Quick Search
to

The Reinhart Blog

Trick or Treating Events For Kids in the Ann Arbor Area

paige-cody-hiuBsBPPquE-unsplash

Halloween is on its way, which means that Ann Arbor’s most prepared ghouls, goblins, princes and princesses are already forming their routes and strategies for a successful night of trick-or-treating.

While we love a night full of traditional trick-or-treating complete with knocking on doors and begging our neighbors for sweets—there may be a more fail-safe way to get a good candy haul this year: dedicated trick-or-treating events! All throughout the month, locals will be hosting family-friendly trick or treating events where your children can get candy in a safe, friendly environment.

We rounded up a few of our most anticipated trick-or-treating events happening in the area this year. From trunk-or-treats to Halloween parades, you’ll find a sweet spot on this list. Happy Halloween!

 

Dixboro Trunk or Treat and Fall Festival | Ann Arbor

October 25, 4:30 p.m. | Dixboro United Methodist Church

The weekend before Halloween, head to Dixboro United Methodist Church for a special, candy-filled event! First be sure to visit the Fall Festival, which will be full of fun fall events such as pumpkin painting, crafts, games and farmers’ market vendors. Then, be sure to stick around for trunk-or-treating, where community members decorate their vehicles and pass out candy to children.

 

Den of Darkness | Ann Arbor

October 25, 6:30-8 p.m. | Pittsfield Township Community Center

Hosted by Pittsfield Charter Township, the Den of Darkness Haunted Hallway is an annual tradition for families with kids of all ages. There will be crafts, donuts and cider, a costume contest, candy bags, the famous haunted hallway, and a Spooktacular Halloween Story provided by the Ann Arbor District Library. Register in advance here for $5–7.

 

Halloween at the Market | Ann Arbor

October 26, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. | Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market

The Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market is partnering with GIVE 365 to bring the Ann Arbor area a spectacular Halloween event you won’t want to miss. So break out your costume and head to the farmers’ market—there, they’ll be hosting face painting, pumpkin decorating, trick-or-treating and other fun festivities!

 

Muttster Mash Bash | Ann Arbor

October 26, 6-8 p.m. | Humane Society of Huron Valley

Trick or Treating in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Huron Valley

Hosted by Humane Society of Huron Valley, this Halloween event brings together the community with animals in need. The event will include family-friendly activities throughout the shelter that include games, trick-or-treating, crafts for the animals, meet and greets and more. Adults are admitted for free and entrance for children costs $10. Register in advance here.

 

Treat Parade on Main Street | Ann Arbor

October 31, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | Ann Arbor Main Street

For the 19th year, trick-or-treating is coming to Main Street Ann Arbor on Halloween day! Neighborhood merchants welcome costumed kids and their parents for treats. In addition, the Downtown Ann Arbor District Library will be throwing a Halloween Party that includes stories, puppets and more trick-or-treating.

 

Trick or Treat Trail | Northville

October 19, 4-6 p.m. | Northville Community Center

Trick or Treating in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Northville Parks & Recreation

Get ready for a spooky, frightful, family-friendly event at the Northville Community Center this Halloween season! Get dressed up in your favorite costume and enjoy a trick-or-treat trail full of mounds of candy, fun crafts and entertainment along with a Haunted Hallway. Advanced registration is required, so click here to purchase your ticket today.

 

Trick or Treat Along the Trail | Milford

October 19, 5-7 p.m. | Kensington Metropark

On the trails of Kensington Metropark, little ones in costume can trick-or-treat along the trails decorated with a festive theme. Afterward, make sure to stop by the Nature Center for cider and donuts. The cost is $5 and you can find pre-registration information here.

 

Pumpkin Palooza Children’s Halloween Event | Plymouth

October 20, 12-2:30 p.m. | Downtown Plymouth

Trick or Treating in Ann Arbor

Calling all witches and wizards, ghouls and ghosts! You’re invited to a very special Halloween event in downtown Plymouth. Kick-off the holiday week by trick-or-treating in your favorite costume throughout downtown. You and your family will also get to enjoy games, a costume contest, dancing, entertainment, a petting zoo and, of course, plenty of candy!

 

Fun on the Farm: Halloween | Milford

October 24, 10 a.m. | Kensington Metropark

Fun on the Farm is a children’s program series at Kensington Metropark that focuses on different animals and aspects of farming. During this special edition of the educational event, children will get to trick-or-treat all around the farm, play Halloween games and visit a “haunted” barn. Plus, the spooky party will include an animal parade where you and your child are welcome to join in. The whole event only costs $5 to attend and costumes are encouraged.

 

Halloween Downtown | Ypsilanti

October 25, 4:30 p.m. | Ypsilanti District Library

In Library Park Plaza, Ypsilanti District Library is hosting Halloween fun even before the fun of YpsiGLOW. Stop by to trick-or-treat for candy, enter giveaways and visit the Boo! Mobile. Then, stick around downtown Ypsi for the luminary fun!

 

Ypsi Glow | Ypsilanti

October 25, 7 p.m. | Downtown Ypsilanti

Trick or Treating in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Wonderfool Productions

From the same team that brings us FestiFools and FoolMoon 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 on October 25th for a celebration of Ypsilanti and art! Follow the team on Facebook for updates on workshops and the big event.

 

Halloween Spooktacular | Belleville

October 26, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. | Yankee Air Museum

Trick or Treating in Ann Arbor

The Yankee Air Museum Halloween Spooktacular features spooky games, family-friendly activities, a costume contest and trick-or-treating. There will also be a helicopter candy drop at 1 p.m. so make sure to have your buckets ready for hauling candy!

 

Trunk-or-Treat at Gene Butman Ford | Ypsilanti

October 26, 2-4 p.m. | Gene Butman Ford

Head out to Gene Butman Ford on October 26th for this not-so-scary Halloween event! Kids of all ages are encouraged to wear costumes and go “trunk-or-treating” for candy. You’ll also be treated to plenty of pumpkins to paint, cider and donuts, prizes for Best Trunk and Best Costume and so much more. This family-oriented event is completely free to attend so grab your bucket or pillowcase and get to it!

 

Happy Halloween!

For more things to do this month with your family, check out this list of essential October 2019 events in the Ann Arbor area!

Read More


Your Fall Bucket List for the Ann Arbor Area

things to do in Ann Arbor fall 2019

Fall in Michigan is one of our favorite things—thanks in large part to you-pick apples, corn mazes, Michigan football, freshly pressed cider, pumpkin donuts, and all the reds and golds of our tree-lined neighborhoods. To help you make the most of the season here in Ann Arbor, we rounded up some of the region’s best autumn activities (donuts included!). 

For more seasonal fun, check out The 11 Best Places to See Michigan’s Fall Colors Near Ann Arbor and 19 Pumpkin Patches, Apple Orchards and Cider Mills You Can Visit Near Ann Arbor

 

1. Visit Wiard’s Orchards & Country Fair.

things to do in Ann Arbor fall 2019

Photo courtesy of Wiard’s Orchards & Country Fair

Wiard’s was founded in Michigan by George Wiard in 1837 and has become one of the region’s most beloved fall destinations. Covering nearly 100 acres and located just minutes from Ann Arbor, attractions include the seasonal Wiard’s Country Fair, an agri-entertainment park that offers orchards, a cider mill, you-pick apples, a corn maze, a you-pick pumpkin patch, an apple cannon, giant inflatables, pony rides, hayrides, a petting farm, miniature golf, a haunted barn, children’s play areas and even more. You can also step inside the Country Store and Bakery to taste fresh cider, seasonal donuts, freshly baked pies, jams, jellies, honey and apple salsas.

 

2. Get cider and donuts at Dexter Cider Mill

Open seasonally, Dexter Cider Mill is the oldest continuously operating cider mill in the entire state. Today, the team makes cider the same way it was made 120 years ago: using locally grown, handpicked apples on an oak rack press. Even their equipment is over 100 years old! In addition to natural cider, fresh apples, doughnuts, apple nut bread, made-from-scratch apple pies, apple strudel, apple turnovers and hand-rolled gingersnaps, you can also purchase homemade hard ciders made on-site.

 

3. Celebrate every Michigan football game. 

Tailgating University of Michigan Football Ann Arbor Michigan

 

Fall is Wolverine season in Ann Arbor. The full football schedule includes several regularly scheduled home games through November 30th. Check it out here and check out A Complete Guide to Tailgating for U-M Football Games in Ann Arbor for help celebrating on game day.

 

4. Go on a Fall Color Tour with Southern Michigan Railroad

Each year, the Southern Michigan Railroad hosts Fall Color Tours, seasonal events that explore the area’s changing foliage from the comfort of a train car. Because the rides sell out every single year, the railroad offers a variety of seating options, dates and rides. Six dates are available throughout October 2019 and October 12th and 13th are scheduled during Tecumseh’s 26th Annual Appleumpkin Festival. For full details on these Fall Color Tours, click here.

 

5. Catch live music at Northville Winery & Brewing Co.

Hard cider in Michigan

Photo courtesy of Northville Winery & Brewing Co.

This hometown spot makes all their wine, hard cider and beer on-site and is open year-round with frequent live music events and a delectable calendar of local food trucks. To see what’s on tap and what events are coming up, check out the website here, and don’t miss Dead at the Winery every Thursday! 

For more Michigan made cider, check out Where to Get the Best Hard Cider in Michigan

 

6. Run The Original A2 Turkey Trot.

The Original A2 Turkey Trot

Photo Courtesy of Epic Races

Every year, Epic Races celebrates Thanksgiving with a race through Hudson Mills Metropark! This running and walking event features four different distances: a 5K loop around scenic Hudson Mills, a 10K course comprised of two 5K loops, a quick mile fun run, and the Iron Turkey which is the 10K and 5K all at once. For more details and online registration, click here

 

7. Find your way through Coleman’s Corn Maze.

Coleman’s Corn Maze

A trip to this family-owned and -operated farm includes three professionally designed corn mazes with 5 miles of challenging trails, hayrides, some of the best seasonal donuts in the region, a pick-your-own pumpkin patch, you-pick apples, a petting barn and more. Though these mazes aren’t haunted, you do have the opportunity to find your way through after dark, too—just don’t forget your flashlight!

 

8. Pick your own fruit at Wasem Fruit Farm

During the fall season, Wasem Fruit Farm offers more than a dozen varieties of apples you can pick yourself, you-pick raspberries available in September and early October, you-pick pumpkins in October, and pears! At the farm, you’ll also get the chance to taste plain, apple, blueberry and pumpkin donuts paired with some of the best, fresh cider in the region! For the most accurate hours and information, follow the team on Facebook here

 

9. Grab a beer at Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

things to do in Ann Arbor fall 2019

Photo courtesy of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

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. Each location—whether full-service pub or casual taproom—offers its own character, menu and lineup of sour, artisanally aged Jolly Pumpkin beers. And it’s not only the name that has pumpkin in it. In 2017, they finally released a sour pumpkin ale made with pumpkin, a pumpkin spice blend and cacao nibs. To see what’s pouring right now nearest you, you can see all their locations here

To learn more about the area’s craft breweries, check out Your Ultimate Guide to 20 Craft Breweries in the Ann Arbor Area [Interactive Map].

 

10. Explore Nichols Arboretum

The University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum began in 1907 and has developed into miles of trails and land home to collections of both native and exotic trees and shrubs. These plants transform during the fall to showcase some of the best colors in Southeast Michigan, including golds, reds and even inky purples.

To find more fall foliage, check out The 11 Best Places to See Michigan’s Fall Colors Near Ann Arbor

 

Enjoy your fall! 

For more seasonal fun, check out The 11 Best Places to See Michigan’s Fall Colors Near Ann Arbor and 19 Pumpkin Patches, Apple Orchards and Cider Mills You Can Visit Near Ann Arbor

Read More


11 Haunted Houses You Can Visit Near Ann Arbor, Mapped

Haunted houses near Ann Arbor Michigan

Fall may bring us apple cider, pumpkin donuts and you-pick pumpkin patches, but it also brings us the scariest holiday on the calendar: Halloween! And our communities certainly know how to celebrate. Located in towns throughout Southeast Michigan, here are the most terrifying haunted attractions, including houses, mazes, forests and even virtual reality haunts. 

Keep reading to learn more about each one and see how many you can visit this October! 

For more autumn fun without the scares, check out 19 Pumpkin Patches, Apple Orchards and Cider Mills You Can Visit Near Ann Arbor

 

 

Night Terrors 

Ypsilanti | Get directions | Facebook

Haunted houses near Ann Arbor Michigan

Michigan’s premier haunted attraction comes alive again this October. Open at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings through October 28th and then again on October 30th and 31st, Night Terrors features 89 acres of terror. The six haunted attractions include The Asylum, Hayrides of the Lost, The Ultimate Haunted Barn, The Mineshaft, Alien Caged Clowns and Splattertown Zombie Paintball; for all the details, click here

For more information on the less haunted fall attractions available at Wiard’s Orchard, check out 19 Pumpkin Patches, Apple Orchards and Cider Mills You Can Visit Near Ann Arbor.

 

Terrorfied Forest

Pinckney | Get directions | Facebook

The Terrorfied Forest is a real terrifying forest. Make a trip to this haunted attraction and you’ll journey into the woods for a one-mile, one-hour excursion with plenty of terror along the way. You can make your trip on weekends beginning September 27th through November 2nd. To see the complete schedule, click here

 

Erebus Haunted Attraction

Pontiac | Get directions | Facebook

Erebus is a four-story haunted tower of terror located in Downtown Pontiac. A trip here during the Halloween season means you’ll endure a half-mile indoor walk complete with state-of-the-art Hollywood special effects where things will bite you, grab you and even bury you alive! Think you can make it through? Check out the schedule and buy your tickets online here

 

Hush Haunted Attraction 

Westland | Get directions | Facebook

Video courtesy of Hush Haunted Attraction

Brimming with fearful atmosphere and spine-tingling scares, Hush strikes at your deepest and darkest fears. The haunted attraction includes three haunted houses. Descent invites you to take a trip under Hush into long stretches of abandoned mines and caverns complete with terrifying darkness and humanoid miners. The Coven will enter you into a crypt which houses the infamous Casper Coven, and Rosecliff Hall is a terrifyingly haunted manor. To read the stories behind each attraction, click here

 

Jackson’s Underworld 

Jackson | Get directions | Facebook

Enter Jackson’s Underworld and you’ll experience some of the most impressive animatronics and props in Michigan. This 115,000-square-foot and four-story haunt changes every single year and is always terrifying! To see the schedule and purchase tickets, click here

 

Awaken Haunted Attraction

Leslie | Get directions | Facebook

Not for the faint of heart, Awaken is a serious haunt with serious scares. Through their progression of professional sets, you’ll enter amazing scenes, get unexpected scares, encounter movie-set quality props and more, and that’s why parental guidance is recommended for anyone under 18. So, if you can handle the fright, check out their schedule here and get ready for a terrifying, one-of-a-kind horror experience. 

 

Plymouth Escape 

Plymouth | Get directions | Facebook

Unlike any other experience on this list, Plymouth Escape is offering a terrifying, haunted virtual reality game through the month of October. Enter the Insanitarium and you’ll experience Michigan’s first free-roaming VR in complete, immersive terror. To book now, click here

 

Rotten Manor 

Holly | Get directions | Facebook

Haunted houses near Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Rotten Manor

Boasting the largest, most realistic custom structures in Michigan, Rotten Manor is a highly-detailed, theatrical and immersive haunted experience. This team puts together two 45-minute, haunted attractions every year—Rotten Manor and Rotten Asylum/Forest—and each one will put you face to face with your worst fears. They’re operating September 13th through November 2nd so you can get a full Halloween season of haunts! 

 

Azra Chamber of Horrors

Madison Heights | Get directions | Facebook

Located right next door to Escape Room-Zone (which is offering a few bone-chilling experiences, too!), Azra Chamber of Horrors is a crazy, multi-level maze of terror. And each chamber is more menacing than the last! To see the schedule and purchase tickets in advance, click here

 

The Scream Machine

Taylor | Get directions | Facebook 

When you step inside The Scream Machine, you’ll cross the threshold of insanity into the Asylum. The journey of approximately 20 to 30 minutes will bring you face to face with psychotic Dr. Scratch and other terrifying beings roaming the halls. After you make it through, you can enter two, optional five-minute escape rooms for added fun! 

 

Deranged Haunt 

Romulus | Get directions | Facebook 

About 20 minutes from Downtown Ypsi, Deranged Haunt offers five acres and two attractions—the haunted trail and the haunted house—for one low price. Can you survive what lurks in the woods? You can find out every Friday and Saturday from September 20th through Halloween! To get tickets online, check out the website here

 

Do you have a favorite haunt? 

Let us know in the comments below! 

Read More


The Top Residential Architecture and Design Firms in the Ann Arbor Area

Ann Arbor Architecture and Design Firms

For decades, Ann Arbor has been defined by its artists, creators and innovators—from the artwork they create to the green practices they put to work and everything in between. Through the work of our residential designers and architects, this passion for aesthetic and creativity can be brought to life inside our most precious spaces: our homes. 

And in this guide, we’re writing about our favorite local designers and artists who are doing just that. Get ready for a healthy dose of home inspiration!

 

Angelini & Associates Architects 

Based in Ann Arbor | Houzz | Facebook 

Ann Arbor Architecture and Design Firms

Photo courtesy of Jeff Garland of Jeff Garland Photography via Angelini & Associates Architects

Established in 1989 by Bradford and Theresa Angelini, Angelini & Associates Architects has been Ann Arbor’s high-quality, innovative and award-winning architecture firm for three decades. Through those decades, the team has produced designs for more than 500 projects, including additions, renovations and new constructions in the Ann Arbor area and throughout Michigan. To view their online portfolio, click here

 

Architectural Resource 

Based in Ann Arbor | Houzz | Facebook 

The team behind Architectural Resource knows how important our living spaces are, and they have since they first came together in 1991. From the beginning, they decided to focus exclusively on residential architecture so they would continuously get the opportunity to work closely and intimately with clients and create those essential spaces. This has resulted in some of the region’s most beautiful homes featuring everything from historic Victorian remodels to brand new, sustainable and modern farmhouses. 

 

Damian Farrell Design Group 

Based in Ann Arbor | Houzz | Facebook 

Ann Arbor Architecture and Design Firms

Photo courtesy of Kate Benjamin Photography via Damian Farrell Design Group

At Damian Farrell Design Group, they have expertise and experience in nearly every field from residential and commercial to niche industries like resorts and healthcare facilities. In the commercial space, they’ve been responsible for bright, modern and innovative Ann Arbor spaces like Baba Dari Mediterranean Grill and Ann Arbor Arms. And this translates to their residential projects, too, which show off their diversity of skills and styles; you can see that portfolio here

 

Hobbs+Black Architects

Based in Ann Arbor | Facebook

The team behind Hobbs+Black believes in showcasing the identity of each individual client, not the identity of their designers. As a result, they don’t have a defined style, but rather use more than 50 years of experience to dabble in every style and create truly one-of-a-kind spaces each client is happy to live, work and play in. And that experience has covered nearly every industry, from the Westgate Branch of Ann Arbor District Library to unique residential projects throughout the region.

 

Lewis Greenspoon Architects

Based in Ann Arbor | Houzz | Facebook 

At LGA, the team specializes in both residential and commercial building types, including single-family and multi-family housing, community and civic buildings as well as professional and medical office spaces. Through these diverse experiences, they’ve created award-winning projects, including their winning design for the Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Lansing. The team’s residential portfolio also showcases diverse styles in new construction, full remodels, kitchen and bath remodels, and even stylish outdoor living spaces. To view some of these projects online, click here

 

Meadowlark Design + Build 

Based in Ann Arbor | Houzz | Facebook 

Ann Arbor Architecture and Design Firms

Photo courtesy of Sean Carter Photography via Meadowlark Design + Build 

Shown in each of their buildings and mentioned in nearly every review, Meadowlark homes are truly one of a kind and easy to spot for their craft, unique character, innovation and warmth. And that makes sense coming from a team dedicated not only to building our most intimate spaces but also to improving their clients’ lives. The best part is Meadowlark is also one of the nation’s leading green builders, and they hold more LEED Platinum custom home certifications than any other builder in the region! 

 

Meier Group Architects

Based in Ann Arbor and Adrian | Houzz

In 2000, William Meier AIA founded Meier Group Architects with the goal of creating a firm where he and his team could provide excellent architectural design service for a variety of project types. Today, they’ve become one of the best in the region thanks to their beautiful structures that are functional, aesthetic, affective, enduring and efficient all at once. To view their residential portfolio, click here.

 

Molly Bachelor Architect

Based in Ann Arbor | Houzz

Based in the Water Hill neighborhood of Ann Arbor, Molly Bachelor is an Ann Arbor native and a graduate of the University of Michigan. Her services include full-service architectural design, residential energy consulting and interiors, which has allowed her to create high-performance renovations and additions as well as stunning custom homes throughout the area. To preview some of that work online, click here

 

OX Studio

Based in Ann Arbor | Facebook 

When you look through this firm’s online portfolio, you’ll probably recognize some of Ann Arbor’s most beloved spaces, including Black Diesel Coffee and Tomukun Korean BBQ. Rooted in the true integration of architecture, design and game-changing technologies, these spaces—and every other residential and commercial project they touch—are collaborative, innovative, cost-efficient and high-tech. To see that applied to residential projects, view their portfolio here

 

Quinn Evans Architects

Based in Ann Arbor + other locations | Facebook

An authority in preservation and sustainable stewardship, QEA was founded as a two-man studio in 1984. Over the years, it has grown into a thriving, multi-faceted firm with four full-service offices in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Richmond, Virginia, as well as a studio in Madison, Wisconsin. Here in Ann Arbor, their specialty in preservation has made them especially noted for work with historic homes.

 

Rochman Design Build

Based in Ann Arbor | Houzz | Facebook 

Ann Arbor Architecture and Design Firms

Photo courtesy of Rochman Design Build

This nationally recognized, award-winning design-build firm, has been delivering innovative remodeling solutions since 1989. Through their specialization in mid to large residential remodeling and home additions, they’ve created truly transformative spaces (and amazing before and after photos!) that reflect each individual client’s lifestyle without sacrificing function or aesthetic. And it helps that this team—including founding partner Gary Rochman—is driven by the relationships developed with each and every client, so the journey is as enjoyable as the finished product. 

 

Studio Z Architecture

Based in Plymouth | Houzz | Facebook 

The team at Studio Z is driven by their commitment to designing and building one-of-a-kind homes that match each client’s personality, lifestyle and functional needs. In addition to a huge catalog of happy clients, they also won awards and national recognition for these builds here in Southeast Michigan and beyond. To view some of those online, check out their portfolio here

 

Synecdoche Design Studio 

Based in Ann Arbor | Facebook 

Ann Arbor Architecture and Design Firms

Photo courtesy of Synecdoche Design Studio

Synecdoche is a small, start-up-style design/make architecture studio and the team uses this to their advantage to create quickly, nimbly and efficiently. This has also resulted in a unique style that can be spotted at places around town like Bløm Meadworks, Thrive Juicery, Spencer and Ann Arbor Pharmacy. In the residential space, you’ll find a similar playfulness and a modern aesthetic that includes individual furniture and designs created right in their studio. Click here to see some of those pieces—from pivot doors to rolling counters and everything in between. 

 

Wright Street Design Group Inc.

Based in Ann Arbor | Houzz 

One of the area’s most recognized firms, Wright Street Design does absolutely everything in the residential design space: new, custom homes, full renovations, additions, kitchen and bath remodels, home theaters, outdoor living spaces, custom furniture, and even green architecture. And they’ve been doing it since Stanley Monroe founded Wright Street Design Group in 1986. To view their online portfolio, click here

 

Do you have a favorite?

Whether they’re on this list or not, tell us about your experience in the comments below!  

Read More


12 Small-Town Restaurants Worth the Drive from Ann Arbor

best restaurants near Ann Arbor Michigan

Southeast Michigan’s small towns are home to some of our favorite local businesses, eateries, breweries, coffee shops and communities in all of Michigan. In these historic cities and towns, entrepreneurs combine neighborhood sensibilities with some of our favorite things—including real, homemade cooking. And that’s what we’re celebrating in this guide. 

Keep reading to see which local spots made our list, then make the list longer by adding your favorites in the comments below! 

 

Beezy’s | Ypsilanti 

20 N Washington St, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

Beezy's Cafe Ypsilanti restaurants

Photo courtesy of Beezy’s

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 seasonal soups, whip up fresh homemade salad dressings, bake hot fresh bread, and prepare everything with a local sensibility using local products from nearby vendors and farmers. To view the menu, click here

 

Bomber Restaurant | Ypsilanti 

306 E Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

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!

 

Casablanca | Ypsilanti 

2333 Washtenaw Ave, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

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.

 

The Common Grill | Chelsea 

112 S Main St, Chelsea | Facebook 

The Common Grill Chelsea best restaurants near Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of The Common Grill

This downtown Chelsea restaurant is known around the state and even as far as the James Beard House in New York City where self-taught chef Craig Common was invited to prepare a dinner for their members and guests. For more than 25 years, Craig and his team have been serving innovative New American cuisine with a seafood-forward menu and outstanding service. Preview that menu here and get ready for an unforgettable meal.

 

Cultivate Coffee & Taphouse | Ypsilanti 

307 N River St, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

Cultivate Ypsilanti best restaurants near Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Nick Azzaro via Cultivate Coffee & Taphouse

At Cultivate, you can get sandwiches and bagel sandwiches, sweet toasts and simple snacks, but the real attraction is the freshly roasted coffee, the craft beer and the community atmosphere. Built around the mantra, “craft, community and cause,” they roast their own coffee beans, brew their own beer and host some of the region’s most beloved community events. You can see those upcoming events here.

 

Dexter Riverview Cafe | Dexter 

8124 Main St, Dexter | Facebook 

One of the community’s beloved breakfast, brunch and lunch spots, Dexter Riverview Cafe is a locally owned and operated eatery. Their menu features fresh, homemade oatmeal, homemade biscuits and gravy, pita sandwiches, coneys and so much more. To see that menu, click here

 

Matty J’s | Saline 

972 E Michigan Ave, Saline | Facebook 

MJ Malone and her sidekick Matty J are the powerhouses behind Matty J’s Bakery and Cafe. Driven by a passion for real food, the cafe menu balances healthy options with tasty flavors using locally produced ingredients to offer seasonal treats you’ll love. Check out the menu here to find out what breads, sandwiches and cookies you can get today.

 

Ollie Food + Spirits | Ypsilanti 

42 E Cross St, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

Ollie Ypsilanti best restaurants near Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Ollie Food + Spirits

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. These approachable, gourmet eats cater to all kinds of diets—vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike.

 

Red Brick Kitchen & Bar | Dexter 

8093 Main St, Dexter | Facebook 

Red Brick is a small, family-owned restaurant nestled in the middle of Downtown Dexter. Led by Executive Chef Cody Wiseley, the kitchen produces fresh, innovative food, and their team combines that with creative craft cocktails and a warm, inviting atmosphere complete with a full bar. That bar also boasts eight beers on tap, all from Michigan breweries! To see the full menu, click here

 

Salt Springs Brewery | Saline 

117 S Ann Arbor St, Saline | Facebook 

Salt Springs Brewery Saline best restaurants near Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Salt Springs Brewery

Named for Saline’s ancient, historic salt springs, this hometown brewery is housed in a beautiful, 116-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.

 

Sidetrack Bar & Grill | Ypsilanti 

56 E Cross St, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

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 The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die, and that’s just one of the reasons we recommend stopping by.

 

Smokehouse 52 | Chelsea + Saline 

125 S Main St, Chelsea + 105 W Michigan Ave, Saline | Facebook 

Phil and Jenn Tolliver opened Smokehouse 52 in downtown Chelsea in February of 2013 and it’s been a beloved neighborhood eatery ever since. Phil’s passion for BBQ began when he was a child growing up on a hog farm in Stockbridge. Now, that passion translates into the most delicious and authentic BBQ in the region at locations in both Chelsea and Saline.

 

Add to the list! 

The small towns of Southeast Michigan are home to some of the best local food and drink in the state. Make our list longer by giving your favorite a shoutout in the comments below!

Read More


15 Free Things to Do in Ann Arbor

UMMNH free things to do in Ann Arbor Michigan

Our charming hometown is filled with art, history, educational opportunities and tons of fun. And, even if you’re on a tight budget, you can enjoy all of that and more—completely free of charge. Highlights in this guide include 1,588 total acres of park space, strange animal encounters, 1000 BCE Middle Eastern artifacts, prehistoric whales, outdoor concerts and ukulele parties! 

If you have a few more dollars available for entertainment, check out our other guide 14 Things to Do in Ann Arbor Under $20

 

Visit the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

UMMA free things to do in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Scott Soderberg, U-M Photography via University of Michigan Museum of Art

Located on campus, the University of Michigan Museum of Art is one of the largest university art museums in the country. Their collections represent 150 years of art collecting and include everything from 1000 BCE Middle Eastern artifacts to 21st-century paintings. Admission to the museum is always free, but a $10 donation is also appreciated. Get full details and plan your visit here.

 

Learn at Leslie Science & Nature Center.

This educational facility on the north side of Ann Arbor encourages sustainability, understanding and regular nature encounters. You can join the fun and visit the grounds, trails and raptor enclosures for free any day from sunrise to sunset. The Critter House is open on select days (which you can see here) and invites guests to observe frogs, turtles, snakes and other adorable and unusual animals. For more visiting information, click here

 

Explore Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two educational and environmental spaces on the U-M campus. The botanical gardens include 11 outdoor areas full of bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials and more, and if you want to head inside, you can enjoy the year-round indoor conservatory filled with plants from around the world. The arboretum spans miles of trails and land with impressive collections of both native and exotic trees and shrubs.

Both the gardens and arboretum offer free admission, but if you decide to drive, you’ll have to pay $1.70 per hour for parking at Matthaei with a $5 daily maximum charge.

 

Visit the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.

UMMNH free things to do in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Michelle Andonian via University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

The U-M Museum of Natural History story begins all the way back in 1837 when the university was created, but the first museum building wasn’t constructed until 1881. In April 2019, the museum celebrated its most recent grand reopening after a move into the brand new Biological Sciences Building, part of the U-M School of Literature, Sciences and the Arts. Today, the constantly expanding exhibits include interactive displays about mastodons and prehistoric whales, multimedia artwork, the evolution of life on Earth, space exploration, and more. You can even see the museum staff at work in the Fossil Prep Lab! For more information on your visit, click here. And remember, admission to the museum is free, but donations are always accepted.

 

Tour Chelsea Milling Company.

The home of JIFFY Mix and the industrial heart of Chelsea, tours of the Chelsea Milling Company are free and open to the public with a reservation. Your one-hour journey through the factory includes an inside look at the packaging plant, a video presentation, refreshments and a product sample. Yes, that means you get to enjoy a free muffin, too!

 

Attend Sonic Lunch

Video courtesy of Sonic Lunch

Since 2008, Sonic Lunch has been bringing free, outdoor concerts to the streets of downtown Ann Arbor every summer. Suitable for all ages, the seasonal concert series kicks off in early June and continues through August for a total of about 11 shows each year. All of these performances begin at 11:30 a.m. and you can see the full lineup for this year here.

 

Find all the Fairy Doors

Fairy doors have been popping up all over Ann Arbor in various locations for as long as we can remember. Today, you can find these charming, artistic, miniature doors at locations throughout town, including The Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor District Library, The Ark, Nicola’s Books and more. Check out the locations here and see if you can track them all down!

 

Visit the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

Located on the U-M campus, this museum supports teaching and research on Classical, Egyptian and Near Eastern archaeology. With a collection of more than 100,000 artifacts—1,500 of which are on permanent display—and two to three annual exhibitions, there’s plenty to explore and learn. Admission is always free, but a donation is also appreciated. 

 

Hear a recital at the Charles Baird Carillon

The Charles Baird Carillon is the third heaviest in the world and contains 53 bells cast in 1936 by the John Taylor & Co. Bellfoundry in Loughborough, England. The tower and carillon were originally dedicated in 1936 and got a complete renovation in 2011. Today, you can hear the bells chime throughout the day from 9:15 a.m. to 9 p.m., including a free, thirty-minute recital performed on the Charles Baird Carillon at noon every weekday when classes are in session. To get there, enter the belfry observation deck any time during the recital, take the elevator to the eighth floor, and climb two more flights of stairs to the belfry. For full information and dates, click here

 

Visit WSG Gallery

Located on Main Street in Downtown Ann Arbor, WSG Gallery showcases original fine art including paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture. The team’s special exhibits change every six weeks and you can often attend free artist talks, receptions and other special events, too! To preview their current exhibit, click here, and follow the team on Facebook here

 

Attend an event with 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 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 and regularly scheduled, fun events! These include things like Tea 101 with Arbor Teas, Family Writing Labs with 826michigan, film screenings, business workshops, and family-friendly ukulele parties! To see all the upcoming events, click here

 

Preview The Creature Conservancy

free things to do in Ann Arbor Michigan

This local nonprofit is home to Al the Alligator, Quinn the Bald Eagle, Suzi the Macaw, Dumpie the Ball Python, Jerome the Argentine Tegu, Harper the Mountain Lion, and several other rescued animals. Their conservation through education mission allows our community to meet these animals, learn about wildlife and nature, attend educational programs and camps, and more. On weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., you can enjoy limited outdoor viewing for free, and if you want to get up close and personal, admission ranges from $8 to $10 on Saturdays and Sundays. 

 

Spend time at Buhr Park

A recreation destination throughout the year, Buhr Park’s 39 acres are home to softball diamonds, two tennis courts, playground equipment, a basketball court, open fields, a sledding hill, picnic facilities with a grill, an outdoor pool with a special family activity pool during the summer, and a seasonal ice rink. The park is also connected to Cobblestone Farm, a historic educational facility with a house on-site that was originally completed in 1845. Visiting and recreating in the park are always free of charge, but admission to the pool, ice rink and guided tours of Cobblestone Farm Museum cost a few dollars each. For more information on all three, click here

 

Bike to Hudson Mills Metropark

Although there is an annual or daily fee for vehicles, hikers, bikers and inline skaters can enter Hudson Mills Metropark for free using the trail system. The park is located in Dexter and covers a whopping 1,549 acres, including Huron River access, basketball and volleyball courts, softball diamonds, soccer fields, picnic shelters, a playground, and a 3-mile, paved loop trail for hiking and biking which connects to the nearly 5-mile West River Trail to Downtown Dexter.  

 

Visit the Gerald R. Ford Library

Located right here in Ann Arbor, the Gerald R. Ford Library is one of two Michigan facilities dedicated to Gerald R. Ford. The museum can be found in Grand Rapids. At the library, guests are invited to explore the massive collection of archival materials on U.S. domestic issues, foreign relations, and political affairs during the Cold War era, focusing on the Ford administration. Other attractions include a permanent exhibit on President Ford’s life, rotating exhibitions and frequent special events. 

 

What’s on your itinerary? 

If you have a favorite free activity in Ann Arbor, tell us about it in the comments below! 

Read More


What to Do With Your Kids in Ann Arbor Before School Starts

things to do with the kids Ann Arbor summer

We can’t believe it either, but summer vacation is already winding down. Before we start buying supplies, prepping first day of school outfits, and planning carpools, there are a few more essential, kid-friendly things to do in Ann Arbor. In this guide, we rounded up the 10 things you and your kids need to do before school starts. 

For year-round, kid-friendly activities in the area, check out our other guide, 18 Things to Do with Kids in Ann Arbor

 

1. Don’t miss Sonic Lunch

Since 2008, Sonic Lunch has been bringing free, outdoor concerts to the streets of downtown Ann Arbor every summer. Suitable for all ages, the 2019 concert series kicked off in June and continues through August 29th for a total of 11 shows. All shows begin at 11:30 a.m. and you can see the full lineup here. August headliners include Michael Franti and Spearhead!

 

2. Attend YpsiFest

YpsiFest is a heritage, arts and entertainment festival in Ypsilanti that has been a beloved tradition for more than 35 years. This year’s event includes a kids’ area with bounce houses, pony rides, crafts and games, daily helicopter rides, a classic car show, a BBQ competition, the famous Rubber Ducky Race and more. For all the details, click here, and mark your calendars for August 23rd through the 25th. 

To find more events happening this August, including Ann Arbor Blues Festival, Dexter Daze and Saline’s Summerfest, click here. 

 

3. Attend a food truck rally at the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market

The Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market is a favorite thing to do in town, and it continues all year long! During the summer and fall, you can add to the fun on the first Wednesday of every month when the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market hosts food truck rallies from 5 to 8 p.m. The last three rallies are coming up on August 7th, September 4th and October 2nd. For more information, click here

 

4. Spend the day at Rolling Hills Water Park

Rolling Hills County Park covers 439 acres and offers outdoor activities all year long. During the summer, one of our favorite attractions is Rolling Hills Water Park, a huge outdoor water park located on site. Attractions include a lazy river, a wave pool, a zero-depth entry activity pool and multiple water slides! 

To find more nearby swimming holes, check out The 15 Swimming Holes Near Ann Arbor You Need to Visit This Summer

 

5. Meet the animals at The Creature Conservancy

This local nonprofit is home to Al the Alligator, Quinn the Bald Eagle, Suzi the Macaw, Dumpie the Ball Python, Jerome the Argentine Tegu, Harper the Mountain Lion, and several other rescued animals. Their conservation through education mission allows our community to meet these animals, learn about wildlife and nature, attend educational programs and camps, and more. To visit, you can stop by Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. or from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays for limited outdoor viewing.

 

6. Kayak on the Huron River. 

Gallup Park guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

Some of the region’s most popular activities, kayaking and canoeing on the Huron River are accessible for all ages thanks to Gallup Park Livery and Argo Park Livery. These City of Ann Arbor facilities offer boat rentals, guided river trips and even river programs designed for children as young as 2 years old! For information on all of the above, click here

And for even more details on kayaking in the area, check out The Ultimate Guide to Kayaking in Ann Arbor

 

7. Explore Waterloo Recreation Area.

Did you know the largest state park in the Lower Peninsula is located right in our backyard? Waterloo Recreation Area covers more than 20,000 acres of outdoor paradise in Chelsea and offers everything from fishing and swimming to mountain biking and disc golf. To get the details on all the available activities, check out Everything You Can Do in Waterloo Recreation Area

 

8. Visit Ann Arbor’s best city parks. 

Argo Park guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

City of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation maintains a whopping 159 parks and 15 park facilities. Their list includes neighborhood pocket parks, larger community parks, golf courses and huge, undeveloped nature areas that are open to explore. In our blog post, Your Summer Guide to Ann Arbor’s City Parks, Mapped, we rounded up the largest and the best—offering kayaking, picnicking, disc golf and dirt bike courses, playgrounds, hiking trails, tennis and basketball courts, softball fields and even dog parks! 

 

9. Visit Leslie Science & Nature Center

Leslie Science & Nature Center is an independent, nonprofit organization serving to connect our community with wildlife, nature and science. Their grounds, trails and raptor enclosures are open to the public year-round from dawn to dusk and they also open the Critter House on select days and offer public programs, rentals, birthday parties, field trips and more. To see upcoming programs scheduled on-site, at local parks and at other venues, click here

 

10. Scream for ice cream. 

Ice cream is an all-season treat, but summer makes it taste even better. In our guide, The 10 Best Places for Ice Cream in Ann Arbor, we rounded up the area’s best, including local favorites like Michigan Creamery and Blank Slate Creamery and even Go! Ice Cream in Ypsilanti. 

 

We hope you enjoyed your summer vacation!  

For more activities you can enjoy throughout the year, check out 18 Things to Do with Kids in Ann Arbor

Read More


Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

The Ann Arbor area is defined by its food, its art, its stories and its hyper-local character. And our regional creators and entrepreneurs know exactly how to show off our state produce, our quirky creativity, our iconic water towers and, of course, our University of Michigan pride.

In this guide, we rounded up some of those local businesses, artists and creators so you can build the perfect gift basket for a new resident, a far off family member, or anyone who needs a little sampling of Southeast Michigan. We also provided the retail locations and links to online stores where they’re available so you can shop in person or virtually!

 

Ann Arbor Art Center

Retail location at 117 W Liberty St in Ann Arbor

Located in Downtown Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Art Center is our go-to for enjoying art exhibition, connecting with local artists, and even learning new art skills. The 117 Gallery Shop—located in their Downtown headquarters—is the retail shop where you can find original, handmade works of art for sale by both emerging and established artists from Michigan and beyond. These include original paintings and prints, ceramics, jewelry and more.

 

Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Retail location at 315 Detroit St in Ann Arbor

A beloved weekly tradition in Kerrytown, the Ann Arbor Farmers Market is a 100-year-old, year-round market where you can shop from more than 100 local businesses. As a producer-only market, you’ll find only local products from Michigan, Ohio or Indiana, and the vendors include fourth-generation farmers, bakers, coffee roasters, artisans and more. It’s the perfect place to find Michigan nuts, local maple syrup, fermented sauerkraut or handmade goods for your gift basket!

 

Artistica Gallery

Retail location at 3203 Broad St in Dexter

Located right on Main Street in the charming town of Dexter, Artistica Gallery showcases more than 35 Michigan artisans inside their cozy shop. These products range from hand-carved, wooden bowls and fabric arts to personal products like soaps and balms. To preview their artists, artisans and products, follow the team on Facebook here.

 

Bløm Meadworks

Retail location at 100 S 4th Ave in Ann Arbor | Online store

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Photo courtesy of Bløm Meadworks

Bløm (pronounced bloom) is a hyper-local meadery located in the heart of Ann Arbor. Unlike many other meaderies and cideries, every ingredient is sourced from Michigan and their mead is fermented like a dry craft cider so it’s not as thick or as sweet as other meads you may have tried. In addition to hosting pop-ups and weekly yoga classes, they also sell their naturally gluten-free mead in cans both in the taproom and online. To view their online store, click here.

 

Bo

Retail location at 333 S Main St in Ann Arbor | Online store

Inspired by and named after Bo Schembechler—the University of Michigan head football coach from 1969 to 1989—Bo is a store built by and for Wolverines. In the Main Street shop, you can purchase clothing and hats, mugs and glasses, posters and vinyl decals, and basically everything you need to show your Michigan pride. To shop online, click here.

 

Bookend Candle Co.

Online store

This Etsy shop is run by an Ypsilanti local hand-pouring soy candles to create some of our favorite scents. These include Coffee House which is infused with the scent of freshly ground coffee beans, sweet cream and hazelnut, Rare Book Room which gives off the scent of cedarwood, leather and vanilla, and Campfire which smells just like a summer campfire. The stylish candles even say, “Hand-poured in Ypsilanti, MI” right on the front! To learn more about Bookend Candle Co., you can follow them on Instagram here.

 

Caravan Gift Shop

Retail location at 1 Nickels Arcade in Ann Arbor

A landmark of the historic Nickels Arcade, Caravan Gift Shop has been an Ann Arbor shopping destination for more than 90 years! Their charming and eclectic shop is the perfect place to find globally inspired and globally sourced goods, including handcrafted jewelry, unique cards and paper goods, handcrafted wallets, watches, home decor and more.

 

Cherry Republic

Retail location at 223 S Main St in Ann Arbor | Online store

Cherry Republic is a Michigan business dedicated to Michigan’s Montmorency Tart Cherry and all the delectable products it can help to create. Their inventory boasts more than 200 cherry-based products like chocolate-covered cherries, BBQ sauces, jams, jellies, salsas, nut mixes, ice cream toppings, baked goods, condiments, soda pop, cherry wine and cherry beer. To shop online, click here, or stop by the retail shops in Glen Arbor, Traverse City, Holland, Frankenmuth, Charlevoix and right here in Ann Arbor.

 

FOUND Gallery

Retail location at 415 N 5th Ave in Ann Arbor | Online store

Perfectly merging vintage and modern, FOUND offers a mix of home decor, pillows, rugs, textiles, candles, jewelry and gifts. And many of those goods are made right here in Michigan by local artisans! Their brick and mortar location is in Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown district, but you can also shop much of their inventory online here.

 

Le Bon Macaron

Retail location at 209 S 4th Ave in Ann Arbor | Online store

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Photo courtesy of Le Bon Macaron

Born from a love of French culture, Le Bon Macaron is a local, family business that offers two of the most charming cafés in Michigan: one in Grand Rapids and one in Downtown Ann Arbor. If you stop in the store, you can get French press coffee and espresso, fresh scones, ice cream sundaes, French and Italian sodas made with handcrafted fruit puree and, of course, the macarons that have made them famous. But, you can also shop online for Le Bon merchandise and customizable macaron boxes! Check out the online shop here.

 

Literati Bookstore

Retail location at 124 E Washington St in Ann Arbor | Online store

The perfect place to experience our hometown’s book culture, Literati is a locally owned and operated book-lovers’ haven in Downtown Ann Arbor. On the store’s lower level, you’ll find the bookstore, and upstairs, they operate a full-service coffee shop called Literati Coffee. In the bookstore, you’ll find the team’s famous public typewriter open to the public for typing messages. Over the years, they’ve accumulated thousands of these love notes, poems, sentences and salutations. Published in 2018, “Notes From A Public Typewriter” compiles some of their favorites alongside essays, photos and more, and this book is the perfect addition to any Ann Arbor gift basket! You can learn more about it and purchase it online here.

 

The M Den

Six retail locations | Online store

The M Den is the official retailer of Michigan Athletics, which means you can find branded clothing for women, men and kids, Michigan Nike products, hats, furniture and home decor, autographed memorabilia, toys, jewelry, pet accessories and more. You can shop online here or stop by one of five Ann Arbor locations to shop in person.

 

Rock Paper Scissors

Retail location at 216 S Main St in Ann Arbor | Online store

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Photo courtesy of Rock Paper Scissors

Located on Main Street in Ann Arbor, Rock Paper Scissors is a paper goods and gift store. In addition to their huge selection of personalized stationery and cards, they carry a variety of fun and funny gifts: mugs, glasses, books, candles, balms, cocktail mixers, keychains, decor and more. To shop online, click here.

 

RoosRoast

Retail locations at 1155 Rosewood St and 117 E Liberty St in Ann Arbor | Online store

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Photo courtesy of Laura Garbarz via RoosRoast

RoosRoast is hands down one of the best coffee roasters in Michigan and word of this has reached as far as Portland, San Francisco and Manhattan. With their Loring Smart Roaster, they use 80 percent less energy than similar roasters and still create outstanding coffees (have you tasted Lobster Butter Love?). RoosRoast has received several accolades, including the best coffee shop in Washtenaw County, the number one coffee shop in Southeast Michigan and more. If you can’t stop by their two Ann Arbor locations, you can shop coffee, tea and merchandise online here.

To find more local roasters, check out The Best Coffee Roasters Around Ann Arbor.

 

Sandhill Crane Vineyards

Three retail locations

One of the region’s best wineries, Sandhill Crane operates a year-round tasting room in Jackson and the Cider Mill Tasting Room in Dexter during apple season. Made in small batches right on the premises, the tasting lineup includes well-balanced acidic white wines, rich reds, flavorful fruit wines and delicious dessert wines. Upon visiting, you can enjoy tastings, schedule a winery tour and purchase bottles for yourself and your gift basket.

To find even more regional wineries, check out The 14 Essential Wineries to Visit Near Ann Arbor.

 

True North Jerky and Foods

Retail location at 12855 E Old US Hwy 12 in Chelsea | Online store

If you need a little snack in your gift basket, check out True North, a locally owned and operated specialty meat shop in Chelsea. In store, you can shop smoked meats and fish, handmade sausages, bratwurst, burger patties, hand cut steaks and more. And their jerky, award-winning snack sticks, hot sauces and specialty cheeses are perfect additions to show off true Michigan flavor. To shop more than 25 different jerky flavors online, click here.

 

Ypsilicious

Online store

This Ypsi-inspired Etsy shop is the online destination for all things Ypsilanti. These mugs, tops, towels, tags, posters and cards feature tons of local character and plenty of Ypsilanti Water Tower jokes. You can even buy a customizable, handmade Ypsi Water Tower piñata! But if that won’t fit in your basket, maybe think about a “Greetings from Ypsi” whiskey tumbler; check it out here.

 

Zingerman’s Creamery

Retail location at 3723 Plaza Dr in Ann Arbor | Online store

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Photo courtesy of Zingerman’s Creamery

Zingerman’s Community of Businesses is an icon of Ann Arbor. Their story started with a small deli opened in 1982 and has grown into a community of more than 10 different local businesses all located right here in the Ann Arbor area. At the creamery, they create handmade, full-flavored cheeses and gelati using traditional methods and the highest quality milk sourced from small-scale, regional farmers. At the Cream Top Shop, you can taste cheeses, gelato and sorbet and take home the perfect, cheesy addition to any gift basket. To order online, check out Zingerman’s Mail Order here. And to learn more about all the businesses, check out Your Guide to 14 Zingerman’s Businesses in Ann Arbor.

 

Do you have a gift basket idea?

Tell us where you’re shopping in the comments below!

Read More


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!

Read More


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!

Read More

1 of 15