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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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!
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 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 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 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 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 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
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!
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 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.
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.
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!
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!
June 6 – August 29, 11:30 a.m. | Downtown at the corner of Liberty and Division
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
June 1, 7:30 a.m. | Island Lake State Recreation Area
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
We know, kids can be the pickiest eaters in the world. And apparently, so do our local eateries, because many of them offer menus and environments that can make even the pickiest kids want to eat dinner.
We rounded up 15 of the best restaurants in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Dexter and Saline that offer specially designed kids menus, a comfortable and fun atmosphere, and weekly specials — and some on this guide even offer all three!
The Blue Nile is a casual Ethiopian restaurant in Downtown Ann Arbor offering both delectable plates and all-you-can-eat platters. Both options offer meat and vegetarian foods. On the lunch menu, the all-you-can-eat feasts are available for half the price for children under 12 and children under 5 years old eat for free! You can see the lunch menu online here.
Taking inspiration from real, historic pubs in Ireland, Conor O’Neill’s is the place to go for community fun, social gathering, Irish hospitality, hearty food and great drinks. The pub was even designed and built in Ireland! And their menu amps up the Irish culture even more with meals like fish and chips, Mighty Murray’s Corned Beef & Cabbage, Kate’s Shepherd’s Pie and more. They made this list for the fun atmosphere and their Tuesday special when kids under the age of 12 eat for free with the purchase of an adult meal.
Fresh Forage fills Ann Arbor’s need for both convenience and health as well as quick and locally sourced. The team’s ingredients are sourced from their own family farms and other local farms, and several are even sustainably foraged from Michigan’s deep woods. Using 100 percent compostable materials, they prepare these meals rapidly so the busy people of Ann Arbor can fuel up on the go. Their Kids Menu offers all these healthy ingredients at a low price and prepared in approachable, kid-friendly meals. You can see it here.
At Frita Batidos, the burgers are the main attraction because a frita is a traditional Cuban burger made from spicy chorizo served with shoestring fries on a soft egg bun. And a batido is a tropical milkshake made with fresh fruit, crushed ice, sweetened milk and rum (optional, of course). The team’s Kid’s Menu offers all of that fun in mini sizes plus shoestring fries and fresh fruit. You can see the full menu here.
Harvest Moon Café has been a staple of the Ypsi community for more than 30 years, and their home-style menu offers something everyone can love, including the kids! That’s because their Kids Menu is one of the largest on this guide and offers smaller portions of some of their best creations: fish and chips, a slow-roasted turkey dinner, linguine with marinara sauce and more. To see the menu, click here, and don’t forget to order your free kiddie drink!
Founded by Ron Jeffries in 2004, Jolly Pumpkin began in Dexter and now operates pubs and tap houses in Dexter, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Traverse City, Royal Oak, Grand Rapids and Chicago. In the Dexter tasting room and kitchen, you can enjoy their signature sour beers while your kids enjoy kid-sized portions of fried drumsticks, burgers and cheese pizza. On Family Night every Wednesday, kids can eat free with the purchase of any full price sandwich or pizza.
This famous brewery was born in Dexter in 2004 and operates pubs and tap houses in Dexter, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Traverse City, Royal Oak, Grand Rapids and Chicago. In Downtown Ann Arbor, you’ll find Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery, a full-service brewpub serving lunch, dinner, brunch, late-night eats and a large kids menu that offers simple selections alongside adventurous choices (plus three delectable desserts!).
The Maíz team has brought a fresh approach to traditional, Mexican favorites and Tex-Mex specialties. Everything on their menu is made from scratch daily and is made with ingredients from local purveyors and farmers, too! Every Sunday from 12 to 10 p.m., kids ages 10 years and under can enjoy up to two free kids meals with the purchase of any adult entree, and they’ll be enjoying some Mexican classics like quesadillas, tacos and arroz con pollo.
Back in 1948 when it opened, The Original Cottage Inn was Ann Arbor’s first restaurant to serve pizza. Today, they still serve some of the best pies in town as well as classic American, Italian and Greek cuisine. On that extensive menu, you’ll also find several smaller, lower priced, kid-friendly selections, including Pita Pizza, Grilled Cheese and Spaghetti with Meatballs.
The Pretzel Bell was the place to be for students, townies and visitors for more than 50 years. When the doors reopened after a brief closing, it became one of the Tree City’s warmest and coziest spots while still functioning as a popular student hangout. The menu offers a modern take on traditional American comfort food with hearty items like fried chicken and signature burgers. That gourmet style extends to the kids menu where you’ll find items like the Lil’ Bell Burger and Mini Mac topped with a Goldfish cracker topping. From Sunday through Wednesday, kids eat free!
Red Brick is a small, family-owned restaurant in the heart of Downtown Dexter where their team offers fresh, innovative food alongside craft cocktails and a warm community atmosphere. Adults can enjoy some of the region’s best, most creative comfort foods, and the kid’s menu doesn’t skimp on quality, either. Approachable selections like homemade mac and cheese and chicken tenders come with a side of fries, sweet potato fries, chips, fruit, sauteed vegetables or celery and peanut butter, and on Mondays, kids eat for free with the purchase of an adult entree!
With more than 2,400 square feet of video screens, 100 different arcade games and 27 lanes of bowling, Revel & Roll might be the most kid-approved option on this list. Because, in addition to offering tons of entertainment, they also offer a gourmet menu that covers all the pub favorites—from buffalo chicken nachos and loaded tater tots to a PB&J burger and mouth-watering pizzas.
Named for Saline’s ancient, historic salt springs, this hometown brewery and restaurant is housed in a beautiful, 118-year-old former church. Undoubtedly one of the most impressive settings in Southeast Michigan, you can enjoy true-to-style ales, wine and cider alongside locally sourced food with stunning stained glass as the backdrop. On Tuesdays, kids eat for free from a menu that includes burgers, sandwiches, pizza and poutine.
The first business that opened in the Zingerman’s Company was this historic deli; it opened in 1982 with a staff of two. Today, the deli is still located in the small, red brick building across from the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, but you can now choose from an enormous menu of both classic and creative sandwiches, breakfasts, salads, housemade Jewish specialty foods, handmade pot pies and more. In addition to offering a great Kids Menu (which you can see here), they host regular events, including storytime tastings and classes! You can check out that schedule here.
At this all-day restaurant, the Zingerman’s team showcases their favorite things about American food—both locally and nationally. The regular menu includes grits inspired by South Carolina, Maryland-inspired crab cakes, Carolina barbeque, local meat from Washtenaw County, produce from local farms, artisan cheeses, micro-brewed beers, and fine wines sourced from all over the country. The Just for Kids menu offers more approachable, smaller portions of some of our favorite Roadhouse flavors, from Mac n’ Cheese and the BBQ Slider to Roadhouse Corn Dogs and a Fish Plate with the fresh catch of the day. You can see the menu here.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
In our Ann Arbor area communities, April showers bring May festivals. Though summer doesn’t officially start until June, our cities and towns are already celebrating the warmer weather with outdoor events, including car shows, art walks, fairs, fundraisers, 5Ks and river days.
We rounded up the can’t-miss events happening this May so you can take part in all the fun—from indoor film screenings to outdoor community cleanup days. Read more about them below, find links to tickets and registration where necessary, and get ready for a fun-filled month!
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 the Michigan Theater, State Theater and The U-M Hatcher Library with various other events happening in Detroit and the surrounding area. You can see all the ticket and pass info here.
An Ann Arbor tradition for nearly two decades, the Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival is teaming up with Cinetopia Film Festival in 2019. The special program explores the global Jewish experience through the art of filmmaking and you can see all the featured films here.
Now in its 32nd year, this car show celebrates all variations of Volkswagens. If you have a vehicle to display, you can pay $15 at the gate, but spectators can enter for just $5 on the day of the festival. Don’t miss the Slow Speed Slalom on Saturday!
Westside Art Hop is presented as Michigan’s quirkiest Art Walk. The twice-yearly event showcases high-quality arts and crafts for sale to the public in a festive atmosphere. While exploring the Old West Side, you can peruse artwork, meet the artists and perhaps even find a new piece for your home!
Hosted by Main Street Area Association in Downtown Ann Arbor, Bloom Fest is a celebration of spring with our local businesses. Nearly all day on Saturday, you can enjoy special sales, events, deals, treats and more. To see all the offerings, click here.
May 16, 5 – 8 p.m. | Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace
Meals on Heels is a fundraising event hosted by Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels. On Thursday evening in Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace, guests can enjoy a glamorous, Gatsby-themed evening celebrating the style of the 1920s while showcasing the flavors and colors of spring in Ypsilanti. Enjoy plenty of local food, drinks and music as accompaniment, plus live demonstrations like cocktail mixing, cooking and floral arranging. You can learn more and get tickets here.
Previously called Ypsilanti Proud, this annual event began as a class project by the 1995 graduating class of Leadership Ypsilanti. Now celebrating its 24th year, the event fosters community pride and encourages local business growth through simple beautification projects. Join more than 500 volunteers on May 18th and help clean up litter, paint and plant flowers. For more information on locations and projects, click here.
This family-friendly event in Milan invites guests to enjoy tasty food trucks, live music and the beautiful sight of hundreds of floating, illuminated lanterns floating on the water at Milan Beach. Your ticket comes with a floating lantern and a marker so you can write your own inspiring message before placing it on the water. For tickets and more information, click here.
Huron River Day is an afternoon full of free, family-friendly river activities at Gallup Park. Attractions will include 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!
In 2019, Milan Fair highlights include a carnival, a parade, an artisan market, fireworks, kids’ activities, and an entertainment tent that features live music, dancing, food and adult beverages. In total, the three-day festival includes 18 spectacular events in Wilson Park with something fun for everyone in the family.
The Color Run is coming to Riverside Park on May 11th. This wildly happy and fun event includes an untimed 5K run. At each kilometer mark, runners are doused from head to toe in a different colored powder so you can cross the finish line completely tie-dyed. To register, click here.
This Mother’s Day event includes fun pre-race warmups, a 5K course, a one-mile fun run and a 200-meter dash for kids. As a celebration of all the women in our community, you can run individually or run as a couple in the Mother-Daughter category, or invite your grandma to run in the Three Generations of Women category! Get all the details and registration info here.
Hosted by Humane Society of Huron Valley, this fundraising event assists in the rescue and care of the most vulnerable animals in our community. Bring your family and your pup on race day to enjoy a 5K run or a one-mile walk, as well as games and fun for everyone!
May 18, 5 – 8 p.m. | Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace
A fundraiser to benefit Growing Hope, Ypsi Food Fight brings together six local restaurants, five judges and hundreds of guests (that’s you!). The restaurants will battle it out in a friendly, foodie, high-energy competition and all guests get to sample the dishes and vote for their favorite. To get your tickets, click here.
As one of Southeast Michigan’s favorite annual events, Camp Bacon brings together food lovers, historians and community members for an entire week of fun and bacon. The main event, Camp Bacon, is scheduled for May 31st from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Zingerman’s Cornman Farms. However, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses is hosting several other events throughout the week at various venues, including the Camp Bacon Film Festival on May 29th, the 10th Annual Bacon Ball on May 30th, and the Camp Bacon Street Fair on June 2nd. For more information and the full schedule, click here.
April 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Ann Arbor West Side United Methodist Church
Free and open to everyone, West Side UMC is hosting an Easter egg hunt on the grounds of their church on April 13th. Children through 5th grade are welcome to hunt for eggs and stick around for games, crafts and storytime.
The Pet Emporium is hosting a kid and pet-friendly event where all ages and all types of pets can meet the Easter Bunny and get photos taken. Photo sheets cost $15 and all profits support Greyhound Expressions. For more information, check out the Facebook event here.
Local dog daycare and pet sitting service, Fur Ball Society is hosting the Fur Ball Egg Hunt for dogs on April 14th. The event will feature a large fenced area where dogs can find plastic eggs filled with prizes. Make sure to stick around to snap a photo with the Easter Bunny! To get your tickets, click here.
Woodside Bible Church in Plymouth is hosting a free evening of Easter fun complete with an egg hunt, crafts, food, games and more. The event is open to the entire community so bring the whole family along!
April 19, 10:30 – 11 a.m. | Zingerman’s Upstairs Next Door
The Zingerman’s Just for Younger Kids tasting series invites kids between the ages of 2 and 5 to hear a story and learn to taste like an expert. And this special event will have a festive twist—kids’ admission costs $10 and parents attend for free! You can reserve your spot here.
The City of Dexter is hosting their beloved Easter Eggstravaganza for the 9th year in a row on April 20th. Attractions include live bunnies, egg scrambles, pictures with the Easter Bunny, face painting and more. You can purchase tickets in advance at a discount, or on-site for $3 per child and $5 for two or more children. For more details, click here.
April 20, 11:30 a.m. – 1:40 p.m. | Saline Recreation Center
Saline Recreation’s SpringFest is a family-friendly event packed with spring and Easter-themed fun. During the event, you can join in the egg hunt with your own basket, have lunch with Mr. Bunny, meander the Hippity Hop Trail, and dive in the leisure pool for the Egg Dive. For full event details, check out the event on Facebook here.
April 20, 10 – 11:30 a.m. | Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor
The annual egg hunt at Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor is a favorite local Easter event. Free and open to all, this year’s event will begin with breakfast at 10 a.m. followed by an egg hunt, inflatables, pony rides, face painting and a petting zoo. For event updates, check out the Facebook event here.
Spring Bunny Tea is an event hosted by Eat More Tea and designed specifically for kids. For $12 per person, you can enjoy an afternoon tea complete with light refreshments. Reservations are required and you can make yours by leaving a message at (734) 882-2787. For updates, check out the Facebook event here.
Unicorn Feed & Supply is celebrating Easter weekend with dragon eggs instead of chicken eggs. At this drop-in workshop, you’re invited to create your very own magical dragon egg guided by local artist Amy Balzer-Pemberton. Open to all ages, this event costs $12 and you can get more information on the Facebook event page here.
April 21, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. | The Village Conference Center
The Village Conference Center at Comfort Inn is hosting an Easter brunch on Sunday morning complete with a chef-attended omelet and waffle station, gourmet macaroni and cheese, applewood smoked ham, and more. Reservations cost $25 per adult, $21 per senior, $13 for kids aged 6 to 12 years, and children 5 years and younger are admitted for free. Make your reservations by calling (734) 433-8000.
April 21, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. | The Polo Fields Golf & Country Club
The Polo Fields Golf & Country Club is hosting an Easter brunch open to members and non-members. A few of the breakfast attractions include an omelet station, a crepe station, a seafood bar and a carving station. You can see the full menu and get price details here.
Paesano is an award-winning Ann Arbor restaurant famous for its Italian-inspired meals and their impressive wine list. On Easter Sunday, you can join them for a special Easter brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. but reservations are required. Call (734) 971-0484 to make yours.
Spring sees the last of our bitter cold days and welcomes the warm, summer sun back to Ann Arbor. Through the transition, our community celebrates with huge annual events, blooming gardens, bountiful harvests, and plenty of outdoor adventure.
To help you make the most of the season, we created a guide to spring activities in Ann Arbor and our surrounding communities. From the hyper-local community gardens and farmers market events of Ann Arbor to the wilds of Waterloo Recreation Area in Chelsea, here’s everything you need to do this spring. Enjoy!
Spring is planting season, and here in the Ann Arbor area, you don’t have to have an at-home garden to celebrate. In fact, Project Grow operates more than 20 garden sites around Ann Arbor, including plots at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Leslie Science and Nature Center, and West Park! To learn more about community gardens in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Chelsea and Dexter, check out our list of Community Gardens in the Ann Arbor Area. Our guide includes garden plots you can rent and grow yourself, as well as community gardens maintained for charitable and educational purposes.
3. Go to the dog park.
As snow melts and we get sneak peeks of summer weather, there might be no one else who is as excited as your dog. Your pups are free to play and explore outdoors without snow or cold and in some regional dog parks, they can even play in the water! To help you and your four-legged family members explore the area, we rounded up The Best Dog Parks Near Ann Arbor, Mapped. It includes details on local spots like Brighton Recreation Area where your dog can play on one of the state’s only dog-friendly beaches, Mill Pond Dog Park which is the only local park that offers off-leash water access, and Swift Run Dog Park right here in Ann Arbor — at ten acres, it’s the largest dog park in the city!
Here in Ann Arbor, you can shop the Ann Arbor Farmers Market year-round on Saturdays. But beginning in May, market hours get longer and you can shop two days a week—Wednesday and Saturday. Monthly Food Truck Rallies return in May, too! These community events bring together some of Michigan’s best food trucks once a month from May through October for a full evening of fun in Kerrytown. For complete details, hours and dates on this year’s market, click here.
5. Sign up for a CSA program.
In addition to local farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture—or CSA programs—are an excellent way to get local meat, veggies, fruit and/or eggs directly from a local farmer. These programs invite people of the community (like you!) to invest in a local farm for the season and those paying members get to enjoy the annual harvest however abundant it may be. Typically, you pay a one-time fee at the beginning of the season. Then, you get to be a part of the farm community and enjoy a portion of the harvest every week.
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two educational and environmental spaces on the UM campus. The botanical gardens include eleven outdoor areas full of bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials and more. The arboretum spans miles of trails and land with impressive collections of both native and exotic trees and shrubs. Together, they provide trails, lawns and stunning gardens—especially stunning during full bloom in the spring.
7. Kayak the Huron River.
Ann Arbor and its surrounding communities have developed along the banks of the Huron River amid countless lakes and ponds suitable for paddle sports. So, whether you want a challenging route down the river or a peaceful float atop a lake, you’ll find the perfect setting right here.
Some of the best places to get on the river can be found in Argo Park and Gallup Park, which are connected by the Huron River and home to the Argo Canoe Livery and the Gallup Park Canoe Livery, respectively. Through these facilities, you can embark on guided adventures, rent equipment and even attend river-themed events like the Huron River Day Festival, which happens every May!
Directly adjacent to Pinckney Recreation Area, Waterloo Recreation Area offers more than 20,500 acres of outdoor paradise just minutes from Ann Arbor near Chelsea. Especially famous for its campgrounds, mountain biking trails and educational opportunities, guests in the park can walk or ride more than 40 miles of multi-use trail, boat and fish, visit the Gerald Eddy Discovery Center, bike the DTE Energy Foundation Trail, rent kayaks and canoes, play on swimming beaches, camp, hunt, play disc golf on an 18-hole course, and even ride horses. There are 18 miles of horseback riding trails accessible to anyone, and Horse ‘N Around Stables offers guided trail rides and riding lessons.
Together, Pinckney Recreation Area and Waterloo Recreation Area offer a combined 31,500 acres of wilderness to explore and they’re connected by the 36-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Trail.
10. Grab a spot on the patio.
Our Ann Arbor community certainly loves being outdoors—whether we’re lounging in a park, exploring a nearby trail or simply enjoying a meal under the sun. And there are plenty of places to do all three. When you’re looking for a meal and a patio, check out The 16 Best Outdoor Patios in Ann Arbor. Our guide includes local businesses like Bill’s Beer Garden, a beer garden and community gathering space that’s open seasonally from March through October, and Dominick’s, a local legend famous for potent sangria, Italian-inspired eats and outdoor seating.
With a combined population of about 74,000, Ypsilanti and adjacent Ypsilanti Township represent some of Michigan’s best and most interesting hidden gems, including dining destinations, outdoor recreation, historic attractions, craft breweries and events.
Throughout its history and continued today, this town has played an important role in the development of the automobile and the community has served as a driving force in national aviation technology. Several of our favorite local attractions and events showcase these stories which have been brought to us from the 1920s and World War II.
Further hallmarks of the town’s history include Eastern Michigan University which is located in town, 12 parks in the city and another 30 in the township, and some of the region’s best events encompassing everything from Elvis to motorcycles and orphan cars.
Keep reading to find out what you need to see, where you need to eat and what you need to do in Ypsilanti.
Sidetrack has been a local destination since it opened its doors in 1850 and it’s easy to explain why. They serve some of the best pub food, pour some of the best beer, and offer it all in one of the best Ypsi atmospheres. Their burger—Our Famous Burger—was included on GQ’s 2005 round-up of The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die, and that’s just one of the reasons we recommend stopping by.
This Ypsi favorite offers a seasonally rotating menu made with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients and they pair that with a lineup of artisan cocktails, craft beer and wine. And these approachable, gourmet eats cater to all kinds of diets, including vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores.
Any place that has Fried Chicken Tacos and Churro Biscuit Donuts on the menu is worth a visit. At Ma Lou’s, a small, counter-serve spot, they offer both and serve them alongside some of the best fried chicken in the state. Come for the chicken, stay for the wings, and don’t leave without dessert.
This old-school diner has been an Ypsi staple since it opened in 1936. Surrounded by aviation inspired decor, you can get one of the county’s best breakfasts right here in the Bomber dining room, and their huge menu of American classics offers more than 35 options.
One of Ypsilanti’s highest-rated eateries, Casablanca serves authentic Moroccan and Arabic cuisine for dine in, carry out and delivery. From fresh hummus to chicken shawarma, this is the best way to explore global cuisine in town.
Both a beloved coffee shop and a delicious cafe, Beezy’s is a hyper-local option in downtown Ypsilanti. Every day, they make two different soups, whip up fresh, homemade salad dressings, bake hot, fresh bread and prepare everything with a local sensibility and local products from nearby vendors and farmers.
The Maíz team has brought a fresh approach to traditional, Mexican favorites and Tex-Mex specialties. Everything on their menu is made from scratch daily and it’s made with ingredients from local purveyors and farmers, too!
Both a coffee roaster and a craft brewery, Cultivate is one of our favorite hangouts in town. Built around the mantra, “craft, community and cause,” you’ll find some of the area’s best beverages served alongside regular community events, fun series and philanthropic support of worthy causes.
When the Greffs opened the doors to Arbor Brewing Company in 1995, it was the first brewpub to open in Ann Arbor and only the fifth brewpub to open in the entire state of Michigan. On a trip to Belgium, the couple was further inspired to innovate and they brought the first sour program of its kind to the state of Michigan. Today, they operate the Ann Arbor brewpub and Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti, a casual hangout for craft beer, board games, events and food.
In 1927, Carl L. Miller opened this Hudson Sales and Service franchise as an automobile dealership and repair shop. After a merger and the discontinuation of the Hudson line, the fate of the shop was in jeopardy, but Carl’s son Jack continued Miller Motors by selling Hudson parts and cars until the museum was founded. Thus preserving the dealership’s authentic condition, the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum was opened in 1995 and now hosts some of the region’s best car shows and events, including the Show & Shine Car Show, the Orphan Car Show and the Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Car Show.
Housed inside a restored firehouse, the Michigan Firehouse Museum covers more than 26,000 square feet; this includes the original 1898 firehouse and a modern, multilevel exhibit display area. Here, they display 25 changing exhibits, including antique fire trucks and early fire rigs, multiple displays of historic artifacts and the largest collection of fire truck bells in the country.
Yankee Air Museum is an aviation, aerospace and science museum located at Willow Run Airport just a few minutes outside of Ypsilanti. Exhibits offer hands-on experiences and insights into World War I and World War II, Willow Run and Rosie the Riveter, The Vietnam War, aircraft restoration and so much more.
Dreamland Theater is unlike any other theater in Michigan. This small, non-profit puppet theater and community space is located in downtown Ypsilanti and offers classes and performances in puppetry, theater, music, independent film and other arts. To find out what’s going on right now at Dreamland, check out their Facebook page here.
The Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra story begins after Ypsi Pride Day in 1998 when two friends discussed the idea that our local musicians needed a community to develop their skills and our community needed an avenue to enjoy orchestral music. Soon after, a small group of friends and musicians gathered at Abe’s Coney Island to plan and the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1999. Today, they host several concert events throughout the year at Towsley Auditorium on the Washtenaw Community College campus.
Operating for more than 180 years and open every fall, Wiard’s Cider Mill and Apple Orchard offers u-pick apples, a u-pick pumpkin patch, delicious cider, a corn maze and haunted thrill park, mini golf, hayrides, and more. Throughout the months of September and October, Ypsi locals, Ann Arbor locals and Michiganders from all over the state flock to the orchard for both spooky haunts and family fun.
Maintained by Washtenaw County, Rolling Hills County Park encompasses 439 acres and represents one of the most recreational diverse destinations in the county. And it’s one of the most popular places to visit during the summer thanks to the Rolling Hills Water Park! Other attractions include walking trails, a fishing pond, a playground, an 18-hole disc golf course, sports fields and horseshoe pits.
Located on the Huron River in the center of Ypsilanti, Riverside Park consists of 13.8 acres and connects downtown Ypsi with Depot Town. When you’re not fishing, dog walking, picnicking or sunbathing, we recommend heading to the park for one of Ypsi’s best annual events, including ElvisFest, Michigan Summer Beer Festival and the Orphan Car Show.
Developed in partnership with Huron River Greenway, the Border-to-Border Trail is a non-motorized pathway that connects cities, parks, neighborhoods and trails throughout Washtenaw County. Eventually, the trail will span 70 total miles. And a section of those miles already connects Ypsilanti to Ann Arbor and even on to Dexter and Chelsea.
First Friday in Ypsilanti is a self-guided monthly art walk hosted at multiple venues throughout downtown Ypsi. When you participate, you can explore our community’s local businesses and enjoy free art activities, presentations and tastings.
This family-oriented fitness event is an annual fundraiser for Ypsilanti organization Dawn Farm. Community members at any fitness level are invited to register for one of four bike rides: a 5K/10K, a 25-mile, a 40-mile and a 58-mile. Registration includes a celebratory lunch and all the proceeds benefit Dawn Farm. For more information on this year’s event, click here.
Ypsilanti Proud began as a class project by the 1995 graduating class of Leadership Ypsilanti. Now a community celebration for more than 20 years, the event fosters community pride and encourages local business growth through simple beautification projects. Join more than 500 volunteers for this year’s event and you can help clean up litter, paint and plant flowers. For more information, click here.
Each year, Depot Town honors Independence Day with Michigan’s oldest parade. This tradition has been going strong and growing for nearly a century and fills our streets with patriotism, red, white and blue every July.
The oldest of the Michigan Brewers Guild’s four annual festivals, the Summer Beer Festival hosts more than 100 local breweries sampling more than 1,000 different craft beers. Guests can also enjoy live music from Michigan bands and food available for purchase. This event takes place every summer in July or August.
Ton-Up Motorcycle and Music Festival has been an Ypsi tradition for a decade now. Serving to promote and educate the public about the art, science and history of the motorcycle, motorcycle safety, and awesome music, this one-day event brings vintage and custom motorcycles, scooters and mopeds to Arbor Brewing Company’s Corner Brewery and also adds plenty of local music and tons of fun.
An indie art fair like none other, DIYpsi is a handmade art fair that takes place in Ypsilanti’s business districts once each summer and winter. Alongside incredible homemade foods and drinks, the event features unique handcrafted gifts that are sold by and in support of local, Ypsilanti artists.
Each year, the Ypsilanti Heritage, Arts, and Entertainment Festival gets bigger and better than ever before. In past years, they’ve had two stages in the music, entertainment and beer tent, local arts and crafts vendors, a juried competition, a Magical History Tour, a children’s entertainment area, and so much more! To stay up-to-date on everything coming this year, follow the team on Facebook.
Presented by Wayne County Airport Authority at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, this family event brings the United States Air Force Thunderbirds to Southeast Michigan. The air show features presentations from Team Oracle and Quicksilver P-51D as well and is a celebration of our region’s important aircraft history.
From the same team that brings FestiFools and FoolMoon to Ann Arbor every April, ypsiGLOW is a light-filled celebration through Downtown Ypsi. In the weeks leading up to the event, local artists, businesses and organizations host GLOWorkshops so you can create your own luminary and costume. Then, you can join the community in October for a celebration of Ypsilanti and art.