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.

A New Yorker Tries the Mitten State On For Size

Jake Steinerman, a New York native, moved to Michigan several years ago to attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Now, he can’t imagine living anywhere else and plans to further discover what the Mitten State has to offer by visiting five cities in five weekends later this summer. He’s looking to Pure Michigan fans to help determine the path of this adventure, and today tells us what he thinks makes our state so great.

A few years ago, if you would have told me I was going to be a graduate of the University of Michigan and subsequently live in the state, I would have given you the same response I gave my dad when he recommended I look into applying to UofM: “Michigan? Why Michigan? What a random place to think of.”

Growing up in Woodmere, New York, I was a naive teen living in a bubble community, in the shadow of New York City – I had no exposure to any kind of college sports, or anything resembling a Big 10-style college atmosphere; that culture doesn’t exist on Long Island. To me, I found it extremely odd that football was a big deal in Michigan. Football and Michigan? That’s not at all what I thought of when I thought of the mitten state; then again I didn’t know much of anything about Michigan growing up.

Well, it has been five years since my dad suggested I look into going to Michigan, and I could not be happier with how my four years there have gone. Now a proud Wolverine graduate with a degree in Social Computing Informatics, I have decided to remain in Michigan – in Midland to be more specific – to work in Information Systems at the Dow Chemical Company.

I’m excited for my new life here in the “City of Modern Explorers,” and if my four years in Ann Arbor – my favorite city in the country and one that will forever be my home – are any indication, I’m just starting to discover the magic of Pure Michigan.

Now I should point out, my moving out here is not a case of “big city boy experiences life in small town America for the first time.” Growing up, and still today, my family frequents northern Vermont. That has given me plenty of exposure to the beauty that rural America holds, and a true appreciation for the outdoors. Some of my favorite things to do are kayaking down the river on a warm summer day, biking along the lake with boats passing by, apple picking in the fall, and snowboarding in the winter. There is something truly special about Michigan though that makes it stand apart from other places that I’ve lived in and visited. I look forward to discovering just what that is, starting this summer.

Be sure to follow me along as I explore all that the Mitten has to offer, and find out what makes Michigan “Pure MIchigan” on Twitter using #JakesPureMichigan.

Jake Steinerman is looking to fans of Pure Michigan to help determine the path of his “five cities in five weekends” adventure. What cities should he discover in Pure Michigan?

Peter Greenberg Puts Spotlight on Ann Arbor, Michigan

When you think of Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan might first come to mind. But did you know that Ann Arbor is also home to a number of unique cafes, storefronts and art galleries? With a mix of eclectic shopping, world-renowned music venues and more than 200 restaurants, it’s a town that offers something for everyone.

This past Saturday, May 26th, Peter Greenberg put Ann Arbor in the spotlight to explore these unique offerings during his weekly radio show. While broadcasting from the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Peter spoke with local influencers and subject matter experts that helped him answer questions like “How did the town of Ann Arbor gets its start?” and “What on earth is a ‘fairy-door’?”

Guests include:

  • Dhani Jones, former University of Michigan football star and current collaborator on the non-profit organization Bow Ties for a Cause
  • Tom Murray, owner of Conor O’Neills, Ann Arbor’s “real” Irish Pub
  • Jonathan Wright, founder of urban-fairies.com and creator of Ann Arbor’s “fairy-doors”
  • Joseph Rosa, director of the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA)

Check out a recap at PeterGreenberg.com, or visit iTunes or stitcher.com to download the full show.