Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a great weekend destination, home to excellent museums, beautiful parks, sports events and a vibrant performing arts scene. The city is well known for its beautiful downtown which offers an array of restaurants, shops and cafés.
Best things to do in Ann Arbor, Michigan with kids include the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History and Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1. University of Michigan Museum of Art
© University of Michigan Museum of Art
Built as a war memorial in 1909, the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) is one of the largest university art museums in the country and one of the top Ann Arbor attractions.
The museum is home to the newly renovated Alumni Memorial Hall, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel and the Frankel Family Wing and features a comprehensive collection of more than 19,000 works that spans an array of periods, cultures and forms of media. The collection boasts works by Pablo Picasso, Franz Kline, Claude Monet, Randolph Rogers and Kara Walker, and represents over 150 years of art collection at the University.
The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) offers a variety of educational programs, workshops, and classes for both students and visitors, as well as decent-led tours of the museum and unique art-based events throughout the year.
525 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 734-764-0395
2.Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
© Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum offers imaginative and interactive learning experiences to inspire visitors to discover the wonder of science, technology, art, math, and engineering.
Established in a historic firehouse in downtown Ann Arbor 33 years ago, the museum quickly grew to become the cornerstone of science education in the community and today boasts over 20,000 square feet of exhibition space with more than 250 interactive displays devoted to promoting science and literacy.
Signature exhibits include ‘The World Around You’, where visitors can explore The Bubble Capsule, Climbing Wall and Magnet exhibits that will spark the imagination, ‘The Lyon Country Store,’ a 1930s shopping experience, and ‘Michigan Nature’, which presents an interactive nature walk, a native fish lake, and a soundscape from Michigan. The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is one of the best things to do in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The museum also hosts special events throughout the year, such as Walk This Way, which explores the science of locomotion with the U of M Robotics and Motion Laboratory.
220 E. Ann Street, 734-995-5439
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Nicknamed ‘The Big House’, Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the United States and the second largest in the world, seating crowds of up to 115,000 people. Built in 1927, the stadium has played host to a variety of sports games, including college football, lacrosse, and hockey, as well as being the venue for the University of Michigan's main graduation ceremonies.
The stadium drew a record crowd of 115, 109 people in 2013 for a college football game between Michigan and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Although Michigan Stadium is not open to the general public for exercising, tours or photo opportunities, private tours of the facility during weekdays can be arranged.
1201 S Main St, 734-647-2583
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4. University of Michigan Museum of Natural History
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The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History is a part of the university’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Found on the university’s Central Campus, the museum is made up of 22,000 square feet of exhibit area and shares this space with three research museums.
The collection began in 1837 and the museum’s current home, the Alexander Ruthven Museums Building, was constructed in 1928. There are four permanent exhibits including the Anthropology Displays, the Geology Displays, the Hall of Evolution, and the Michigan Wildlife Gallery. The museum also has a planetarium and a “Butterfly and Pollinator Garden.”
University of Michigan, 1109 Geddes Avenue, 734-764-0478
5.Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum
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Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two properties operated by the University of Michigan that feature an array of botanical and display gardens, a conservatory, natural areas with hiking and walking trails, and several research-quality habitats.
Matthaei Botanical Gardens include display gardens like the Great Lakes Garden, Bonsai and Penjing Garden, the Garfield Children’s Garden, and a network of trails for walking, hiking, wildlife and bird watching. A beautiful 10,000+ square-foot conservatory designed by architect Alden Dow is the largest university-operated display greenhouse in the United States and features a hot house, temperate house, arid house and a world-renowned Bonsai Collection.
Nichols Arboretum is a haven for students and visitors alike and is home to the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden, as well as several collections of native and historic plants. Both gardens are open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset.
1800 N. Dixboro Rd, 734-647-7600
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6.Kerrytown, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Kerrytown is a historic district in Ann Arbor that is renowned for its quaint brick streets, vibrant culture and a diverse array of shops. Named after County Kerry in Ireland, Kerrytown was established as part of the original town of Ann Arbor and was later meticulously restored to its former glory into what it is today.
Kerrytown now features several bustling markets, outstanding restaurants and locally owned shops selling everything from fashionable clothing and jewelry, to handmade art, vintage treasures, and toys.
Traditional markets include Zingerman’s Deli, the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, and the Ann Arbor Artisans’ Market, which sell a range of locally sourced products, farm produce, gourmet food and baked goods while the Kerrytown Concert House and Braun Court are lovely to visit.
7.Things to Do in Ann Arbor: Hill Auditorium
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Standing in the center of the University of Michigan campus, Hill Auditorium is a large performance venue that hosts a variety of the large public events and showcases the best performing artists in the world.
Designed and built by Albert Kahn in 1913 and named in honor of Arthur Hill, the auditorium boasts a unique, hemispherical stage, superb acoustics, and seating for up to 3,500 people.
The famous hall has hosted performances by world-renowned artists, including Rachmaninoff, the Vienna Philharmonic and Cleveland Orchestra, Elton John, and The Grateful Dead.
825 N University Ave, 734-764-2538
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8.Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
© Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum is located on the north campus of the University of Michigan. One of thirteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library is a valuable repository that houses important items on the life, career, and presidency of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States of America.
Other important items in the library include a variety of materials on U.S. domestic issues and political affairs during the Cold War era, including letters, memos, reports, multi-media and other historical documents.
Facilities at the library range from an expansive lobby, which offers an exceptional venue to hire, a 1,700 square foot stage and audiovisual-equipped auditorium, classrooms for meetings and lectures, and a library courtyard for periodic functions.
1000 Beal Ave, 734-205-0555
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9.University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance
© University of Michigan School of Music
The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance is a school for performing arts in Ann Arbor and includes undergraduate and graduate students.
Founded in 1880, it was known as the Ann Arbor School of Music and later became a part of the university. Well-known alumni include Jessye Norman, Arthur Miller, James Earl Jones, Lucy Liu, and many others. The school presents musicals, operas, plays, and dance performances.
There are a variety of music ensembles,including three orchestras, three choirs, several jazz ensembles, a wind ensemble, and several chamber music groups. The Earl V. Moore building was designed by Eero Saarinen.
1100 Baits Drive, 734-764-0583
10. Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, Ann Arbor, Michigan
© Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is located on the University of Michigan’s central campus and is a unit of the University’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. The museum has a comprehensive collection of over 100,000 ancient and medieval artifacts from civilizations of the Mediterranean and the East, including ancient Egyptian, Roman, Etruscan, Persian, and Islamic objects.
In addition to the vast collection of archeological artifacts, the museum is also home to valuable objects regarding the study of archeology, such as excavation records and archeological photographs. Among the museum's most significant holdings are a rare collection of Egyptian mummy masks, ancient Greek coins, Roman brick stamps and the largest collection of Parthian pottery outside Iraq. The Kelsey also offers evolving special exhibitions, educational programs for children, and various fieldwork projects.
434 S State St, 734-764-9304
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11.Things to Do in Ann Arbor: Yost Ice Arena
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Formerly known as the Fielding H. Yost Field House after Michigan’s legendary football coach and Director of Athletics, the Yost Ice Arena is home to the University of Michigan varsity ice hockey team that currently plays in the Big Ten Conference.
Recognized as one of the premier college hockey venues in the country, the 6,600-seat arena has served as the home of Michigan hockey for over 40 years, as well as the University of Michigan's Senior and Collegiate Synchronized skating and freestyle teams.
Local high school teams, recreational leagues (AAAHA) and the university's intramural hockey league also call the Arena home, which has hosted the NCAA Hockey Tournament games five times.
1116 S State St, 734-764-4600
12.Leslie Science & Nature Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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The Leslie Science & Nature Center is a natural space that consists of trails, birds of prey and raptor enclosures, a critter house, and much more. The family of Dr. Eugene and Emily Leslie donated their home and the surrounding land to the city of Ann Arbor in 1976. The Leslies asked that the house and land be used to help educate children.
The center offers many programs for children including field trips, Girl Scout and Cub Scout visits, overnight visits, and outreach programs that are led by staff and take place at schools. The center also hosts summer camps and school break camps.
1831 Traver Road, 734-997-1553
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State Street is known for its many great shops, restaurants and public events including fairs and festivals. The State Street Area Art Fair features works of art by more than 300 artists. The works of art include media such as ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, painting, photography, wood, and much more. On State Street Area Ladies Night, many of the local bars, shops, and restaurants offer discounts and the Michigan Theater located on nearby Liberty Street has special showings of films.
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14.Power Center for the Performing Arts
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The Power Center for the Performing Arts is a multi-purpose center and performance space. In 1963 Eugene and Sadye Power donated funds for the construction of the center. Designed in a style referred to as modern classical, the center opened in 1971. The theater was modeled after a Greek theater at Epidarus: there are no seats in the Power Center that are more than 80 feet from the stage.
The lobby has a very high ceiling and two spiral staircases that lead to the balcony; the lobby is a popular venue for events such as weddings. There are pieces of art by Picasso and Lichtenstein hanging in the lobby.
121 Fletcher Street, 734-647-3327
HopCat in Ann Arbor is an award-winning beer bar that keeps getting accolades year after year and it has been listed as a top beer pub in the country several years in a row. The warm atmosphere, leather chairs and banquettes, massive gleaming wood bar in the center of the room, and huge mural that covers one entire wall all contribute to HopCat being an enormously popular spot for gatherings of friends and families. But, it is their 100 beers on tap, local, regional, and Belgian, that are the real draw for the beer enthusiasts. Their restaurant offers a large menu of elevated pub grub with some great burgers and sandwiches. For a special treat, join one of their once-a-week beer and food events – a five-beer, four-course dinner.
311 Maynard St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, Phone: 734-436-2875
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Michigan Theater is a movie palace that screens independent films and presents music concerts and stage productions. With a seating capacity of 1,700, the theater includes lobbies, a functional stage, and an orchestra pit.
Built in 1928, the theater still maintains its original Barton Theatre Pipe Organ. In a 1956 renovation many of the original decorations were removed and by 1978 the theater was threatened with demolition.
A community group raised funds to save and renovate the theater. Today, the theater is the home of the Ann Arbor Symphony, the annual Ann Arbor Film Festival, and a children’s series of stage productions called “Not Just for Kids.”
603 East Liberty Street, 734-668-8463
17.The Creature Conservancy
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The Creature Conservancy is an animal rescue and educational organization dedicated to rescuing animals and getting the community involved by educating them about the animals.
There are several exhibits including Aquatic Exotics that features apple snails, African clawed frogs, and water hyacinths; McCalls of the Wild for macaws; ‘Roo Room for kangaroos; and Vulture Club for vultures.
The conservancy offers a variety of education outreach programs for homeschooling groups, schools, nature centers, and more. Some of the programs include African Safari, Animals Down Under, Creatures of the Night, and Rainforest Fieldtrip. The conservancy also hosts camps and parties.
4940 Ann Arbor-Saline Road, 734-929-9324
More vacation ideas: 20 Best Romantic Getaways in Michigan.
18.De Angelis Cantina del Vino
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De Angelis Cantina del Vino is a winery that produces all-natural wines, made without synthetic preservatives or sulfites. The winery grows its own grapes and puts the grapes and nothing else into their vats to create the 100% natural wines.
One health advantage is that their wines do not produce the headaches that drinkers of non-natural wines sometimes experience. De Angelis Cantina del Vino produces two wines: the first is a Cabernet Sauvignon aged in oak barrels; and the second is its Merlot. Their wines are available for purchase at several locations in Ann Arbor.
7879 Jackson Road D1, 248-854-5420
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© Zingerman’s Roadhouse
Located in Ann Arbor’s Veteran Park, Zingerman’s Roadhouse is a large, popular restaurant serving huge portions of American favorites. Traditional décor, a bright airy dining room indoors, and pleasant seating on the patio offer the perfect environment for enjoying comfort food brought to a totally new level: Mac and cheese that melts in your mouth, succulent Carolina barbecue, real Maryland jumbo blue crab cakes, fantastic fried chicken, and incredible South Carolina grits. They use local ingredients such as pork, beef, goat, and lamb from Washtenaw County, fresh produce from nearby farms, and craft beers and select wines from all over the country.
2501 Jackson Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48103, 734-663-3663
20.The Petting Farm
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The Petting Farm lets children learn about animals and the agricultural history of Michigan. The Petting Farm began in 1925 as a working farm but was bought in the 1980s for the construction of an office complex. The original red barn was moved across the road and sits on 20 acres of land. Opened in 1994, the Petting Farm is a fun and educational experience for families and school groups.
The farm features typical farm animals such as cats, chickens, cows, ducks, goats, horses, rabbits, sheep and several other kinds of animals like alpacas, llamas, and peacocks. Visitors can feed some of the animals and there are also pony rides.
3001 Earhart Road, 734-998-0182
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21.Zingerman's Bakehouse Classes
Zingerman’s Bakehouse Classes are offered at the retail and wholesale bakery founded in 1992. The classes are all hands-on classes for learning how to bake many different kinds of breads, cakes, pastries, and more.
While some classes are demonstrations for students to observe, most of the classes require the students to get involved with the baking process. Classes are appropriate for beginners as well as for more advanced bakers; classes are offered for adults and also for families with children aged 7 and up. There are no more than 12 students per class. Baking teachers talk about the ingredients and students are able to taste the results.
3711 Plaza Drive, 734-761-2095
22.Trolley Pub Ann Arbor
© Trolley Pub Ann Arbor
Trolley Pub Ann Arbor is powered by pedals, offering an eco-friendly tour of Ann Arbor with its restaurants, shops, and bars. The tours last for two hours and the trolley can be rented for a variety of occasions such as birthdays, company outings, dinner tours, pub crawls, and many more.
The most popular tour is the pub crawl and the trolley can accommodate groups of up to 14 people who are encouraged to bring their own music, food, and beverages. For mixer tours, visitors can purchase a seat on the trolley and meet new people.
215 North Main Street, 734-956-0436
23.Stonebridge Golf Club, Ann Arbor, MI
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Stonebridge Golf Club is a public golf course created in 1991 by Arthur Hills, a world famous golf course designer. The 18 hole championship golf course is set in a beautiful landscape with areas of water and forests.
The course is appropriate for all levels of players from beginners to more advanced golfers. The Practice Facility features a driving range, a putting green, and a chipping bunker. The Bar and Grille offers food and beverages after a round of golf, and the Pro Shop sells a large variety of golf related items. The club also offers adult and junior golf lessons.
1825 Clubhouse Drive, 734-429-8383
24.Hudson Mills Metropark, Ann Arbor, Michigan
© Hudson Mills Metropark
Located 12 miles northwest of Ann Arbor, the Hudson Mills Metropark is an outdoor park that is made up of more than 1,500 acres of dense woodlands, rolling meadows and shimmering wetlands teeming with wildlife and birds.
The park offers a variety of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy, such as canoeing and kayaking on the Huron River, shoreline and fly fishing, hiking, biking, and trekking.
A beautiful 18-hole, par-72 golf course and two disc golf courses are ideal for lovers of the game while groups of friends can enjoy a game of basketball, volleyball, softball or soccer.
Other amenities in the Metropark include picnic shelters, a children's play area with swings and slides, a canoe camp, and tennis and shuffleboard courts. Winter offers cross-country skiing trails for groomed skiers.
8801 N. Territorial Road, Dexter, MI 48130, 734-426-8211
25.Buhr Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Buhr Park is a municipal park in the south central area of Ann Arbor. The 39 acre park sits on rolling hills and features a basketball court, soccer fields, tennis courts, picnic areas with grills, baseball fields, and an outdoor pool.
For children, there is a wading pool with interactive toys, a children’s play area, and the Buhr Park Children’s Wet Meadow. During the winter, visitors can enjoy the sledding hill, groomed trails for skiing, and an open-air ice arena which is a popular place for public ice skating and ice hockey. The arena hosts events such as Oldies Night, Hoedown Night, Funky Frosty Fridays, and many more.
2751 Packard Road, 734-794-6230
25 Best Things to Do in Ann Arbor, Michigan
- University of Michigan Museum of Art, Photo: University of Michigan Museum of Art
- Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Photo: Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
- Michigan Stadium, Photo: Courtesy of Mark Herreid - Fotolia.com
- University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, Photo: Courtesy of goro20 - Fotolia.com
- Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum, Photo: Courtesy of khomlyak - Fotolia.com
- Kerrytown, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Photo: Courtesy of arinahabich - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Ann Arbor: Hill Auditorium , Photo: Courtesy of visitannarbor.org
- Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, Photo: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
- University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, Photo: University of Michigan School of Music
- Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Photo: Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
- Things to Do in Ann Arbor: Yost Ice Arena, Photo: Courtesy of licvin - Fotolia.com
- Leslie Science & Nature Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Photo: Courtesy of visitannarbor.org
- State Street, Photo: Courtesy of Catherine - Fotolia.com
- Power Center for the Performing Arts, Photo: Courtesy of peych_p - Fotolia.com
- HopCat, Photo: HopCat
- Michigan Theater, Photo: Courtesy of dechevm - Fotolia.com
- The Creature Conservancy, Photo: Courtesy of armandele - Fotolia.com
- De Angelis Cantina del Vino, Photo: Courtesy of Givaga - Fotolia.com
- Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Photo: Zingerman’s Roadhouse
- The Petting Farm, Photo: Courtesy of leszekglasner - Fotolia.com
- Zingerman's Bakehouse Classes, Photo: visitannarbor.org
- Trolley Pub Ann Arbor, Photo: Trolley Pub Ann Arbor
- Stonebridge Golf Club, Ann Arbor, MI, Photo: Courtesy of artea_art - Fotolia.com
- Hudson Mills Metropark, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Photo: Hudson Mills Metropark
- Buhr Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Photo: Courtesy of Mikael Damkier - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of visitannarbor.org
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