Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Ann Arbor, MI

  • Published 2022/08/29

Ann Arbor is a vibrant city surrounded by lakes, forests, and mountains.

While it’s more famous for its proximity to Detroit, Ann Arbor is definitely a unique place to visit and live.

The city is young but has a rich history as well.

With its 19th-century architecture and bustling downtown, Ann Arbor is a vibrant and fun place to be.

The west side is more residential, while the east side is primarily businesses and mills.

The city has a dedicated greenbelt, and there are parks and hiking trails all around.

This article will show you the fun and exciting things you can do in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that will definitely make you want to pick your passport and fly there.

Exploring the University of Michigan Museum of Art

Outside view of University of Michigan Museum of Art

Susan Montgomery /

The University of Michigan Museum of Art is a public university museum located on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

It was established in 1891 and is among one of the top ten art museums in the United States, earning the UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

The museum had undergone a significant expansion over the past few years, creating an underground addition to the campus.

The art museum is now open to the general public, containing more than 6,000 objects from ancient Egyptian to American art.

Interior of University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor,

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum is known as a haven for college students and is a popular spot for vacationing families and couples who are lovers of art.

In conclusion, the U-M Museum of Art is a fun place.

Sculpture on the grounds of University of Michigan Museum of Art

Jim_Brown_Photography /

The exterior is impressive, but the museum’s best art is inside.

The museum’s collection includes everything from modern art to Native American artifacts.

The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays and closed on Mondays.

Also, the museum is on the university campus, so you can make a day trip to the art museum after visiting the university’s impressive campus.

European art exhibit in University of Michigan Museum of Art

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Field Trip to Leslie Science & Nature Center

Bottlebrush buckeye in bloom at Leslie Science & Nature Center

Lance E Sloan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the famous places is Leslie Science & Nature Center, located in Ann Arbor.

It is a great place to visit with your family and friends, learn more about different animals and plants, and enjoy nature.

Exploring the Leslie Science & Nature Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, can be a great way to spend time and bond with your kids.

The Leslie Science & Nature Center is a museum, nature center, and planetarium.

It’s visited by 1.1 million people per year, making it the second-largest paid admissions museum and the largest natural history museum in the United States.

The exhibits are hands-on and interactive.

You play games to learn about the weather, make your own “paintings” with light, play with the water table, and even touch bugs!

Going on a Trip to Michigan Stadium

Exterior of Michigan Stadium

Wichai Cheva Photography /

Ann Arbor offers sports lovers various things to do, from the University of Michigan athletics teams to the local music scene.

There’s a lot to do in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and if you want to see the sights, you should definitely consider visiting Michigan Stadium.

The Stadium is home to the University of Michigan Wolverines football team, and its 350-yard horseshoe-shaped playing field is the second-largest in the Big Ten Conference.

It is also the site of the annual Michigan-Ohio State football game played every year to help raise money for its athletic department.

Wide view of Michigan Stadium's interior

Susan Montgomery /

The Stadium is located downtown on the University of Michigan campus, so walking there from surrounding neighborhoods is a breeze.

All in all, the Stadium is a must-see attraction in Ann Arbor, there is no doubt.

It is the home of the winningest college football team in the nation, with two national titles under its belt.

Visitors can tour the Stadium’s interior during the summer months and take in a football game if they are so inclined.

The Stadium is impressive for its sheer size, and it is one of the more frequented tourist attractions in the area.

Football game in Michigan Stadium

Susan Montgomery /

Being Creative at the Ann Arbor Art Center

The Ann Arbor Art Center, also known as ‘A-Arts,’ was created in 1926 to provide an artistic environment for the community and has played a significant role in the city’s cultural resurgence.

It is located on the University of Michigan’s campus and has been home to art exhibits since it was first established.

The A-Arts’ mission is to house and exhibit artworks created by both local and internationally renowned artists and to promote the arts in general.

The Center houses both public and private art collections, including works by Judy Chicago, Nan Goldin, and most recently, Elizabeth Peyton, who is best known for her surrealist, abstract style.

It also features an impressive collection of historic architecture, including the Mercantile Library, designed by Louis Sullivan in 1900.

The building has undergone many changes through the years, and in 2006 was extensively renovated to reflect its current role as a center for fine art, education, and community programs.

If you are looking for something out of the ordinary to experience art, the Ann Arbor Art Center is a great place to start.

Experiencing the Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Singers in Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Susan Montgomery /

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival is your city’s largest free summer festival.

It is an excellent event for families, college students, and anyone who loves to spend time outside.

The festival is in Old Town Ann Arbor and features four stages of live music, people showing their skills, and food vendors offering delicacies.

The festival also features a variety of arts and crafts and fantastic food and drink offerings.

It is truly the ultimate summer destination you can visit, featuring everything from a street fair to concerts.

Food vendor booths ready for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also, you could easily spend a few days there if you like to shop, eat, and soak up the sun.

Ann Arbor’s Festival of Summer is an excellent opportunity to taste some of the city’s best food, hear some of the area’s top bands, and enjoy the best that summer has to offer.

Indeed, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival is an excellent way to spend a sunny day.

The festival features fun, summer-themed activities, like a giant block party, a variety of food options, and live music.

Art booth during the Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Susan Montgomery /

Taking a Stroll at Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum

Garden in Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum

Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The best part about going to a botanical garden is the vast amount of green space that awaits you.

It is hard to find a place anywhere that feels more peaceful than a botanical garden.

The vibrant colors, alluring smells, and therapeutic sounds all combine to make this place unique.

Exterior of Matthaei Botanical Gardens Greenhouse

Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum is considered one of the most distinctive botanical gardens, located in the scenic suburb of Edgewood in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

It is highly recommended to visit Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum.

It’s considered an oasis of nature in the middle of a city and a venue where you can take the whole family to see plants, animals and explore outside.

Variety of plants in Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum greenhouse

Rachel Wickremasinghe /

Experimenting at Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

Exterior view of Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hands-on Museum is “a hands-on space for making and designing technology, exploring the creative potential of technology, and connecting with others interested in learning about, making, and teaching with technology.”

While the museum has some exhibits, it mainly works as a maker space, where visitors can get their hands on and work with a variety of different tools and equipment that they see in the exhibits.

The museum also hosts classes and workshops to discover and learn about technology and how it can be used in creative and interesting ways.

Additionally, the museum is a place where you can learn about life by engaging your hands.

Whether you’re interested in learning how to build a child’s marble roller coaster or want to be surrounded by artifacts that are worth more than the price of admission, then the museum is the place for you.

Walking Around County Farm Park

Playground in County Farm Park

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As indicated above, the city is home to the University of Michigan, and its surrounding areas—County Farm, Huron Mountain, and Ypsilanti—have many public and private parks and trails that host festivals and annual events throughout the year.

Another place and activity featured in this article is a three-mile loop hike around County Farm Park, which includes a number of spots for relaxing and resting along the way and a beautiful view of Ann Arbor’s downtown skyline.

 Platt Pavilion at County Farm Park in Ann Arbor

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Looking for a place to walk?

Enjoying a walk around an otherwise quiet area of County Farm Park is a great way to relax the mind and refresh the soul.

Entrance to Ann Arbor's County Farm Park

Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Taste Local Food at Ann Arbor Restaurants

Dessert counter at Zingerman's Deli

Steve Pepple /

Ann Arbor has become a severe destination for families, students, and young professionals in the past few years.

It is also a really cool place to visit, with a vibrant downtown filled with shops, restaurants, and coffee shops, as well as a handful of breweries and wineries.

Ann Arbor has a plethora of great local restaurants that serve up fresh and tasty local foods.

Ann Arbor has something to please every palate, from the Taco truck that serves delicious tacos to the five-star dining room serving delectable dishes.

There are countless restaurants and bars in Ann Arbor that you can try while traveling there.

Toast appetizer in one of Ann Arbor's restaurant

Lisa Waterman Gray /

Even when the city is not known for its food, it is home to some of the best restaurants around, with plenty of places to get a local fresh meal, be it something savory or sweet.

Whether you are craving peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes or Toscano pizza, Ann Arbor has it.

You can eat much food in Ann Arbor, ranging from farm-fresh meats to spicy kimchi to bourbon toast!

All you have left is to decide what you are craving and ask around to find the restaurant that offers it.

Specialty pizza at Ann Arbor

Lisa Waterman Gray /

Buying Fresh Goods at Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Exterior of Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Common

The Ann Arbor Farmers Market is an attraction that draws people from all over the country to flock to this small but bustling market.

The market is located in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor where it is accessible and easy to find, especially to tourists in the city.

A woman shopping in Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Steve Pepple /

The Ann Arbor Farmers Market features over 30 food vendors, including restaurants, chefs, and more.

It is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and draws a diverse crowd of shoppers from across the region and beyond.

Entrance to Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Fsendek /

Wandering Around Kempf House Museum

Night at Kempf House Museum

Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kempf House Museum is a beautiful historic home that was built in 1850 by a German immigrant.

The house has been restored to its original grandeur and is now a National Historic Landmark.

The main floor has been restored to its original appearance with a parlor, library, dining room, and kitchen.

The second floor houses the museum, featuring thousands of artifacts from the history of Ann Arbor.

Check out the beautiful Kempf House Museum.

The house is a great example of the Neo-Gothic style popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Take a Stroll in Main Street Ann Arbor

Cars along Main Street Ann Arbor

Hanson L /

Main Street, Ann Arbor is one of the places you should visit while you’re in Ann Arbor.

There are so many great places to eat, drink, and shop.

All in all, whether you are new to Ann Arbor’s Main Street or not, you should know that it is a great place to walk around and enjoy the city’s cool weather.

People walking along Main Street Ann Arbor

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pay a Visit to Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

Exterior of Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

Richard Westlund /

The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is not just for “real” archaeologists. It’s one of those Ann Arbor landmarks that draws visitors from all walks of life.

It is located in a vast, asymmetrical mansion built of rough fieldstone and furnished with antiques suiting its Romanesque architecture.

Visitors may stroll amid Greek coins, Iraqi ceramics, Byzantine fabrics, Roman brick stamps, and Egyptian mummy masks, just to name a few of the more than 100,000 objects from civilizations throughout the world that are housed there.

But the museum’s greatest strength lies in its namesake: archeology.

Even if you aren’t studying archaeology, you can’t help but be intrigued by the museum’s unique collections, which include items like excavation documents and turn-of-the-century photographs.

Among the many exciting and educational attractions in Ann Arbor is the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology.

Avoid the malls and movie theaters in favor of some culture.

Catch a Presentation at Michigan Theater

Exterior of Michigan Theater

Wichai Cheva Photography /

Aside from showing movies, the Michigan Theater hosts live performances and concerts.

The theater has a capacity of 1,700 people and features lobby areas, a stage, and an orchestra pit.

When this 1928 theater opened, it included the original Barton Theatre Pipe Organ, which is still in use today.

Grand interior of Michigan Theater

Andypiper from Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By 1978, the building was on the verge of being demolished.

The theater was saved and renovated thanks to fundraising efforts by the local community.

These days, the theater hosts the Ann Arbor Symphony, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the “Not Just for Kids” series of plays for younger audiences.

Hallway leading to Michigan Theater's screening room

Andypiper from Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Skate at Ann Arbor Ice Cube

Michigan is a popular winter vacation spot because of its beautiful landscape.

Still, the enjoyment that visitors have depends heavily on the weather.

The Ann Arbor Ice Cube is where you should go if you want to have a wonderful time without any risk.

In the Ann Arbor Ice Cube, you’ll find an indoor “ice facility” open throughout the year for your skating pleasure.

It doesn’t matter if you want to go figure skating, speed skating, or play broomball or hockey; this is the spot to do it!

Suppose you’re visiting Ann Arbor with a large group or happen to live there.

In that case, you may arrange for tours, field excursions, and even birthday parties at some of the city’s most charming attractions.

Public and private events may be held here easily due to the rink’s excellent condition and the availability of concessions.

If you want to practice your axels and lutzes without worrying about a sunny day melting your rink, visit Ann Arbor Ice Cube.

Peruse the Shops at Kerrytown Market & Shops

Exterior of Kerrytown Market & Shops

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The historic area of Kerrytown in Ann Arbor is well-known for its charming brick streets, lively culture, and eclectic selection of stores.

Kerrytown, so-called for the Irish county of the same name, was founded as part of the original town of Ann Arbor and has been lovingly restored to its former splendor.

Nowadays, you can get just about anything you might want in Kerrytown, from trendy apparel and accessories to homemade goods, antiques, and toys.

The Braun Court and Kerrytown Concert House are magnificent.

The Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market and Ann Arbor Artisans’ Market are classic marketplaces with various locally sourced products, fresh produce, gourmet meals, and baked goods.

Enjoy a Mug of Beer at HopCat

Signage of HopCat

CiEll /

In Ann Arbor, HopCat is among the top spots to enjoy a cold one.

It’s well-known for its “pub fare,” an assortment of wings, burgers, fries, buffalo rolls, and other delectable menu items, and its extensive beer selection.

Enjoy the vibe of this cozy, leather-upholstered, and hardwood-floored bar.

Whether you’re in the mood for a dark, light, golden mug with some soup and salad, you’ll find a wide variety of tasty combinations.

Visit during the weekends so that you may catch the many performances that take place then.

Their “gourmet evenings” feature four-course meals paired with five different beers, guaranteed to satisfy even the most discerning diners.

If you’re in Ann Arbor and prefer beer with unique flavors from around the world, you must visit HopCat.

Hopcat’s has drinks from all over the world, yet you won’t feel like you’ve left Michigan.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest is located on Ann Arbor’s west side.

It is a favorite afternoon destination for locals and visitors and offers various scenic vistas, blooming gardens, and rare trees.

People enjoy the beautiful natural scenery that could bring peace and serenity while they stroll around by themselves or with their loved ones.

The Enchanted Forest really lived up to its name by providing the visitors and locals with an enchanting experience.

Final Thoughts

The city of Ann Arbor is a beautiful city with a very vibrant art and music scene.

Individuals who have a great love for the outdoors, with plenty of park space and a great farmers market, will find this city heavenly.

This city is indeed a place worth visiting.

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