Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a picturesque college town that can be found in the state’s southeast, just 45 minutes west of Detroit. The city’s thriving arts and entertainment sector may largely be attributed to the University of Michigan, the dominant player in the region. Ann Arbor has beautiful streets surrounded by trees, delicious restaurants, and unique boutiques. The downtown area is always bustling with activity thanks to the abundance of restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions like museums, concert halls, and theaters. Museums such as the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum can also be found in the city.
One of Ann Arbor’s best features is the area’s stunning scenery. The Huron River runs straight through town and is a great spot for canoeing and fishing. Acres of hiking trails and beautiful gardens can be found in nearby parks, including Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. In the fall, when the Michigan Wolverines play in “The Big House,” the third-largest stadium in the world, Ann Arbor becomes one of the most exciting places in the country. There are tailgating parties throughout the town and a general sense of love here.
15. Huron River Drive
One of the most scenic drives near Ann Arbor is the Huron River Drive, which stretches through the picturesque countryside for about 25 miles. This route offers a beautiful glimpse of lush greenery, serene riverbeds, and historic buildings. Along the way, visitors can stop at various recreational spots like Delhi Metropark, Dexter-Huron Metropark, Hudson Mills Metropark, and Barton Nature Area.
These parks offer facilities and amenities for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and picnicking. Bike rentals are available at Hudson Mills Metropark. Another excellent stop on this route is the Dexter Cider Mill, which has been operating since 1866, making it the oldest cider mill in the state. Here visitors can taste and purchase fresh apple cider, donuts, and other baked goods. Be aware that it is only open during the fall season, from August to November.
14. University of Michigan Museum of Natural History
The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History is a museum dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The museum is located in the historic Kerrytown district of Ann Arbor and features a variety of exhibits and programs that explore the city’s past.
The museum’s permanent collection includes artifacts from the city’s early days, including furniture, photographs, and documents. The museum also hosts a variety of special events and programs, such as lectures, workshops, and walking tours. The museum also offers educational programs for students and teachers, as well as a research library. The Ann Arbor History Museum is a great place to learn about the city’s past and explore its rich history.
13. Ann Arbor Ice Cube
The Ann Arbor Ice Cube is a public ice skating rink located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is a popular destination for ice skating, hockey, and figure skating. The rink offers public skating sessions, hockey leagues, and figure skating classes.
The facility also hosts a variety of special events, such as birthday parties, corporate events, and group outings. The Ann Arbor Ice Cube is a great place to have fun and stay active.
Brian visited from Cali and said, “It has a great facility! They hosted the 2016 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships! The ice felt really good here. It’s a big facility with a lot of amenities!”
12. Take a Day Trip to Lansing
The capital of Michigan, Lansing, is only an hour away from Ann Arbor. That makes it the perfect distance for a day trip excursion if you’re looking for a quick road trip from Ann Arbor. You can start your visit by heading to the Michigan State Capitol, where you can take a guided tour and learn about the history and politics of Michigan.
Old Town Lansing is a charming historic district located in the northern part of Lansing, Michigan. It is known for its picturesque streets lined with Victorian-era buildings, unique shops, and local art galleries. Visitors can stroll through the area and admire the colorful murals and sculptures that decorate the buildings or grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and cafes. Old Town Lansing also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including art festivals, live music performances, and farmers’ markets, making it a vibrant and lively destination for tourists and locals alike.
11. Bløm Meadworks
Bløm Meadworks is a popular meadery located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They specialize in crafting unique meads using locally sourced ingredients, such as honey, fruits, and herbs. If you’ve never had mead before, it’s similar to beer or cider but made using fermented honey. It’s a unique treat that you don’t usually find every day.
Visitors can enjoy a flight of meads in their tasting room, which features a cozy and rustic atmosphere. Bløm Meadworks also offers guided tours of their production facility, where guests can learn about the mead-making process and the history of this ancient beverage. They also host a variety of events, including live music performances, trivia nights, and game nights, making it a fun and welcoming spot for locals and tourists alike.
10. Michigan Theater
The Michigan Theater is a historic theater located in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was built in 1928 and is one of the oldest theaters in the state. The theater is a popular destination for moviegoers, hosting a variety of films, live performances, and special events.
The theater also features a full-service restaurant and bar, as well as a gift shop. The theater is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, offering a unique and memorable experience.
Jennifer, a local, said “The Michigan Theater is a fabulous local gem, and if you are ever in Ann Arbor make sure to catch a show! It’s beautifully maintained, and there are many different opportunities to catch a show, attend a documentary or film camp, or just admire the architecture…”
9. Nickels Arcade
Nickels Arcade is a historic shopping arcade located in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was built in 1917 and features a stunning glass ceiling, intricate ironwork, and charming storefronts that house a variety of local businesses. Visitors can shop for unique items such as handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, and artisanal chocolates.
The arcade is also home to several cafes and restaurants, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists to grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee. Comet Coffee is the place to go to get your caffeine fix or to grab some pastries. The Original Cottage Inn is located a couple of blocks from the Nickels Arcade and offers delicious pizza if you need some lunch after a morning of shopping. Its central location in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor makes it a must-visit destination for those looking to experience the city’s vibrant and eclectic culture.
8. Take In Some Live Music
Ann Arbor, Michigan is a hub for live music and a destination for music enthusiasts. The city boasts a rich and diverse music scene, with many venues hosting a range of genres. The Blind Pig, an iconic music club in Ann Arbor, has a long history of hosting legendary acts and remains a popular spot for both local and national artists. The Ark, a nonprofit music venue, is another beloved spot that has been a fixture of the Ann Arbor music scene for decades.
The city also hosts an annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival, a two-day event that attracts music lovers from across the country. From jazz to indie rock, there is always a live music option in Ann Arbor, with many bars and restaurants featuring live music on weekends. Whether you’re a fan of big-name acts or prefer to discover up-and-coming artists, Ann Arbor’s live music scene offers something for everyone.
7. Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is located on the University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is home to a large collection of artifacts from the ancient Mediterranean world, including Egypt, the Near East, Greece, and Rome. The museum offers a variety of educational programs and activities, including lectures, workshops, and tours.
Visitors can explore the museum’s galleries, which feature artifacts from the ancient world, as well as interactive displays and activities. The museum also hosts special events throughout the year, such as lectures, symposia, and film screenings.
6. Matthaei Botanical Gardens
The Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan is a 300-acre outdoor oasis of natural beauty and educational opportunities. The gardens feature a variety of themed gardens, including a Japanese garden, a children’s garden, a medicinal garden, and a butterfly garden. The gardens also feature a conservatory, a nature center, and a variety of trails and paths for visitors to explore.
The gardens are open year-round and offer a variety of educational programs, workshops, and events. Visitors can also take part in guided tours, bird watching, and other activities. The Matthaei Botanical Gardens is a great place to explore and learn about the natural world.
A resident, Shunda says “Take a joy ride out here and enjoy this lovely place – what I wasn’t aware of was the parking which you have to pay for; which is $5 (all day) or $1.25 (up to 3hrs – I think). There are several trails around this place. Also, restrooms are available. I definitely will be back in the summer to see all the flowers – unfortunately, I came here during the fall and all flowers were gone but I saw several snakes while walking! There are a lot of signs to watch out for RATTLESNAKES!”
5. Michigan Stadium
The Michigan Stadium, also known as “The Big House,” is the home of the University of Michigan’s Wolverines football team. It is the largest stadium in the United States, with a capacity of over 107,000 people. The stadium is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is a popular destination for fans of the Wolverines. A tour of the Michigan Stadium will take you through the history of the stadium, the locker rooms, the press box, and the field.
You will also get to see the many statues and monuments that honor the great players and coaches of the past. The tour also includes a visit to the Michigan Football Hall of Fame, where you can learn more about the history of the program.
4. Ann Arbor Farmers Market
The Ann Arbor Farmers Market is a vibrant and bustling outdoor market located in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. It is open year-round on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 am to 3 pm. The market features a wide variety of locally grown produce, flowers, baked goods, meats, cheeses, and other specialty items.
There are also a variety of prepared food vendors, live music, and other entertainment. The market is a great place to find fresh, local ingredients for your next meal, as well as a great place to meet up with friends and family.
3. Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is a science and technology museum located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is a great place for families to explore and learn about science, technology, engineering, and math. The museum features interactive exhibits, educational programs, and special events. Visitors can explore the museum’s many interactive exhibits, which include a planetarium, a robotics lab, a 3D printing lab, and a virtual reality lab.
The museum also offers a variety of educational programs, such as workshops, classes, and camps. The museum also hosts special events throughout the year, such as the annual Science Festival and the Maker Faire. The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is a great place for families to explore and learn about science and technology.
2. Nichols Arboretum
Nichols Arboretum is a beautiful public park located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is a 123-acre natural area with a variety of habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, and meadows. The Arboretum is home to a wide variety of plants and wildlife, including over 200 species of birds.
Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the park, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. There are also several trails for hiking and biking, as well as a pond for fishing. The Arboretum also hosts a variety of educational programs and events throughout the year.
Zach says “It’s got free parking nearby, tons of trails, and the perfect wedding spot!”
1. University of Michigan Museum of Art
The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) is a public art museum located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Founded in 1856, it is the oldest art museum in the state of Michigan. The museum houses a collection of over 20,000 works of art from around the world, spanning from ancient to contemporary art.
The collection includes paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, and decorative arts. The museum also hosts a variety of educational programs, lectures, and special exhibitions. UMMA is a great place to explore the world of art and culture!
As you can see, Ann Arbor has a lot to offer everyone. If you are looking to do more in the surrounding area, check out other weekend trips from nearby Ann Arbor, Michigan.
These areas are perfect for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore our favorite things to do or peruse some pre-built itineraries.