10 Things to do and see in Ann Arbor

The Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans play each other at the University of Michigan this Saturday, October 20th. If you’re heading to Ann Arbor for the game, why not make a day (or weekend) trip out of it and check out what the city has to offer outside of the stadium?

Sydney Hawkins, Communications Director for the Ann Arbor Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, gives her recommendations on things to do and see in the area.

Are you heading to the game? Let us know in the comments section below, and be sure to share your UofM or MSU pride by downloading and sharing a photo from our Facebook image app.

I’ve lived in (Pure) Michigan my entire life; I grew up in Jackson, spent my undergrad in East Lansing, and moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor just over a year ago. That said, I’ve spent many a weekend ‘Visiting Ann Arbor,’ and a whole year learning about all the things I wish I would’ve known before I lived here.

With the ‘big game’ coming up this weekend, here’s my ‘Top 10’ list of fun fall things to do in Ann Arbor (other than actually going to the game, of course).

    1. The Fairy Doors. If you don’t know about them, odds are, you’d probably walked right by these tiny doors, located throughout downtown Ann Arbor in various storefronts, cafes and galleries. Although going on a ‘fairy door hunt’ in Ann Arbor is a perfect activity for kids, I’ve seen adults just as excited to discover them. Get a fairy door map here.
    2. The Farmers Market. The Ann Arbor Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 7am – 12pm (with extended hours until 3pm this weekend). If you’re headed to the game, I’d advise that you plan a grab-and-go breakfast at the market. I always get a coffee from Roos Roast, apple donuts from Kapnick Orchards, or an olive twist from Millpond Bakery.
    3. The Dexter Cider Mill. 11 miles southwest of Ann Arbor, the Dexter Cider Mill is the oldest continuously operating cider mill in Michigan. They’re known regionally for their unique cider blend, donuts and other homemade apple goods (open Wed. – Sun., 9am – 5pm).
    4. The Huron River. Probably the best way to view fall scenery (weather permitting), is to rent a canoe or kayak and take a tour down the Huron River. Argo and Gallup Canoe Liveries are open every day from 10am – 7pm through the last week in October.
    5. Fall Colors. For those looking to explore on foot – especially this coming weekend – I have a few favorite places to go: 1) Nichols Arboretum (aka ‘The Arb’ to locals) on UofM’s campus. 2) Gallup Park 3) Scio Woods Preserve 3) Hudson Mills MetroPark in Dexter (5) Waterloo Recreation Area in Chelsea. Bring your camera!
    6. University of Michigan’s Campus. I absolutely love exploring the U of M’s beautiful campus. If you have time while you’re here, stop into the U-M Museum of Art (free, open Mon. – Sat.) or the U-M Museum of Natural History (free, open Mon. – Sun.). If you’re looking for an abbreviated tour, central campus is a good place to start. You can easily see Hill Auditorium, The Michigan Union, Angell hall, Burton Tower, ‘the diag’, the West Hall Arch, the Clements Library and more in about a half hour. If nothing else, you absolutely must go to the ‘Law Quad’ and peek into the Law Library. You won’t be disappointed.
    7. Brew Tour. There are eight breweries in Washtenaw County. Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti always carries my favorite beer (ABC’s Phat Abbot Trippel), Wolverine State Brewing Company’s Tap room is a favorite local hang out, and Original Gravity in Milan is a hidden hoppy gem. Honestly, they’re all amazing. Arbor Brewing Company, Grizzly Peak, Jolly Pumpkin and Blue Tractor are all within walking distance from each other downtown.
    8. Wiard’s Orchard & Haunted Thrill Park. Cider, donuts, a corn maze, hayrides, U-pick pumpkins and apples, mini-golf, childrens’ play areas and more – it’s the quintessential place to for fall family fun in the area. Wiards’ haunted thrill park, Night Terrors, is also popular destination in October (open Friday – Sunday this weekend, 7:30 – 11:30pm).
    9. Don’t have tickets? Not everyone has a ticket to the big game, which is fine because there are plenty of places that are great for game-watching fun. I recommend Banfield’s Westide Grill, Fraser’s Pub, Conor O’Neill’s, The Arena, or Damon’s Sports Bar. Aubree’s in Ypsilanti is a great spot too. Make sure to get there early to claim your spot!
    10. Food. Everyone ALWAYS asks me where to eat in Ann Arbor. I never have a straight answer, mostly because there’s way too much to choose from, and I have way too many favorites. Here’s my short list: the falafel wrap at Pita Kabob. The TLT at Seva. The Chicken Tortilla Soup at Le Dog. The salmon burger at Monahan’s. A slice of veggie pie at NY Pizza Depot. The #24 at Amer’s Deli. And whenever I go to Ayse’s Turkish Cafe, I always let her choose (because I can’t). 

Sydney Hawkins is the Communications Director for the Ann Arbor Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. You can follow her on Twitter @SydneyHawkins. Also, be sure to follow ‘Visit Ann Arbor’ at @Annarborareacvb and hashtag your visit with #VisitAnnArbor so that Sydney and team can see your favorite pictures/things to do in Ann Arbor.

From Our Community: The Best Ice Cream in Michigan

Ice cream is a staple treat in Pure Michigan during summer months. From dairy farms to local shops, there are plenty of ice cream options to satisfy any sweet tooth across the state.

With July being National Ice Cream Month, we thought it would be fun to ask our fans on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ “what’s your favorite place to get ice cream in Michigan and what’s your favorite flavor?” We learned that if there’s one treat that Michiganders know and love, it’s ice cream! If you’re looking for a yummy treat this summer, here are some fan favorites to check out.

House of Flavors, located on the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan in Ludington, is one of the clear fan favorites. Serving some of the finest made ice cream in the Midwest, it’s sure to please anyone who stops in this summer. Here’s what fans are saying:

“House of Flavors in Ludington, Michigan. My favorite flavor is Blue Moon. :)” – JoLynn ‘Tacktor’ Jones

“peanut butter cup ice cream at House of Flavors in Ludington” – Karin Dereske Rourke

“House of Flavors in Ludington, after a day at the beach! #icecream” – @beckykoepke

Cook’s Dairy Farm is another cherished ice cream stop for Michiganders. Locals and visitors make it a point to stop by this Ortonville gem. Here’s what people love about Cook’s:

“Ahhhhh Cook’s Dairy Farm is the best and tractor trails ice cream yum-o!!!” – Lisa Jakuszeski Terry

“Cook’s in Ortonville. Cook’s Butter Pecan is the best ever!!” – Dale Ramig

“Favorite place: easy – Cook’s Farm Dairy in Ortonville. Favorite flavor – now THAT’S the hard one to answer – butter pecan, strawberry, cowpuccino, chocolate raspberry torte, eggnog (the best eggnog ever, and then as ice cream – double heaven). I dare anyone to try their triple scoop.” – Karen Kohn

The Michigan State University Dairy Store isn’t just for students. The dairy complex at the university produces some of the freshest ice cream you’ll ever taste. Fans around the state love this East Lansing establishment:

“Hands down the best ice cream in MI is at the MSU Dairy Store. As far as I’m concerned, they only need one flavor: Sesquicentennial Swirl. Chocolate and vanilla with huge chunks of cake and ribbons of frosting running through it.” – Mandy Wakeman

“MSU Dairy Store! Love the butter pecan ice cream!” – Paula Causie

“I’m a u of m guy but I gotta say msu dairy store!” – Scott Moore

“MSU Dairy Store. The best…” – Mary-Jo Lacey

Jones Homemade Ice Cream, an old fashioned ice cream shop in downtown Baldwin, has been manufacturing delicious ice cream since 1942. Fans love this nostalgic, friendly shop:

“Jones Ice Cream in Baldwin is the best place. There are way too many flavors to pick a favorite, though.” – Kathy Nefsey

“Jones Ice cream Baldwin, Mi.. Butter Pecan!!!! The best and biggest cones ever!!!” – Cl Whitman

Moomers Homemade Ice Cream in Traverse City is another clear favorite among fans. Moomers makes over 120 different flavors, offering 20 daily to locals and visitors. Here’s what fans have to say about this family friendly shop:

“Moomers, Traverse City. Coffee toffee, yum!” – Karen Brenneman

“Moomers Traverse City….. Best Ever!” – Bob Stites

“Just went to Moomer’s in Traverse City a few days ago! AWESOME!!” – Dwight Billings

These are just a few of the many ice cream options around the state. View our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ posts to see what others’ favorite ice cream shops in Michigan are. If we left off your favorite, leave it in the comments section below!

Celebrate Earth Day in Pure Michigan

With Earth Day coming up this weekend, we wanted to highlight a few of the places around the state of Michigan that are especially earth-friendly.

Besides offering exhibitions and collections that span from Renaissance to Modern art, the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) also stands out as a renowned “green” building in the state – and the world. In fact, the museum opened the doors of its current home in 2007 as the first newly-constructed, LEED Gold certified art museum in the world. The GRAM is located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, close to many restaurants, parks and entertainment venues.

When visiting the Ford Rogue Factory Tour at The Henry Ford, guests can visit the Legacy Theater, Art of Manufacturing Theater, Observation Deck, Dearborn Truck Plant and the Legacy Gallery during a self-guided tour. While on the factory tour, there are many eco-friendly elements to experience including the “living roof,” which is made up of tens of thousands of tiny sedum plants that decrease energy consumption by 7 percent and improve air quality by as much as 40 percent. In 2003, the factory was awarded a LEED Award from the US Green Building Council (USGBC).

The Dairy Complex at Michigan State University is another LEED certified establishment in our great state. The barn in the pasture-robotic milking system at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) is the first agricultural building in North America to receive the certification. Visitors to campus can take free tours of the facilities and learn first hand how cheese, ice cream and other dairy products are made, then test out delicious homemade ice cream.

If you’re in Ann Arbor, stop by Perpetua Boutique Organique, which offers sustainable, environmentally friendly, organic fashion for women and men. You could also visit the Matthaei Botanical Gardens at the University of Michigan while you’re in the area. There are plenty of other parks in the area as well to experience Michigan’s beautiful landscape.