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.
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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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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!
- 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.