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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 Ultimate Guide to Annual Events in Ann Arbor

free summer events in Ann Arbor Michigan

Whether we’re in the freezing temperatures of winter or under the beautiful summer sun, Ann Arbor certainly knows how to celebrate. Our beloved hometown hosts some of Michigan’s biggest and best annual events—from nationally acclaimed music and film festivals to Main Street fairs and everything in between.

To make sure you don’t miss a thing, we rounded up Ann Arbor’s major events happening every single year—and some have been going strong for more than half a century!

 

 

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

January

Ann Arbor Folk Festival, a fundraiser for The Ark, began in 1977 and is now one of Ann Arbor’s most anticipated annual events. Over the course of two days, Hill Auditorium hosts the likes of Gregory Alan Isakov, Rufus Wainwright, Haley Heynderickx, Brandi Carlile and more. Tickets sell out every year, so follow The Ark on Facebook to get updates.

 

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week

January and June

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week is a twice-yearly event hosted by the Main Street Area Association. The event brings together upwards of 50 restaurants all over town, which offer special lunch and/or dinner menus for a fixed price. It’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself to some of our town’s best local eats!

 

Ann Arbor Film Festival

March

free spring events in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Film Festival

One of Ann Arbor’s most important annual events, the Ann Arbor Film Festival presents 40 programs with more than 180 films from over 20 countries highlighting all lengths and genres, including experimental, animation, documentary, fiction and performance-based works. Founded by George Manupelli in 1963, the festival is the oldest avant-garde and experimental film festival in North America. Follow the team on Facebook for updates on tickets and special events.

 

Ann Arbor Marathon  

March

Whether you’re walking your first 5K or running your tenth marathon, this Epic Races event offers something for everyone. Beginning just outside of The Big House, each course winds through downtown Ann Arbor and through the University of Michigan campus. The longer races also traverse stretches of the Huron River, Gallup Park and Nichols Arboretum before returning to downtown. To learn more about the marathon and see all of the events hosted by Epic Races throughout the year, click here.

 

FOOLmoon

April

Considered one of the community’s favorite annual events, FoolMoon is the nighttime kick-off event to a very foolish weekend hosted by Wonderfool Productions. The celebration takes place in downtown Ann Arbor with tons of dancing, laughing and handmade luminaries. Other attractions include interactive installations, laser shows, live performances, DJs and a beer tent. You can even make your own luminary at several workshops in advance! For details, follow the Wonderfool Productions team on Facebook here.

 

FestiFools

April

free spring events in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Myra Klarman Photography via Wonderfool Productions

FestiFools is Wonderfool Productions’ daytime event of foolishness and art. The enormous public art spectacular showcases creations made by members of the community and U-M students. You can make your own puppet or come down to Main Street to watch the procession of colorful, bizarre, human-powered paper-mâché creations for an entire hour of fun!

 

Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival

April

The Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival is an annual celebration hosted by the Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival Planning Committee, a coalition of local environmental nonprofits and agencies, and the Leslie Science & Nature Center. At this free, family-friendly event, guests can enjoy displays from 40 local organizations, live animal demonstrations, hands-on activities, live entertainment and much more.

 

Cinetopia Film Festival

May

Specially curated for the community of Southeast Michigan, Cinetopia features the best feature-length dramas, comedies and documentaries shown at the world’s best film festivals, including SXSW, Sundance and more. Outside of screenings, special pre- and post-film events include presentations, discussion panels, and Q&A sessions with directors, writers and stars. The Ann Arbor venues are typically the Michigan Theater, State Theater and The U-M Hatcher Library with various other events happening in Detroit and the surrounding area. You can find all the ticket and pass info here.

 

Ann Arbor Bloom Fest

May

Hosted by the Main Street Area Association in downtown Ann Arbor, Bloom Fest is a celebration of spring with our local businesses. Nearly all day on a beautiful spring day in May, you can enjoy special sales, events, deals, treats and more. To see all the offerings, click here.

 

Huron River Day

May

In celebration of our beautiful river, Huron River Day is an afternoon full of free, family-friendly river activities at Gallup Park. Attractions in the past have included live music, a butterfly house from the Michigan Native Butterfly Farm, an antique and classic boat show, water activities with the University of Michigan Natural History Museum, live animals from the Leslie Science & Nature Center, and so much more!

 

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week

June and January

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week is a twice-yearly event hosted by the Main Street Area Association. The event brings together upwards of 50 restaurants all over town, which offer special lunch and/or dinner menus for a fixed price. It’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself to some of our town’s best local eats!

 

Sonic Lunch

June – August

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

 

Treeverb Music Festival

June

As the newest event on this guide, Treeverb held its inaugural music festival on June 1, 2019. Free and open to the public, the festival brings both national and local artists to the stage in downtown Ann Arbor for a full day of live music entertainment. Other attractions include food trucks, a beer tent and, of course, all the attractions of downtown Ann Arbor! For event updates, follow the team on Facebook here.

 

African American Downtown Festival

June

This festival has been a tradition in downtown Ann Arbor for more than two decades and today offers even more fun and entertainment. That lineup includes street and stage performances, dancing, local vendors and information booths, kid-friendly fun and more. For updates, check out the website here.

 

Ya’ssoo Greek Festival

June

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!

 

Ann Arbor Summer Festival

June

free summer events in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Myra Klarman Photography via Ann Arbor Summer Festival

As the can’t-miss, arts-centered event of the summer, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival offers world-class entertainment in comedy, cinema, food, jazz, pop and rock, acoustic, spoken word and public radio every year. Though some events are ticketed, the great majority of festival happenings are admission-free concerts, workshops and classes! You can see those listed on the website here.

 

Green Fair

June

A tradition for nearly two decades, the Mayor’s Green Fair comes to Main Street every June. In celebration of our community’s environmental leadership, the event closes 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

June

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.

 

Taste of Ann Arbor

June

This beloved annual event hosted by Main Street Area Association brings together dozens of 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 offers bite-sized foods to showcase what they do best and to ensure you can taste more than one! Tickets for food can be purchased at the event for $1 each and no item is priced over $4 or four tickets.

 

Rolling Sculpture Car Show

July

Hosted by Main Street Area Association, the annual Rolling Sculpture Car Show returns to Main, Liberty and Washington Streets in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor every 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 can enjoy 300 exotic, antique, classic and one-of-a-kind cars, live music from local artists, and family activities provided by The Ann Arbor District Library.

 

Ann Arbor Art Fair

July

free summer events in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Art Fair

Kicked off by the Townie Street Party 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 Street Art Fair has grown into one of our hometown’s largest and most beloved annual events. All around town, you’ll find stage performances, street performers and street painting, an art activity zone, a youth art fair, and even more.

 

Ann Arbor Blues Festival

August

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. Every August, it all comes back to the Washtenaw Farm Council Fairgrounds for an all-ages music event you don’t want to miss. For information and tickets to this year’s event, click here.

 

Ann Arbor Pride

August

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

 

Ann Arbor Antiques Market

October

Established in 1968, this historic antique market has been fueling our love of home decor and vintage finds for more than 50 years. Admission is below $10 with free parking and kids are admitted for free! Come by every October to peruse antiques, jewelry, paintings, mid-century and industrial design, folk art, repurposed furniture and more. It’s the perfect place to get some holiday shopping done!

 

Jewish Book & Arts Festival

October

This huge, multi-week festival celebrates culture and arts of all kinds but is heavily anchored by authors as it has been for the past three decades. Most of the events are free to attend and the authors, performers, artists, topics and projects are Jewish or have significant Jewish connections. Check out the schedule for this year’s event here.

 

Midnight Madness

November

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, downtown Ann Arbor businesses stay open late for one of our community’s favorite shopping events. Main Street Area Association’s Midnight Madness includes holiday specials inside shops and restaurants, as well as visits by Santa Claus and Miss Washtenaw County and performances by various outdoor entertainers.

 

Kerrytown KindleFest

November

Coinciding with Midnight Madness on Main Street, Kerrytown KindleFest is Ann Arbor’s version of the German tradition Christkindlmarkt. In the same location as the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, you’ll find artisans, farmers and retailers selling their holiday wares, plus traditional food like pretzels, bratwursts, roasted nuts, Glühwein (a mulled wine) and beer. Then, you can shop Kerrytown retail businesses that will be open late and grab a spot around a fire pit for warmth and s’mores!

 

Is your favorite event missing?

Please tell us about it 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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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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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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How to Celebrate Labor Day Weekend 2018 in the Ann Arbor Area | Events, Activities + More

Labor Day weekend 2018 Ann Arbor Michigan

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. In Ann Arbor, that means the kids are either back in school or are heading back on Monday so we need to pack a whole lot of fun into three weekend days.

To help plan your festivities, we rounded up the weekend’s best events alongside a few ideas and local activities that can make your long weekend one for the record books.

For more events happening throughout September, check out The 14 Essential Ann Arbor Area Events to Attend September 2018.

 

 

Attend an event

Ann Arbor Michigan events summer August 2018

Saline Community Fair  

August 28 – September 3 | Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds

Rounding out the summer, Saline Community Fair provides days of fun for local families. Events include tractor pulls, a car and tractor show, the USA Auto Cross Enduro Derby, carnival rides, fair foods, and more!

 

Dexter Summer Concerts

August 31 | The Monument Park Gazebo

The Dexter Summer Concert series ends its 2018 run on August 31st with Salmagundi! This Ann Arbor band brings horn-driven rock and roll for a full evening of dancing and fun.

 

Eastern Football vs. Monmouth

August 31 | Rynearson Stadium

Eastern Michigan University football returns during Orientation Weekend and the Eagles are facing off against Monmouth on our home turf. Kick-off is at 6:30 p.m.

 

Summer Games

August 31 | Pointless Brewery & Theatre

Pointless Brewery & Theatre combines improv comedy shows with craft beer. On August 31st, Summer Games returns with a lineup of playful improv games. Tickets are $15 each and there are back-to-back shows beginning at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

 

The 2018 Ballet in the City Gala

August 31 – September 1 | Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, Michigan League

The 2018 Ballet in the City Gala takes place on the University of Michigan campus. This exhibition event celebrates the best and brightest in the arts today by presenting the legendary works of George Balanchine in performance, hosting educational events, and offering up close and personal experiences with professional artists from around the country. There are two different events happening on August 31st and September 1st; get the full details here.

 

Michigan vs. Notre Dame

September 1 | South Bend, Indiana

Wolverine football returns on the first day of September! Though their first game of the season is at Notre Dame, you can watch locally at The 13 Best Sports Bars in the Ann Arbor Area. For the full schedule, click here.

 

African Comedy Show

September 1 | Power Center for the Performing Arts

Hosted by the Waganda and Wakenya Comedians, this laugh out loud comedy show is bringing talented stand-ups to Ann Arbor from Uganda and Kenya. The feature performance will be The Queen of African Comedy, Anne Kansiime, from Uganda and other sets will be given by Smart-Joker (Michael Omuka) and 2mbili (Dankan Onyango).

 

Willow Run at Purple Rose Theatre

June 14 – September 1 | Purple Rose Theatre

Willow Run is a world premiere show by Jeff Duncan and is ending its Purple Rose Theatre run on September 1st. The play takes place during WWII at the Willow Run Bomber Plant located near Ypsilanti—the largest factory under one roof in the world. Learn more and buy your tickets here.

 

 

Opt outside

Hiking trails near Ann Arbor Michigan

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

To get an idea of what you can do outside and where you can do it, check out 8 Things to Do in the Ann Arbor Area for Outdoor Enthusiasts, which highlights some of our favorite adventures in our backyard.

 

 

Go camping

If you want to extend your outdoor excursion into an overnight adventure, we recommend planning a camping trip over Labor Day weekend. Pinckney Recreation Area offers six different campgrounds ranging from rustic spots without hookups to yurts! For reservation and pricing information, click here. And to check out the nine campgrounds in Waterloo Recreation Area, click here.

 

 

Dive into a Michigan lake

Swimming beaches and lake near Ann Arbor Michigan

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

In the communities around Ann Arbor, we get to take advantage of countless swim beaches, state parks and pristine waters. To help you on your water-themed summer adventures, we rounded up a handful of the best options around Ann Arbor. From just a few minutes away to about two hours away on the shores of Lake Michigan, check out The 15 Swimming Holes Near Ann Arbor You Need to Visit This Summer and start experiencing the true #PureMichiganLakeEffect.

 

 

Spend time with your kids

things to do with kids in Ann Arbor Michigan

As the last unofficial day of summer vacation, Labor Day weekend means your kids are either already back in school or they return to the classroom on Monday. Take advantage of your extra day by taking them on a local excursion they’ll never forget! Our guide, 18 Things to Do with Kids in Ann Arbor, includes details on Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Planet Rock, Young People’s Theater, Leslie Science and Nature Center and so much more!

 

 

Salute patio season

With the warm months winding down, we have to get ready to say goodbye to our favorite Ann Arbor patios. They’re the ideal places to satisfy any craving for sunshine, local food, Michigan beer or artisan cocktails. The local lineup includes garden patios, beer gardens, and patios bathed in cozy string lights or shaded by trees along Main Street. To start planning your patio tour, check out The 16 Best Outdoor Patios in Ann Arbor.

 

 

Take a wine tour of Southeast Michigan

Southeast Michigan tasting rooms and wineries Ann Arbor

A long weekend is the perfect excuse to visit Michigan’s wine country. Different regions of our state have organized their own wine trails to highlight local wines. You can explore the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail near Grand Rapids, the Bay View Wine Trail in Northwest Michigan, the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail around Grand Traverse Bay, and the Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail which goes right through our backyard.

For more information on Southeast Michigan’s best wineries, check out The 14 Essential Wineries to Visit Near Ann Arbor.

 

 

Visit a local museum

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

 

 

Enjoy your long weekend!  

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

Food Truck Ann Arbor Michigan

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

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

 

Simply Spanish

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Simply Spanish Food Truck Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Simply Spanish

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

 

Ricewood

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

 

Wood Fired Up

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

 

Cosa Sabrosa

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Cosa Sabrosa Food Truck Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of Cosa Sabrosa

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

 

Crepe Day-Twah

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

 

Jamerican Grill

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

 

Matt & Mo’s

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

 

MI Burger Burger

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MI Burger Burger Food Truck Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo courtesy of MI Burger Burger

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

 

Delectabowl

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

 

MI POPS

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

 

Hero or Villain

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

 

Naughty Boy’s Rolled Ice Cream

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

Photo courtesy of Naughty Boy’s Rolled Ice Cream

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

 

Petey’s Donuts

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

 

Shimmy Shack

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

 

TruckShuka

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

 

Do you have a favorite?

Let us know in the comments below!

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