Mary Beth Doyle, a dirt bike course at Bandemer, more than ten acres of off-leash dog area, an outdoor skate park at Veterans Memorial Park, soccer and softball fields, basketball and tennis courts, and so much more.

To see the full list of parks and activities, click here.

 

9. Head to Waterloo Recreation Area.

Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

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.

 

Happy Spring!

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Community Gardens in the Ann Arbor Area

community gardens in the Ann Arbor area Michigan

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!

 

Click to jump ahead and find:

Gardens where you can grow your own food or gardens developed for educational + charitable purposes

White space

Gardens where you can grow your own food

 

Project Grow | Ann Arbor

community gardens in the Ann Arbor area Michigan

Photo courtesy of Project Grow

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.

 

Pittsfield Township Community Garden | Ann Arbor

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.

 

Frog Island Park Community Garden | Ypsilanti  

community gardens in the Ann Arbor area Michigan

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.  

 

Normal Park Neighborhood Association | Ypsilanti

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.

 

Chelsea Community Garden | Chelsea

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.

 

City of Dexter Community Garden | Dexter

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

 

Help Yourself Garden at University of Michigan School of Dentistry | Ann Arbor

community gardens in the Ann Arbor area Michigan

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.

 

Children’s Services Community Garden | Ann Arbor

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 | Ypsilanti

community gardens in the Ann Arbor area Michigan

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 Farm at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor | Ypsilanti  

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 | Ypsilanti

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.

 

The Cooperative at Dawn Farm | Ypsilanti

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.

 

 

Happy growing!

If we missed your favorite community garden, tell us about it in the comments below.

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The Best Dog Parks Near Ann Arbor, Mapped

dog parks near Ann Arbor Michigan

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.

 

 

Brighton Recreation Area | Howell

Get directions | On-leash

dog parks near Ann Arbor Michigan

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.

 

Broadway Park | Ann Arbor

Get directions | Off-leash

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.

 

Cady Street Dog Park | Northville

Get directions | Off-leash

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.

 

Canton Dog Park | Canton

Get directions | Off-leash

dog parks near Ann Arbor Michigan

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.

 

Lyon Oaks Dog Park | Wixom

Get directions | Off-leash

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.

 

Marv Gans Community Park | Northville

Get directions | Off-leash

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.

 

Mill Pond Dog Park | Saline

Get directions | Off-leash

dog parks near Ann Arbor Michigan

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!

 

Novi Dog Park | Novi

Get directions | Off-leash

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.

 

Olson Park | Ann Arbor

Get directions | Off-leash

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 | Dexter

Get directions | Off-leash

dog parks near Ann Arbor Michigan

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 Park | Ann Arbor

Get directions | Off-leash

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!

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13 Ann Arbor Area Classes Where You Can Learn A New Skill

Cocktail mixology classes Ann Arbor Michigan

Ann Arbor and our surrounding communities have been built by local business, hands-on creation and artistic expression, and our local organizations and businesses are continuing that tradition every week with classes covering every imaginable topic.

From casual, drop-in events to intense, week-long workshops, these organizations, roasters, bakers, actors, studios, fly fishers and farmers are spreading the wealth through education. And we rounded up the best and most fun options in the area. Keep reading to find out where you can learn how to properly brew a coffee, bake a soft pretzel, knit a scarf, tie a fly, paint a picture, meditate, improvise, develop software, mix a cocktail and so much more.   

 

Ann Arbor Art Center

Ann Arbor | Facebook | Class information

Ann Arbor Art Center dates in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Art Center

Located in Downtown Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Art Center is our local headquarters for enjoying art exhibition, 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! Depending on how deep you want to delve, you can choose a class that lasts just a few hours, a full day or four weeks. To see upcoming topics and classes, click here.  

 

Ann Arbor Center for Mindfulness

Ann Arbor | Facebook | Class information

The Ann Arbor Center for Mindfulness works to create workshops, retreats and events that cultivate awareness and mindfulness through meditation. Through their programs, you can dive into a full-scale retreat or simply drop-in for a sample. These weekly drop-in meditation sessions are open to anyone interested in practicing mindfulness meditation and they’re available in several different area communities, including Ann Arbor, Saline and Ypsilanti. For more information on drop-in classes, click here.

 

Ann Arbor Civic Theatre

Ann Arbor | Facebook | Class information

Ann Arbor Civic Theatre acting classes Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Lisa Gavan | Gavan Photo via Ann Arbor Civic Theatre

This nonprofit, community theatre program provides opportunities for people in our community to participate in theatre and learn new acting skills. In addition to putting together shows for the public, they support artists and creatives by giving them a place to practice and enhance their talents. Classes and workshops through the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre are available in topics like improv, choreography, stage management, sound design and more, and they cover several different age groups.

 

Flipside Art Studio

Ann Arbor | Facebook | Class information

The team at Flipside Art Studio takes a casual and fun approach to art instruction based on the belief that art should be transformative and freeing, rather than strict and formal. Through their programs and programs with Dexter Public Schools and Ann Arbor Rec and Ed, they offer classes, events, camps and workshops for kids. But their team also hosts weekly adult art classes both during the day and in the evening. To stay up-to-date on the most recent offerings, check out the website here.

 

Hyperion Coffee Co.

Ypsilanti | Facebook | Class information

Hyperion Coffee Labs classes Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Hyperion Coffee Co.

Undoubtedly one of the region’s best coffee roasters, Hyperion Coffee Co. shares experiences and knowledge of coffee through Hyperion Labs. These fun and informative classes explore different aspects of coffee whether that’s developing your palate, the fundamentals of cupping or the science of water chemistry. With plenty of tastes along the way, you’ll also get to take home coffee at the end of the lab!

 

Maker Works

Ann Arbor | Facebook | Class information

Maker Works art classes in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Maker Works

Founded in 2011, Maker Works is a huge, 14,000-square-foot workshop that is entirely focused on making things. When you purchase a membership or a day pass, the workshop is wide open for hands-on learning, practice and creation, but their team also offers one-time classes for specialized instruction in several topics. Covering craft, wood, metal, electronics, jewelry, software and more, Maker Works can provide you the skills and the tools needed to both learn and excel at nearly anything. Safety checkout classes are required before using some tools; check tool pages online to see which ones. And you can stop by for a free tour whenever Maker Works is open! 

 

Pointless School of Improv

Ann Arbor | Facebook | Class information

Run through Ann Arbor’s delicious and entertaining Pointless Brewery & Theatre, Pointless School of Improv makes learning and practicing improv even more fun than it already sounds. Their intense curriculum isn’t made up of casual, drop-in classes. Available in two terms per year, the classes take place over the course of eight weeks and are designed to be taken in order, with the skills from one class forming the foundation for the next.

But in addition to these courses, they also offer single-session workshops that focus on specific aspects and they host showcases where you can come, see and support the students work before you dive in head first. For more information and dates, check out the website here.

 

Schultz Outfitters

Ypsilanti | Facebook | Class information

Ypsilanti’s headquarters for all things fishing and outdoors, this locally owned and operated fly shop sells equipment, organizes guided trips, hosts destination travel excursions and offers classes in fly fishing, skills and tying. Their basic classes are available on a weekly basis and take place inside Schultz Outfitters or at Sidetrack Bar & Grill depending on your experience level. Each week, they host three classes; they do require pre-registration and both classes at Sidetrack include pre-packaged material kits. For more information, click here. And follow the team on Facebook to learn more about upcoming classes.

 

Spun

Ann Arbor | Facebook | Class information

Spun knitting classes Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Spun

Spun is a local, family-owned yarn shop in Kerrytown where you can shop yarn and tools, learn at scheduled classes and ask questions at free, drop-in sessions. Their free social knitting and crochet sessions occur four different times per week and they host Ask-a-Knitter throughout the week, too. Regularly scheduled classes are more hands-on and intensive, covering topics like beginning crochet, crochet for knitters, introduction to lace and more. To see the full calendar, click here.

 

Tammy’s Tastings

Ann Arbor | Facebook | Class information

Tammy’s Tastings is a local, Ann Arbor business dedicated to building unique food and drink experiences. In addition to custom workshops, corporate events and private classes, Tammy and her team host regularly scheduled events that cover everything from chocolate tasting to mixology and cocktail history. To see the upcoming event schedule, click here.

 

White Lotus Farms

Ann Arbor | Facebook | Class information

White Lotus Farms is an Ann Arbor institution, specializing in organic produce, homemade breads, artisan goat and cow’s milk cheeses, and soothing botanicals. Their varied experience and knowledge on the farm, in the bakery, in the creamery and with botanicals makes their classes some of the most fun in the region. Topics include cheese making, croissant baking, food pairing and more. To see the schedule and register for your favorite topic, click here.

 

Zingerman’s Bakehouse

Ann Arbor | Facebook | Class information

Zingerman's Bakehouse cooking classes Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Zingerman’s Bakehouse

Tucked between Zingerman’s Bakehouse and Zingerman’s Creamery, BAKE! is Zingerman’s hands-on teaching bakery. There, you will be able to learn everything from cake baking to cheese pairing. Classes are open to the public in categories like pizza making, donut frying, flour grinding, soft pretzel creation and more. To see the full schedule and reserve your spot online, click here.

 

Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Ann Arbor | Facebook | Class information

Zingerman’s Coffee Company is a wholesale roaster supplying cafes, restaurants and businesses all over the region, but they also offer their own coffees at the Zingerman’s Coffee Bar at Zingerman’s Southside Producers row. Here, you can enjoy the coffee shop, taste craft coffee and learn the ins and outs of tasting, preparing and roasting coffee beans. The team’s special events cover topics like cupping, brewing methods and even Yerba Mate tea.

 

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The Music Lover’s Guide to Ann Arbor

Music venues, events record stores in Ann Arbor Michigan

Ann Arbor is a book town, a college town, a quirky town, an artsy town and a music town all rolled into one. And that collection of cultures and characters makes our hometown one of the best places to explore the arts.

Music lovers can do that through live shows at local venues, visiting indie record stores, and attending annual, music-centered events. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, keep reading to find the best places and occasions for all three!

 

Jump ahead to find the best:

Venues | Record stores | Annual events

 

Venues

 

Kerrytown Concert House

Kerrytown Concert House music venues in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Kerrytown Concert House

An intimate 110 seat venue, Kerrytown Concert House is a nonprofit organization focused on community engagement and providing audiences with fine art, from live music to gallery exhibitions. Inside their historic home-turned-venue, you can attend affordable events in various genres; check out the event calendar here.

 

The Blind Pig

The Blind Pig is the locals’ choice for live music almost every night of the week. This quirky bar and music venue hosts everything from punk and folk to comedy and karaoke. Check out the calendar online here and you can buy your tickets in advance if needed.  

 

The Ark

The Ark is Ann Arbor’s destination for live music and has been since it was founded in 1965 by four area churches. Today, the venue 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 their upcoming events here.

 

Michigan Theater

The historic Michigan Theater was founded in 1928, then the Michigan Theater Foundation was founded in 1979 to save the Michigan Theater from the wrecking ball. Today, the theater is 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 here.

 

The B-Side

The B-Side began back in 1999 in the original location of local Ann Arbor organization Neutral Zone. As the program grew, they moved up the street to 310 E. Washington and increased their audience capacity to over 400. Today, the all-ages concert venue hosts everything from touring hip-hop acts to teen hardcore bands to local folk singers, and every show is booked and promoted by teens through Neutral Zone. You can learn more about Neutral Zone in 23 Local Charities in the Ann Arbor Area and How You Can Help.

 

Johnny’s Speakeasy

Johnny’s Speakeasy calls itself one of the worst kept secrets in Ann Arbor. The small, intimate venue hosts a range of genres and just a limited number of house concerts each year. To stay up-to-date on this year’s shows, follow the team on Facebook here.

 

University Musical Society  

A program of the University of Michigan, UMS has been around since 1879 and offers more than 60 performances each year. Today, they host events throughout the year in six different theaters and venues: Hill Auditorium, Rackham Auditorium, Power Center, Michigan Theater, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. To get information on their current season, click here.

 

Ziggy’s

Located just minutes from Ann Arbor in Ypsilanti, Ziggy’s is a downtown music venue, bar, coffeehouse and arcade. Hosting a range of local acts alongside small, touring artists, you can attend fundraisers, music shows, parties and so much more. Follow the team on Facebook here to stay up-to-date on upcoming events.

 

 

Record stores

 

Wazoo Records

Record stores in Ann Arbor Michigan

Wazoo is Ann Arbor’s headquarters for both new releases and old collections. Their inventory of new and used vinyl, CDs, DVDs, VHS and cassette tapes are displayed in an organized and tidy way that makes shopping fun for record diggers and casual music lovers alike.

 

Encore Records

Encore Records buys and sells various types of records, tapes, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, sheet music, books on music and musicians, and memorabilia. If you’re selling, you can come in without an appointment during buying hours which are available every day of the week. To shop, you can come in and enjoy the curated collection of both new and used merchandise. To preview their inventory and shop online, click here.

 

Underground Sounds

Underground Sounds began as That Total Age in 1993 in Ypsilanti. Then, they became Vinyl Joe’s Coffee & Records in 1995 before moving to Downtown Ann Arbor and becoming Underground Sounds in 2001. They specialize in new release vinyl and compact discs and sell them below list price. You can preview their inventory and shop online here.

 

 

Annual events

 

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Ann Arbor Folk Fest music events in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Andrew Rogers via The Ark

Ann Arbor Folk Festival, a fundraiser for The Ark, began in 1977 and is now one of Ann Arbor’s most anticipated events. Over the course of two days, Hill Auditorium hosts the likes of Gregory Alan Isakov, Rufus Wainwright, Haley Heynderickx, Brandi Carlile and more. Tickets are available for single nights and both nights, and you can get more information here.  

 

Edgefest

Edgefest began in 1997 as a single day event and has grown into a four-day festival that includes collaborations and educational outreach. Hosted by Kerrytown Concert House, the event is focused on avant-garde jazz and creative new music performed by artists from the United States and around the globe.

 

Sonic Lunch

Sonic Lunch Ann Arbor Michigan music events

Photo courtesy of Leisa Thompson Photography via Sonic Lunch

Since 2008, Sonic Lunch has been bringing free, outdoor concerts to the streets Ann Arbor every summer. The free, outdoor concerts take place at the corner of Liberty and Division in Downtown Ann Arbor every Thursday during the season from 12 to 1:30 p.m. For more information on this year’s series, click here.  

 

Ann Arbor Blues Festival

In August 1969, several thousand blues lovers gathered in a small field in Ann Arbor for the first ever Ann Arbor Blues Festival where they sang and danced along with blues legends that included B.B. King. Continuing the tradition, the festival takes place every August at the Washtenaw Farm Council Fairgrounds. Today, the festival is celebrated as North America’s first electric blues festival and the team is celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2019. To get information on this year’s event, click here.

 

Sounds & Sights Festival

This weekend festival began over three decades ago in Chelsea and has grown to be one of the best summer events in the region. Over two days and three nights, you can experience live music, an indie art market, kids’ entertainment, a classic car show and more in historic Downtown Chelsea.

 

Milan Bluegrass Festival

Featuring both well-known bluegrass bands and up-and-coming acts, Milan Bluegrass is a can’t-miss music festival in Southeast Michigan. The event features multiple different bands each day, including special guests! For the full concert experience, we recommend camping on-site with KC Campground. And you can learn more here.

 

 

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