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18 Things to Do with Kids in Ann Arbor

things to do with kids in Ann Arbor Michigan

Sure, we may be a little biased, but we think the Ann Arbor area is the best place to live, work and play no matter your age. Not only are we a hub for culture, entertainment and education, but our city boasts some of the most adventurous, playful and fun destinations, organizations and businesses in the region.

To prove it, we rounded up 18 things you can do with kids in Ann Arbor. From educational opportunities to outdoor experiences, there’s something for every age and every interest in our kid-friendly guide.

 

1. Visit Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

Hands-on museum Cupcake station things to do with kids in Ann Arbor

The Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum specializes in interactive exhibits with the goal of helping both children and adults discover the scientist within them. 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. Learn more about the exhibits here.

 

2. Explore Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Matthaei Botanical Gardens boasts 11 outdoor garden spaces which feature bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials, and seasonally blooming flowers from spring to first frost. Outside, you’ll find nearly three miles of trails and inside the year-round conservatory, you’ll find plants from around the world.

 

3. Play in Gallup Park

Ann Arbor’s most popular recreation area, Gallup Park is a 69-acre park located along the Huron River and Geddes Pond. A haven for kids who love being outside, the park offers two playgrounds, a canoe livery for riding down the river, picnic areas and grills, two picnic shelters, an open field for play, and over three miles of asphalt trails suitable for biking, rollerblading, walking and running.

 

4. Meet the animals at The Petting Farm at Domino’s Farms

Domino’s Farms began back in 1925 and The Petting Farm, located on what is now a twenty-acre farm, opened its doors in 1984. When you stop by, you can meet alpacas, cattle, chickens, ducks, goats, llamas, peacocks, pigs, ponies, sheep, rabbits and Badger the cat!

 

5. Climb at Planet Rock

Planet Rock Ann Arbor things to do with kids

Photo courtesy of Beth Gonzales via Planet Rock

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! Special programs for children ages 4 – 19 encourage body awareness, coordination and problem-solving skills, and each program includes free belay lessons for parents and free climbing while their child is in class!

 

6. Tour Chelsea Milling Company

Free and open to the public with a reservation, tours of Chelsea Milling Company — the home of JIFFY Mix — take guests through the packaging plant on a one-hour excursion that includes a video presentation, refreshments and a product sample. Yes, that means you get to enjoy a free muffin!

 

7. Shop at Mudpuddles

Located in Kerrytown in downtown Ann Arbor, Mudpuddles is a specialty toy store filled with smart and creative toys and games for all ages. Local owners Jan and Sharon hand select every item in the store so you can rest assured each one will be suitable for education and fun!

 

8. Peruse the Ann Arbor Farmers Market

The Ann Arbor Farmers Market occurs year-round on Saturdays and again on Wednesdays from May through December. As a bonus during the summer and fall, you can enjoy the monthly Food Truck Rally, too! Get more information and specific dates here.

 

9. Learn at Leslie Science and Nature Center

Leslie Science and Nature Center Ann Arbor Michigan things to do with kids

Photo courtesy of Leslie Science and Nature Center

This educational facility on the north side of Ann Arbor encourages sustainability, understanding and regular nature encounters. Join the fun and visit the grounds, trails and raptor enclosures outside any day from sunrise to sunset. The Critter House is open most Sundays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and allows you to observe frogs, turtles, snakes and more. Free admission makes this one of our favorite budget-friendly options!

 

10. Visit Kidopolis

Kidopolis Imagination & Discovery Center is a safe and fun play space for all of Ann Arbor’s little ones. With a strong emphasis on development, the play facility is designed to support cognitive development, demonstrate clever and fun ways to recycle, and facilitate personalized, self-guided play. Kids ages 2 to 100 can stop in and play in Kidopolis’ Mini Hollywood!

 

11. See a show at Young People’s Theater

Young People’s Theater is a completely volunteer-run organization in Ann Arbor that provides professional theater experiences, training and educational opportunities for young people from preschool through high school. From summer camps and dance classes to live stage performances, there’s something for every family to enjoy!

 

12. Jump at AirTime Trampoline Park

Airtime has locations all over Michigan, including Ann Arbor and Canton. Each park has open jump areas as well as separate dodgeball zones, Olympic-grade foam mosh pits and a basketball “Jam Session” area for the aspiring basketball star in all of us.

 

13. Eat at The Cupcake Station

Cupcake station things to do with kids in Ann Arbor

The Cupcake Station has five locations in the Ann Arbor area, including one downtown. Made in-house and from scratch every day, you’ll find 24 unique flavors available each time you visit. Stop in to try creations like Cotton Candy Sweet Treat, Hot Fudge Sundae and Strawberry Sunshine!

 

14. Scream for ice cream

Speaking of sweet treats, handmade, local ice cream is just about the most kid-friendly item on the menu. And we rounded up the ten best places for ice cream in Ann Arbor to make your ice cream adventure quick and easy!

 

15. Go on an outdoor adventure

If you have a kid who loves outdoor adventures, you’re in the right place. Here in Ann Arbor, we have countless open spaces and parks within the city limits and we’re just minutes from some of the state’s most impressive recreation areas. To get the low down on our favorite activities — from hiking to horseback riding and even disc golf — check out 8 Things to Do in the Ann Arbor Area for Outdoor Enthusiasts.  

 

16. Visit The Creature Conservancy

The Creature Conservancy Ann Arbor things to do with kids

Photo courtesy of Kim Ellis via The Creature Conservancy

The Creature Conservancy began back in 2005 when Al the alligator was left abandoned at the door of a local veterinary hospital. He was soon joined by a sloth rescued from a trailer park, a macaw left at a pet boarding facility, ball pythons found in a dumpster, and iguanas wandering loose on the UM campus. Now, you can meet Al, Poco the sloth, Tulip and Maybelline the red kangaroos, as well as all their friends on Saturdays and Sundays between 1 and 5 p.m.

 

17. Play at Pinball Pete’s

Pinball Pete’s opened its doors more than 30 years ago and has since become the Ann Arbor destination for arcade fun. Kids and adults can spend their quarters along the entire wall of pinball machines, play video games, and try their hands at pool or air hockey!

 

18. Play laser tag at Zap Zone

The Ypsilanti Zap Zone is one of our favorite places for laser tag, but that’s not all they have. Enjoy an entire day of fun with bumper cars, an arcade and a virtual reality experience.

 

Do you know a local Ann Arbor kid?

Tell us about their favorite activities and destinations in the comments below!

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The 13 Best Places to Get a Burger in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor Michigan best burger

Amongst all the food trends we love (shout out to you, brunch!), there’s one we can rest assured will never go out of style: the burger. From fast, casual eats to gourmet creations, the toppings may get more strange but the mouth-watering, beloved burger remains an American classic.

To show off our own local flavors, we’re touring Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and even hopping over to Saline to track down the best burgers in town. Be warned, our guide features burgers (and photos) that will likely cause an immediate craving. But luckily, these hometown spots are right down the street. Enjoy!

 

Elevation Burger | Ann Arbor

3365 Washtenaw Ave + 529 E Liberty St | Facebook

Elevation Burgers Ann Arbor Michigan best burger

Photo courtesy of Elevation Burger

This chain restaurant has two Ann Arbor locations and is dedicated to the fine art of the burger. Theirs feature 100% organic, grass-fed and free-range meat. You can choose from five delicious signature burgers, vegetarian and vegan options, or build your own. Then, be sure to load up on fresh cut fries and thick, hand-scooped milkshakes!

 

Frita Batidos | Ann Arbor

117 W Washington St | Facebook

It’s all in a name, right? And at Frita Batidos, the burgers are the main attraction. The Frita is a traditional Cuban burger made from spicy chorizo and served with shoestring fries on a soft egg bun. A Batido is a tropical milkshake made with fresh fruit, crushed ice, sweetened milk and rum (optional, of course). That’s what we call a perfect pairing!

 

Sidetrack Bar & Grill | Ypsilanti

56 E Cross St | Facebook

Sidetrack Bar and Grill Ann Arbor Michigan best burger Ypsilanti

Photo courtesy of Sidetrack Bar & Grill

Sidetrack has been a Ypsilanti 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 neighborhood atmospheres. Their burger — Our Famous Burger — was included on GQ’s 2005 round-up of The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die, so it’s probably about time you tried it.

 

Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger | Ann Arbor

304 S Ashley St | Facebook

If you’ve been in Ann Arbor very long, you know Krazy Jim’s — and you know exactly how to order. They’ve been serving up customizable sliders with one-of-a-kind style since 1953. When you arrive, simply grab a tray and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to order. By the time you reach the end of the line, you’ll have one of Ann Arbor’s best burgers prepared just the way you want it and made with fresh beef, ground in-house daily.

 

Rappourt Brew & Chew | Ann Arbor

2721 Plymouth Rd | Facebook

The family-owned Rappourt offers a communal dining room and a true community atmosphere. Pair that with a gourmet burger and you’ll leave happy every time. Their menu offers three signature burgers: their namesake burger topped with Gruyere cheese, the A2 Melt with Wolverine Lager beer cheese, and the Diner Burger which features a smashed patty and classic toppings. Additional bonuses include 48 taps of rotating craft beer and a delicious Vegetarian Black Bean Burger!

 

Hunter House Hamburgers | Ann Arbor

609 E William St | Facebook

Hunter House Hamburgers Ann Arbor Michigan best burger

Photo courtesy of Hunter House Hamburgers

Hunter House Hamburgers was established in 1952. Their original home is a small, white pill-box diner on the first paved road in America in Birmingham, Michigan. Their second location opened in Ann Arbor in 2014. Consistently named one of the best restaurants in the Detroit area and frequently ranked the best burger in Michigan, Hunter House is a must-visit!

 

Got Burger | Ypsilanti

301 W Cross St | Facebook

In the Got Burger kitchen, the meat is always fresh and the burgers are always handcrafted with natural ingredients. If you decide not to build your own, you can choose from nine signature options, including the vegetarian Portobello Bliss. But with choices like the Puree Garlic Burger served with swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pureed garlic sauce, it may be tough to choose.

 

Craft Breww City | Ann Arbor

640 Packard St | Facebook

CBC is a sports bar, a beer bar and a gourmet restaurant all rolled into one. Alongside one of the biggest selections of craft brews and beers anywhere, they offer a menu of pub-inspired eats that includes everything from Duck Poutine to Chicken Parmesan. And right in the middle of that menu, you’ll find ten one-of-a-kind signature burgers. For example, the Pretzel Burger comes with maple glazed bacon, cherry BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese on a pretzel bun. Yum!

 

HopCat | Ann Arbor

311 Maynard St | Facebook

HopCat is known for a lot of things, including their famous Crack Fries and having 100 beers on tap. Today, we’re making sure they’re known as the home of one of the best burgers in Ann Arbor. In addition to a classic burger, a turkey burger and a black bean burger, the menu features four stuffed burgers: a half-pound of signature beef patty stuffed with Wisconsin American cheese! See the menu here then get to HopCat ASAP (you’ll want to, trust us).

 

Sizzles Burgers and Subs | Ypsilanti

10 N Adams St | Facebook

Sizzles Ann Arbor Michigan best burger

Photo courtesy of Sizzles Burgers and Subs

Sizzles may craft some of the best hoagies and sub sandwiches in town, but the other half of their menu is dedicated to gourmet burgers. The namesake Sizzles Burger is stuffed with cheese and topped with fresh jalapeños, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, romaine lettuce and tomatoes. You’re definitely going to want to try it!

 

Dan’s Downtown Tavern | Saline

103 E Michigan Ave | Facebook

Offering a laid back, neighborhood bar setting, Dan’s Downtown Tavern has been a Saline favorite for years. Their menu features comfort foods, one of the largest craft beer selections in town and an entire section dedicated to custom burgers. You can choose one of 15 creative flavor combinations — from the Cowboy topped with chili, bacon, jalapeños and BBQ sauce to the Peanut Butter Burger which includes a peanut butter infused patty!

 

The Wurst Bar | Ypsilanti

705 W Cross St | Facebook

The Wurst Bar may be named for its gourmet bratwursts, but the burgers should definitely not be overlooked. Made with house-ground brisket and dipped in a blend of umami-rich sauces and flat iron grilled, every 6.5-ounce burger is cooked to order and comes atop a pretzel, sesame seed or brioche bun. Is your mouth watering yet? If not, check out Mr. Monster on the menu.

 

Zingerman’s Roadhouse | Ann Arbor

2501 Jackson Ave | Facebook

Zingerman’s Roadhouse is a go-to option amongst many Ann Arbor locals. So when you’re craving a burger, it’s always a safe bet. This branch of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses brings the fresh ideals of Zingerman’s together with globally-inspired eats and locally-sourced ingredients. That means when you order your burger, you can bet the hand-formed patty was made with Washtenaw County meat!

To learn more about all the Zingerman’s businesses in Ann Arbor, check out Your Guide to 14 Zingerman’s Businesses in Ann Arbor.

 

Do you have a favorite local burger?

Tell us about it in the comments below!

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The 15 Essential Ann Arbor Area Events to Attend August 2018

Ann Arbor Michigan events summer August 2018

The culmination of summer fun in Southeast Michigan, August brings some of the season’s most highly anticipated festivals, races and events. Taking place in communities throughout the region, you can enjoy live music, tractor pulls, parades, craft fairs and even a United States Air Force air show!

Peruse our top picks for August events below and mark your calendars so you don’t miss a second of the action.

 

 

Arts + Culture

Ann Arbor Michigan events summer August 2018

 

Milan Bluegrass Festival | Milan

August 1 – 4 | KC Campground

Featuring both well-known bluegrass bands and up-and-coming acts, Milan Bluegrass is a can’t-miss music festival in Southeast Michigan. The 2018 event features five different bands each day and a special guest on Saturday! For the full concert experience, we recommend camping on-site with KC Campground.

 

Sonic Lunch | Ann Arbor

June 7 – August 30, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Downtown Ann Arbor

Since 2008, Sonic Lunch has been bringing free, outdoor concerts to the streets of downtown Ann Arbor every summer. Suitable for all ages, the 2018 concert series kicked off on June 7th and continues through August with shows on August 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th. All shows begin at 11:30 a.m. and you can see the full lineup here.

 

Ton-Up | Ypsilanti

August 12, 12 – 10 p.m. | Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery

Ton-Up Motorcycle and Music Festival is returning to Ypsilanti for the ninth year this August! 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 will bring vintage and custom motorcycles, scooters and mopeds to ABC in addition to local music and tons of fun.

 

Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival | Dexter

August 13 – 18 | Monument Park

En plein air is the act of painting outdoors, and the Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival invites artists and community members to do just that! Over the course of four days, local and visiting artists will paint in and around Dexter. Then, non-painters can view and purchase artwork at the three-day exhibit in Monument Park.

 

Ann Arbor Blues Festival | Ann Arbor

August 17 – 18 | Washtenaw Farm Council Fairgrounds

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. This August, it all comes back to the Washtenaw Farm Council Fairgrounds for an all-ages music event you don’t want to miss. Buy your tickets here.

 

DIYpsi | Ypsilanti

August 18 – 19 | Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery

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, you’ll find unique handcrafted gifts that are sold by and in support of local, Ypsilanti artists!

 

 

Community Celebrations

Ann Arbor Michigan events summer August 2018

 

Ann Arbor Pride | Ann Arbor

August 3 – 5 | Kerrytown  

Originally called OUTFest, Ann Arbor Pride has been showcasing equality and LGBTQ support for decades. Throughout the Kerrytown District this August, you can enjoy a parade, face painting, family-friendly activities, presentations, a silent auction and more. Proceeds from the event benefit the Jim Toy Community Center.

 

Dexter Daze | Dexter

August 10 – 11 | Various locations

For nearly 50 years, Dexter Daze has been providing an occasion for our communities’ families to come together and celebrate with artisans and crafters, local businesses and free entertainment.

 

Saline’s Summerfest | Saline

August 10 – 11 | Various locations

Returning to the streets of downtown Saline this month, Saline’s Summerfest is a hometown celebration like none other. In 2018, the event promises even more food, fun, music and memories but with all the local flare we’ve come to love.

 

Chelsea Community Fair | Chelsea

August 21 – 25 | Chelsea Community Fairgrounds

One of our favorite community events in the region, the Chelsea Community Fair includes a rodeo, multiple tractor pulls, livestock competitions and auctions, demolition derbies, a local merchant tent, and more.

 

YpsiFest | Ypsilanti

August 24 – 26 | Riverside Park

In 2018, the Ypsilanti Heritage, Arts, and Entertainment Festival will be bigger and better than ever before. There will be two stages in the music, entertainment and beer tent, more arts and crafts vendors as well as a juried competition, an expanded Magical History Tour, a larger children’s entertainment area, and so much more! To stay up-to-date on everything coming this year, follow the team on Facebook.

 

Thunder Over Michigan Air Show | Ypsilanti

August 25 – 26 | Willow Run Airport

Presented by Wayne County Airport Authority at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, this family event is bringing the United States Air Force Thunderbirds to Southeast Michigan. The air show will feature presentations from Team Oracle and Quicksilver P-51D as well so buy your tickets today and don’t miss it. Kids 15 years and younger are admitted for free!

 

Saline Community Fair | Saline

August 29 – September 3 | Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds

Every year, the Saline Community Fair brings together the community to celebrate Saline’s favorite activities, local vendors and organizations. This year’s event will feature tractor pulls, carnival rides, racing and derbies, rodeo presentations, livestock and animal competitions and so much more.

 

 

Sports

Ann Arbor Michigan events summer August 2018

 

Ann Arbor Triathlon | Ann Arbor

August 4, 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | Pinckney Recreation Area  

The third and final event in the Wolverine State Brewing Company Series of Races, the Ann Arbor Triathlon is the culmination of all your training, all your running, all your biking and all your swimming. Beginning at Halfmoon Lake in Pinckney State Recreation Area, you’ll swim the waters of Halfmoon, bike the country roads of the surrounding rural area, then run the 5-mile classic Poto Trail course to complete the challenge. If you’re ready, register online here.

 

Run Manchester | Manchester

August 4, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. | Downtown Manchester  

Run Manchester is the fun, race event that kicks off Manchester Street Festival. Starting in historic downtown Manchester racers will run through quaint neighborhoods, past award-winning schools and finish back downtown for cold drinks, live music, a vintage car show, a kids corner, duck races, a pancake breakfast and more!

 

 

Happy August!

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The 15 Food Trucks You Have to Try in Ann Arbor This Summer

Food Truck Ann Arbor Michigan

For seven years, the foodies of Ann Arbor enjoyed Mark’s Carts, the town’s original food cart and mobile eatery courtyard. Though Mark’s Carts closed down for good in 2017, the trucks that called it home are still thriving and can be found at events throughout Southeast Michigan.

To celebrate those local, mobile entrepreneurs alongside the newbies, the foodies and the innovators, we rounded up the must-try food trucks in Metro Detroit and the Ann Arbor area. Found frequently at events in Ann Arbor and in our surrounding communities, it won’t be hard to track these down — and you’ll be glad you did!

 

Simply Spanish

Track them down on Facebook

Simply Spanish Food Truck Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Simply Spanish

This mobile eatery brings the authentic flavors of Spain to the streets of Southeast Michigan. The team’s paellas and tapas are prepared with a mix of locally sourced ingredients and imported Spanish products. They became an Ann Arbor favorite at Mark’s Carts and now can be found at events throughout the region.

 

Ricewood

Follow them on Facebook

Famous amongst all Ann Arbor foodies, this barbecue joint has a permanent parking spot at 1928 Packard St. While enjoying the sun and the outdoor seating, you can taste brisket, pork shoulder and spare rib served with Pacific island style atop rice, scallion, tomato and a splash of finadene.

 

Wood Fired Up

Track them down on Facebook

Pizza is one of our favorite food truck meals and Wood Fired Up takes the classic pie up a notch. Each pizza is topped with hand-pulled mozzarella and cooks in the wood fire pizza oven in less than two minutes! During the summer, you can find this truck and mobile pizza oven at Sundays in the Garden at Cultivate Coffee & TapHouse, the Ann Arbor Farmers Market Food Truck Rallies and more.

 

Cosa Sabrosa

Track them down on Facebook

Cosa Sabrosa Food Truck Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Cosa Sabrosa

Cosa Sabrosa is an Ann Arbor original serving up some of the best tacos and Mexican food in the area. Using natural and local ingredients, the menu features seven different tacos — including vegetarian options — as well as burritos, homemade salsas, sides and drinks like watermelon limeade and horchata!

 

Crepe Day-Twah

Track them down on Facebook

One of the most recognizable food trucks in Metro Detroit, Crepe Day-Twah serves up delectable crepes filled with ingredients like mini marshmallows, Oreo crumbles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and chocolate syrup in the sweet options and thinly sliced prosciutto, mozzarella, baby spinach and pear slices amongst the savory.

 

Jamerican Grill

Track them down on Facebook

Based out of Ypsilanti, Jamerican Grill specializes in Jamaican Jerk, Jamaican street food and American bison burgers served with hand-cut french fries. Their colorful truck can be spotted at events throughout Metro Detroit and the rest of Southeast Michigan.

 

Matt & Mo’s

Track them down on Facebook

All handmade by an Italian from Chicago, Matt and Mo’s serves up authentic, homemade, Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches and sausages. Savory toppings like sautéed sweet green bell peppers and hot giardiniera ensure every sandwich is flavor packed!

 

MI Burger Burger

Track them down on Facebook

MI Burger Burger Food Truck Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of MI Burger Burger

One of Southeast Michigan’s favorite mobile eateries, MI Burger Burger offers hand-pattied burgers made with a locally sourced, custom ground beef blend. Heaps of creative toppings and options like the donut slider make this one of our favorite burgers in the region!

 

Delectabowl

Track them down on Facebook

Whether your diet is gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or strictly bread, cheese and meat, this food truck has a custom or signature bowl for you. Using local, Michigan products, the team crafts fresh, home-cooked comfort food in easy to manage bowls so you can enjoy it on the go.

 

MI POPS

Track them down on Facebook

All natural, gluten and nut free, locally made and featuring 100% Michigan fruit, MI Pops’ ice pops are the sustainable, cold treat you need this summer. Each seasonal flavor is handcrafted without artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or colors.

 

Hero or Villain

Track them down on Facebook

This Detroit-based food truck is the go-to for gourmet sandwiches with character (literally). Their creations are named after heroes like Thor, Hawkeye and Megatron, and they’re filled with fresh ingredients, sourced as locally as possible. You can catch them at events around Metro Detroit and at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market Food Truck Rallies!

 

Naughty Boy’s Rolled Ice Cream

Track them down on Facebook

Naughty Boy's Rolled Ice Cream Food Truck Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Naughty Boy’s Rolled Ice Cream

Using the freshest ingredients sourced from local farms and Michigan communities, Ypsi-based Naughty Boy’s Rolled Ice Cream crafts trendy, Thai-style ice cream right in front of you. Made without artificial sweeteners or preservatives, you can rest assured your dessert is always fresh and always delicious.

 

Petey’s Donuts

Track them down on Facebook

Petey’s Donuts takes homemade apple cider donuts, coffee and fresh apple cider on the go. Found at events throughout Metro Detroit and Southeast Michigan, this little red trailer is one of our favorite summer sightings!

 

Shimmy Shack

Track them down on Facebook

Always vegan and always gluten-free, the food at Shimmy Shack turns vegetarian and vegan food stereotypes on their heads. Featuring American classics like burgers, coneys, chili, fries and milkshakes, the menu includes mouthwatering descriptions like homemade sweet potato-black bean chili and a grilled lentil patty topped with vegan cheese.

 

TruckShuka

Track them down on Facebook

TruckShuka serves up flavors not often found on the Metro Detroit food truck scene: authentic Israeli street food! Filled with bowls, platters and artisan Jerusalem pita sandwiches, the menu is influenced by Michigan ingredients but stays true to the scratch made, healthy, tasty cuisine of Jerusalem.

 

Do you have a favorite?

Let us know in the comments below!

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The 15 Swimming Holes Near Ann Arbor You Need to Visit This Summer

Swimming beaches and lake near Ann Arbor Michigan

Our home state of Michigan — The Great Lakes State — borders four of the Great Lakes and contains more than 11,000 inland lakes. So, when you’re looking for a summer swimming destination, this is a good place to be.

And in the communities around Ann Arbor, we get to take advantage of countless swim beaches, state parks and pristine waters. To help you on your water-themed summer adventures, we rounded up a handful of the best options around Ann Arbor. From just a few minutes away to about two hours away on the shores of Lake Michigan, these should all be on your summer bucket list!

 

Independence Lake Park | Whitmore Lake

Distance from Ann Arbor: 12 miles | Get directions

Swimming beaches and lake near Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission

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 kayak or leap off the dock into the water. When you’re done, you can sunbathe on the beach or continue the water-themed fun at Blue Heron Bay Spray Park, which features water canons, geysers and water slides.

 

Rolling Hills Park | Ypsilanti

Distance from Ann Arbor: 14 miles | Get directions

Ypsilanti’s Rolling Hills Park is a 439-acre park and one of the most recreational-diverse destinations in Washtenaw County. Anyone looking for swimming adventures and water-themed fun can enjoy a splash in the waves, a float on the lazy river, or a ride down the slides of the Water Park.

 

Van Buren Park | Belleville

Distance from Ann Arbor: 16 miles | Get directions

Van Buren Park Beach is one of Southeast Michigan’s most popular spots for lake swimming. Just a 20 minute drive from Ypsilanti, the entire park offers hiking trails, three play structures, picnic areas, pavilions, horseshoe pits, a volleyball court, a basketball court, grills, a community garden, restrooms and, of course, the beach with its own concession stand for snacks and refreshments!

 

Pinckney State Recreation Area | Pinckney

Distance from Ann Arbor: 20 miles | Get directions

Swimming beaches and lake near Ann Arbor Michigan

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.

For swimmers, there are two public beaches, one at Silver Lake and one at Halfmoon Lake. A third beach at Bruin Lake is only open to campers and you can see a list of available campgrounds here.

 

Brighton Recreation Area | Howell

Distance from Ann Arbor: 19 miles | Get directions

Covering 4,947 acres, Brighton Recreation Area is a hilly, outdoor paradise interspersed with a number of picturesque lakes. The best swimming lake can be found at Bishop Lake. The remodeled, universally accessible beach features a beach house with vending machines, picnic shelters and a sand volleyball court.

In addition to the lake and beach attractions, Bishop Lake is also home to Jump Island! This lake waterpark features an inflatable iceberg, inflatable slides, runways and more so you can slide, run, walk and play atop the water.

 

Waterloo Recreation Area | Chelsea

Distance from Ann Arbor: 22 miles | Get directions

Swimming beaches and lake near Ann Arbor Michigan

The largest park in the Lower Peninsula, Waterloo Recreation Area consists of more than 20,000 acres. Across these grounds, you’ll find two modern campgrounds, a rustic campground, an equestrian campground, swimming beaches, several picnic sites, 11 fishing lakes, eight boat launches, 12 miles of interpretive nature trails, 47 miles of hiking trails, four rustic cabins, a yurt, equestrian trails, mountain biking trails, and the Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center.

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.

 

Island Lake Recreation Area | Brighton

Distance from Ann Arbor: 22 miles | Get directions

At 4,000 acres, Island Lake Recreation Area offers a bit of northern Michigan just 30 minutes from Ann Arbor. In addition to mountain biking, hiking, boating and fishing areas, you’ll find two beaches available for swimming. There’s one at Kent Lake and one at Spring Mill Pond, a spring fed pond with more than 100 feet of sandy beach!

 

Kensington Metropark | Milford

Distance from Ann Arbor: 25 miles | Get directions

Swimming beaches and lake near Ann Arbor Michigan

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 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 as well as scenic hiking and biking trails for hours of enjoyment.

And, on the 1,200-acre Kent Lake, you can swim at Martindale or Maple beaches, get soaked at the Splash ‘n’ Blast, or just spend the day fishing, boating and picnicking along the water.

 

Highland Recreation Area | White Lake

Distance from Ann Arbor: 37 miles | Get directions

Offering 5,900 acres of forest, marshes and lakes in the rolling hills of Southern Michigan, Highland Recreation Area is a destination for equestrian riders, mountain bikers, hikers and boaters during the summer months. Boat access can be found on four lakes within the park for fishing and recreational boating and swimmers can enjoy the public beach on Teeple Lake!

 

Seven Lakes State Park | Holly

Distance from Ann Arbor: 43 miles | Get directions

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 row boats, canoes and paddle boats, or embark on a hike across more than six miles of trails. 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!

 

South Beach Park | South Haven

Distance from Ann Arbor: 140 miles | Get directions

One of the most popular beaches for swimming along the southern shores of Lake Michigan, South Beach Park offers concessions, a playground and historic memorials in addition to the sandy swimming beach. Just steps from the beach, visitors can enjoy the skatepark or walk out onto the pier to watch the sunset against the beautiful South Haven Lighthouse.

 

Grand Haven State Park | Grand Haven

Distance from Ann Arbor: 165 miles | Get directions

Swimming beaches and lake near Ann Arbor Michigan

Within three hours of Ann Arbor, Grand Haven State Park is the furthest on our list, but offers some of the best views. The 48 acre park consists entirely of sandy beach with Lake Michigan bordering on the east and Grand River bordering on the north. From the beach, you can dip your toes in the water and enjoy scenic views of Lake Michigan and the Grand Haven pier and lighthouse.

 

Just keep swimming!  

In the comments below, let us know where you’re headed this summer.

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8 Things to Do in the Ann Arbor Area for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Disc golf courses near Ann Arbor Michigan

Home to 159 parks and located at the heart of an impressive lineup of state recreation areas and open spaces, Ann Arbor offers countless opportunities to opt outside. From hiking and fishing in town to boating through the Chain of Lakes and even kayaking down the Huron River, there are a variety of new hobbies available to every A2 local and visitor.

We rounded up our top eight activities to kick off your outdoor adventures. Mostly suited for warm weather, these are great ways to take advantage of our outdoor spaces this summer!

 

 

Hiking

Hiking trails near Ann Arbor Michigan

Wonderful nature walks and hikes can be found in every Ann Arbor area park, nature area, recreation area and open space. Just within Ann Arbor itself, you’ll find trails through Nichols Arboretum, Bluffs Nature Area, Dolph Nature Area and Bird Hills Nature Area, the largest park in Ann Arbor. And minutes from town, Pinckney Recreation Area and Waterloo Recreation Area offer a combined 31,500 acres of wilderness to explore!

 

Bird Hills Trail

Inside Ann Arbor’s largest and most forested park, the Bird Hill Trail is a serene getaway within the city limits. It traverses a quick, hilly route with plenty of magnificent views!

 

Bog Trail

Located just outside of Chelsea, Waterloo Recreation Area’s Bog Trail is a 1.5-mile trail that leads to a floating bog in Cedar Lake.

 

Waterloo-Pinckney Trail

The 36-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Trail travels from Big Portage Lake in Waterloo Recreation Area to Green Lake and into Pinckney Recreation Area.

 

 

Biking

Mountain biking trails near Ann Arbor Michigan

Whether you’re looking for road biking or mountain biking, you can find the perfect trail in and around Ann Arbor. In addition to road and dirt routes through our communities, the surrounding parks and open spaces offer countless multi-use trails suitable for rugged bicycle adventures.

 

Huron River Drive

Amongst local bikers, the classic road bike choice is the 24-mile route along Huron River Drive from Ann Arbor to Dexter and back.

 

Island Lake Recreation Area

Mountain bikers can opt for the Island Lake Recreation Area bike loops which, together, cover about 15 miles. You can travel the East Loop around the Huron River, the nine-mile West Loop, or both!

 

DTE Energy Foundation Trail

Located in Waterloo Recreation Area, the DTE Energy Foundation Trail is already an extensive trail system and is still being developed for even more mileage. As of June 2018, mountain bikers can enjoy the 4-mile Green Lake Loop and the 4.5-mile Big Kame Loop.

 

 

Kayaking

Kayaking near Ann Arbor Michigan

Ann Arbor and its surrounding communities have developed along the banks of the Huron River and amidst 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.

 

Argo Park

Argo Park is home to the Argo Canoe Livery where you can rent kayaks and tubes, buy concessions and participate in river-themed programs. From here, you can enjoy a relaxing, 3.7-mile paddle down the Huron River to Gallup Park, a trip that typically takes 1.5 hours.

 

Gallup Park  

Another Ann Arbor park, Gallup also has its own livery — Gallup Park Canoe Livery — where you can rent materials, learn about the river and embark on river trips. Leaving from here, your trip will begin with a van ride upriver to Barton Park then continue on the water through Argo Pond, down the Argo Cascades, and back to Gallup Park. The trip is 5.7 miles and takes about 2.5 hours.

 

Waterloo Recreation Area

Inside Waterloo, paddlers will find 11 inland lakes open to kayaks, canoes and rowboats of all kinds.

 

 

Boating

Boating lakes rivers near Ann Arbor Michigan

In Michigan, you’re never more than six miles from a lake or river. And thanks to our impressive system of lakes connected by the Huron River, boating is a popular summer sport amongst the locals of Washtenaw County.

 

The Portage Lake Chain of Lakes

By far the most popular boating route in the Ann Arbor area, the Chain of Lakes is located in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties and is comprised of seven lakes connected by the Huron River. The trip begins at Little Portage Lake and Big Portage Lake in Waterloo Recreation Area, travels through Base Line Lake, Whitewood Lakes, Gallagher Lakes and Strawberry Lake, then ends at Zukey Lake in Hamburg Township.

 

Seven Lakes State Park  

About an hour north of Ann Arbor, Seven Lakes State Park offers 230 acres of water for swimmers, paddlers, fishermen and, of course, boaters!

 

 

Swimming

Swimming beaches and lake near Ann Arbor Michigan

The Great Lakes State contains more than 11,000 inland lakes with plenty of shoreline for swimmers. Some of these beachside waters even boast man-made water parks! 

 

Independence Lake Park

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. Just off the beach, you can also enjoy water-themed fun at Blue Heron Bay Spray Park.

 

Island Lake Recreation Area

You’ll find two beaches available for swimming in Island Lake Recreation Area. There’s one at Kent Lake and one at Spring Mill Pond, a spring fed pond that offers more than 100 feet of sandy beach!

 

Rolling Hills Park  

Anyone looking for swimming adventures and water-themed fun near Ypsilanti can enjoy a splash in the waves, a float on the lazy river, or a ride down the slides of the Water Park.

 

 

Fishing

Fishing lakes rivers near Ann Arbor Michigan

With a license, fishing is available in many of our area lakes and recreation areas. For those just starting out, we’ve rounded up a few of the region’s great options.

 

Argo Park  

The Huron River offers fishing opportunities up and down its banks. At Argo Park, you can fish for carp along the embankment that forms part of the Argo Dam. Just a ten-minute walk from Downtown Ann Arbor, this is the closest fishing to the heart of town!

 

Lillie Park

Lillie Park in Pittsfield Township offers shore fishing in multiple locations on Haven Lake.

 

Lake Erie

Second best to deep sea fishing, Lake Erie offers boat angling opportunities to catch walleye, crappie, bluegill and more.

 

 

Disc Golf

Disc golf courses near Ann Arbor Michigan

Played much like regular golf, disc golf is played with a frisbee instead of a ball. Many Ann Arbor area parks offer courses complete with metal baskets to use as landmarks.

 

Rolling Hills Park

The same Ypsilanti park that offers swimming and a water park offers an 18-hole disc golf course!

 

Bandemer Park

One of two disc golf courses in Ann Arbor city parks, the course at Bandemer Park winds through a wooded area along the Huron River. It is a nine-hole course, and each hole has three tee pads.

 

Waterloo Recreation Area

The disc golf course at Waterloo Recreation Area is an 18-hole course at the Portage Lake Unit.

 

 

Horseback Riding

Equestrain horse back riding trails near Ann Arbor Michigan

In Ann Arbor area parks, horseback riding trails are nearly as prominent as mountain biking trails!

 

Pinckney Recreation Area

Across more than 11,000 acres of open space, Pinckney Recreation Area offers 13 miles of equestrian trails, a staging area and a stable

 

Waterloo Recreation Area

Waterloo Recreation Area offers 18 miles of horseback riding trails accessible from a staging area off Loveland Road. And, Horse ‘N Around Stables inside the park offers horse rentals, boarding, lessons and more.

 

Brighton Recreation Area

Home to a full-service riding stable and an equine experience suited for all riding levels, Brighton Recreation Area offers 19 miles of trails, a riding stable, rustic equestrian camping and a staging area. For more information on rentals and programs, check out Brighton Recreation Riding Stable.

 

 

How do you #OptOutside?  

If you have a favorite park or activity in the Ann Arbor area, let us know in the comments below!

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The 16 Best Outdoor Patios in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor best places for outdoor patio dining

When the weather heats up in Ann Arbor, our usual craving for local food, Michigan beer and artisan cocktails combines with our need for summer sunshine. The ideal places to satisfy that desire include garden patios, beer gardens, and patios bathed in cozy string lights or shaded by trees along Main Street.

If you feel the same way, then you’ve come to the right place. We rounded up a few of the best outdoor patios in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti which happen to come with some of the region’s best local food, craft beer and artisan cocktails, too!

 

Bill’s Beer Garden

218 S Ashley St | Facebook

Bill's Beer Garden Ann Arbor best places for outdoor patio dining

Photo courtesy of Bill’s Beer Garden

Open seasonally March through October, Bill’s Beer Garden is a community gathering place offering an impressive lineup of Michigan craft beers and wines. Located right next door to Downtown Home & Garden, the outdoor beer garden has long, communal tables, shaded areas, and frequent live music performances. Follow the team on Facebook for updates on weather closures and events.

 

Ann Arbor Beer Grotto

303 S Ashley St | Facebook

Ann Arbor Beer Grotto is famous amongst locals for its friendly atmosphere and destination patio. Attractions include frequent live music, covered spaces, charming string lights at night, 36 beers on tap, and a specialty cocktail list which features a rotating Frozen Sour Beer Slushy. Stop by on Monday night for Free Pizza Monday to enjoy free Domino’s Pizza with your beer!

 

Cultivate Coffee & TapHouse

307 N River St, Ypsilanti | Facebook

Cultivate Ann Arbor best places for outdoor patio dining

Photo courtesy of Nick Azzaro via Cultivate Coffee & TapHouse

This coffee bar and tap house is a Ypsi favorite. Built around the mantra, “craft, community and cause,” you’ll find the best craft coffee and beer, regular community events, and support of worthy causes. Their sunny, dog-friendly beer garden is one of the largest in the area and offers the perfect place to gather with friends, family and neighbors.

 

Dominick’s

812 Monroe St 

Dominick’s is famous for their potent sangria, their Italian-inspired eats and, of course, their patio! Since opening in 1960, this locally-owned spot has been the go-to for locals, students, families, you name it! Swing by the patio on a sunny summer day and you’ll quickly find out why.

 

Detroit Street Filling Station

300 Detroit St | Facebook

Detroit Street Filling Station Ann Arbor best places for outdoor patio dining

Photo courtesy of Detroit Street Filling Station

From the team behind The Lunch Room, Detroit Street Filling Station is another delicious food and drink establishment in Kerrytown. Tucked inside one of Ann Arbor’s most recognizable historic buildings, the interior space merges filling station history with modern updates — and it includes a covered outdoor patio surrounded by beautiful planters!

 

The Session Room

3685 Jackson Rd | Facebook

In addition to a welcoming indoor space and 70 beers on tap, The Session Room is also home to one of Ann Arbor’s best beer gardens. Shaded by umbrellas during the day and illuminated by string lights at night, you can enjoy your craft beer and upscale eats outdoors all summer long. And don’t miss the Summer Beer Garden Music Series with 19 free shows through September! Get details on the weekly concert on The Session Room Facebook page.

 

Palio Del Sole

347 S Main St | Facebook

The culture of Italy comes alive at Palio. The authentic, country-style cuisine pairs with warm, rustic Italian decor inside. And during the summer, you can grab a seat on Ann Arbor’s largest and most popular outdoor gathering spot: the rooftop patio! It offers the best view of downtown and its own kitchen with a unique dining experience.

 

Sidetrack Bar and Grill

56 E Cross St, Ypsilanti | Facebook

On the exterior of Sidetrack’s historic building, a gilded quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin reads “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” And directly beneath that, you’ll find one of three great patios. With space for 150 guests, the outdoor spaces are complete with ivy-covered walls and plenty of sun while the enclosed patio offers shade and fresh air.

 

Aventura

216 E Washington St | Facebook

Aventura Ann Arbor best places for outdoor patio dining

Photo courtesy of Aventura

Aventura is a charming spot that offers authentic Spanish cuisine and culture, including tapas, paella, vino and artisan cocktails. Inspired by the old-world atmosphere and the historical nature of the building itself, the eatery merges Ann Arbor history with modern Spanish influence. Facing Washington Street, their small collection of patio tables are ideal for sharing tapas and sipping cocktails under the sun.

 

Black Pearl

302 S Main St | Facebook

This sleek seafood restaurant offers a unique lounge atmosphere with cocktails, music and mouth-watering cuisine. And with its prime location in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor, you can grab a seat on one of the neighborhood’s largest outdoor patios. Complete with charming trees, string lights and artisan cocktails, the seating area is nestled between Main Street and the sidewalk in front of the restaurants so you can people watch, too!

 

The Pretzel Bell

226 S Main St | Facebook

Located on the corner of Liberty and Main Street, The Pretzel Bell patios are located on the sidewalks along each street. Complete with shady lounges and couch seating, large tables and charming garden beds, it’s one of our favorite places to enjoy the restaurant’s mouth-watering foods, craft beer and artisan cocktails.

 

Paesano Restaurant and Wine Bar

3411 Washtenaw Ave | Facebook

Inspired by the culture and cuisine of Italy, Paesano is one of Ann Arbor’s best local restaurants and they’re home to one of the most romantic garden patios, too. Tucked in a humble location along Washtenaw Avenue, the patio is hidden by shady trees, mature shrubs and beautiful garden beds. While you relax and savor your authentic Italian fare, you can also enjoy the sights and sounds of the patio fountain.

 

Felix

204 S Main St | Facebook

Located at the corner of Main and Washington in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor, Felix has been a staple of fine dining in our community for more than 20 years. Their bistro-style patio is tucked beneath the shade trees of Main Street between two garden beds. There, you can sip craft cocktails, share small plates, enjoy brunch and relax.

 

Sava’s

300 Detroit St | Facebook

Sava's Ann Arbor best places for outdoor patio dining

Photo courtesy of Sava’s

Sava’s began as a quaint, 23-seat cafe, a passion project of owner Sava Lelcaj. Today, it has become one of Ann Arbor’s best restaurants boasting upwards of 300 seats, a seasonal menu and impressive, artisan cocktails. And a few of our favorite seats are located on the patio. The outdoor dining area is perpendicular to State Street running along the side of the building and facing garden beds and the ivy-covered walls of U-M’s Lane Hall.

 

Gratzi

326 S Main St | Facebook

Fenced off from the sidewalk and shaded by beautiful trees and garden beds, the Main Street patio at Gratzi is a must-visit. The building itself was once Ann Arbor’s Orpheum Theater which lends itself perfectly to the charm and character of a hometown, Italian restaurant. Whether you’re stopping by for dinner, drinks or weekend brunch, we definitely recommend grabbing a seat outside.

 

Conor O’Neill’s

318 S Main St | Facebook

Taking inspiration from real, historic pubs in Ireland, Conor O’Neill’s is the place to go for community fun, social gathering, Irish hospitality, hearty food and great drinks. Their seasonal patio is separated from sidewalk traffic along Main Street by flower beds painted in the same blue as the iconic storefront. With trees for shade and string lights during the night, you can sit and savor any time of day or night!

 

Do you have a favorite?  

If you have a favorite patio in the Ann Arbor area, let us know in the comments below!

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The 10 Best Places for Ice Cream in Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Best Ice cream in Ann Arbor Michigan

We’re strong proponents of eating ice cream year-round, but with summer months on the horizon, our cravings are getting even stronger. Luckily for us, we live in one of the state’s best places for ice cream!

To help satisfy your cravings, we rounded up Ann Arbor’s best places to enjoy ice cream. From the local spots producing ice cream by hand to the trendy newcomers serving up fresh creations — there’s something on our list everyone will love. Enjoy!

 

1. Blank Slate Creamery

300 W Liberty Rd | Facebook

Blank Slate Creamery Ice Cream in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Blank Slate Creamery

The ice cream at Blank Slate Creamery is homemade using fresh, all-natural ingredients which has resulted in numerous rankings as the top ice cream in Ann Arbor and throughout the state of Michigan! You can even see a list of several of their locally-sourced ingredients on their website, which includes milk and cream from Guernsey Farms Dairy in Northville. Locally owned and operated, we’re proud to put Blank Slate at the top of the list.

 

2. Michigan Creamery

302 S State St | Facebook

Michigan Creamery Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Olivia Seta via Michigan Creamery

Another locally-owned and locally-sourced favorite, the Michigan Creamery story began back in 2007 with a charming storefront in Dexter. Today, they operate one shop right here in Ann Arbor. Everything — from the ice cream and chocolates all the way down to the ingredients — is locally produced in Michigan!

 

3. Washtenaw Dairy

602 S Ashley St | Facebook

Washtenaw Dairy Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Washtenaw Dairy

Washtenaw Dairy may already be a famous destination for donuts, but if you’re skipping the ice cream, you’re missing out on some of Ann Arbor’s best! This landmark shop has the biggest cones in town at the lowest prices. With over 30 flavors alongside hand-dipped shakes and malts, everyone can find a cold, refreshing treat to enjoy. Follow the team on Instagram and get ready to drool. 

 

4. Go! Ice Cream

10 N Washington St, Ypsilanti | Facebook

GO Ice Cream Ypsilanti Michigan

Photo courtesy of Go! Ice Cream

This year-round, Ypsi ice cream shop serves up ice cream made by hand, from scratch, using all-natural and local ingredients whenever possible. Inside their vintage-inspired shop, you’ll find custom cakes and pies, one-of-a-kind flavors and an old-school, chromed-out soda fountain. Stop in once and you’ll soon become a regular.

 

5. Iorio’s Gelateria

522 E William St | Facebook

Inspired by their great-grandparents, Luigi and Maria Iorio, siblings Mary and Nick started Iorio’s Gelato in 2004 right here in Ann Arbor to celebrate and share their family’s Italian heritage. Today, their team makes artisan gelato using authentic, natural ingredients sourced from all around the world. You can find flavors like traditional Italian pistachio and pomegranate champagne sorbetto here in Ann Arbor or in the East Lansing shop!

 

6. Joe and Rosie Coffee and Tea

3780 Jackson Rd | Facebook

The Joe and Rosie story started and flourished in nearby Dexter where they serve coffees, teas, pastries, sandwiches and more. At the very end of 2017, the team purchased Coffee House Creamery and opened their second location in Ann Arbor! In this new shop, they serve everything we’ve come to love in Dexter, plus specialty ice cream and cakes.

 

7. Kilwins

107 E Liberty St | Facebook

Kilwins ice cream Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Kilwins

Since 1947, Kilwins has been serving families decadent chocolates, ice cream and confections in locations around the country. You’ll find Kilwins of Ann Arbor in the heart of downtown under two orange awnings — the same place they’ve been since January 18, 1983! Walk in and you’ll immediately smell handmade waffle cones, homemade caramel, hand-paddled fudge and more.

 

8. Cherry Bee’s

3980 Platt Rd | Facebook

This self-serve frozen yogurt, ice cream, gelato and custard shop offers up to 18 flavors and endless toppings so you can eat to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content! Because you serve the ice cream and choose the toppings, you can opt for a create-your-own fruity concoction or a death by chocolate masterpiece.

 

9. Ben & Jerry’s

304 S State St | Facebook

Locally owned and operated, the Ann Arbor Ben & Jerry’s will inspire everyone to feel like a kid again. In addition to classic, famous flavors, you’ll find pints to take home, sundaes, smoothies, shakes and even custom ice cream cakes!

 

10. I-CE-NY

800 Briarwood Cir | Facebook

This franchise ice cream shop is the only place in Ann Arbor where you can find rolled ice cream! Inspired by the Thai street food, rolled ice cream makes preparing and serving the treat as fun as eating it. Customize your order with mix-in ingredients, then watch as it’s all smashed together and rolled up for you to enjoy.

 

Enjoy!  

In the comments below, let us know where you go for ice cream in the Ann Arbor area — even if it’s not on our list!

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16 Ann Arbor Date Ideas That Don’t Involve Going to a Restaurant

skeeball and arcade games date Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor is a hidden gem in our country’s foodie community. If you’ve walked down Main Street, you’ve already passed more than a dozen must-try spots — all of which are suitable for a dinner date. But even with outstanding food on the table, dinner dates can get repetitive (and expensive) quickly.

If you’re looking for something a little less traditional, have no fear. We rounded up 16 of the best date night ideas that cover both night time outings and day dates.

And when you do get hungry, check out The 15 Best Date Night Restaurants in Ann Arbor.

 

1. Explore local museums

University of Michigan Museum of Art Ann Arbor Michigan date night ideas

Photo courtesy of UMMA

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan so it makes sense that our little town is packed with so many museums and educational opportunities. The long list of options includes University of Michigan Museum of Art, African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, Kempf House Museum, the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, and the Michigan Firehouse Museum in Ypsi.

 

2. Watch an independent film

Founded in 1928, the Michigan Theater is now home to three screening spaces for independent movies, concerts, comedy shows, national tours and more. Check out the schedule here to see which movies are playing. And if you don’t see something you like, check out the State Theatre for more indie options. If you’re looking for more current releases, head to Rave Cinemas or Quality 16.

 

3. Challenge each other to miniature golf

Putterz in Ypsilanti offers everything from a large game room and batting cages to a 54 hole golf course. Three miniature golf games cost just $10 per person so this is a great budget-friendly option, too!

 

4. Listen to live music

The Blind Pig live music date Ann Arbor, Michigan

Photo courtesy of TSLC Productions via The Blind Pig

If you and your date are on the hunt for live music, you won’t struggle to find it in Ann Arbor. Kerrytown Concert House provides the classics, The Blind Pig provides the danceable tunes, and The Ark provides, well, everything! This downtown venue offers live music on more than 300 nights each year in one of the best listening rooms anywhere.

 

5. Attend 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 2018 concert series kicks off June 7th and continues with 12 total shows through August 30th. All shows begin at 11:30 a.m. so pack a picnic lunch and head to the corner of Liberty and Division for a Thursday afternoon date! You can see the full 2018 lineup here.

 

6. Laugh at a comedy show

Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase has a schedule packed with stand up comedy. You can catch headliners on Friday and Saturday or buy $5 tickets to the Comedy Jamm each Thursday, which features of 12 local stars from beginner to professional and everything in between.

 

7. Shop local record stores

Record stores date Ann Arbor, Michigan

If you’re looking for a music-themed day date, hit up a local record store and dig through the bins together. Encore Records, Wazoo Records and Underground Sounds all call Ann Arbor home.

 

8. Sip cocktails

Dinner may get old after a while, but cocktails never do — especially when you’re sipping at The Last Word! Repeatedly named as Ann Arbor’s best cocktail bar, this underground locale is a hidden gem, literally. Located underground with no exterior signage, and offering dim lighting and an outstanding bar program, it’s 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.

 

9. Go on your own brewery tour  

We certainly have no shortage of craft breweries here in Ann Arbor. Our town is home to Wolverine State Brewing Co., HOMES Brewery, Glasshouse Brewing, Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, Pileated Brewing Company, Edelbrau Brewing Company and Arbor Brewing Company Brewpub, which serves beers brewed down the road in Ypsi.

If you want to taste a few different breweries in an always lively and fun atmosphere, we recommend stopping by Bill’s Beer Garden or Ann Arbor Beer Grotto.

 

10. Share tea

TeaHaus Ann Arbor, Michigan full English tea

Photo courtesy of TeaHaus

Ann Arbor’s favorite tea spot, TeaHaus, offers options suited for a quick stop or an entire afternoon — from single mugs to full English tea!

Another local favorite, The Crazy Wisdom Tea Room, serves over 100 varieties of tea alongside Mighty Good Coffee and café snacks. On the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, you can stop by to enjoy the Crazy Wisdom Poetry Series!

 

11. Learn how to dance

Ann Arbor’s dance organizations and clubs can get you out on the floor even if you don’t know how! The Ballroom Dance Club hosts three hours of lessons and two hours of open dance nearly every Sunday night. And at AACTMAD gatherings, you can practice dancing, play instruments, or just come to listen and watch.

 

12. Paddle in a kayak

Argo Park canoe and kayak date Ann Arbor, Michigan

Our two favorite kayak destinations in Ann Arbor are Gallup Park and Argo Canoe Livery. Gallup is a 69-acre park along the Huron River and Geddes Pond. It offers two playgrounds, picnic areas and grills, an open field, more than three miles of asphalt trails, and a canoe livery for boat rentals!

The Argo Livery is located at the Argo Cascades and features canoes, one-person kayaks, two-person kayaks, five-person rafts, tubes and stand-up paddleboard rentals.

 

13. Embark on a nature walk  

Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two educational and environmental gardens on the UM campus. The botanical gardens include eleven outdoor spaces full of bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials, and more which bloom seasonally from spring to first frost. For colder months enjoy their year-round indoor conservatory filled with plants from around the world.

Nichols Arboretum is one of the richest landscapes in the region. It spans miles of trails and land with collections of native and exotic trees and shrubs crafted into a landscape that was begun by O. C. Simonds in 1907.

 

14. Shoot each other at laser tag

The Ypsilanti Zap Zone is one of our favorite places for laser tag, but that’s not all they have! You can enjoy an entire day of fun with bumper cars, an arcade and a virtual reality experience, too.

 

15. Play arcade games

skeeball and arcade games date Ann Arbor, Michigan

Pinball Pete’s opened its doors more than 30 years ago and has since become the Ann Arbor destination for arcade fun. Spend your quarters along the entire wall of pinball machines, play video games, and challenge your date to a game of pool or air hockey!

 

16. Go bowling

Revel and Roll offers 27 lanes of bowling as well as billiards tables, interactive and virtual video games and chef-inspired dining options in case you work up a hunger. Schedule your date for Thursday night and you can enjoy bottomless bowling, including shoes, for just $12 from 10 p.m. until close!

 

Do you have a go-to date?  

If you have a favorite date spot in Ann Arbor, let us know in the comments below!

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The 16 Essential Brunch Spots in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor brunch

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, brunch has to be the most important meal of the week, right? It has, at least, become the most trendy meal and we’re okay with that. Anything that includes a late-morning mimosa and a plate of farm-fresh eggs is okay by us.

Today, we’re celebrating our love for this weekend tradition by rounding up Ann Arbor’s best brunches. Complete with innovative plates, brunch classics and plenty of cocktails, these local spots should all be on your brunch bucket list. Enjoy!

 

 

Café Zola

112 W Washington St | Facebook

Cafe Zola Ann Arbor brunch

Photo courtesy of Café Zola

Café Zola opened in 1996 and is still independently owned and operated. The original breakfast and lunch menu was largely influenced by French cuisine and today, you’ll also find influences from Mediterranean and Turkish tradition. Our favorite thing about the brunch menu is that it’s available daily from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. — and the fact that it has more than ten different crepe dishes! For more Zola brunch flavor, you can stop by their sister restaurant, Zola Bistro.

 

Gratzi

326 S Main St | Facebook

Housed inside what was once the historic Orpheum Theater, this elegant Italian restaurant opened its doors in downtown Ann Arbor in December 1987. A popular destination for upscale dinners, Gratzi also offers delicious brunch every Saturday and Sunday until 3 p.m. The chef-inspired menu includes Bread Pudding French Toast, Braised Pork Belly served with a soft-fried egg, Fried Polenta topped with basil hollandaise and more.

 

Ollie Food + Spirits

42 E Cross St, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

This Ypsilanti favorite offers a seasonally rotating menu using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients alongside a lineup of artisan cocktails, craft beer and wine that pair perfectly. On Sundays from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., you can get all that flavorful perfection in the form of brunch. But don’t expect a run-of-the-mill menu! The team at Ollie presents a brand new menu and a new theme every Sunday. In the past, they’ve celebrated Red Carpet Brunch on Oscar Sunday, Swayze Brunch and even charity brunches which benefit local organizations. Follow them on Facebook for weekly updates on the Sunday Secret Brunch.

 

Zingerman’s Roadhouse

2501 Jackson Ave | Facebook

Zingerman's Roadhouse Ann Arbor brunch

Photo courtesy of Zingerman’s Roadhouse

At this all-day restaurant, Zingerman’s showcases their favorite things about American food — both locally and nationally. The menu includes grits inspired by South Carolina, Maryland-inspired crab cakes, local meat from Washtenaw County, micro-brewed beers and fine wines from all over the US. Though you can get breakfast any day of the week, the weekend brunch menu is an Ann Arbor favorite. It features tasty innovations like Biscuits & Chocolate-Bacon Gravy and the Georgia Grits ‘N’ Bits Waffle which are waffles filled with bits of Anson Mill’s organic grits, Cabot cheddar and a mix of applewood-smoked and peppered bacon!

 

Aut Bar

315 Braun Ct | Facebook

Aut Bar is one of the town’s most welcoming food and entertainment establishments. Famous for their classic bar atmosphere which includes trivia nights, drag shows and holiday-themed events, you’ll also find one of A2’s best brunches served every Sunday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The menu is filled with fresh omelets, Mexican-inspired eats and frequent specials like Salmon Eggs Benedict!

 

The Lunch Room

407 N 5th Ave | Facebook

The Lunch Room Ann Arbor brunch

Photo courtesy of The Lunch Room

As one of Ann Arbor’s favorite eateries, The Lunch Room story has become a local legend. Friends and neighbors Phillis Engelbert and Joel Panozzo started out serving plant-based dinner parties and brunches, then they moved on to pop-up events al local businesses and eventually operated a food cart. Today, they have a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Kerrytown, a second location called The Lunch Room Bakery & Cafe and a third, Detroit Street Filling Station. Both The Lunch Room and Detroit Street offer a killer Sunday brunch!

 

Afternoon Delight

251 E Liberty St | Facebook

Locals line up for this Ann Arbor staple — and it’s easy to see (and taste!) why. Serving brunch for over 30 years, the Afternoon Delight breakfast menu includes pan-grilled pancakes, homemade bran muffins, customized three-egg omelets, fresh poached salmon on the weekends and more. The eggs are always cage-free, the bread comes gluten-free and most ingredients and meats are organic!

 

Sava’s

216 S State St | Facebook

Sava's Ann Arbor best brunch spots

Photo courtesy of Sava’s

At Savas, they offer breakfast every day of the week and come Sunday morning, you’ll find one of the neighborhood’s favorite brunch buffets! From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., your $20 per person meal includes a petite bloody mary, petite mimosa, juice or coffee and kids 12 years and under eat for just $12!

 

Grange Kitchen & Bar

118 W Liberty St | Facebook

This farm-to-table restaurant offers seasonally and daily rotating menus that are filled with farm fresh ingredients and local, sustainable products. Because the menu can change daily, you’ll get something new and innovative everytime you stop by. But you can rest assured these flavorful dishes will satisfy your Sunday brunch craving — whether you’re looking for savory or sweet. And the brunch cocktail list is one of the best in town!

 

Spencer

113 E Liberty St | Facebook

Spencer perfectly balances the feel of a casual wine bar with craveable fare made with local ingredients. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, that craveable fare comes in the form of outstanding brunch creations including a rye waffle served with whipped ricotta, grapefruit and honey or the mouth-watering fried egg meatloaf sammie.

 

Aventura

216 E Washington St | Facebook

Aventura Ann Arbor brunch

Photo courtesy of Emily Berger at EE Berger via Aventura

Aventura is a charming spot that 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, the eatery merges Ann Arbor history with modern Spanish influence. On Saturday and Sunday, they offer the El Almuerzo menu. Beginning at noon, you can order dishes like Torrijas con Miel which is Spanish french toast made with Zingerman’s Bakehouse bread, cinnamon-sugar, honey, roasted pistachios and caramel sauce.

 

MANI Osteria & Bar

341 E Liberty St | Facebook

This downtown restaurant is named for two things: the word “mani”, which means “hands” or “handmade” in Italian, and the classic Italian osteria, an eatery that emphasizes local ingredients, small production wines and hospitality. Their impressive, seasonal weekend brunch menu features a line-up of MANI’s famous wood-fired pizzas, trendy avocado toast, craveable Benedicts and a huge list of morning cocktails.

 

Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery

311 S Main St | Facebook

Founded in 2004, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is a brewery located in Dexter, Michigan. Today, they operate three pubs including this Ann Arbor cafe and brewery which offers a small and delicious brunch menu every Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. During Brunch Happy Hour from 10 a.m. until noon, you can enjoy $2 off brunch items like avocado toast, the market omelette made with seasonal ingredients or the mouth-watering Braised Bacon Sandwich.

 

Avalon Cafe & Kitchen

120 E Liberty St | Facebook

Avalon International Breads Cafe and Kitchen Ann Arbor brunch

Photo courtesy of Bekah Galang via Avalon Cafe & Kitchen

Avalon International Breads originally opened their humble Detroit storefront in 1997 striving to offer artisan baked goods made with 100% organic flour. Today, they’ve developed the building blocks of the region’s Agri-Urban economy and operate five storefronts and restaurants. Their first and only location outside of Detroit is located right here in Ann Arbor and they serve one of our favorite brunches in town! You can get items like avocado toast, a Trout Reuben and the Blueberry Quinoa Pancake, all of which showcase their local flare and sustainable ingredients.

 

Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina

3050 Washtenaw Ave | Facebook

Bigalora is famous in the region as the only place for biga-fermented pizza dough. Each Neapolitan pie starts with a natural, 72-hour fermentation without the use of commercial yeast or added sugar then is cooked in just 90 seconds at 900 degrees. That same artistry is applied to the weekend brunch menu which features dishes like the house-made Bigalora waffle, Polenta Gorgonzola and an outstanding brunch cocktail list.

 

Juicy Kitchen

1506 N Maple Rd | Facebook

Juicy Kitchen Ann Arbor brunch

Photo courtesy of Juicy Kitchen

Using locally sourced produce, hormone-free chicken and organic vegetables and grains as much as possible, Juicy Kitchen crafts meals from scratch in healthy, sustainable ways. Offering breakfast daily until 3 p.m., you can get all that freshness in morning dishes like french toast made with raisin bread, the Quinoa Power Bowl, a weekly changing quiche, or the JK Benedict which is poached eggs served over veggie cakes with sauteed greens, roasted tomato and Chef’s Whim Sauce.

 

 

Enjoy!

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