Ann Arbor, Michigan is a gem of a college town located approximately one hour outside of Detroit, and roughly two hours from Grand Rapids. Despite its relatively small size, Ann Arbor has a variety of points of interest making it a great place to visit.
Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has a lot more to offer than just a stunning campus — although don’t be deceived: that is absolutely worth a visit to stroll around. With just shy of 125,000 residents, it is just the right size to pack in a lot to see and do (and eat and drink) without the inconveniences of a bigger city.
Whether you are a football fan, a museum buff, a nature lover, or are looking for a new favorite craft beer, Ann Arbor has something to offer you. If you are planning a visit (and you absolutely should be!), make sure to reserve time for the following points of interest.
Here are 20 things to do in Ann Arbor that guarantee you’ll have a good time.
MICHIGAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
Located on the University of Michigan campus, this free museum is a great way to spend an afternoon in Ann Arbor. With multiple permanent and changing exhibits, there is always something new to learn at the Michigan Museum of Natural History.
With interactive exhibits, a planetarium, research project stations, and more, the whole family can be hands on and learn something here. Can’t make it to the museum, or want more time to explore? Check out the museum’s virtual exhibits from home!
Details: Biological Sciences Building, 1105 N University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 | Website
KELSEY MUSEUM OF ARCHAEOLOGY
Also located on the University of Michigan campus, the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology digs deep into archaeological research and findings.
With a collection of more than 100,000 artifacts and annual special exhibitions, visitors can learn more about everything from Egyptian mummies to Greek pottery, Roman sculptures, and more.
Details: 434 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 | Website
This more than one hundred year old performance venue is famous for its outstanding acoustics. Not only is Hill Auditorium an auditory treat, but it is a visual sight to behold as well with its impressive architecture.
As the largest performance space on the University of Michigan campus, there are often events taking place here that are well worth the price of a ticket for those who enjoy bringing a little culture into their life.
Details: 825 N University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 | Website
ANN ARBOR HANDS-ON MUSEUM
The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is a family-friendly museum located near downtown Ann Arbor, and it’s a favorite for both the young and the young at heart. With a heavy emphasis on bringing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to life, this appropriately named hands-on museum fosters creativity at every corner.
With four floors and more than 250 exhibits for all ages to explore, the entire family can easily enjoy an entire day here. This is hands down one of the coolest hands on experiences your family can have, and one you will not forget anytime soon.
Details: 220 E Ann St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 | Website
MATTHAEI BOTANICAL GARDENS AND NICHOLS ARBORETUM
These two separate locations are both operated by the University of Michigan, and provide their own unique escapes into nature without having to officially leave the city limits.
Located on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, Matthaei Botanical Gardens is a stunning place to soak up the sun. With multiple trails, gardens, and a conservatory, this is a truly lovely place to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.
Nichols Arboretum is located just to the east of the University of Michigan campus, along the Huron River. Affectionately known as “The Arb,” it is known for its peony garden which is a sight to behold (and smell), with hundreds of plants and more than 10,000 flowers at peak bloom.
For the best chance of catching as many peony blooms as possible, plan to visit in early to mid June. If you miss this window, fear not – Nichols Arboretum has nearly three and a half miles of trails, as well as other gardens and natural areas that are lovely throughout the year.
Details: 1800 N Dixboro Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48105 | Website
HURON RIVER WATER TRAIL
Gallup Park hosts the universal access launch for the Huron River Water Trail, which is made up of just over 100 miles of water to paddle. Grab a kayak, fishing boat, canoe, or tube and enjoy a day on the water.
Ann Arbor is one of five unique “river towns” along the trail, with the others being Milford, Dexter, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock. Go ashore for a snack, meal, or drink and explore what these other towns have to offer before getting back onto the river.
For those planning a multiple day excursion, there are currently four campgrounds for paddlers located along the Huron River Water Trail.
Details: 1100 N Main St STE 210, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 | Website
Perhaps one of the most popular neighborhoods in Ann Arbor, Kerrytown is not to be missed. You will want to plan your visit to the neighborhood to coincide with the Ann Arbor Farmers Market – a favorite Saturday activity for more than 100 years.
Grab lunch at Zingerman’s Deli, famous for its sandwiches, before walking it all off by exploring the unique businesses that call Kerrytown Market and Shops home.
Once you have shopped and eaten to your heart’s content, the neighborhood itself is super charming and is absolutely worth a stroll through its streets.
CRAFT BREW TOUR
With dozens of craft beer breweries in the Ann Arbor area, create your own tour and try as many as possible. Local favorites include Jolly Pumpkin, Arbor Brewing Company, Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, and Townies Brewery, among many others.
Whether you are a fan of sours, stouts, IPAs, mead, or just about any other variety of beer, you are likely to find a local craft brewery that is right up your alley in Ann Arbor or the surrounding region.
If you have seen a photo of Ann Arbor, you have likely seen this iconic theater. Situated in the heart of downtown, it is hard to miss the big “Michigan” marquee.
Catch a movie, snag tickets for a concert or other live event, or even participate in virtual movie viewings and trivia from the comfort of your own home through the theater’s website.
Details: 603 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 | Website
While there are tons of great coffee shops in Ann Arbor, Comet Coffee is worth a specific mention. A staple of Ann Arbor for several years, this shop is a favorite place to caffeinate among residents, students, and visitors alike.
Located just to the west of University of Michigan’s campus, stop by to grab a great cup of coffee and an apple tart before strolling through the many amazing shops also located in the covered shopping district known as Nickels Arcade.
Details: 16 Nickels Arcade, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 | Website
This cozy little venue is known as one of the best places to see live music, not just Ann Arbor, but throughout the world. Grab tickets for a renowned folk or roots concert here and have a truly unforgettable experience.
Proudly boasting both exceptional acoustics and great seating, catching a show at The Ark should be on any folk music lover’s bucket list.
Details: 316 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 | Website
ANN ARBOR FOLK MUSIC FESTIVAL
Ann Arbor loves folk music, no doubt thanks in large part to The Ark, which also happens to host an annual folk music festival each January. With two days full of live music and performances downtown, it would be hard to not find your foot tapping.
With the exception of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival has been held annually since 1976. Since The Ark prides itself on being a small, intimate venue, most acts now perform in Hill Auditorium.
Proud home of the Michigan Wolverines football team, Michigan Stadium has earned its nickname of “The Big House” because it holds the title of the largest football stadium in the United States. (It’s also the third largest stadium in the world!)
Well over 100,000 Wolverines fans can fit in the stadium, cheering their team to victory with impressive volume.
Details: 1201 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 | Website
HUDSON MILLS NATURE AREA
Located a 25 minute drive northwest of Ann Arbor, you can find some of the best natural beauty along the Huron River here. Get out of town and enjoy some extra fresh air by hiking, biking, jogging, golfing, canoeing, kayaking, disc golfing, and more at Hudson Mills Nature Area.
Also known as Hudson Mills Metropark, this nature area is located along the Huron River Water Trail. Paddle up for a picnic on the shore, or to stretch your legs before getting back on the water.
Details: 8801 N Territorial Rd, Dexter, MI 48130 | Website
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MUSEUM OF ART
Operated by the University of Michigan Museum of Art, this impressive art museum is located on the University’s campus, just to the northeast of the Law Quad. With an admirable collection and a variety of exhibitions, there is something for everyone who appreciates art to enjoy. Don’t miss the sculptures outside, either before or after exploring the floors of galleries inside the museum.
Best of all? Admission to the museum is always free.
Details: 525 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 | Website
Nature is for everyone, and the Border to Border Trail, also affectionately called the B2B Trail, is here to make sure of it. Dedicated to “safe, accessible, shared-use, non-motorized recreation and transportation,” this 35 mile trail is accessible for all to use and enjoy, with 10-foot-wide paved or wood plank pathways and bridges.
With multiple trail corridors to explore throughout the region, it is easy to catch up with the B2B Trail and get some movement in – whether it is for a mile or two, five or ten, or all 35 miles. At the north end of the trail near Hudson Mills Metropark, you can find hiking, golf courses, camping, fishing, and more.
From Ann Arbor, popular access points can be found in both Bandemer Park and Gallup Park.
FIND THE FAIRY DOORS
Ann Arbor itself is a pretty magical town, but be sure not to miss an added touch of pure magic: fairy doors sprinkled throughout. It may take some sharp eyes, or a little person who is closer to a fairy’s eye level, to spot a fairy door, but it is sure to bring a smile when you find one.
These tiny doors open to expose an equally tiny fairy home, and the exact number of fairy doors is unknown as it can change often. While locations may change as well, there is a map available online of some locations for those who want some help finding a little magic.
THE CREATURE CONSERVANCY
Animal lovers, this one is for you! Located in the southwest outskirts of Ann Arbor, The Creature Conservancy provides an up close and personal experience with a variety of creatures.
Animals that call The Creature Conservancy home include Al the Alligator, Dumpie the Ball Python, Quinn the Bald Eagle, Bedhead and Lady Gaga the Porcupines, and more. Sit in on an animal presentation and/or zookeeper talk, take a private family friendly zoo tour, or catch a special event with featured animals.
Details: 4940 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48103 | Website
WILLOW RUN BOMBER & YANKEE AIR MUSEUM
For those fascinated by the history of all things flight, you will not want to miss the Yankee Air Museum. Located halfway between Detroit and Ann Arbor (approximately 30 minutes from each) at the historic Willow Run airport, this Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum offers hands-on exhibits and fascinating historical aircraft and artifacts.
The museum owns part of the Willow Run Bomber Plant, the birthplace of the iconic Rosie the Riveter during World War II. While the plant is primarily used for storage currently, Rosie’s mark is all over the museum. You will also find exhibits covering multiple wars, be invited to climb into the cockpit of an aircraft, and test your own pilot skills with a flight simulator.
Details: 47884 D St, Belleville, MI 48111 | Website
DEXTER CIDER MILL
A 20-minute drive from Ann Arbor is all that stands between you and the oldest, continuously operating cider mill in the entire state of Michigan. That means more than 130 years of perfecting quality apple cider and doughnuts, while making impressively few changes to the process since 1886.
Not only does Dexter Cider Mill offer amazing sweet treats, but it is located in a picturesque setting along the Huron River. Pack a picnic (or stock up on pastries and baked goods from the cider mill’s store – we won’t tell), and enjoy a perfect fall afternoon along the water in Dexter.
Details: 3685 Central St, Dexter, MI 48130 | Website
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO MICHIGAN
- DETROIT: 26 Things To Do In Detroit You Don’t Want To Miss
- GRAND RAPIDS: 15 Amazing Things To Do In Grand Rapids, Michigan
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WHERE TO STAY IN ANN ARBOR
Bed and Breakfast Option. Ann Arbor Bed and Breakfast is close to city center and near Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and Crisler Arena. It features beautiful architecture including a terrace, and eye-pleasing grounds. And of course, breakfast!
Best Budget Option. Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Ann Arbor is so frills but the price is right. It’s highly rated and 2 miles from the University. Breakfasts is included here.
Wolverine-Ready. Graduate Ann Arbor is a great place to stay when visiting a student or catching a game, at just 3 blocks from the university. You won’t be far from the many things to do in this piece.
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