Spring sees the last of our bitter cold days and welcomes the warm, summer sun back to Ann Arbor. Through the transition, our community celebrates with huge annual events, blooming gardens, bountiful harvests, and plenty of outdoor adventure.
To help you make the most of the season, we created a guide to spring activities in Ann Arbor and our surrounding communities. From the hyper-local community gardens and farmers market events of Ann Arbor to the wilds of Waterloo Recreation Area in Chelsea, here’s everything you need to do this spring. Enjoy!
Spring is planting season, and here in the Ann Arbor area, you don’t have to have an at-home garden to celebrate. In fact, Project Grow operates more than 20 garden sites around Ann Arbor, including plots at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Leslie Science and Nature Center, and West Park! To learn more about community gardens in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Chelsea and Dexter, check out our list of Community Gardens in the Ann Arbor Area. Our guide includes garden plots you can rent and grow yourself, as well as community gardens maintained for charitable and educational purposes.
3. Go to the dog park.
As snow melts and we get sneak peeks of summer weather, there might be no one else who is as excited as your dog. Your pups are free to play and explore outdoors without snow or cold and in some regional dog parks, they can even play in the water! To help you and your four-legged family members explore the area, we rounded up The Best Dog Parks Near Ann Arbor, Mapped. It includes details on local spots like Brighton Recreation Area where your dog can play on one of the state’s only dog-friendly beaches, Mill Pond Dog Park which is the only local park that offers off-leash water access, and Swift Run Dog Park right here in Ann Arbor — at ten acres, it’s the largest dog park in the city!
Here in Ann Arbor, you can shop the Ann Arbor Farmers Market year-round on Saturdays. But beginning in May, market hours get longer and you can shop two days a week—Wednesday and Saturday. Monthly Food Truck Rallies return in May, too! These community events bring together some of Michigan’s best food trucks once a month from May through October for a full evening of fun in Kerrytown. For complete details, hours and dates on this year’s market, click here.
5. Sign up for a CSA program.
In addition to local farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture—or CSA programs—are an excellent way to get local meat, veggies, fruit and/or eggs directly from a local farmer. These programs invite people of the community (like you!) to invest in a local farm for the season and those paying members get to enjoy the annual harvest however abundant it may be. Typically, you pay a one-time fee at the beginning of the season. Then, you get to be a part of the farm community and enjoy a portion of the harvest every week.
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two educational and environmental spaces on the UM campus. The botanical gardens include eleven outdoor areas full of bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials and more. The arboretum spans miles of trails and land with impressive collections of both native and exotic trees and shrubs. Together, they provide trails, lawns and stunning gardens—especially stunning during full bloom in the spring.
7. Kayak the Huron River.
Ann Arbor and its surrounding communities have developed along the banks of the Huron River amid countless lakes and ponds suitable for paddle sports. So, whether you want a challenging route down the river or a peaceful float atop a lake, you’ll find the perfect setting right here.
Some of the best places to get on the river can be found in Argo Park and Gallup Park, which are connected by the Huron River and home to the Argo Canoe Livery and the Gallup Park Canoe Livery, respectively. Through these facilities, you can embark on guided adventures, rent equipment and even attend river-themed events like the Huron River Day Festival, which happens every May!
Directly adjacent to Pinckney Recreation Area, Waterloo Recreation Area offers more than 20,500 acres of outdoor paradise just minutes from Ann Arbor near Chelsea. Especially famous for its campgrounds, mountain biking trails and educational opportunities, guests in the park can walk or ride more than 40 miles of multi-use trail, boat and fish, visit the Gerald Eddy Discovery Center, bike the DTE Energy Foundation Trail, rent kayaks and canoes, play on swimming beaches, camp, hunt, play disc golf on an 18-hole course, and even ride horses. There are 18 miles of horseback riding trails accessible to anyone, and Horse ‘N Around Stables offers guided trail rides and riding lessons.
Together, Pinckney Recreation Area and Waterloo Recreation Area offer a combined 31,500 acres of wilderness to explore and they’re connected by the 36-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Trail.
10. Grab a spot on the patio.
Our Ann Arbor community certainly loves being outdoors—whether we’re lounging in a park, exploring a nearby trail or simply enjoying a meal under the sun. And there are plenty of places to do all three. When you’re looking for a meal and a patio, check out The 16 Best Outdoor Patios in Ann Arbor. Our guide includes local businesses like Bill’s Beer Garden, a beer garden and community gathering space that’s open seasonally from March through October, and Dominick’s, a local legend famous for potent sangria, Italian-inspired eats and outdoor seating.
With a combined population of about 74,000, Ypsilanti and adjacent Ypsilanti Township represent some of Michigan’s best and most interesting hidden gems, including dining destinations, outdoor recreation, historic attractions, craft breweries and events.
Throughout its history and continued today, this town has played an important role in the development of the automobile and the community has served as a driving force in national aviation technology. Several of our favorite local attractions and events showcase these stories which have been brought to us from the 1920s and World War II.
Further hallmarks of the town’s history include Eastern Michigan University which is located in town, 12 parks in the city and another 30 in the township, and some of the region’s best events encompassing everything from Elvis to motorcycles and orphan cars.
Keep reading to find out what you need to see, where you need to eat and what you need to do in Ypsilanti.
Sidetrack has been a local destination since it opened its doors in 1850 and it’s easy to explain why. They serve some of the best pub food, pour some of the best beer, and offer it all in one of the best Ypsi atmospheres. Their burger—Our Famous Burger—was included on GQ’s 2005 round-up of The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die, and that’s just one of the reasons we recommend stopping by.
This Ypsi favorite offers a seasonally rotating menu made with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients and they pair that with a lineup of artisan cocktails, craft beer and wine. And these approachable, gourmet eats cater to all kinds of diets, including vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores.
Any place that has Fried Chicken Tacos and Churro Biscuit Donuts on the menu is worth a visit. At Ma Lou’s, a small, counter-serve spot, they offer both and serve them alongside some of the best fried chicken in the state. Come for the chicken, stay for the wings, and don’t leave without dessert.
This old-school diner has been an Ypsi staple since it opened in 1936. Surrounded by aviation inspired decor, you can get one of the county’s best breakfasts right here in the Bomber dining room, and their huge menu of American classics offers more than 35 options.
One of Ypsilanti’s highest-rated eateries, Casablanca serves authentic Moroccan and Arabic cuisine for dine in, carry out and delivery. From fresh hummus to chicken shawarma, this is the best way to explore global cuisine in town.
Both a beloved coffee shop and a delicious cafe, Beezy’s is a hyper-local option in downtown Ypsilanti. Every day, they make two different soups, whip up fresh, homemade salad dressings, bake hot, fresh bread and prepare everything with a local sensibility and local products from nearby vendors and farmers.
The Maíz team has brought a fresh approach to traditional, Mexican favorites and Tex-Mex specialties. Everything on their menu is made from scratch daily and it’s made with ingredients from local purveyors and farmers, too!
Both a coffee roaster and a craft brewery, Cultivate is one of our favorite hangouts in town. Built around the mantra, “craft, community and cause,” you’ll find some of the area’s best beverages served alongside regular community events, fun series and philanthropic support of worthy causes.
When the Greffs opened the doors to Arbor Brewing Company in 1995, it was the first brewpub to open in Ann Arbor and only the fifth brewpub to open in the entire state of Michigan. On a trip to Belgium, the couple was further inspired to innovate and they brought the first sour program of its kind to the state of Michigan. Today, they operate the Ann Arbor brewpub and Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti, a casual hangout for craft beer, board games, events and food.
In 1927, Carl L. Miller opened this Hudson Sales and Service franchise as an automobile dealership and repair shop. After a merger and the discontinuation of the Hudson line, the fate of the shop was in jeopardy, but Carl’s son Jack continued Miller Motors by selling Hudson parts and cars until the museum was founded. Thus preserving the dealership’s authentic condition, the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum was opened in 1995 and now hosts some of the region’s best car shows and events, including the Show & Shine Car Show, the Orphan Car Show and the Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Car Show.
Housed inside a restored firehouse, the Michigan Firehouse Museum covers more than 26,000 square feet; this includes the original 1898 firehouse and a modern, multilevel exhibit display area. Here, they display 25 changing exhibits, including antique fire trucks and early fire rigs, multiple displays of historic artifacts and the largest collection of fire truck bells in the country.
Yankee Air Museum is an aviation, aerospace and science museum located at Willow Run Airport just a few minutes outside of Ypsilanti. Exhibits offer hands-on experiences and insights into World War I and World War II, Willow Run and Rosie the Riveter, The Vietnam War, aircraft restoration and so much more.
Dreamland Theater is unlike any other theater in Michigan. This small, non-profit puppet theater and community space is located in downtown Ypsilanti and offers classes and performances in puppetry, theater, music, independent film and other arts. To find out what’s going on right now at Dreamland, check out their Facebook page here.
The Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra story begins after Ypsi Pride Day in 1998 when two friends discussed the idea that our local musicians needed a community to develop their skills and our community needed an avenue to enjoy orchestral music. Soon after, a small group of friends and musicians gathered at Abe’s Coney Island to plan and the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1999. Today, they host several concert events throughout the year at Towsley Auditorium on the Washtenaw Community College campus.
Operating for more than 180 years and open every fall, Wiard’s Cider Mill and Apple Orchard offers u-pick apples, a u-pick pumpkin patch, delicious cider, a corn maze and haunted thrill park, mini golf, hayrides, and more. Throughout the months of September and October, Ypsi locals, Ann Arbor locals and Michiganders from all over the state flock to the orchard for both spooky haunts and family fun.
Maintained by Washtenaw County, Rolling Hills County Park encompasses 439 acres and represents one of the most recreational diverse destinations in the county. And it’s one of the most popular places to visit during the summer thanks to the Rolling Hills Water Park! Other attractions include walking trails, a fishing pond, a playground, an 18-hole disc golf course, sports fields and horseshoe pits.
Located on the Huron River in the center of Ypsilanti, Riverside Park consists of 13.8 acres and connects downtown Ypsi with Depot Town. When you’re not fishing, dog walking, picnicking or sunbathing, we recommend heading to the park for one of Ypsi’s best annual events, including ElvisFest, Michigan Summer Beer Festival and the Orphan Car Show.
Developed in partnership with Huron River Greenway, the Border-to-Border Trail is a non-motorized pathway that connects cities, parks, neighborhoods and trails throughout Washtenaw County. Eventually, the trail will span 70 total miles. And a section of those miles already connects Ypsilanti to Ann Arbor and even on to Dexter and Chelsea.
First Friday in Ypsilanti is a self-guided monthly art walk hosted at multiple venues throughout downtown Ypsi. When you participate, you can explore our community’s local businesses and enjoy free art activities, presentations and tastings.
This family-oriented fitness event is an annual fundraiser for Ypsilanti organization Dawn Farm. Community members at any fitness level are invited to register for one of four bike rides: a 5K/10K, a 25-mile, a 40-mile and a 58-mile. Registration includes a celebratory lunch and all the proceeds benefit Dawn Farm. For more information on this year’s event, click here.
Ypsilanti Proud began as a class project by the 1995 graduating class of Leadership Ypsilanti. Now a community celebration for more than 20 years, the event fosters community pride and encourages local business growth through simple beautification projects. Join more than 500 volunteers for this year’s event and you can help clean up litter, paint and plant flowers. For more information, click here.
Each year, Depot Town honors Independence Day with Michigan’s oldest parade. This tradition has been going strong and growing for nearly a century and fills our streets with patriotism, red, white and blue every July.
The oldest of the Michigan Brewers Guild’s four annual festivals, the Summer Beer Festival hosts more than 100 local breweries sampling more than 1,000 different craft beers. Guests can also enjoy live music from Michigan bands and food available for purchase. This event takes place every summer in July or August.
Ton-Up Motorcycle and Music Festival has been an Ypsi tradition for a decade now. Serving to promote and educate the public about the art, science and history of the motorcycle, motorcycle safety, and awesome music, this one-day event brings vintage and custom motorcycles, scooters and mopeds to Arbor Brewing Company’s Corner Brewery and also adds plenty of local music and tons of fun.
An indie art fair like none other, DIYpsi is a handmade art fair that takes place in Ypsilanti’s business districts once each summer and winter. Alongside incredible homemade foods and drinks, the event features unique handcrafted gifts that are sold by and in support of local, Ypsilanti artists.
Each year, the Ypsilanti Heritage, Arts, and Entertainment Festival gets bigger and better than ever before. In past years, they’ve had two stages in the music, entertainment and beer tent, local arts and crafts vendors, a juried competition, a Magical History Tour, a children’s entertainment area, and so much more! To stay up-to-date on everything coming this year, follow the team on Facebook.
Presented by Wayne County Airport Authority at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, this family event brings the United States Air Force Thunderbirds to Southeast Michigan. The air show features presentations from Team Oracle and Quicksilver P-51D as well and is a celebration of our region’s important aircraft history.
From the same team that brings FestiFools and FoolMoon to Ann Arbor every April, ypsiGLOW is a light-filled celebration through Downtown Ypsi. In the weeks leading up to the event, local artists, businesses and organizations host GLOWorkshops so you can create your own luminary and costume. Then, you can join the community in October for a celebration of Ypsilanti and art.
Through decades of history, our Ann Arbor area communities have been built around agriculture. As a result, our neighborhoods are home to thriving family farms, year-round farmers markets, several food and agriculture-based organizations, and dozens of community gardens.
This history has cultivated some of the most important organizations serving our communities, too! For example, Food Gatherers runs a Plant-A-Row program which invites gardeners anywhere to grow extra food for community food pantries. A few community gardens even have designated areas for Plant-A-Row and Food Gatherers.
We the People Growers Association is another force behind urban farming in Washtenaw County. This local farm business was founded by Melvin Parson, the man behind several community gardens in the area, and is working to build the We the People Opportunity Center, a world-class, nonprofit, urban farm in Ypsilanti. To find out how you can help, follow the team on Facebook here.
If you want to grow your own food, build community and help our local organizations, gardening is one of the best ways to do it. And while community gardens are great settings, these plots aren’t always easy to find. To help you find your new gardening home, we rounded up more than 35 community gardens operated by volunteers and organizations throughout Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Chelsea and Dexter.
Keep reading to learn more about each garden or organization, and keep in mind some sections have information on more than one garden site. Happy planting!
Project Grow is one of the driving forces behind urban farming and community gardens in the Ann Arbor area. This organization operates more than 20 garden sites around Ann Arbor, including plots at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Leslie Science and Nature Center, and West Park. On the list, you’ll also find three different Discovery Gardens which offer raised beds for limited mobility gardeners. To see the full list, click here.
The Pittsfield Township Master Plan includes initiatives to increase local food availability and their first community garden is working to do just that. Open Spring 2019, the Community Garden at Prairie Park will feature more than 15 different beds, six of which are located on an ADA Accessible surface. Other on-site materials include compost bins, an equipment shed, a pollinator garden and rain barrels. For more information on reserving your plot, click here.
The community garden at Frog Island Park is maintained by the adjacent neighborhoods at the north end, and plots are available to rent on a sliding scale. Open to all residents of the City of Ypsilanti and all skill levels, gardeners are welcome to grow both vegetable and flowers. For more information, check out the group, Frog Island Community Garden (FICG)on Facebook.
Parkridge Community Garden | Ypsilanti
Developed and maintained on city-owned land next to Parkridge Community Center, the Parkridge Community Garden is a hidden gem in Ypsilanti operated by a dedicated group of volunteers and community members. To find out how you can help cultivate the garden and when you can attend special events, join the group on Facebook here.
With assistance from Growing Hope and nearby neighborhoods, Normal Park Neighborhood Association developed three community gardens around Ypsi, including Recreation Park Community Garden, West Middle School Community Garden and Midtown Community Garden, which was developed with the Midtown Neighborhood Association. Plots in these gardens are available through registration and are open to all skill levels for planting organic fruits, vegetables and flowers.
The Chelsea Community Garden at Timber Town Park has plots available by reservation so residents can grow their own organic vegetables and flowers. And as a gardener in this tight-knit community, your household is expected to contribute at least six hours per plot in the gardening season to help with composting, mowing, weeding, administrative duties and more. For full details, click here.
Dexter’s community garden is located at 7651 Dan Hoey Road and plots are assigned to residents on a first come, first served basis. They offer three different sizes and types of plots, which you can reserve here.
Gardens developed for educational + charitable purposes
The University of Michigan has several gardens on campus, including the Campus Farm available to students and interns. Many of these gardens aren’t open to community members, but the Help Yourself Garden at the School of Dentistry is open to everyone! Begun in 2014 as a community resource, the garden is maintained by staff, students and faculty from the School of Dentistry. Anyone walking by is welcome to plant, water and weed, take photos, and even harvest your own veggies to take home. For more information, click here.
This community garden began at the Washtenaw County Youth Center in 2008 by local celebrity Lisa Gottlieb. Today, the garden is directed and guided by a group of Washtenaw County Master Gardeners and community volunteers, but students do all the planting, tending, harvesting and cooking. Together, they grow more than 40 types of vegetables and 10 herbs.
Ypsilanti District Library maintains gardens at YDL-Whittaker, YDL-Michigan and YDL-Superior. These include a community vegetable garden, The Learning Garden and a pollinator garden developed specially for bees. Through these gardens, you can learn about growing and cultivating your own garden. The Learning Garden welcomes any aspiring gardeners to lend a hand and learn. Additionally, fresh produce is given away to library visitors during the growing season!
The Seed Library is another great resource for local gardeners at Ypsilanti District Library. Available to anyone at YDL-Whittaker and YDL-Michigan with or without a library card, this library is a collection of seeds that anyone can take from and contribute to.
The land that is now home to St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor was once a family farm, and in 2010, they honored that history by breaking ground on one of the first hospital-based farms in the United States. Today, The Farm serves both as a staff community garden and as a tool for hospital patients and the community to learn, heal and eat locally grown food. If you want to taste the food for yourself, stop by the farmers market that pops up in the main lobby every Wednesday. To learn more about the educational opportunities and facilities on-site, click here.
Growing Hope is a local organization that serves to improve our lives and our communities through gardening and through increased access to healthy food. The Growing Hope Urban Farm began with just 1.5 acres in 2008 and has grown into a community gathering space, educational facility and setting where vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers can flourish. To get hands-on at the farm, check out Growing Hops events here which include Farm & Garden Volunteer Days, cleanup days, special celebrations and more.
This farm is located on 64 acres of the Dawn Farm property in Ypsi. When it began, the program served to put the land to better use and that mission has grown into a beautiful cooperative of varied growers, farmers and stewards who have built the perfect setting for flower growing, beekeeping, vegetable harvesting and even sheep raising. Currently, the land is home to an eight-acre food forest, bees, personal gardens, a market garden and Project Mow which is a sheep lawn mowing service. And the member program is driven by a gift and service system rather than a monetary one. Each member is encouraged to give back to Dawn Farm in an appropriate way of their own choosing, whether it’s through homegrown food, education, system design, community outreach or something else. To stay up-to-date on Cooperative events, follow the team on Facebook here.
If we missed your favorite community garden, tell us about it in the comments below.
Washtenaw County and Southeast Michigan offer some of the best and largest parks in the state as well as lakes, river access, hiking trails, biking opportunities and more. But when you’re looking for off-leash opportunities for your dog, it can be tough to navigate the rules, permit requirements and available areas.
To help, we rounded up the Ann Arbor area’s best dog parks available to both residents and non-residents. We also included links to important rules and permit information where necessary.
Keep reading to find your dog’s new favorite play area and be sure to mark your calendar for the annual Doggy Dip at Rolling Hills Water Park! It happens every year around Labor Day and you can get more information here.
Though not an off-leash area, Brighton Recreation Area offers one of the state’s only dog-friendly beaches. Available on a section of shoreline at Chilson Pond, dogs are welcome to play in the water but must be on leash and under control at all times. For more information on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources pet policy, click here.
Located in one of Ann Arbor’s best community parks, the off-leash dog play area at Broadway Park is nestled along the Huron River with a designed area for small and large dogs. For more information on the park, required permits, leash laws and other dog policies, click here.
The Northville park system currently includes two dog parks. The Cady Street Dog Park offers 0.7 acre of fenced-in play area behind the Northville Art House and has open hours every day of the week. A dog park membership, fee and mandatory education session are required before you and your dog can be admitted. That means the environment is kept safe for all dogs and owners! For more information, click here.
Available year-round to dog park members, Canton Dog Park offers six acres of fenced-in, outdoor space for dogs to run and play off-leash. The park’s separated sections are reserved for dogs under 20 pounds and dogs over 20 pounds so large and small pups can play safely, and owners are asked to keep watch over their dogs at all times. For membership information, click here.
Available year-round from sunrise to sunset, the Lyon Oaks Dog Park offers 13 acres of fenced play area, a separated small dog area, benches, shelter and picnic tables. All licensed dogs are welcome, and owners are asked to keep watch over their dogs at all times. To learn more about all the dog parks managed by Oakland County, click here.
The second of Northville’s dog parks, the off-leash play area at Marv Gans Community Park offers four acres of room to roam. The park also has its own parking lot for easy access. Before you and your dog can be admitted, a dog park membership, fee and mandatory education session are required. That means the environment is kept safe for all dogs and owners! For more information, click here.
Boasting a whopping 54 acres total, Mill Pond Park is the largest community park in Saline. In addition to boat launches, sports fields and walking trails, visitors are welcome to enjoy the Mill Pond Dog Park. Covering one acre, it’s the only local park that offers off-leash water access, so water-loving dogs will definitely have fun!
Located behind the Novi Ice Arena, Novi Dog Park offers three acres of off-leash fun with a separate area for small and timid dogs which covers 3/4 of an acre. The remaining one and a half acres are available to all other dogs. To enter the park, you’ll need to take the dog park quiz and be approved for a membership; for more information, click here.
One of three dog parks managed by the City of Ann Arbor, the dog run at Olson Park is conveniently located next to the parking lot. The fenced area is just one of the attractions in the 54-acre park. For more information on the park, required permits, leash laws and other dog policies, click here.
Paw Run Recreation Area is a private, 18-acre dog park in Dexter. Located on quiet, private property, the park boasts nearly one mile of mowed trails, a play area with a pond, an agility yard, a secure double-gated entry system, seating for humans and water for both humans and dogs. For information on the required temperament test and the various types of memberships and passes available, click here.
Swift Run Dog Park is jointly managed by The City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. Located at the northeast corner of the Swift Run landfill, the off-leash area covers ten acres making it the largest in the city. For more information on the park, required permits, leash laws and other dog policies, click here.
Where do you take your dog?
If you have a favorite place to take your dog in the Ann Arbor area, tell us about it in the comments below!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 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 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 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.
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 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.
Already learned something?
If you have a favorite class in Ann Arbor, tell us about it in the comments below!
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!
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 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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you love local music?
Tell us all about your favorite venues, events, music memories and local bands in the comments below.
If you’re not from Ann Arbor, you may be wondering how our hometown consistently lands on coffee rankings with famous coffee cities like Portland, San Francisco and Berkeley. In Apartment Guide’s 2019 ranking, The 10 Best Cities for Coffee Lovers in America, they measured the number of coffee businesses per resident, from the coffee shops to the roasteries themselves. And Ann Arbor ranks on the list with much larger cities all over the country.
If you’ve spent any time in Ann Arbor, you’ve probably sampled some of those roasteries and shops yourself. So we’re guessing you get it. Our city loves coffee.
Today, we’re rounding up the roasters that have put our region on the map. They’re roasting in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Milan, and many are selling online, too, so you can get your favorite coffees delivered right to your door.
Coffee Express was one of the first businesses outside of New York and San Francisco to focus on craft coffee. In 1982, founder Tom Isaia and his team started what is now an impressive roast-to-order system. They select the most distinctive Arabica coffees from around the world, then roast them fresh and distribute to food markets, specialty shops and coffee houses throughout the region. You can’t order online, but keep an eye out for Coffee Express while you’re shopping at your favorite grocery stores!
In early 2017, Ypsilanti’s Ugly Mug Coffee changed its name to Cross Street Coffee and upgraded their building, but they’re still roasting and serving the coffee we’ve come to love. Inside the full-service shop and roastery, you can get those coffees brewed fresh and you can purchase bags of beans to take home. Each one is filled with freshly roasted coffee made in small batches.
This coffee bar and tap house is a favorite in Ypsilanti for coffee, craft beer and community events. Built around the mantra, “craft, community and cause,” their motto matches their atmosphere. And their team is committed to investment in causes they believe in! Since 2015, they’ve volunteered thousands of hours, donated hundreds of pounds of produce and given more than $100,000 to local organizations. Stop in at Cultivate to meet the team and taste coffees roasted by their thoughtful and creative roaster, Jess Harmon.
Hyperion Coffee can be found freshly brewed in many of our favorite coffee shops in Ann Arbor and around the state, but they’re headquartered right here in Ypsi. When you visit the shop and roastery, you can taste this craft coffee right where it was roasted, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn everything from espresso extraction to cupping. Check out the educational Hyperion Labs here.
Every Mighty Good coffee starts with beans from select farms, mills and co-ops. Then, the beans are roasted in small batches and packaged to preserve freshness. Whether you’re picking up a bag from the grocery store or stopping in at the coffee shops downtown, near campus, in Arbor Hills or inside The Jefferson Market, you’re guaranteed a fresh cup of coffee that is both sustainable and empowering (for you and for the community!). Check out the team’s philosophy, mission and story here.
Milan Coffee Works has been an area favorite for years and is still considered one of the best local roasters in the region. At their headquarters—a charming, bright and welcoming coffee shop in Milan—they roast coffees in small batches from light roast to dark roast and everything in between. While you’re there, we also recommend tasting their homemade chai!
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% less energy than similar roasters and still create outstanding coffees (have you tasted Lobster Butter Love?) that have led to titles including the best coffee shop in Washtenaw County, the number one coffee shop in Southeast Michigan and more.
From the charming doodles that adorn both their bags and their shops to their award-winning (and locally famous) baristas, you can always tell just how much love goes into the coffee and the atmosphere at Stovetop Roasters. Theirs is a team of friendly locals who don’t take themselves too seriously. And that results in some outstanding coffee. You can taste it for yourself in the Stovetop Coffee Roasters Lab & Roastery in Ann Arbor, or swing by Stovetop Coffee Roasters Cafe in Grand Rapids.
Zingerman’s Coffee Co. 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. Located alongside Zingerman’s Creamery, Zingerman’s Bakehouse and Zingerman’s Candy Factory, you can get all the best in one convenient spot. And if you’re not in town, you can still shop Zingerman’s Coffee Company online through Zingerman’s Mail Order.
Sure, you know your ABCs. A stands for apple, L stands for lion and Z stands for zoo, right? But do you know your ABCs of Ann Arbor?
Today, we’re swapping apple for Ann Arbor Art Center, lion for Literati Bookstore, and zoo for Zingerman’s. Keep reading to get a peek into Ann Arbor’s best local businesses, landmarks, parks, attractions and characteristics. And don’t forget to practice your ABCs!
Since 1909, the Ann Arbor Art Center has served as a contemporary forum for the visual arts through education, exploration, collaboration and exhibition, and they strive to engage minds, expand perspectives, and inspire growth in students of all ages, teachers, artists and the community. Now, they engage more than 49,500 people every year through programming, exhibitions, fun classes and the 117 Gallery Shop.
Blank Slate Creamery is a local ice cream shop churning out homemade ice cream using fresh, all-natural ingredients. This little shop has even won numerous rankings as the top ice cream in Ann Arbor and throughout the state of Michigan!
This nonprofit organization hosts camps, classes, private events and programs that inspire compassionate connections to wildlife and allow the public to learn about ecology, biology, conservation and more through real animal encounters. In addition to offering these programs, they serve as a home for Al the alligator, Quinn the bald eagle, Jerome the Argentine Tegu, Harper the cougar, Bedhead the porcupine and several other rescue and transplant animals.
Detroit Street Filling Station comes to us from the team behind The Lunch Room, and every eatery and bakery run by this team serves food that is entirely plant-based. That’s why both The Lunch Room and Detroit Street Filling Station landed on The 15 Best Vegan + Vegetarian-friendly Restaurants in Ann Arbor. This particular restaurant is housed in the historic building that was once The Staebler Family Oil Company so it offers plant-based eats with a side of history (and a great patio!).
The Earle has been a downtown Ann Arbor favorite for more than 20 years. In addition to the decadent menu of French and Italian country cuisine, the romance is heightened by live jazz five nights a week, solo piano and solo guitar performances. Their world-class wine selection has over 1,200 options and wraps the evening up perfectly!
One of the community’s favorite annual events, FoolMoon is the nighttime kick-off event to an entire weekend of foolishness and revelry. Hosted by Wonderfool Productions, the event celebrates the coming of spring with dance, laughter and handmade luminaries, interactive installations, laser shows, live music performances, and other entertainment.
And FoolMoon is followed by FestiFools, the annual, daytime event of foolishness and art. This enormous public art spectacular showcases hundreds of colorful, bizarre, human-powered paper-mâché puppets made by members of the community and U of M students.
One of the highlights of Ann Arbor is the Huron River, and one of the best places to see the river is on top of it! Gallup Park Canoe Livery in Gallup Park offers canoe, two-person kayak, one-person kayak, kid kayak, paddle boat and rowboat rentals, plus concessions, merchandise and river-themed programs. And the park itself offers 69 acres of open space for play, recreation, picnicking and more.
Highlighted in 18 Things to Do with Kids in Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum is home to countless interactive exhibits where children and adults can get hands-on and discover their inner scientist. Visiting the museum any day of the week means you can explore exhibits like Michigan Nature, Lyons Country Store, MediaWorks, and DTE Energy Foundation Light and Optics.
The Jim Toy Community Center is a resource center that exists to provide information, education, social events and advocacy by and for the queer and ally community in our county. In addition to providing resources and awareness, they help foster an inclusive community here in Ann Arbor and host Ann Arbor Pride every summer.
Literati Bookstore 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 the team’s famous public typewriter which invites anyone and everyone to type. Over the years, they’ve accumulated thousands of love notes, poems, sentences and salutations. Published in 2018, “Notes From A Public Typewriter” compiles some of their favorites alongside essays, photos and more. Stop by to shop local for books, type your own note on the Literati public typewriter, and head upstairs to visit Literati Coffee, a full-service coffee shop.
Located on the university 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, which makes it one of our favorite budget-friendly attractions in town! To learn more, check out 14 Things to Do in Ann Arbor Under $20.
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. And during colder months, 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.
Based in the Ann Arbor area with facilities in both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Ozone House is a community-based, nonprofit agency that helps young people lead safe, healthy and productive lives. They do this by offering high-quality housing and support programs, as well as services that provide support, intervention, training and assistance to runaway, homeless and high-risk youth and their families. To learn more about this and more organizations in the area, check out 23 Local Charities in the Ann Arbor Area and How You Can Help.
Covering a whopping 11,000 acres, Pinckney State Recreation Area is one of our favorite outdoor destinations in the Ann Arbor area. Known for its extensive trail system and chain of excellent fishing lakes, the park also offers over forty miles of multi-use trails, picnicking, playgrounds, beaches, a concession stand, boat launches and rowboat, canoe, paddle boat and kayak rentals. To find more ways to opt outside in and around Ann Arbor, check out 8 Things to Do in the Ann Arbor Area for Outdoor Enthusiasts.
Q: Quality of life
Ann Arbor is consistently ranked on research and data-based lists of the best places to live in the United States. In 2018, our city ranked the number one city on the Livability Top 100 Best Places To Live. This list measures data points that cover economics, housing, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, social and civic capital, education and healthcare.
Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of World War II, representing the women who worked in factories and shipyards during the war. And many of those real Rosies worked in factories right here in the Ann Arbor area. To celebrate this, 3,755 people gathered at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center in Ypsilanti in 2017 to beat the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Rosie the Riveter. And this Ypsi gathering had 58 original Rosies who worked in factories during WWII!
In addition to celebrating history, this group gathered to support the Yankee Air Museum’s effort to save, preserve and renovate Rosie’s historic World War II-era factory: the Willow Run Bomber Plant located just minutes outside the heart of Ypsilanti.
Paired with its sister venue, The Michigan Theater, the State Theater is an excellent representation of Ann Arbor’s proud history and passion for indie art. Today, the two historic theaters offer regular showings of indie movies, limited releases and special screenings as well as live music shows, performances and more.
Every year, our Ann Arbor community hosts countless recreation and racing events to celebrate our community and our parks. The annual Ann Arbor Triathlon is the culmination of all of this and happens every year near the end of the summer. Beginning at Halfmoon Lake in Pinckney State Recreation Area, racers swim the waters of Halfmoon, bike the country roads of the surrounding rural area, and run the 5-mile classic Poto Trail course to complete the challenge. You can get more information here.
Owned and operated by the Jonna family, this neighborhood wine bar, dinner destination and event venue boasts a chic atmosphere, 150 wines and a New American menu. Their team has more than 40 years of experience in the food and wine business and offers everything from weekend brunch to wedding services.
Wolverine State Brewing Co. snagged their W in the ABCs of Ann Arbor because they represent both our community’s love and passion for the University of Michigan Wolverines (Go Blue!) and our community’s love for craft beer.
And this Ann Arbor craft brewery is the first and only all-lager microbrewery in the state of Michigan! That means a visit to the taproom will be an exploration of absolutely everything a lager can do—from their solid, approachable flagship to their innovative, ingredient-driven and aged creations.
X-Golf is a franchise and creator of what is called the most innovative and accurate golf simulator in the world. The Ann Arbor location is minutes from the heart of town in Saline and is different from other locations because the team also offers a full bar and restaurant with pizza, mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders and pretzels, craft beer, bar games like shuffleboard and darts, and nine big screen TVs. So you can come for a drink, come to cheer on your favorite football team, play some virtual golf, host your own event or even join X-League!
A celebration of Ann Arbor wouldn’t be complete without a feature on its surrounding communities, and Ypsilanti is a great place to start. This community is located on Ann Arbor’s eastern border, has a dense history in automobile production and World War II, and is now home to some of our favorite local museums, businesses, restaurants, events and parks in the area. To explore the community, check out Ypsi Real, a brand managed by Destination Ann Arbor.
A hallmark of Ann Arbor’s entrepreneurial character, Zingerman’s Company of Businesses began humbly in 1982 as a small delicatessen in a historic building that was once a neighborhood grocery store. But when founders Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig wanted to expand Zingerman’s Delicatessen, they chose to avoid the typical franchise model in favor of expanding their expertise, their team and their company into new, independent businesses. Now, our community boasts a whole array of businesses—from bakeries and restaurants to training services and wedding venues—operating under the Zingerman’s name. You can learn about all of them in Your Guide to 14 Zingerman’s Businesses in Ann Arbor.
Do you know your ABCs?
Give your favorite Ann Arbor landmarks, businesses and characteristics a shoutout in the comments below!
As Michigan’s top escape game, Decode offers some of the most interesting and complex escape rooms in the state—and they have facilities in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Detroit! In Ann Arbor, their facility offers a three-part adventure called Minerva’s Trilogy. The story is about Minerva, an adolescent Artificial Intelligence machine with lofty goals. The Minerva Project and Minerva’s Return are the first and last parts, both one-hour escape rooms. And the second part, Minerva’s Escape, is a free puzzle hunt through downtown Ann Arbor.
The University of Michigan ice arena, Yost Ice Arena, offers programs like Public Skate, Noon Skate and Sticks-n-Pucks. All three allow you to skate at one of the most recognized and iconic rinks in college hockey! Public Skate admission is $6 for adults and $4 for students, kids and U-M faculty. For $3 more dollars, you can rent skates, too. And Noon Skate prices are even lower. Get all the pricing details here and be sure to check the arena schedule before you go.
Both beginner and experienced climbers can find fun challenges and learning opportunities at Planet Rock. Ann Arbor’s premier, indoor rock climbing gym, Planet Rock offers more than 25,000 square feet of climbing surface, a full training area and a giant bouldering mushroom. Their second location in Madison Heights offers a 15-meter official competition speed climbing wall and an ice climbing training area as well!
Since 1909, the Ann Arbor Art Center has served as a contemporary forum for the visual arts through education, exploration, collaboration and exhibition. They do this through rotating exhibitions in the 117 Gallery, special events, and an impressive lineup of classes and workshops. Topics on the class calendar include everything from drawing and painting to metalsmithing and wheel throwing in the Ceramics Studio. To see the class schedule, click here.
When you sign up for a baking or cooking class at Zingerman’s Bakehouse, you’ll get an insight into their delicious breads, pastries, cookies, cakes and more! The class schedule includes pizza, doughnuts, French baguettes, soups, brownies and so much more. The best part is Zingerman’s takes care of all the cleanup and you get to take home your leftovers. Check out the class schedule here.
The coffee source for many of our favorite coffee shops in Ann Arbor and around the state, Hyperion is an outstanding roaster located right in Ypsi. In addition to brewing their own coffees and serving them in their café, they host Labs where you can learn, sip coffee and take some home, too! Topics cover every process of roasting and go all the way to home brewing methods. To learn more about Hyperion Labs, click here.
Repeatedly named as Ann Arbor’s best cocktail bar, The Last Word is a hidden gem, literally. Located underground with no exterior signage, and offering dim lighting and an outstanding bar program, it’s a bar designed in true speakeasy fashion. The drink menu includes high-quality wines and craft beers alongside cocktails prepared with fresh ingredients and house-made syrups and bitters. The food menu includes crafted dishes like Pork Belly Tostada, Duck Confit Hash and Fried Chicken Buns—and it’s available until midnight during the week and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday!
Aventura is a charming spot in the heart of Downtown Ann Arbor. And tapas are the perfect date night dish! Their culinary team offers authentic Spanish cuisine and culture including tapas, paella, vino and delicious, artisan cocktails. Inspired by the old-world atmosphere and the historical nature of the building itself, restaurateur Sava Lelcaj designed the restaurant from the bones of the original, 1872 space by utilizing classic Spanish design elements paired with works by local artists.
The University of Michigan’s art collection is among the oldest in the nation. Years before the great art museums of Detroit, Toledo or Chicago were founded, UM students and the general public had free access to the on-campus gallery. Today, you can explore more than 20,000 artworks, special exhibits and educational experiences, and admission is still free!
Yankee Air Museum is an aviation, aerospace and science museum located at Willow Run Airport just a few minutes outside of Ypsilanti. Exhibits offer hands-on experiences and insights into World War I and World War II, Willow Run and Rosie the Riveter, The Vietnam War, aircraft restoration and so much more.
The Michigan Theater Foundation was founded in 1979 to save the Michigan Theater from the wrecking ball—and we’re so glad it was. Founded in 1928, the theater is now 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. Or, head over to the historic State Theatre for even more movies and shows!
The Ark is Ann Arbor’s destination for live music. Founded in 1965 by four area churches, the venue now 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.
Originally opened in 1984, this comedy headquarters offers a lineup of up-and-coming stand-up stars, as well as nationally touring acts. The 18+ venue has hosted Tim Allen, Drew Carey and Ellen DeGeneres in the past, and has a calendar full of events every single weekend! You can see that calendar here.
Located in Chelsea, The Purple Rose was founded in 1991 by Chelsea native and critically-acclaimed actor, Jeff Daniels. The building that houses the company’s Garage Theatre was once a used car and bus garage owned by Daniels’ grandfather. Now, the facility has developed into one of the best places for theatre production in the state. Click here to see the schedule of current and upcoming shows.
Pointless Brewery & Theatre combines two things that make for the perfect date night: craft beer and laughter. In the taproom, you can taste beers brewed on-site and enjoy frequent events like league shows, improv games, showcases and more. To see the theatre and improv show schedule, click here.
Do you have a go-to?
If you already have the perfect winter date idea in the Ann Arbor area, tell us about it in the comments below!
Whether it’s the beginning of a new year or the middle of the year, beginning a new fitness practice is always a good idea. Doing so can energize your current program, help you reach your health goals, introduce you to a new community and so much more.
We rounded up a selection of the Ann Arbor area’s best facilities that have programs, equipment, trainers, classes and education opportunities suitable for newbies and old pros alike. Keep reading to find your perfect fit!
The Ann Arbor YMCA offers a six-lane, 25-yard pool for lap swim, a zero-depth entry family pool, an indoor track, locker rooms, and an 8,200-square-foot fitness floor complete with cardio equipment, a fully-equipped free weight area, lifting machines, stretching areas and more. Your membership can grant you daily access as well as fitness classes, introductory programs, childcare, volunteer opportunities and more.
Crunch gyms can be found in locations throughout the country offering fun group fitness classes, weight lifting equipment, cardio machines, professional personal trainers and so much more. And their defining characteristic is their focus on judgment-free encouragement and inclusivity. Ann Arbor’s Crunch facility was once Arbor Fit Club and, as the gym makes its transition, Crunch will keep the smiling faces, experienced trainers, and hometown atmosphere we love while adding extra bonuses like new equipment and improved facilities.
Chelsea Wellness Center is a community facility perfectly suited to help meet every fitness and health goal. Their services include medical fitness programs, group exercise classes, personal training, massage therapy, Pilates and aquatics programs, nutrition counseling, childcare, wellness coaching and a café where you can get healthy snacks and beverages.
In addition to offering a state-of-the-art fitness facility, The Health & Fitness Center at Washtenaw Community College offers services like personal training, fitness assessments, childcare, nutrition counseling, group fitness classes and more. And access isn’t limited to college students!
Locations in Ypsilanti, Saline, South Lyon, Novi and more |Facebook
Powerhouse Gym originally opened in Highland Park, Michigan in 1974. Today, the health club chain has locations all over the world, including several in the Ann Arbor area. Here, you can find facilities in Ypsilanti, Saline, South Lyon and Novi, and each one offers the motivating Powerhouse atmosphere and premier exercise equipment.
734 is Ypsilanti’s original CrossFit gym. Their 4,000-square-foot facility is dedicated to functional fitness which means their equipment focuses on pushing, pulling, jumping, lifting, climbing, throwing and every other exercise the human body is innately capable of performing. To learn more about their state-of-the-art facility and their coaches, check out the website here.
CrossFit TreeTown is the only CrossFit affiliate on the north side of Ann Arbor and is dedicated to making CrossFit an approachable and successful practice for everyone regardless of experience or fitness level. And their programs aren’t limited to traditional CrossFit! They also offer Goal Oriented Aerobic Training, a weightlifting club and yoga classes.
CrossFit Ypsilanti is a tight-knit community of fitness lovers, health nuts and trainers. To foster their atmosphere of community and strength, each fitness class is limited to 15 people to ensure you can get individual attention and support. Programs in CrossFit, kettlebell, Olympic lifting and nutrition are all available.
Ann Arbor’s Joust Strength + Fitness exists to help you achieve all of your strength-training goals, find the perfect fitness program, learn proper nutrition, and create a diverse community of fitness enthusiasts. In their CrossFit training facility, they also offer kettlebells, yoga, gymnastics and Olympic weightlifting and nutrition services with the on-site RD.
Wolverine is one of the largest and cleanest CrossFit gyms in Ann Arbor. Their huge, open facility covers 6,000 square feet of air-conditioned and heated indoor space as well as programs for newbies, old pros, competitors, weightlifters and more. Because they’re so community focused, they also host events and potlucks for members!
Applied Fitness Solutions offers a unique program of fitness training and amenities that combines personal fitness coaching with fun group workouts. Their service includes check-ins with your coach outside of the gym, online tools, fitness assessments and more. To learn more about how their team is different, check out the website here.
Blue Lion Fitness is a team of experts and a community of people all striving to reach and support their health and fitness goals. Their program is centered around unique, one-hour classes which include elements of high-intensity interval training, division I strength and conditioning, core strength training, suspension training and plyometric training. To see the class calendar which offers options every day of the week, check out the website here.
Imagine is a unique fitness center, gym and yoga studio all rolled into one. Their tailored health and wellness programs offer personalized support and treatment for group training in cycling, weightlifting, circuit training, various styles and levels of yoga, Pilates and more. As an added bonus, they also have heated floors in their studio rooms!
Founded in 2012, Wildly Fit has grown into a center for growth, learning and recovery through their fitness center and two Movement Lab locations. Together, these facilities offer physical therapy, recovery programs, corrective fitness, massage therapy, personal training, group fitness, private classes and more. These services can help members manage chronic illness, improve athletic performance and reduce everyday discomforts.
Located in the heart of downtown Ypsilanti, this boutique studio offers group exercise classes, personal training, indoor cycling, yoga, Pilates, nutrition coaching, Zumba and more. And classes are always limited to 15 people to ensure personalized attention and support. Each week, Ypsi Studio offers more than 25 group exercise classes and you can see the schedule here.
Do you have a favorite?
If you want to recommend a local gym, let us know in the comments below!