Not sure if you can take any more PTO this year? Don’t worry — there is so much to be discovered within a matter of hours from Ann Arbor, no hotel reservation required!
Escape the routine and embark on an unforgettable day trip from Ann Arbor. Our charming town serves as the perfect base to explore the wonders of the surrounding areas, from big cities to tiny beach towns. We’ve curated a list of captivating destinations, thoughtfully arranged from the closest to the furthest away, ensuring you make the most of your time exploring without spending it all on the road.
From picturesque lakeside retreats to historical landmarks and nature havens, these day trips near Ann Arbor promise a diverse range of experiences to satisfy every wanderer’s curiosity. So, get the GPS ready, fill up the gas tank, and join us on this exciting journey as we uncover some hidden gems just a short drive away from Ann Arbor!
About 30 Minutes From Ann Arbor
Just a short 30-minute drive away, Northville greets visitors with its picturesque Main Street, lined with quaint shops, cafes, and art galleries, perfect for leisurely strolls. History enthusiasts will find delight in the Mill Race Historical Village, a living history museum that showcases the area’s past through well-preserved buildings and interactive exhibits. Nature lovers can relish the tranquility of Maybury State Park, offering hiking trails, picnic areas, and serene landscapes. Additionally, foodies can indulge in delectable cuisine at the town’s diverse restaurants, catering to a range of tastes. Plus, savor locally crafted wines and brews at the Northville Winery and Brewing Company, a family-run business that serves their own wines, beers and ciders made in house, and also functions as a live music venue. And if you visit during the fall, be sure to visit Parmenters Northville Cider Mill for fresh donuts, fresh apple cider, apple pie, fresh fudge, cinnamon roasted almonds, and more delectable fall treats! Because Northville is so close to Ann Arbor, you can enjoy a more relaxed, unrushed visit to this quaint town.
About 45 Minutes From Ann Arbor
For a more electrifying urban adventure, head to Detroit, the largest city in the state of Michigan. Known as the “Motor City,” Detroit boasts a rich automotive history, which can be explored at the fascinating Henry Ford Museum, showcasing iconic vehicles and significant technological innovations. Plus, the adjoining Greenfield Village is a massive living history museum that takes visitors on a journey back in time with more than 80 acres of seven historic districts. For art enthusiasts, the Detroit Institute of Arts beckons with its impressive collection of masterpieces from around the world. Music lovers will find their rhythm in this city, as it is renowned for its contributions to the Motown sound. The Motown Museum offers an immersive experience into the legendary record label’s legacy and the music that defined a generation. Moreover, sports fans can catch thrilling games at venues like Comerica Park and Ford Field, home to the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions, respectively. Beyond its cultural attractions, Detroit’s vibrant food scene beckons with a diverse array of eateries, from iconic Coney Island diners to innovative farm-to-table restaurants. Opened in 1891, the Eastern Market is one of the oldest urban farmers’ markets in the country. You could spend several hours here, visiting all the vendors selling produce, clothing, art, jewelry and more, plus the many restaurants, cafes and bars in the area. Get a good overview of the city by taking a stroll along the RiverWalk, the 3.5-mile paved trail that runs along the eastern shore of the Detroit River. Along the way, you’ll encounter several parks, picnic areas, and even a carousel!
About 1 Hour From Ann Arbor
Just about an hour south of Ann Arbor and across the state line lies Toledo, which offers a blend of cultural attractions, outdoor adventures, and charming landmarks. Art enthusiasts will find themselves captivated at the Toledo Museum of Art, boasting an impressive collection of masterpieces from various eras and cultures. For history buffs, the National Museum of the Great Lakes provides insight into the region’s maritime heritage, with interactive exhibits and historic vessels to explore. To reconnect with nature, the 60-acre Toledo Botanical Garden offers a serene escape, featuring beautifully landscaped grounds, sculptures, and seasonal floral displays. And a trip to the Toledo Zoo, renowned for its conservation efforts, offers an opportunity to encounter diverse wildlife in a family-friendly environment. For those seeking a dose of nostalgia, Tony Packo’s Cafe is a must-visit, famous for its delicious Hungarian hot dogs and quirky collection of signed hot dog buns from celebrities.
If you decide to stay in Toledo, don’t miss the opportunity to take a short trip to Cedar Point, located about an hour away in Sandusky Bay. Known as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” Cedar Point offers an exhilarating experience with its world-class amusement park featuring a thrilling lineup of roller coasters and other exciting rides, making it a perfect destination for adrenaline junkies and families alike.
Lake Erie Metropark
About 1 Hour From Ann Arbor
Embarking on a day trip to Lake Erie Metropark is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and diverse wildlife of Michigan’s waterfront. Situated along the serene shores of Lake Erie, this expansive 1,607-acre metropark offers a plethora of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. The park contains miles of trails for hiking and biking, plus some of the best bird-watching opportunities in Southeast Michigan. And the park’s marshlands provide an ideal habitat for spotting waterfowl and other wildlife. For a relaxing day by the water, the park offers sandy beaches where you can bask in the sun or enjoy picnicking with picturesque lake views. And on a hot day, splash around in the Great Wave Pool and Splash Pad, which has three-foot waves and a spray area with ground sprays and dumping water features. The park also houses the Marshlands Museum, which presents fascinating exhibits on the area’s ecological history. If you’re a golfer, book a tee time at the Lake Erie Metropark Golf Course, which has pristine tee boxes, rolling fairways and immaculate greens offering spectacular views of surrounding water and natural wetlands. Whether you’re an avid birder, golfer, nature lover, or simply seeking a serene escape, a day trip to Lake Erie Metropark promises a memorable and rejuvenating experience amidst the tranquility of Lake Erie’s shoreline.
About 1 Hour, 15 Minutes From Ann Arbor
Visiting the capital city of Lansing offers a captivating blend of cultural, historical, and recreational attractions that cater to a diverse range of interests. History buffs can delve into the state’s past at the Michigan History Center, where engaging exhibits and artifacts showcase the rich heritage of Michigan. For art enthusiasts, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum features an impressive collection of contemporary art from around the world. Lansing’s vibrant downtown beckons with a plethora of charming shops, restaurants, and cafes, creating a bustling atmosphere perfect for leisurely strolls. While you’re there, check out the Lansing Community College’s Sculpture Walk, which features more than 600 works of art in the form of statues, sculptures, and more. You can also tour the Michigan State Capitol, a stunning building designed by acclaimed architect Elijah E. Myers during the Gilded Age between 1865 and 1914. The Potter Park Zoo offers a family-friendly adventure, allowing visitors to encounter a variety of exotic animals and participate in educational programs. Additionally, Lansing River Trail provides a scenic pathway for walking, jogging, or cycling along the Grand River for a refreshing escape into nature while still being in the heart of the city.
About 1 Hour, 30 Minutes From Ann Arbor
Visiting Frankenmuth is like stepping into a picturesque Bavarian village right in the heart of the Midwest. This charming town offers a delightful array of activities that celebrate its German heritage and warm hospitality. One of the most popular attractions is Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store, where visitors can experience the magic of the holiday season year-round. For a taste of traditional German cuisine, the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth serve up delicious family-style meals, including their famous chicken dinners. History enthusiasts will find joy in exploring the Frankenmuth Historical Museum, which showcases the town’s past through exhibits and artifacts. The iconic River Place Shops provide a delightful shopping experience with more than 40 unique boutiques and specialty stores. Top off your visit by taking a scenic cruise on the Bavarian Belle Riverboat along the Cass River for a relaxing and picturesque view of Frankenmuth!
Bay City / Bay City State Park, Michigan
About 1 Hour, 40 Minutes From Ann Arbor
Visiting Bay City and the nearby Bay City State Park offers a wonderful escape for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a dose of natural beauty. Bay City State Park, nestled along the picturesque shores of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, boasts sandy beaches and clear waters, creating a perfect setting for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. The park’s extensive trail system beckons hikers and nature lovers to explore its diverse ecosystems, including wetlands and lush forests. Birdwatching is a highlight here, as the park serves as a migratory stopover for various bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. Moreover, the Tobico Marsh Observation Deck provides a prime vantage point to observe the abundant wildlife that calls this wetland home. Additionally, fishing and boating enthusiasts can indulge in their favorite activities along the bay’s tranquil waters. And if you’d rather stay on the shore, consider eating seafood along the river’s edge at Real Seafood Company, which has a spectacular two-story waterfront patio. For history buffs, a visit to the nearby Bay County Historical Museum reveals the region’s intriguing past through exhibits and artifacts, and the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum lets you step aboard the U.S.S. Edson DD-946, a destroyer ship designated a National Historic Landmark. And don’t miss Bay City Antiques Center, which has more than 400 booths of beautiful antiques, vintage treasures, handmade items and more!
About 1 Hour, 50 Minutes From Ann Arbor
Just under 2 hours from Ann Arbor lies the small town of Kalamazoo, which has an array of attractions and a vibrant atmosphere. The Kalamazoo Valley Museum provides a fascinating journey into the region’s history and culture, featuring interactive exhibits and engaging displays. Nature lovers can revel in the picturesque beauty of the 1,100-acre Kalamazoo Nature Center, where hiking trails wind through serene forests and open meadows, providing opportunities to spot local wildlife. The Air Zoo, an aerospace and science museum, provides an exciting experience with flight simulators and interactive exhibits. And art aficionados will find delight in the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, which showcases a diverse collection of artworks and hosts regular exhibitions. For craft beer enthusiasts, a visit to Kalamazoo is incomplete without exploring the city’s renowned craft breweries, which offer a wide selection of locally brewed beers; Bell’s Brewery is the oldest in Michigan! When in doubt, explore Downtown Kalamazoo, which contains plenty of shops (including Kalamazoo Mall), restaurants, and cafes housed in historic and new buildings alike.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
About 2 Hours, 10 Minutes From Ann Arbor
If you’re up for a further drive, head to Grand Rapids for an eclectic mix of cultural, artistic, and outdoor attractions. Art enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the city’s creative energy at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, boasting an impressive collection of outdoor sculptures and meticulously landscaped gardens. The Grand Rapids Art Museum showcases a diverse range of artworks from regional and international artists, providing a delightful exploration of visual arts. For history buffs, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum offers a comprehensive insight into the life and legacy of the 38th President of the United States. Beer enthusiasts can savor the city’s reputation as a craft beer destination by embarking on the Grand Rapids Beer City Ale Trail, sampling a wide selection of locally brewed beers. Outdoor adventures await at the largest urban park in Michigan, Millennium Park, which features scenic trails, a beach, and a splash pad for warm-weather fun. Additionally, the John Ball Zoo provides a family-friendly experience, allowing visitors to encounter a variety of animals of all shapes and sizes.
No matter where your adventures take you, we hope you enjoy your day trip!
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