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12 Small-Town Restaurants Worth the Drive from Ann Arbor

best restaurants near Ann Arbor Michigan

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

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

 

Beezy’s | Ypsilanti 

20 N Washington St, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

Beezy's Cafe Ypsilanti restaurants

Photo courtesy of Beezy’s

Both a beloved coffee shop and a delicious cafe, Beezy’s is a hyper-local option in downtown Ypsilanti. Every day, they make two different seasonal soups, whip up fresh homemade salad dressings, bake hot fresh bread, and prepare everything with a local sensibility using local products from nearby vendors and farmers. To view the menu, click here

 

Bomber Restaurant | Ypsilanti 

306 E Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

This old-school diner has been an Ypsi staple since it opened in 1936. Surrounded by aviation-inspired decor, you can get one of the county’s best breakfasts right here in the Bomber dining room, and their huge menu of American classics offers more than 35 options!

 

Casablanca | Ypsilanti 

2333 Washtenaw Ave, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

One of Ypsilanti’s highest-rated eateries, Casablanca serves authentic Moroccan and Arabic cuisine for dine in, carry out and delivery. From fresh hummus to chicken shawarma, this is the best way to explore global cuisine in town.

 

The Common Grill | Chelsea 

112 S Main St, Chelsea | Facebook 

The Common Grill Chelsea best restaurants near Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of The Common Grill

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

 

Cultivate Coffee & Taphouse | Ypsilanti 

307 N River St, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

Cultivate Ypsilanti best restaurants near Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Nick Azzaro via Cultivate Coffee & Taphouse

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

 

Dexter Riverview Cafe | Dexter 

8124 Main St, Dexter | Facebook 

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

 

Matty J’s | Saline 

972 E Michigan Ave, Saline | Facebook 

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

 

Ollie Food + Spirits | Ypsilanti 

42 E Cross St, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

Ollie Ypsilanti best restaurants near Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Ollie Food + Spirits

This Ypsi favorite offers a seasonally rotating menu made with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients and they pair that with a lineup of artisan cocktails, craft beer and wine. These approachable, gourmet eats cater to all kinds of diets—vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike.

 

Red Brick Kitchen & Bar | Dexter 

8093 Main St, Dexter | Facebook 

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

 

Salt Springs Brewery | Saline 

117 S Ann Arbor St, Saline | Facebook 

Salt Springs Brewery Saline best restaurants near Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Salt Springs Brewery

Named for Saline’s ancient, historic salt springs, this hometown brewery is housed in a beautiful, 116-year-old former church. Undoubtedly one of the most impressive settings in Southeast Michigan, you can enjoy true-to-style ales, wine and cider alongside locally sourced food with stunning stained glass as the backdrop.

 

Sidetrack Bar & Grill | Ypsilanti 

56 E Cross St, Ypsilanti | Facebook 

Sidetrack has been a local destination since it opened its doors in 1850 and it’s easy to explain why. They serve some of the best pub food, pour some of the best beer, and offer it all in one of the best Ypsi atmospheres. Their burger—Our Famous Burger—was included on GQ’s 2005 round-up The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die, and that’s just one of the reasons we recommend stopping by.

 

Smokehouse 52 | Chelsea + Saline 

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

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

 

Add to the list! 

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

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15 Free Things to Do in Ann Arbor

UMMNH free things to do in Ann Arbor Michigan

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

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

 

Visit the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

UMMA free things to do in Ann Arbor Michigan

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

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

 

Learn at Leslie Science & Nature Center.

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

 

Explore Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

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

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

 

Visit the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.

UMMNH free things to do in Ann Arbor Michigan

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

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

 

Tour Chelsea Milling Company.

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

 

Attend Sonic Lunch

Video courtesy of Sonic Lunch

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

 

Find all the Fairy Doors

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

 

Visit the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

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

 

Hear a recital at the Charles Baird Carillon

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

 

Visit WSG Gallery

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

 

Attend an event with Ann Arbor District Library

The Ann Arbor District Library provides services at no charge to all residents living within the library service area, and residents outside the area can still access available services for a fee. In five different locations, these guests can access millions of items, print and digital research materials, computer and Internet training, free WiFi, library exhibits and regularly scheduled, fun events! These include things like Tea 101 with Arbor Teas, Family Writing Labs with 826michigan, film screenings, business workshops, and family-friendly ukulele parties! To see all the upcoming events, click here

 

Preview The Creature Conservancy

free things to do in Ann Arbor Michigan

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

 

Spend time at Buhr Park

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

 

Bike to Hudson Mills Metropark

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

 

Visit the Gerald R. Ford Library

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

 

What’s on your itinerary? 

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

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

things to do with the kids Ann Arbor summer

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

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

 

1. Don’t miss Sonic Lunch

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

 

2. Attend YpsiFest

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

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

 

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

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

 

4. Spend the day at Rolling Hills Water Park

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

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

 

5. Meet the animals at The Creature Conservancy

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

 

6. Kayak on the Huron River. 

Gallup Park guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

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

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

 

7. Explore Waterloo Recreation Area.

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

 

8. Visit Ann Arbor’s best city parks. 

Argo Park guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

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

 

9. Visit Leslie Science & Nature Center

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

 

10. Scream for ice cream. 

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

 

We hope you enjoyed your summer vacation!  

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

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10 Reasons Ann Arbor is a Great Place to Call Home

things to do in ann arbor michigan

In very brief summary, Ann Arbor is unlike any other town. The stories behind our beloved businesses, the legends driving our annual events, and quirky things like fairy doors and Hash Bash make our hometown one of the best places to live—and one of the most interesting, too.

Living here puts residents within driving distance of Detroit, minutes from the Lower Peninsula’s largest state park, a quick trip from the perfect vacation on Lake Michigan, along the route of the Huron River and in close proximity to Michigan’s best historic small towns. 

To get the short list of our favorite things about Ann Arbor, keep reading! 

 

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

If you already live here, you know. Ann Arbor is consistently ranked on lists of the country’s best cities to live, visit and go to school. Some of our favorites include College Ranker’s The 50 Best College Towns to Live in Forever, Livability’s 5 Great College Towns to Settle In Post-Graduation, and The Travel’s 10 US Destinations For Your Next Long Weekend Getaway.

 

2. It’s home to one of the country’s best universities.

University of Michigan Law School Ann Arbor Michigan

The University of Michigan is continually ranked amongst the best universities in the nation, and in the US News & World Report 2019 ranking of the best national universities, it makes the top 30. Boasting a total undergraduate enrollment of just under 30,000, UM offers students more than 1,500 organizations, more than 60 Greek chapters, and an impressive lineup of athletics for both athletes and fans.

Even locals who aren’t involved in the university can enjoy university facilities and programs like the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum and more. 

 

3. It’s a haven for coffee lovers.

coffee in ann arbor michigan

If you haven’t sampled A2’s coffee culture, you’re in for a treat. Our small city ranks with craft coffee giants like Seattle, San Francisco and New York. Our hometown has been named on The 10 Best Cities for Coffee Lovers in America and Livability’s 10 Unexpectedly Awesome Coffee Cities. A quick trip to downtown Ann Arbor can include stops at Literati Coffee, RoosRoast, lab, Comet Coffee and Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea—all packed into a few blocks! 

To preview the local coffee scene, check out The 16 Best Coffee Shops in the Ann Arbor Area. And read The Best Coffee Roasters Around Ann Arbor to find a few shops that do their own roasting!

 

4. And for book lovers!

Ann Arbor’s history is rich with literature, books, bookstores and book-themed festivals. Before the nationwide bookstore Borders closed its doors for good, it was founded and headquartered right here in downtown Ann Arbor. Today, our city’s book-loving culture is alive and well through local, indie businesses like Literati Bookstore, Bookbound and Nicola’s Books. To track down even more places to shop, check out Your Guide to Ann Arbor’s Independent Bookstores, Mapped. For events, clubs and more, check out The Book Lover’s Guide to Ann Arbor

 

5. We love local. 

things to do in ann arbor michigan

Bookstores and coffee shops aren’t the only things that are indie and local around here. Ann Arbor also boasts tons of local craft breweries, local shops and eateries that were built right here and have become staples of our community. For example, Arbor Brewing Company was the first brewpub to open in Ann Arbor and only the fifth brewpub to open in the entire state of Michigan. Learn more in Your Ultimate Guide to 20 Craft Breweries in the Ann Arbor Area

Another national name that began right here is Zingerman’s, and though it is nationally recognized, this community of businesses has stayed right here in Ann Arbor and has grown to include the original deli, a coffee roaster, a bakery, a cheese and gelato shop, multiple restaurants, an event venue, and more. For the complete details, check out Your Guide to 14 Zingerman’s Businesses in Ann Arbor

 

6. We have a year-round farmers’ market. 

things to do in ann arbor michigan

Speaking of loving local, Ann Arbor has an outdoor farmers’ market that operates all year long! At the heart of Kerrytown, the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market brings together our community, our local makers, our local growers and our local artisans for weekly events—and bi-weekly events during the summer! For the full schedule and information about seasonal food truck rallies, click here

 

7. There’s always something to do. 

We know in a suburban city like Ann Arbor, things can sometimes feel slow and quiet, but boring isn’t in our vocabulary around here. In addition to fun activities found in guides like 14 Things to Do in Ann Arbor Under $20, 10 Ann Arbor Date Ideas Perfect for Any Time of Year and 18 Things to Do with Kids in Ann Arbor, our community hosts tons of special events and festivals throughout the year. In our blog post, The Ultimate Guide to Annual Events in Ann Arbor, we highlighted more than 25! And that just covers the largest ones. To stay up-to-date on even more, check out Destination Ann Arbor here

 

8. It offers urban amenities and rural adventure.

Gallup Park guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

Ann Arbor offers the fun of a college town, the amenities of a city, and the open space of a charming, rural town. It’s the urban center of Washtenaw County and is less than an hour from Detroit, but also offers proximity to the huge Waterloo State Recreation Area and Pinckney Recreation Area near Chelsea and Dexter. For outdoor fun both in town and outside of it, check out 8 Things to Do in the Ann Arbor Area for Outdoor Enthusiasts, The Ultimate Guide to Kayaking in Ann Arbor, Everything You Can Do in Waterloo Recreation Area and Your Summer Guide to Ann Arbor’s City Parks, Mapped

 

9. It’s an affordable place to live. 

Home to a variety of industries and an award-winning university, Ann Arbor is a great place to live, work and invest. According to the United States Census Bureau, median household income in Ann Arbor is $61,247 which is higher than both Michigan and the United States. And, widening the range to the entirety of Washtenaw County, the median household income jumps to $65,618.

Looking to housing, the median value of owned homes is $271,600 and median gross rent is $1,166. Measured with the median household numbers we discussed, Ann Arbor is one of the country’s more affordable places to live—especially when compared to popular urban areas across the country. If you want to find homes on the market right now, click here to view the area’s newest listings. And to get more economic and social statistics like this, check out our other guide 10 Reasons to Stay in Ann Arbor After Graduation.

 

10. It’s surrounded by more small towns we love. 

Things to do in Saline, Michigan

Living in Ann Arbor puts you within reach of some of our state’s most charming small towns. These quieter and historic communities—like Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Saline and Ypsilanti—are home to some of Michigan’s best hidden gems, from entertainment at The Purple Rose Theatre Company to coffee and beer at Cultivate. To begin your explorations of these communities, we recommend the following guides: Your Ultimate Guide to Chelsea, Michigan, Your Ultimate Guide to Dexter, Michigan, Your Ultimate Guide to Milan, Michigan, Your Ultimate Guide to Saline, Michigan and Your Ultimate Guide to Ypsilanti, Michigan

 

That was our short list. 

For even more reasons to love Ann Arbor, including the college culture, economic statistics and housing information, check out 10 Reasons We’re Lucky to Live in Ann Arbor, 10 Reasons Ann Arbor is the Best College Town in America and 10 Reasons to Stay in Ann Arbor After Graduation.

And to stay up-to-date on local events, things to do, favorite businesses and regional real estate, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram

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The 17 Essential Ann Arbor Area Events to Attend August 2019

August 2019 events in Ann Arbor Michigan

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, a challenging triathlon and even a United States Air Force air show!

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

 

JUMP AHEAD:

Arts + Culture | Community Celebrations | Sports | Food + Drink

Arts + Culture

Arts + Culture 

 

Milan Bluegrass Festival | Milan

July 31 – August 3 | KC Campground Milan

August 2019 events in Ann Arbor Michigan

Featuring both well-known bluegrass bands and up-and-coming acts, Milan Bluegrass is a can’t-miss music festival in Southeast Michigan. The 2019 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 6 – August 29, 11:30 a.m. | Downtown at the corner of Liberty and Division

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

 

The Ton-Up | Ypsilanti

August 11, 12 – 7 p.m. | Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery  

The Ton-Up is a motorcycle and music festival, are they’re returning to Ypsilanti for the tenth 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. To learn more, check out the Facebook event here

 

Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival | Dexter

August 12 – 17 | 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 two-day exhibit and art sale in the Tent Gallery in Monument Park. To stay up-to-date on this year’s happenings, follow the team on Facebook here

 

Ann Arbor Blues Festival | Ann Arbor

August 16 – 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 in advance here.

 

DIYpsi | Ypsilanti

August 24 – 25 | Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery

An indie art fair like none other, DIYpsi is a handmade art fair that takes place in Ypsilanti 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. This year’s summer event features more than 90 vendors at ABC Microbrewery! 

 

 

Community Celebrations 

 

Ann Arbor Pride | Ann Arbor

August 3 – 4 | Kerrytown  

August 2019 events in Ann Arbor Michigan

Originally called OUTFest, Ann Arbor Pride has been showcasing equality and LGBTQ support for decades. Throughout Kerrytown this August, you can enjoy entertainment, community, vendors, fun and, most importantly, pride. In celebration of their 25th anniversary, the team is expanding the event with more mainstage entertainment, a pride picnic, a kids’ zone and a beer and wine garden. As always, proceeds from the event benefit the Jim Toy Community Center.

 

Thunder Over Michigan Air Show | Ypsilanti

August 3 – 4 | Willow Run Airport

At Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, this family event brings the United States Air Force Thunderbirds to Southeast Michigan. The air show will feature presentations from the F16 Demo Team and the Screamin’ Sasquatch as well so buy your tickets here and don’t miss it. Kids 15 years and younger are admitted for free!

 

Dexter Daze | Dexter

August 9 – 10 | 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. You can join the fun in Dexter this August! 

 

Saline’s Summerfest | Saline

August 9 – 10 | Downtown Saline

Returning to the streets of Downtown Saline this month, Saline’s Summerfest is a hometown celebration like none other. In 2019, the event promises even more activities, attractions and amusements, but with all the local flare we’ve come to love.

 

Michigan Firehouse Museum Fire Muster | Ypsilanti 

August 17, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Riverside Park 

The annual Fire Muster is a fun, free event for the entire community! The Michigan Firehouse Museum brings their trucks of all types to the park and they also provide a bucket brigade demonstration, hand pumper demonstrations, special activities for the kids, fire safety information and much more. For event updates, RSVP to the event on Facebook here

 

Chelsea Community Fair | Chelsea

August 20 – 24 | 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. For all the details, click here

 

YpsiFest | Ypsilanti

August 23 – 25 | Riverside Park

In 2019, the Ypsilanti Heritage, Arts, and Entertainment Festival will be bigger and better than ever before. Over the course of three days, you can enjoy live trivia in the entertainment tent, daily helicopter rides, a kids’ area with bounce houses, pony rides and games, a classic car show, the Rubber Ducky Race, a BBQ competition and more. For all the details, click here

 

Saline Community Fair | Saline

August 28 – September 1 | 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. To see the full schedule, click here

 

 

Sports

 

Ann Arbor Triathlon | Dexter

August 3, 7:30 a.m. | Pinckney Recreation Area  

August 2019 events in Ann Arbor Michigan

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 Poto Trail course to complete the challenge. If you’re ready, register online here.

 

Swim to the Moon | Dexter

August 18, 9 a.m. | Pinckney Recreation Area  

Celebrating 10 years in 2019, Swim to the Moon is an extraordinary open-water swimming adventure through the picturesque Hiland Chain of Lakes near Hell, Michigan. Participants can choose between distances including the half-mile, the 1.2-mile, the 5K or 10K. For full details and online registration, click here

 

 

Food + Drink 

 

German Park Picnic | Ann Arbor

August 31, 4 p.m. | German Park

August 2019 events in Ann Arbor Michigan

The German Park Recreation Club hosts three picnics every summer and this month’s event is set for August 31st from 4 – 11 p.m. For an admission price of just $5 per person, you can enjoy German culture, food, beer and more! Feel free to bring the whole family but no one under 21 years of age will be admitted without a parent or guardian. And, children 12 and under are admitted for free! 

 

 

Happy August! 

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Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

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

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

 

Ann Arbor Art Center

Retail location at 117 W Liberty St in Ann Arbor

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

 

Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Retail location at 315 Detroit St in Ann Arbor

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

 

Artistica Gallery

Retail location at 3203 Broad St in Dexter

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

 

Bløm Meadworks

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

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Photo courtesy of Bløm Meadworks

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

 

Bo

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

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

 

Bookend Candle Co.

Online store

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

 

Caravan Gift Shop

Retail location at 1 Nickels Arcade in Ann Arbor

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

 

Cherry Republic

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

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

 

FOUND Gallery

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

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

 

Le Bon Macaron

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

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Photo courtesy of Le Bon Macaron

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

 

Literati Bookstore

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

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

 

The M Den

Six retail locations | Online store

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

 

Rock Paper Scissors

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

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Photo courtesy of Rock Paper Scissors

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

 

RoosRoast

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

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Photo courtesy of Laura Garbarz via RoosRoast

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

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

 

Sandhill Crane Vineyards

Three retail locations

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

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

 

True North Jerky and Foods

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

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

 

Ypsilicious

Online store

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

 

Zingerman’s Creamery

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

Where to Shop to Build the Perfect Ann Arbor Gift Basket

Photo courtesy of Zingerman’s Creamery

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

 

Do you have a gift basket idea?

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

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The 18 Essential Ann Arbor Area Events to Attend July 2019

July 2019 events Ann Arbor Michigan

Quite possibly the most fun-filled month in our region, July is the height of summer and celebration in Ann Arbor. To honor the season, our communities are coming together for outdoor events, concerts, games, parades, races, festivals and so much more. Our guide even includes a few inaugural events, so you may find a few new favorites!

 

Jump ahead:

Arts + Culture | Community Celebrations | Sports | Food + Drink

Arts + Culture

Arts + Culture

 

Sonic Lunch | Ann Arbor

June 6 – August 29, 11:30 a.m. | Downtown at the corner of Liberty and Division

Since 2008, Sonic Lunch has been bringing free, outdoor concerts to the streets of downtown Ann Arbor every summer. Suitable for all ages, the 2019 concert series kicks off on June 6th and continues through August for a total of 11 shows. All shows begin at 11:30 a.m. and you can see the full lineup here.

 

Camaro Superfest | Ypsilanti

July 5 – 7, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. | Riverside Park

Camaro Superfest is a full weekend of fun in Riverside Park, and it’s the nation’s largest, longest-running all-Camaro car show. This year, the event theme is pioneers, honoring the first year of each of the six generations of Camaro. All Camaro owners are invited to exhibit and spectators are admitted all weekend for free. To get all the details, click here.

 

Booksilanti Readers’ Fair | Ypsilanti

July 6, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. | Ypsilanti Freighthouse

This inaugural event at Ypsilanti Freighthouse is free to attend and packed with family-friendly fun, including local authors, crafts, book-themed artisans, kids’ story hours and more. To get updates, RSVP to the Facebook event here.

 

Nevertheless Film Festival | Ann Arbor

July 11 – 14, various times | Various locations

Taking place right here in Ann Arbor, Nevertheless Film Festival is a fully women-run, brand new film festival. The event serves to amplify the voices of female-identifying filmmakers, inspire audiences of all ages, and engage the community in conversation about the power of equal representation behind the camera. To learn more, check out the website here.

 

Rolling Sculpture Car Show | Ann Arbor

July 12, 2 – 10 p.m. | Downtown Ann Arbor  

The 25th Annual Rolling Sculpture Car Show is returning to Main, Liberty and Washington Streets in the heart of Downtown Ann Arbor this July. The event itself is free and open to the public and all cars are welcome to exhibit for a pre-registration fee of $20. On the day of the show, guests will enjoy 300 exotic, antique, classic and one-of-a-kind cars, live music from Hot Rod DJ and Surfer Joe, and family activities provided by The Ann Arbor District Library.

 

Saline Celtic Festival | Saline

July 12 – 13, various times | Mill Pond Park

The Saline Celtic Festival originally began as a one-day festival but has grown in popularity and fun to include a full weekend of entertainment. Today, the event includes Highland dance competitions, ancient Celtic athletic competitions, kids’ activities at Wee Folks Island, living history, jousting, free workshops, sheep herding dog demonstrations, and so much more!

 

Art In the Park | Plymouth

July 12 – 14, various times | Downtown Plymouth

Art In The Park is celebrating its 40th year in 2019 by welcoming over 400 artists from around the country. These professionals and hobbyists will be offering paintings, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, fiber, woodwork, glass, photography, folk art and so much more. And all the art comes along with live entertainment and food to create Michigan’s second-largest art fair!

 

Ann Arbor Art Fair | Ann Arbor

July 18 – 21, various times | Downtown Ann Arbor

Kicked off by the Townie Street Party on Monday, July 15th and hosted in conjunction with the State Street Art Fair, Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair and Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair, the Ann Arbor Art Fair has grown into quite the event. All around town, you’ll find stage performances, street performers and street painting, an art activity zone, a youth art fair, and even more.

 

Michigan Elvisfest | Ypsilanti

July 19 – 20, various times | Historic Depot Town

Showcasing some of the best professional Elvis tribute artists in North America, Elvisfest offers fun for fans and music lovers of all ages. With the purchase of your ticket (ranging in price from $20 to $60) you can enjoy kids activities, a classic car show, local food vendors, an adult beer tent, raffles and more.

 

Sounds & Sights Festival | Chelsea

July 25 – 27, various times | Downtown Chelsea

This weekend festival began over three decades ago 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.

 

Rosie the Riveter Arts & Craft Show | Ypsilanti

July 27, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. | North Bay Park

For the third year, Ypsilanti Township is hosting this hyper-local arts and crafts show at the newly renovated North Bay Park. Guests can shop from local makers, enjoy kid-friendly activities, see live entertainment and more. For updates, RSVP to the Facebook event here.

 

 

Community Celebrations

 

Ypsilanti’s Independence Day Parade | Ypsilanti

July 4, 11 a.m. | Historic Depot Town

Memorial Day Parade Dexter Michigan

Honor and celebrate the July 4th holiday with one of the area’s favorite, patriotic traditions: Ypsilanti’s Independence Day Parade. This 90-year tradition is Michigan’s oldest parade and will fill the streets of Depot Town with community fun and plenty of red, white and blue!

 

Hot Air Jubilee | Jackson

July 18 – 21, various times | Ella Sharp Park

Offering free admission and just $5 parking on site, Jackson’s Hot Air Jubilee is a full weekend of hot air balloons, entertainment, carnival rides and food. Along with several balloon launches scheduled throughout the festival, you can explore the Ella Sharp Museum, dance to the live DJ, play in Kids Kingdom and so much more! Check out the full schedule here.

 

 

Sports

 

Ann Arbor Sports Commission Firecracker 5K | Ann Arbor

July 4, 6:30 a.m. | Downtown Ann Arbor

July 2019 events Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Epic Races

On the morning of July 4th in Downtown Ann Arbor, racers will take off from the intersection of Fourth and Liberty—the most patriotic intersection in town. The main race is a 3.1-mile course, but this epic event also offers a one-mile, noncompetitive distance, a special kids’ run, a Children’s Bicycle-Decorating Contest and the optional add-on event, Ray’s Red Hots Hot Dog Eating Contest! For more details and online registration, click here.

 

Supra Boats Pro Wakeboard Tour | Ypsilanti

July 13, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Ford Lake Park

The Pro Wakeboard Tour is the most dominant professional wakeboard circuit in the world, and this year it’s making a stop right here in Ypsilanti! At Ford Lake Park on July 13th, attendees can watch men’s and women’s competitions in surfing and wakeboarding, and advance tickets cost no more than $5. To see all the additional deals and ticketing specials, click here.

 

Battle of Waterloo | Chelsea

July 21, 7:30 a.m. | Waterloo Recreation Area

One of the coolest triathlon events in the country, Battle of Waterloo features 10 different legs totaling 42 miles throughout the beautiful Waterloo Recreation Area. Participants in the full distance will bike paved roads, run dirt lanes, climb steep trails and swim across three lakes. Or, you can opt for Half the Battle, which includes six legs and 18 miles. For all the details and online registration, click here.

 

 

Food + Drink

 

Manchester Chicken Broil | Manchester

July 18, 4 – 8 p.m. | Alumni Field

July 2018 Events in the Ann Arbor Area Michigan July events

Each year on the third Thursday of July in Manchester, the largest chicken broil of its kind comes to town! Benefiting local public schools, community parks, libraries and civic causes, your $9–10 ticket includes a dinner of chicken, locally famous coleslaw, a roll with butter, potato chips, radishes and a beverage, as well as live music entertainment and a classic car show. For event updates, RSVP to the Facebook event here.

 

Michigan Summer Beer Festival | Ypsilanti

July 26 – 27, various times | Riverside Park

The oldest of the Michigan Brewers Guild’s four annual festivals, the 22nd Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival will host approximately 150 local breweries sampling more than 1,000 different craft beers. Guests can also enjoy live music from Michigan bands and food available for purchase! To purchase your tickets and learn more, click here.

 

 

Happy July!

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The 14 Essential Ann Arbor Area Events to Attend June 2019

June 2019 Ann Arbor Michigan events things to do

June brings us countless wonderful things, including the official first day of summer, the unofficial kick-off to festival season, huge annual events like Ann Arbor Summer Festival, and the sunny weather that makes us fall in love with Ann Arbor year after year.

To help you take advantage of all four, we rounded up a handful of Southeast Michigan’s most exciting events, from outdoor concert series and cultural festivals to epic races through some of the region’s best parks. Keep reading to start planning your summer fun!

 

Jump ahead:

Arts + Culture | Community Celebrations | Sports | Food + Drink

 

 

Arts + Culture

 

Sonic Lunch | Ann Arbor

June 6 – August 29, 11:30 a.m. | Downtown at the corner of Liberty and Division

Sonic Lunch Ann Arbor Michigan music events

Photo courtesy of Leisa Thompson Photography via Sonic Lunch

Since 2008, Sonic Lunch has been bringing free, outdoor concerts to the streets of downtown Ann Arbor every summer. Suitable for all ages, the 2019 concert series kicks off on June 6th and continues through August for a total of 11 shows. All shows begin at 11:30 a.m. and you can see the full lineup here.

 

Ya’ssoo Greek Festival | Ann Arbor

June 7 – 9, various times | St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church

Hosted by St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, this annual event has become a local favorite thanks to the authentic Greek food, live entertainment, Greek dance performances and more. Admission ranges from free during the day up to $3 for evening admission, but children 12 years and younger are always admitted for free!

 

Chelsea Painters Art Fair | Chelsea

June 8 – 9, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Chelsea Community Fairgrounds

From humble beginnings in 1973, the Annual Chelsea Painters Art Fair has become one of the area’s best fine arts celebrations. It’s celebrating 46 years in 2019 with more than 20 highly accomplished artists exhibiting works in watercolor, gouache, acrylic, oil, pastels and mixed media. For more details, click here.

 

Gordon Hall Days | Dexter

June 22 – 23, various times | Gordon Hall

The Dexter Area Historical Society serves to preserve our history and inspire our community to connect the past with the future. Gordon Hall Days brings the community together to celebrate that mission through tours, shows, live music, food and fun for an entire weekend! Highlights include the Antique and Classic Car Show on Saturday, the Porsche Car Show on Sunday, Barn Raising Demonstrations, the ticketed Afternoon Tea and Fashion Show at Gordon Hall, and live music with George Bedard and the Kingpins.

 

 

Community Celebrations

 

African American Downtown Festival | Ann Arbor

June 1, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. | Downtown Ann Arbor

This festival is celebrating its 24th year in 2019 with more fun and entertainment than ever before. The lineup includes street and stage performances, dancing, local vendors and information booths, kid-friendly fun and more. For updates, check out the website here.

 

Ypsi Pride | Ypsilanti  

June 7, 5 – 10 p.m. | Downtown Ypsilanti

Celebrating its third year in 2019, Ypsi Pride is a block party of epic proportions on Ypsilanti’s South Washington Street. The event will include stages for family-friendly entertainment, beer gardens, local organizations and vendors, a children’s activity area and more! For details and updates, RSVP to the Facebook event here.

 

Ann Arbor Summer Festival | Ann Arbor

June 14 – July 7, various times | Various locations

As the can’t-miss, arts-centered event of the summer, the 2019 Ann Arbor Summer Festival will include world-class entertainment in comedy, cinema, food, jazz, pop and rock, acoustic, spoken word, public radio, and so much more. To see the full lineup and buy tickets, click here.

 

Green Fair | Ann Arbor

June 14, 6 – 9 p.m. | Main Street

The 19th annual Mayor’s Green Fair is coming to Main Street on June 14th. In celebration of our community’s environmental leadership, the event will close down the street so pedestrians can enjoy environmental displays and green products, live music, and fun in one of the town’s liveliest neighborhoods.

 

Juneteenth Celebration | Ann Arbor

June 15, 12 – 6 p.m. | Wheeler Park

Juneteenth is an annual holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery on June 19, 1865 in several American states. In Ann Arbor, the celebration is hosted by The Ann Arbor Branch of the NAACP and includes public readings, performances of traditional songs, historical re-enactments, cake walks, food, vendors and more.

 

 

Sports

 

Island Lake Triathlon | Brighton

June 1, 7:30 a.m. | Island Lake State Recreation Area

June 2019 Ann Arbor Michigan events things to do

Photo courtesy of Greg Sadler Photography via Epic Races

Island Lake State Recreation Area is the home of the Island Lake Triathlon and is an epic training destination. Participants in this multi-sport event will swim the waters of Kent Lake, bike the park’s rolling hills, and run the final leg to the lakeside finish line. After the race, stick around for post-race festivities, which include a recovery meal and beer tent!

 

Tri Goddess Triathlon | Chelsea

June 23, 7:30 a.m. | Waterloo State Recreation Area

The first-ever all-women triathlon in Michigan, the Tri Goddess Tri is an event organized by women to celebrate women of all abilities. The event is held at the Portage Lake Unit of Waterloo State Recreation Area and includes several different distances, post-race snacks, an epic finisher’s medal and more. And when you register, a portion of proceeds benefit The Sparrow Freedom Project.

 

 

Food + Drink

 

Taste of Ann Arbor | Ann Arbor

June 2, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Main Street

June 2019 Ann Arbor Michigan events things to do

This beloved annual event brings together 40 local restaurants and vendors to show off their goods and their talents on the two blocks of Main Street between William and Washington. Each vendor will offer bite-sized foods to showcase what they do best and ensure you can taste more than one! Tickets for food can be purchased at the event for $1 each and no item will be priced over $4 or four tickets. You can get all the details here.

 

Grillin’ for Food Gatherers | Ann Arbor

June 9, 3 – 8 p.m. | Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds

Established in 1988, Food Gatherers was Michigan’s first food rescue program and still works today to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in our community. Grillin’ for Food Gatherers is their annual fundraiser that includes food and desserts from our area’s best restaurants, live music, a cash bar featuring Michigan microbrews and wines, children’s activities hosted by the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, free massages by Body Wisdom Massage, and a photo booth! To buy your tickets and get more information, click here.

 

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week | Ann Arbor

June 9 – 14 | Various locations

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week is a twice-yearly celebration of local food and business in our hometown. The weeklong event gives you the opportunity to try various Ann Arbor restaurants for one low, fixed price at lunch and dinner. Participating restaurants will offer $18 lunch menus and/or $28 and $38 dinner menus—and some will even be offering two meals for the price of one! To see who is participating and to preview their menus, check out the website here.

 

 

Happy June!

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Everything You Can Do in Waterloo Recreation Area

things to do in Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

Waterloo Recreation Area offers more than 20,000 acres of outdoor paradise just minutes from Ann Arbor in Chelsea and is the largest park in the Lower Peninsula. Especially famous for its campgrounds, mountain biking trails and educational opportunities, guests in the park can walk or ride more than 40 miles of multi-use trail, boat and fish, visit the Gerald Eddy Discovery Center, bike the DTE Energy Foundation Trail, rent kayaks and canoes, play on swimming beaches, camp, hunt, play disc golf, and even ride horses.

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

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

 

 

Ride horses with Horse ‘N Around Stables.

things to do in Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

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

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

 

Bike the DTE Energy Foundation Trail.

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

 

Visit the Gerald Eddy Discovery Center.

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

 

Play disc golf.

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

 

Camp overnight.

things to do in Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

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

 

Go fishing.

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

 

Take a hike.

A variety of trails are available for hiking, including nature trails at the Discovery Center and the 36-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Trail that traverses from Big Portage Lake to Green Lake and further into Pinckney Recreation Area. Additionally, the new DTE Energy Foundation Trail offers more than 10 miles of loops and will soon consist of 25 miles to explore.

 

Watch wildlife.

Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

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

 

Visit Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Audubon Sanctuary.

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

 

Kayak on a lake.

things to do in Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

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

 

Swim at the public beach.

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

 

Hunt for deer, turkey and small game.

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

 

Hit the trails for cross-country skiing.

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

 

Hike on snowshoes.

things to do in Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

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

 

Go snowmobiling.

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

 

 

What do you love about Waterloo Recreation Area?

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

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The Ultimate Guide to Kayaking in Ann Arbor

Huron River Kayak Ann Arbor Michigan

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

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

 

 

Where to Go

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

 

Huron River Water Trail

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

 

Waterloo State Recreation Area

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

 

Independence Lake County Park

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

 

Kensington Metropark

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

 

Seven Lakes State Park

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

 

 

What You Need

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

 

Gallup Park Livery and Argo Park Livery

Argo Park guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

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

 

Adventure Leadership Rental Center

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

 

REI

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

 

Dunham’s Sports

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

 

Play It Again Sports

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

 

 

How to Learn

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

 

Gallup Park Livery and Argo Park Livery

Gallup Park guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

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

 

REI

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

 

Skip’s Huron River Canoe Livery

Guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Skip’s Huron River Canoe Livery

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

 

Tecumseh Paddling Company

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

 

Heavner Nature Connection & Canoe Rental

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

 

 

Do you have any tips?

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

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