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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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15 Fun Things to Do in Ann Arbor When You’re Not Drinking

things to do in Ann Arbor Michigan

Ann Arbor is both a college town and a great craft beer town, which means you’ll find tons of things to do when you’re looking for craft cocktails, beer gardens, taprooms, late night bars and the like. But if you’re worried you won’t be able to find anything to do outside of bar hopping and brewery crawling, there’s no need—our hometown also offers an impressive lineup of fun things to do, shows to see, classes to take, places to shop, and more. There’s even one spot on this guide serving up incredible mocktails! 

Next time you’re looking for something to do in Ann Arbor without the booze, stop by one of these local favorites for art, music, shopping, movies, food, games, tours, tea, coffee and ice cream.

 

Take a class at Ann Arbor Art Center

Ann Arbor Art Center dates in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Art Center

Located in downtown Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Art Center is our local headquarters for enjoying art exhibition, connecting with local artists, and learning new art skills. Their educational experiences are available for all ages and topics cover everything from painting and ceramics to jewelry making and metalsmithing. Depending on how deep you want to delve, you can choose a class that lasts just a few hours, a full day or four weeks. To see upcoming topics and classes, click here.

 

Go to the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market

things to do in ann arbor michigan

The Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market is open year-round on Saturdays, and during the summer, you can enjoy it twice a week on Saturdays and Wednesdays! From May through October, they also host six food truck rallies scheduled on the first Wednesday of the month. It’s a great place to get a sense for our Ann Arbor community and to get a little local shopping done.

 

See a show at The Ark.

The Ark Ann Arbor music venues

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Patselas via The Ark

The Ark is Ann Arbor’s destination for live music. Founded in 1965 by four area churches, the venue has grown to offer more than 300 nights of shows each year in one of the best listening rooms anywhere. In the past, they’ve brought big names like Howie Day, Blind Pilot and the Violent Femmes to town! See all their upcoming events here.

 

Dine and drink at Aventura

Aventura mocktails in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Claire Lindsey, Aventura

Aventura is a charming spot in downtown Ann Arbor 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. Also on the menu, you’ll find an impressive selection of crafted mocktails like Sangria Falsa, which is made with pomegranate, Earl Grey tea, cinnamon and citrus. To see the full menu, click here.

 

Tour with By the Sidewalk Food Tours

Founded right here in Ann Arbor and inspired by our hometown neighborhoods, chefs, businesses and history, By the Sidewalk Food Tours explores all of that and more. The Classic Ann Arbor By The Sidewalk tour is a three hour, guided walking tour through downtown Ann Arbor and Kerrytown that pairs food tastings with history, art, architecture and local stories.

 

Go out for coffee. 

If you haven’t taken the opportunity to explore Ann Arbor’s coffee scene, you’re definitely missing out. In fact, our hometown has been named on The 10 Best Cities for Coffee Lovers in America and National Geographic’s guide These Unexpected Cities Have the Best Coffee in the U.S. To explore the most up-to-date happenings on the coffee scene, check out Coffee Ann Arbor on Facebook and Instagram.

You can also preview the coffee scene with our guide The 16 Best Coffee Shops in the Ann Arbor Area. And check out The Best Coffee Roasters Around Ann Arbor to find a few shops that do their own roasting!

 

Escape from Decode

As Michigan’s top escape game, Decode offers some of the most interesting and complex escape rooms in the state—and they have facilities in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Detroit! In Ann Arbor, their facility offers a three-part adventure called Minerva’s Trilogy. The story is about Minerva, an adolescent Artificial Intelligence machine with lofty goals. The Minerva Project and Minerva’s Return are the first and last parts, both one-hour escape rooms. And the second part, Minerva’s Escape, is a free puzzle hunt through downtown Ann Arbor.

 

Get ice cream at Blank Slate Creamery.

ice cream in ann arbor michigan

Photo courtesy of Andrew Jager via Blank Slate Creamery

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

To find even more ice cream in the area, check out The 10 Best Places for Ice Cream in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 

Catch a movie at Michigan Theater.

The Michigan Theater Foundation was founded in 1979 to save the Michigan Theater from the wrecking ball—and we’re so glad it was. Founded in 1928, the theater is now home to three screening spaces for independent movies, concerts, comedy shows, national tours and more. Check out the current films here and peruse the special event schedule here. Or, head over to the historic State Theatre for even more movies and shows!

 

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. You can spend your quarters along the entire wall of pinball machines, play video games, and challenge your friends to a game of pool or air hockey!

 

Share tea at TeaHaus

Ann Arbor’s favorite tea spot, TeaHaus offers options suited for a quick stop or an entire afternoon. For example, the full English tea is a three-tiered service brought out to each table complete with white china and linens. The experience includes all the tea you can drink, four finger sandwiches, the soup of the day, two scones with jam, jellies, lemon curd and clotted cream, and three desserts. Get all the details here and be sure to make your reservation a few days in advance. 

 

Visit the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.

Museum of Natural History fun things to do in Ann Arbor

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.

 

Visit University of Michigan Museum of Art

One of the most obvious attractions in Ann Arbor is the University of Michigan campus, but you can do a lot more on campus than just people watch in The Diag. For example, 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 donation is also appreciated. Get full details and plan your visit here.

 

Head to Waterloo State Recreation Area. 

things to do in Waterloo Recreation Area Chelsea Michigan

Waterloo Recreation Area is the largest park in the Lower Peninsula! It offers more than 20,000 acres of outdoor paradise just minutes from Ann Arbor in Chelsea, including campgrounds, mountain biking opportunities, more than 40 miles of multi-use trail, boating and fishing, horseback riding, and more. To learn more, check out Everything You Can Do in Waterloo Recreation Area

 

Take a class with Zingerman’s Bakehouse

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

 

Do you have a local tip? 

If you have a favorite thing to do in Ann Arbor when you’re not drinking, tell us about it in the comments below!

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The 12 Essential Michigan Getaways on Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan Hotels Resorts in Michigan

The only Great Lake entirely located within the United States, Lake Michigan is one of the best choices for summer vacations, weekend getaways, family retreats and romantic escapes, no matter where you live. Along our Michigan shoreline, the water offers picturesque beaches and year-round fun all the way from New Buffalo up to the Straits of Mackinac.

And in this guide, we’re sharing a few of our favorite places to stay along that entire shoreline with highlights from the shores of Torch Lake and Traverse Bay, too. Enjoy!

 

Marina Grand Resort

New Buffalo | Facebook

Located on the New Buffalo harbor just 70 miles from Chicago and within walking distance of a stunning Lake Michigan beach, Marina Grand is one of the top resorts in Michigan. Overnight stays are available in king and double queen rooms, suites and lofts, and every option includes waterfront views and luxurious fireplaces. As guests of the resort, you’ll also have access to evening s’mores in the Terrace Room, Ben & Jerry’s delivery, rentals from Oleska Marina, indoor and outdoor pools, beach cruiser rentals, a game room, a DVD library and more.

 

The Harbor Grand Hotel

New Buffalo | Facebook

From the same hospitality group behind Marina Grand Resort, The Harbor Grand Hotel offers a boutique hotel experience on the harbor within walking distance of a stunning beach and Downtown New Buffalo. The personalized service at this cozy hotel can include breakfast in bed and rooms with fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, spa showers and harbor views. To see a list of all the amenities, click here.

 

Buzz’s Lakeside Inn

Whitehall | Facebook

Located on 365 feet of beautiful White Lake shoreline and just minutes from Lake Michigan beaches, Buzz’s Lakeside Inn is a family resort with a history reaching all the way back to the late 1800s. On site, guests can enjoy an outdoor garden and pool, live music performances, dining at Buzz’s Lakeside Inn Restaurant, water sports facilities, a playground and tennis court, a bar and restaurant, and more.

 

Lake Bluff Inn & Suites

South Haven | Facebook

Located right on the shore of Lake Michigan and just two miles from Downtown South Haven, Lake Bluff Inn & Suites is a stunning getaway suitable for family vacations, romantic escapes and quiet retreats. The luxurious suites come in a variety of options and all include a refrigerator and microwave, a coffee maker, air conditioning and access to panoramic views of the waterfront.

 

The Homestead

Glen Arbor | Facebook

A top resort for romantic getaways, family vacations, weddings, family reunions and even corporate meetings, The Homestead is a distinctive, four-season resort on Lake Michigan. Overnight options include charming rooms at The Inn, one- and two-bedroom suites at Stony Brook Lodge, suites in the romantic Little Belle, and beautiful cottage rooms at Fiddler’s Pond.

 

Bayshore Resort

Traverse City | Facebook

Lake Michigan Hotels Resorts in Michigan

Photo courtesy of Bayshore Resort

This Victorian hotel is nestled on the beach of West Grand Traverse Bay just minutes from Downtown Traverse City. On site, guests can enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast, complimentary internet, an indoor pool and whirlpool, a game room, jet ski and boat rentals, and more. To view all the available rooms, click here.

 

Double JJ Resort

Rothbury | Facebook

If you want a vacation where you can ride a horse, play a round of mini golf and slide down a waterslide all in the same day, choose Double JJ Resort. This family-friendly resort is home to Mystical Forest Mini Golf, Gold Rush Waterpark and stables where you can participate in cattle drives, take riding lessons, and embark on horseback adventures to explore 1,200 acres and miles of trail. And that’s just the short list of things to do! To view the accommodations, which include hotel rooms, condos and log cabins, click here.

 

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Traverse City | Facebook

Encompassing 900 acres, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa boasts three championship golf courses, five indoor and four outdoor tennis courts, four different pools, a 100,000-square-foot Health Club with classes, boat and Slingshot rentals, the Orvis Fly Fishing School, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals, and more—all on-site! With six different overnight accommodation options, you can tailor every stay for the perfect vacation every time.

 

Inn at Bay Harbor

Bay Harbor | Facebook

This Marriott hotel is a world-class resort located on the shores of Lake Michigan and has been named one of the best hotels in the world. Built in the style of Northern Michigan’s turn-of-the-century lakeside inns, modern amenities include on-site dining from four different cafes, bars and restaurants, a full-service spa, a 24-hour fitness facility, an outdoor pool and much more.

 

Tamarack Lodge of Traverse City

Traverse City | Facebook

Nestled on 800 feet of sparkling blue Lake Michigan shoreline, Tamarack Lodge is one of the top-rated resorts on the Traverse City waterfront. In addition to year-round features like free WiFi, complimentary coffee and tea, and game tables, the lodge offers a beach swimming area, beach firepits and outdoor games, a dock, a playground, a volleyball court and even more in the summer months.

 

Great Wolf Lodge

Traverse City | Facebook

This Traverse City resort is one of nearly 20 award-winning Great Wolf Resorts located across the United States and Canada. At this location, your Michigan getaway is made even better with a huge indoor and outdoor water park with more than 15 different attractions in addition to Howl in One Mini Golf and Ten Paw Alley which offers kid-sized bowling. Included with every room purchase, guests receive water park passes and access to the park on the day of arrival, unlimited WiFi, special kids’ activities and more.

 

Shanty Creek Resort

Bellaire | Facebook

Staying at Shanty Creek Resort means you can ski in the winter, golf on four different championship courses, enjoy year-round resort attractions, partake in world-class dining on site, and more. Located a short drive from Lake Michigan, the huge resort boasts more than 400 lodging options across 5,000 acres adjacent to Torch Lake. These accommodations include custom packages, three distinct villages, hotel rooms and even vacation homes. To see all the options, click here.

 

Do you have a favorite?

If you have a favorite Lake Michigan getaway, tell us about it in the comments below!

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The List to Send Your Friends When They Ask What to Do in Ann Arbor

Kerrytown fun things to do in Ann Arbor

So, you have friends or family coming into town and you’ve suddenly forgotten everything there is to do in Ann Arbor. We’ve all been there. But luckily, there’s plenty to do in our charming little town. And with this guide, you now have a curated list to send that covers student culture, local food, townie favorites, educational experiences, music, film and books, outdoor exploration, craft beer and more.

Other helpful guides include Where to Take Out of Town Guests in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Spending a Day in Downtown Ann Arbor, Mapped. Enjoy!

 

1. Go shopping in Kerrytown.

Kerrytown is a charming market district located just a few blocks from the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. Here, you’ll find the year-round Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, other annual events like Kerrytown KindleFest, beloved restaurants like Miss Kim and The Lunch Room, as well as local shops 16 Hands, Ann Arbor Spice Merchants, Spun and more.

 

2. Get ice cream at Washtenaw Dairy.

This landmark shop has the biggest cones in town at the lowest prices, and they also serve up homemade donuts and donut minis! With more than 30 ice cream flavors, hand-dipped shakes and malts, everyone can find a cold, refreshing treat to enjoy. Follow the team on Instagram and get ready to drool.

To track down more local ice cream, check out The 10 Best Places for Ice Cream in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 

3. Visit the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.

Museum of Natural History fun things to do in Ann Arbor

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.

 

4. See a show at The Ark.

The Ark is Ann Arbor’s destination for live music and has been since it was founded in 1965 by four area churches. Today, the venue offers more than 300 nights of shows each year in one of the best listening rooms anywhere. In the past, they’ve brought huge acts like Howie Day, Blind Pilot and the Violent Femmes to town! See all their upcoming events here.

And for even more music-centric activities, check out The Music Lover’s Guide to Ann Arbor.

 

5. Catch a movie at The Michigan Theater.

The Michigan Theater Foundation was founded in 1979 to save the Michigan Theater from the wrecking ball—and we’re so glad it was. Originally founded in 1928, the theater is now home to three screening spaces for independent movies, concerts, comedy shows, national tours and more. You can check out the current films here and peruse the special event schedule here. Or, head over to the historic State Theatre for even more movies and shows!

 

6. Eat at Fleetwood Diner.

Fleetwood Diner is the home of late night eats in Ann Arbor. You can get their entire menu of diner classics 24 hours a day, and that lineup includes omelets, pancakes, egg dishes and, of course, the famous hippie hash, which is a plate of homemade hash browns topped with grilled tomato, green pepper, onion, mushroom, broccoli and feta cheese.

 

7. Sip beer at Bill’s Beer Garden.

Bill's Beer Garden fun things to do in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Bill’s Beer Garden

Open seasonally March through October, Bill’s Beer Garden is a community gathering place that offers an impressive lineup of Michigan, domestic and imported craft beers and wines. Located right next door to Downtown Home & Garden, the outdoor beer garden has long, communal tables and shaded areas for gathering with friends. Follow the team on Instagram here to get updates on weather closures and special events.

And if you’re visiting outside of the Bill’s Beer Garden season, check out Your Ultimate Guide to 20 Craft Breweries in the Ann Arbor Area to learn more about our town’s best craft breweries.

 

8. Type on the typewriter at Literati Bookstore.

Literati Bookstore fun things to do in Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Literati Bookstore

Literati Bookstore is a locally owned and operated book-lovers’ haven in downtown Ann Arbor. On the store’s lower level, you’ll find the bookstore and the team’s famous public typewriter which invites anyone and everyone to type a message. Over the years, they’ve accumulated thousands of love notes, poems, sentences and salutations. Published in 2018, “Notes From A Public Typewriter” compiles some of their favorites alongside essays, photos and more. Stop by to shop local for books, type your own notes on the Literati public typewriter, then head upstairs to visit Literati Coffee, a full-service coffee shop.  

If you need more books during your visit, check out Your Guide to Ann Arbor’s Independent Bookstores, Mapped.

 

9. Order sangria at Dominick’s.

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.

 

10. Get a sandwich at Zingerman’s Deli.

Zingerman’s Delicatessen was the first business to open in what is now the famous Zingerman’s Company of Businesses, and it opened all the way back in 1982 with a staff of just two people. Today, the deli is still located in the small, red brick building across from the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, but the menu and the staff have grown astronomically. That menu features some of the best sandwiches you can get in the state of Michigan alongside other creations—some of which are made at the other Zingerman’s businesses around town. Right next door to the deli, you’ll find Next Door Dessert & Coffee House where you can order cakes, pies, cupcakes, gelato, cookies, brownies, chocolates, candies and more.

To track down all the Zingerman’s businesses in the area (including bakeries, coffee roasters, creameries and restaurants), check Your Guide to 14 Zingerman’s Businesses in Ann Arbor.

 

11. Go kayaking on the Huron River.

Gallup Park guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

If you visited Ann Arbor and you didn’t see the Huron River, did you even visit Ann Arbor? Well, maybe, because this picturesque river is pretty hard to miss. One of the area’s favorite outdoor activities is kayaking and canoeing on the water and resources like the Gallup Park Livery and Argo Park Livery make it easy to do. For full details on where to go and what you need, you can read The Ultimate Guide to Kayaking in Ann Arbor.

 

12. Explore the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

One of the most obvious attractions in Ann Arbor is the University of Michigan campus, but you can do a lot more on campus than just people watch in The Diag. For example, 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.

 

13. Visit Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two educational and environmental gardens located on the U-M campus. The botanical gardens include 11 outdoor spaces full of bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials and more which bloom seasonally from spring to the first frost. During the colder months, you can head inside to the year-round conservatory which is filled with plants from around the world.

The second area, 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 originally started by O. C. Simonds in 1907. To see visiting information on both the gardens and the arboretum, click here.

 

14. Go to the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market.

The Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market is open year-round on Saturdays, and during the summer, you can enjoy it twice a week on Saturdays and Wednesdays! From May through October, they also host six food truck rallies scheduled on the first Wednesday of the month. It’s a great place to get a sense for our Ann Arbor community and to get a little local shopping done.

 

15. Spend a day in Ypsilanti.

Located directly southeast of Ann Arbor along the Huron River, Ypsilanti represents some of Michigan’s best and most interesting hidden gems, including dining destinations, outdoor recreation, historic attractions, craft breweries and events. To begin your exploration of this charming community, check out Your Ultimate Guide to Ypsilanti, Michigan.

 

Want to add something to the itinerary?

Tell us about your essential Ann Arbor activities in the comments below!

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Your Summer Guide to Ann Arbor’s City Parks, Mapped

Ann Arbor's City Parks

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 this guide, we rounded up the 14 parks that should be on every Ann Arbor summer bucket list, thanks to things like pickleball, disc golf, swimming pools, skateparks and more. These outdoor playgrounds and recreation havens are home to some of the best attractions, amenities and trails in the region, including Cobblestone Farm, Gallup Canoe Livery and Fuller Park Pool—just to name a few.

To see a full list of all City of Ann Arbor parks and nature areas, click here. Or find the one nearest you using our interactive map to start exploring!

 

Argo Nature Area

Argo Nature Area Ann Arbor, MI

Argo is one of Ann Arbor’s most popular parks thanks in large part to the boat launch along the Huron River and the Argo Canoe Livery, which is open for rentals from April through October. Its 22 acres includes a fairly wide, unpaved trail that runs the length of the park along the river and offers spectacular views of the water.

 

Bandemer Park

Bandemer Park covers nearly 37 acres of natural area along the Huron River. Amenities throughout the park include accessible trails, restrooms, an accessible canoe dock, a fishing deck, a shelter and picnic areas, and grills, but the largest recreation draws are the disc golf and dirt bike courses!

 

Bird Hills Nature Area

At just over 161 acres, Bird Hills Nature Area is Ann Arbor’s largest park. Though undeveloped, the area offers five different trailheads and is a haven for hikers right in town! For more information and history, click here.

 

Buhr Park

A recreation destination throughout the year, Buhr Park’s 39 acres offer 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, and a seasonal ice rink. The park is also connected to John Allen Elementary School and Cobblestone Farm, a historic educational facility. You can get more information on the Buhr Outdoor Ice Arena and Pool here.

 

Burns Park

Burns Park covers 15 acres adjacent to Burns Park School. It was once the site of the County fairgrounds but today offers a small shelter with restrooms and a drinking fountain, five tennis courts and a practice court, a basketball court, a sledding hill, a small parking lot and playground equipment. This park is also the only one in Ann Arbor with a pétanque court, a sport similar to bocce!

 

Fuller Park

The most popular summer attraction at Fuller Park is the Fuller Park Pool, an outdoor, 50-meter pool with an adjacent waterslide. The park’s 60 acres are also home to one of the city’s largest playgrounds, a pedestrian bridge that connects to Island Park, and premium athletic fields available for use with a permit. For more information on Fuller Park Pool, click here.

 

Gallup Park

Gallup Park Ann Arbor, MI

Encompassing a whopping 69 acres, Gallup Park is Ann Arbor’s most popular recreation area. As one of the most accessible parks along the Huron River, this makes sense. Gallup offers two playgrounds, the Gallup Canoe Livery, picnic areas and grills, two picnic shelters, an open field for play, and more than 3 miles of asphalt trails that are available for biking, rollerblading, walking and running. And, for even more exploration, Gallup Park connects to Furstenberg Nature Area to the west.

 

Leslie Park

Leslie Park is adjacent to some of the biggest and best attractions in Ann Arbor, including Leslie Park Golf Course, Leslie Woods Nature Area, and the Leslie Science and Nature Center. Throughout the 38 acres of parkland in Leslie Park, you’ll find two play areas, tennis courts, basketball courts, softball fields, a sledding hill with a great view over the golf course, picnic tables, benches, and open fields with ample parking and a portable restroom in the summer.

 

Mary Beth Doyle Park

One of the largest parks on this list, Mary Beth Doyle Park covers more than 81 acres and is home to one of two disc golf courses in Ann Arbor. Other attractions include a playground with a famously long slide, a basketball court, open fields, a neighborhood ballfield, picnic tables and benches, and an unpaved trail that travels along Malletts Creek and through the woods and wetlands.

 

Olson Park

Olson Park offers 54 acres of fun for the entire family, including the dog, because this park is home to one of two off-leash dog parks in the city! Visitors will also find a wonderful fishing pond, paved pedestrian trails, a mountain bike trail, premium athletic fields available for use by permit, a basketball court and a rock climbing playground.

 

Riverside Park

Riverside Park Ann Arbor, MI

A popular destination for fly fishing, Riverside Park covers 15 acres bordering the Huron River. Along the river, fishers will find several easily accessible spots, and other visitors can enjoy the picnic tables and grills, a newly renovated playground, a football field and a softball diamond.

 

South Maple Park

Nestled in West Ann Arbor, South Maple Park encompasses nearly eight acres and is home to one of two pickleball courts in town. The park also offers tennis courts, a play area, a neighborhood softball field, open fields, a drinking fountain and a scenic wooded area.

 

Southeast Area Park

A bustling setting during the summer months, Southeast Area Park is most notable for featuring recycled products. The play area, picnic tables and benches were constructed from recycled plastics, the basketball surface was made from old athletic shoes, and the bleachers were created from recycled aluminum. Throughout the 26.5 acres, visitors can enjoy two playgrounds, lighted softball fields and basketball courts, athletic fields, a picnic shelter, grills and more.

 

Veterans Memorial Park

Veterans Memorial Park is one of Ann Arbor’s most well-equipped parks for year-round fun both indoors and out. The most notable attraction is the Veterans Memorial Pool and Ice Arena, which offers a seasonal outdoor pool and an indoor ice rink. But the grounds are also home to three tennis courts, five softball fields, and Ann Arbor’s only outdoor skatepark!

 

Do you have a favorite Ann Arbor park?

Whether it’s on our list or not, tell us about it in the comments below!

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Your Guide to Fishing in the Ann Arbor Area

where to fish in Ann Arbor Michigan

The state of Michigan is made up of more than 40 percent water. Here in Southeast Michigan, much of that acreage is 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 most accessible recreation opportunities in Michigan. And where there’s water, there’s fishing!

In this guide, we’re focusing our attention on the basics of fishing in the Ann Arbor area: what to know before you go, where to cast your reel, how to learn, and where to find communities of like-minded fishers. Enjoy!

 

BEFORE YOU GO

where to fish in Ann Arbor Michigan

The most important things to have before you embark on your fishing adventures are a fishing license and the right equipment—and both are easy to get if you know where to go!

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers fishing licenses to both residents and nonresidents. Options include an annual license, a discounted pass for seniors, a 72-hour license and a 24-hour license for different prices. Anyone under 17 years of age can fish without a license, and licenses are available to residents online. For all the information and online purchases, click here.

The Michigan DNR also publishes a Weekly Fishing Report covering conditions around the state and the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services publishes Eat Safe Fish Guides so you know what to catch and eat safely.

To get the right equipment, we recommend heading to a local shop where you’ll meet fishing guides and experts who have been fishing here for years. Schultz Outfitters is one of the most popular options, and they’re located in Ypsilanti’s historic Depot Town. In their brick and mortar shop, you’ll find fly fishing gear and fly tying supplies, but they’re also the area’s only full-time, four-season guide service and destination outfitter!

The Painted Trout is another great, locally owned option in Dexter. They are a fully stocked outfitter shop with a focus on field sports, sporting dogs and fly fishing so you can get everything you need, from clothing to fishing rods and everything in between.

 

 

WHERE TO GO

Gallup Park guide to kayaking in Ann Arbor Michigan

The primary reason Southeast Michigan is a haven for water sports like kayaking and fishing 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 fishing, it’s not the only place where you can practice your casting!

 

Huron-Clinton Metroparks

A haven for all kinds of outdoor recreation throughout the year, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks system is made up of 13 parks which cover more than 25,000 acres in five different counties of Southeast Michigan. Of those parks, 11 offer fishing and/or ice fishing, including Delhi Metropark in Ann Arbor, Dexter-Huron Metropark and Hudson Mills Metropark is Dexter, Huron Meadows Metropark in Brighton and more. For more information on all the fishing opportunities in these parks, click here.

 

Spring Valley Trout Farm

Spring Valley sits on 20 acres of carefully maintained grounds in a private, park setting. Their facility offers nine spring-fed ponds at least one-half acre or larger, two covered picnic pavilions, a children’s play area, and an authentic American log cabin. Especially ideal for kids and beginners, Spring Valley Trout Farm offers wheelchair accessibility and a family atmosphere, and their pollution-free ponds are stocked weekly with fish grown right on the farm.

 

Argo Nature Area

Argo Park, home to Argo Park Canoe and Kayak Livery, is a great place for water sports of all kinds on the Huron River, and it’s located right in the heart of Ann Arbor. Fly fishers can catch carp along the eastern embankment that forms part of the Argo Dam and it’s the closest fishing site to Downtown Ann Arbor! For more fishing tips, we recommend heading to the livery where you can also rent paddle boats. To get more info on the facility and fishing programs, click here.

 

Gallup Park

Gallup Park also offers boat rentals, expert tips and special programs through their Gallup Park Canoe and Kayak Livery. With a total of 69 acres along the Huron River and Geddes Pond, fishers have plenty of opportunities to cast, whether on the shore, from the pier or in a boat.

 

Olson Park

Olson Park is a popular choice in Ann Arbor for pond fishing. The 54-acre parcel is centered around a creek and pond with its own fishing dock, and the area is maintained by the City of Ann Arbor and the County Drain Commissioner.

 

Lillie Park

Lillie Park in Pittsfield Township boasts 148 acres of outdoor recreation opportunities, including a pond with two fishing docks and the picturesque Haven Lake.  

 

 

HOW TO LEARN

where to fish in Ann Arbor Michigan

If you’re a beginner when it comes to casting, tying your own flies or just fishing in general, a local shop or club is a great place to start your education. Many even offer dedicated classes for beginners and advanced students!

 

Schultz Outfitters

In addition to selling all the necessary gear, Schultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti is the area’s only full-time, four-season guide service and destination outfitter. Their offerings include guide trips and destination travel as well as classes and events which include beginner and advanced fly tying workshops and the full spectrum of casting instruction.

 

The Painted Trout

The Painted Trout in Dexter is a fully stocked outfitter shop and their team also offers classes and lessons for various levels of experience. Their fishing courses include group fly fishing classes for beginners both in the classroom and on the water, private lessons in beginner and advanced casting, and more. To see the full lineup, click here.

 

Ann Arbor Trout Unlimited

The mission of Ann Arbor Trout Unlimited is to conserve, protect and restore Michigan’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds, including our own Huron River. As a chapter of Trout Unlimited, they offer education and community focused around fishing and coldwater fisheries. For more information of meetings, programs and membership, click here.

 

Huron River Fishing Association

Based in Flat Rock along the Huron River and near Lake Erie, the Huron River Fishing Association is an affiliate of Michigan United Conservation Club and organizes tournaments, holds meetings and hosts members-only events throughout the year. Dedicated to both fishing and conservation, HRFA hosts two monthly meetings and monthly fly tying groups at Flat Rock Community Center. For more information, click here.

 

 

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS?

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

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Your Ultimate Guide to Milan, Michigan

Things to do in Milan, Michigan

A growing city of just over 5,000, Milan, Michigan straddles the Washtenaw and Monroe County line, providing its residents with quick access to Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Monroe, Detroit and Toledo, Ohio. While the town was founded in 1831 as an agricultural community, it has grown into a community of small business owners and professionals. And with nearly 200 acres of parkland in the city, recreational opportunities abound!

Whether you’re new to Milan or you’re just visiting for the day, keep reading to learn more about some of the best local restaurants, the most fun activities, the coolest places to go and the biggest annual events.

 

Jump ahead:

The Essential Eateries | Things to Do | Outdoor Recreation | Annual Events

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The Essential Eateries

 

JR’s Hometown Grill and Pub

1000 Dexter St | Facebook

JR’s Hometown Grill and Pub originally opened in 2009 in Adrian and has since grown to include five hometown restaurants. At the Milan location, you can get the same amazing menu, including the team’s famous steaks, ribs and delicious burgers. Also at the Milan location, you can eat breakfast seven days a week!

 

Zilke Farm Kitchen

1115 Dexter St | Facebook

Run by locals Tom and Vicki right here in Milan, Zilke Farm Kitchen branched out from Zilke Vegetable Farm and the team’s summer farmstand. Though this is not a sit-down restaurant, they sell a great selection of healthy, local, tasty ingredients as well as take-home freshly prepared meal kits, ready-to-heat single serving meals, salads and more. And it’s all available in a comfortable store that’s designed to feel like a home kitchen and pantry.

 

Milan Dairy Barn

805 Dexter St | Facebook

Open seasonally, Milan Dairy Barn has been a tradition for generations of Milan families. Though they’re famous for soft serve and hard serve ice cream treats like sundaes, shakes, flurries and banana splits, they also offer a huge menu of hot dogs, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, chili cheese fries and more.

 

Famous Milan Coney Island

1152 Dexter St | Facebook

A staple in the Milan food scene, Milan Coney Island has been owned and operated by the same family since 1999. The welcoming, family atmosphere comes free with their huge breakfast, lunch and dinner menus of American classics, including steaks, corned beef sandwiches, burgers and more.

 

Roy’s BBQ N Burgers

25 Wabash St | Facebook

A beloved local business, the most frequent review you’ll hear about Roy’s is that they have the best burgers in Michigan. In an all-American diner setting, they also serve up BBQ sandwiches, cheese steak hoagies, baby back ribs, hot dogs and the Bubba Burger, which is two half-pound patties stacked on three pieces of Texas toast.

 

Papa G’s BBQ

14177 Plank Rd | Facebook

Open seasonally at DR Trailer, Papa G’s serves some of the best BBQ in the area. Their menu can include things like homemade brisket chili, smoked sausage, ribs and more. To stay up-to-date on their operating hours and menu, follow the team on Facebook here.

 

 

Things to Do

 

Original Gravity Brewing Company

440 County St | Facebook

Things to do in Milan, Michigan

Photo courtesy of Original Gravity Brewing Company

Original Gravity is Milan’s original brewery. Though Brad Sancho just opened this microbrewery in 2008, it’s still the town’s only craft brewery and serves as the local destination for beer, community and fun. Focused on creating an outstanding taproom experience, their space has old-school arcade games, board games, televisions and delicious deli sandwiches.

 

Milan Coffee Works

508 County St | Facebook

Featured in The Best Coffee Roasters Around Ann Arbor, Milan Coffee Works has been an area favorite for years. At their headquarters—a charming, bright and welcoming coffee shop in the heart of Milan—they roast coffees in small batches. While you’re hanging out in the cozy, neighborhood cafe, we also recommend tasting the homemade chai! For information on events and pop-ups, follow the team on Facebook here.

 

Milan Dragway

10860 Plank Rd | Facebook

Things to do in Milan, Michigan

Photo courtesy of Milan Dragway

Milan Dragway is a quarter-mile, NHRA-sanctioned drag strip that hosts events throughout the spring, summer and fall. Their race schedule includes Test & Tune events where you can test your car, plus spectator events like Bike Night, Aeroquip Heads Up and Kickin’ It Old School. And kids 12-years-old and younger are always admitted for free! To see the race schedule, click here.

 

The Owl

9 W Main St | Facebook

The Owl is an all-day hangout that offers exclusively organic, shade grown, carbon-free and fair trade coffee. By night, they also offer Michigan’s finest craft beers and ciders for an atmosphere that anyone can enjoy. As a community hangout, The Owl offers weekly events, like beer yoga, trivia night, live music and more. To stay up-to-date on events, follow the team on Facebook here.

 

Adventure, Ink

1 W Main St #2 | Facebook

Things to do in Milan, Michigan

Photo courtesy of Adventure, Ink

This small, locally owned comic, book and gaming store is the headquarters of fun and gaming in Milan. As a neighborhood shop, they’ve built a community where everyone is welcome to play, teach and learn about role-playing games, board games, card games and more. To stay up-to-date on fun events and workshops, follow the team on Facebook here.

 

Northern Chicks

32 E Main St | Facebook

Downtown Milan is one of the best places to shop local in town, and Northern Chicks is a beloved shop located at the heart of Main Street. Their cozy, down-home boutique offers a curated collection of vintage home decor, including old and new, as well as Michigan-made artisan gifts and boutique clothing.

 

Wasem Fruit Farm

6580 Judd Rd | Facebook

During the fall season, Wasem Fruit Farm offers more than a dozen varieties of apples you can pick yourself, you-pick raspberries available in September and early October, you-pick pumpkins in October, and pears! And during a fall visit, guests get the chance to taste plain, apple, blueberry and pumpkin donuts paired with some of the best, fresh cider in the region.

Just next door, you can also venture to Talladay Farms for a trip through one of the Midwest’s largest corn mazes. It covers 27 acres!

 

 

Outdoor Recreation

 

Wilson Park

Get directions

The headquarters of outdoor recreation, community events and family-friendly fun in Milan, Wilson Park cover 35 acres in Downtown Milan. Here, you’ll find charcoal grills, playground equipment, basketball courts, a sand volleyball court, walking and biking paths, as well as softball and baseball fields.

 

Gump Lake Park

Get directions

This 9-acre park is home to an adult softball league as well as a variety of local youth baseball teams. Located just south of Main Street, the park features two baseball/softball diamonds and is connected to Wilson Park by a paved multi-use path that runs along the scenic Saline River.

 

Draper-Houston Meadows Preserve

Get directions

Located just west of Milan, this preserve protects 113 acres and more than one-half mile of Saline River shoreline. Explorers can enjoy 2.25 miles of trail and high-quality floodplain forest habitat with oak, walnut, butternut, and sycamore trees.

 

 

Annual Events

 

Bloom

May

Things to do in Milan, Michigan

Photo courtesy of Mary Kerkes Photography via Milan Main Street

Organized by Milan Main Street, Bloom is an annual celebration of spring complete with free activities for the entire family, like field day games, scavenger hunts, a flower mart, an artisan market, a bike parade, live music and more.

 

Milan Fair

May  

The annual Milan Fair is a favorite regional event for good reason! Each year, highlights include a carnival, a parade, an artisan market, fireworks, kids’ activities, and an entertainment tent with things like karaoke and live music. For information on this year’s event, click here.

 

3rd Thursdays

June – October

Things to do in Milan, Michigan

Photo courtesy of Lori Nemeth Photography via Milan Main Street

On the third Thursday of each month from June through October in downtown Milan, 3rd Thursdays turns the neighborhood into a free, family-friendly festival. Attractions include local food and beer, live music, activities for both kids and adults, and shopping with vendors offering handmade, handcrafted and homegrown goods.

 

Route 23 Arts & Music Festival

August

An annual event hosted by Milan Main Street, Route 23 Arts & Music Festival is a three-day celebration complete with live music, street performers, plays, a street art fair, food trucks, a craft beer festival and a beer garden. For information on this year’s event, click here.

 

Pop On Main Street

November

In celebration of Small Business Saturday, Pop On Main Street brings together the Milan small business community for a full day of special deals and promotions, pop-up markets, food trucks, artisans and vendors. For information on this year’s event, click here.

 

Let’s Chill Winter Fest

February

Centered around Milan’s downtown shopping area, Wilson Park and Edgetown, this annual event is one of our favorite winter happenings in Southeast Michigan. Activities include a chili cook-off, the Let’s Chill Winter Fest Wine Walk, indoor and outdoor winter games, ice carving, an artisan tent, local food, The Big Freeze and more. For full details on the next event, check out the website here.

 

 

What do you love about Milan?

If we missed your favorite local business, attraction or event, tell us about it in the comments below!

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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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