Located 45 miles west of Detroit, Ann Arbor offers a compelling mix of vibrant city living and collegiate charm. From its bustling downtown district, which boasts an eclectic array of restaurants, cafes, bars, boutiques and nightclubs, to the gorgeous buildings and grounds of the University of Michigan's main campus, Ann Arbor makes for a unique and interesting getaway.
Ann Arbor boasts four distinct seasons, and each has its benefits and cautions. Summers range from fairly warm to hot, and humidity levels can be rather extreme. Winters, on the other hand, bring notable amounts of snow, ice, and freezing temperatures.
Spring and fall strike a good balance, and are arguably the best times to visit Ann Arbor. Both seasons offer mild, pleasant weather, and fall has the added advantages of vibrant autumn foliage and the return of University of Michigan football games, which attract massive crowds to “The Big House,” a.k.a. Michigan Stadium.
If you're one of many venturing to Ann Arbor to cheer on the home team, be sure to book reservations well in advance. While there are numerous hotels less than three miles from the city's center, they tend to fill up quickly on game weekends.
There's more to life in Ann Arbor than U of M football games. Music and art take center stage during the summer months, and the throwback architecture of the town's schools and theaters never take holidays from the public eye.
Every evening from mid-June through mid-July, people flock to downtown Ann Arbor to enjoy myriad musical performances. The festival attracts legends: Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Cash, Dizzy Gillespie, and Willie Nelson have all played there. Those looking for something more low-key can head to one of the nightly outdoor film screenings. Local restaurants set up stalls around these festivities, giving guests a great opportunity to sample local fare while moving between music and movies.
Near the end of July, the city bursts to life with four annual art fairs. The entire downtown is filled with stalls and vendors displaying art of all mediums, and the area is sprinkled with live bands, kids' activities, and more.
This beautifully restored 1928 theater is in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. Visit to see its two grand organs, and stay to immerse yourself in the venue's history: the theater often shows classic films, as well as first-run movies and indies. Several film festivals are held here each year.
Lovingly referred to as “The Arb” by locals, Nichols Arboretum features 123 acres of wooded, hilly terrain with a nice network of crisscrossing trails. Whether you hike around or just find a nice, secluded place to relax, it's a haven of greenery and peace.
Families with children should head to the Hands-On Museum, which offers a fun mix of interactive exhibits. Kids can encase themselves in a giant bubble and try their hand at a variety of cool activities and games.
Step through the arches of the university's law school building to enter the quad, which is an oasis of peace amid the bustling campus. The Gothic-style architecture alone makes the Law School a worthwhile stop.
Several major highways provide easy access to Ann Arbor via car. US-23 is the main north-south artery and is the quickest way to get there from Toledo, Ohio. The majority of air travelers fly in to Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus, about a 30-minute drive to Ann Arbor.