If you’ve been around awhile, you know that Michigan winters can be…intense. And after the busyness of the holiday season has come and gone, many of us are looking for some indoor activities to keep us busy — and warm.
There is no shortage of things to do indoors in Ann Arbor during the winter, from cuddling with cats at a cafe to solving clues in an escape room. See how many of these winter-proof activities you can cross off your bucket list before the start of spring!
Skate on the same ice as the University of Michigan Varsity Hockey Team at Yost Ice Arena, one of the most recognized and iconic rinks in college hockey. After a brief hiatus, Public Skate returned this December! Admission is just $6 for adults and $4 for students, kids, faculty and staff — and for an extra $3, you can rent skates. Check the schedule to see upcoming dates and times for Public Skate, and make sure you get to the rink early so your size skate doesn’t run out!
Relax at a Cat Cafe
Photo Courtesy of Humane Society of Huron Valley
Brought to you by the Humane Society of Huron Valley, the Tiny Lions lounge and adoption Center (TLC) provides a place for humans to interact with lovable felines, all of which are available for adoption. But there is no obligation to adopt a cat; you can simply visit the cafe to get some work done using their free wifi, drink a cup of coffee from the cafe, or meet up with friends — with cuddly cats wandering all around. To help pay the cats’ rent, there is a nominal admission fee of $7 for an hour and $4 for a half-hour — and admission is free for babies who are not yet walking!
Visit a Museum
Escape a snowy or rainy day inside one of the city’s many amazing museums, as you immerse yourself in a world of art, history and science. Explore the University of Michigan Museum of Art for collections of art representing 150 years, the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum for interactive exhibits for kids and adults alike, the U-M Museum of Natural History for jaw-dropping natural history exhibits, and the U-M Kelsey Museum of Archaeology for Classical, Egyptian, and Near Eastern archaeology. Or travel a little further to discover the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum or Michigan Firehouse Museum in Ypsilanti!
Discover a Speakeasy
Photo Courtesy of The Last Word
Shh… we’ll let you in on a little secret. Marked only by a red light and a small plaque that reads “The LW,” The Last Word is a speakeasy tucked away in the basement under LIVE Night Club — providing a true Prohibition Era experience. The drink menu includes high-quality wines and craft beers, but the bartenders specialize in cocktails, all prepared with fresh ingredients and house-made syrups and bitters. Their cocktails are sorted by palate, going from light and fruity drinks to more heavy, booze-forward drinks. Hungry? The Last Word also serves an impeccable food menu with small appetizers and shareable plates. Don’t miss the live jazz music on select nights!
Winter is for baking! Pick up a new recipe at Zingerman’s BAKE!, a hands-on teaching bakery with a variety of classes, from cake baking to cheese pairing. Check out the schedule to find an upcoming baking or cooking class that piques your interest, whether you’re craving pizza, doughnuts, soup or brownies. They also offer the ability to customize your experience with private classes, both in-person and virtual. The best part? Zingerman’s takes care of all the cleanup and you get to take home your leftovers!
Nothing quite warms you up like a bowl of hot ramen on a cold day. This time of year, we can’t get enough of those hand-pulled noodles, salty homemade broth, and fresh, hearty vegetables. And thankfully, there is no shortage of ramen spots in Ann Arbor! The real trick is narrowing down your choices — but we can help with that. We mapped out the best in the city so you can find the ramen eatery nearest you for dine-in or carry-out.
Try a New Coffee or Tea Shop
Coffee and tea shops are a refuge on a cold, winter day — providing a space to read a book, catch up with a friend, get some work done, and of course, sip on a warm seasonal latte. Branch out of your routine and try a coffee shop you haven’t been to yet! Need some direction? Here are a few of our favorite coffee shops and tea shops in Ann Arbor you need to check off your list.
Photo Courtesy of Planet Rock
Whether you consider yourself a beginner or a pro climber, you are welcome at Planet Rock. As Ann Arbor’s premier indoor rock climbing gym, Planet Rock provides more than 25,000 square feet of climbing surface to explore, a full training area, and a giant bouldering mushroom. Their location in Madison Heights also offers a 15-meter official competition speed climbing wall and an ice climbing training area. If it’s your first time at Planet Rock, fill out a waiver and purchase a starter lesson to get acquainted. And if you love your experience, you might just want to buy a monthly or annual membership or 5/10-punch passes for future climbs!
Voted the #2 escape room in the U.S. and #1 in the state, Decode provides complex, unique escape rooms in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti — and coming soon to Detroit! In Ann Arbor, join your pilot, Milo, on a once-in-a-lifetime journey across the globe in “Around the World in 80 Days.” This 60-minute challenge was constructed over the course of two years in a formerly abandoned 1,000-square-foot warehouse, which is twice the size of any game before it. Each game is private and can accommodate up to 15 people! Call to book your temporary stay in this escape room for an hour of mystery and problem solving.
Want to stay in your car? Try Decode’s Drive-In Adventure, an outdoor game you complete from your car that runs nightly at 6 p.m.
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Why wait until the spring to spend time in nature? While the Matthaei Botanical Gardens on U-M’s campus may be closed for the season, you can explore the indoor conservatory all year long. Here, you’ll find three major life and climate zones — tropical, temperate and arid — filled with lush plants from all over the world. Admission to the gardens is free, but parking is $2 per hour with a maximum daily charge of $5.
Arbor Brewing Co. is a favorite amongst locals, who visit no matter the season to sip on their favorite brews. While the brewery has a number of tried-and-true year-round beers, it’s fun to try a seasonal beer, especially during the winter, when we’re all craving dark, rich stouts and porters — and in this case, an IPA! Arbor Brewing’s Tilted Earth Series Winter IPA is a hazy IPA that is full and juicy with aromas of fresh strawberry, orange juice, and apricot. Or try their German-style dark lager called The Night Fox, or the Irish-style dry stout called Faricy’s Dry Stout.
Cozy up with a movie at Michigan Theater or The State Theatre, two historic theaters just steps away from one another in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. Founded in 1928, Michigan Theater is now home to three screening spaces for independent movies, concerts, comedy shows, national tours and more. Opened in 1942, The State Theatre is almost as old, and today, offers regular showings of indie movies, limited releases, special screenings and more. To see upcoming showtimes for both theaters, click here.
Feel like a kid again with some old-fashioned fun at the bowling alley. Revel and Roll has 27 bowling lanes featuring black lights, soft lounge seats, and large HD video walls displaying everything from live sports and music videos to classic family films. But Revel and Roll has so much more in store, including billiards tables, arcade games, and a full sports bar. We recommend going on a Wednesday night after 8 p.m. to enjoy unlimited bowling (shoes included) and half-priced arcade games for just $17.89!
Itching to get outside instead? Check out these outdoor winter adventures near Ann Arbor.
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