Looking for a vibrant university town that has everything you need to enjoy a great day exploring? Look no further than Ann Arbor, Michigan, just outside of Detroit! Whether you’re a foodie looking for delicious cuisine served up in beautiful settings, or an outdoor adventurer looking to explore nature in between museum visits and outdoor attractions, this city has it all! Here are some of the must-see sights and spots you won’t want to miss during your 24 hours in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Things to See and Do in Ann Arbor
With so much to see and do within 24 hours in Ann Arbor – from vibrant street art galleries like Graffiti Alley; bustling markets like Kerrytown; classic theaters like Michigan Theater; world class museums like UMMA; or tranquil gardens like Matthaei Botanical & Nichols Arboretum – it’s no wonder why so many people flock here each year! Here are suggestions for how to spend your time, though you will have to adjust based on how long you take at each place.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, take a stroll down Graffiti Alley in downtown Ann Arbor. This vibrant alleyway is filled with colorful murals painted by local artists that capture the spirit of the city.
As you walk through Graffiti Alley, you’ll be surrounded by an array of stunning artwork that will make for some great photo opportunities.
Kerrytown is a charming neighborhood located on Ann Arbor’s east side. It’s home to many unique shops and restaurants, as well as the historic Kerrytown Market & Shops. Here you can find everything from fresh produce to antiques, vintage clothing, jewelry, yarn, and more.
Don’t miss out on stopping at Zingerman’s Deli for some delicious sandwiches and other treats. They are known for their honkin’ big and delicious reuben sandwich, which I can attest was fabulous. You can even order ahead.
Or if shopping isn’t your thing, there are plenty of places to relax in Kerrytown, such as The Last Word bar or Cafe Zola, which offers outdoor dining in their beer garden. The flowers, murals, and art installments are super cute around Kerrytown.
Catch a movie at the historic Michigan Theater! This art deco theater was built in 1928 and has been host to numerous classic films over the years. Today, it continues to show both new releases and independent films in its two main auditoriums: The State Theater and The Screening Room.
Afterward, grab dinner at nearby Slurping Turtle which serves up authentic Japanese ramen noodles alongside other Japanese dishes.
University of Michigan
This stunning campus is located in a walkable downtown, with buildings scattered throughout. Keep an ear out for the iconic 53-bell carillon, chiming every quarter hour from the university’s tower. Sports fans won’t want to miss “The Big House,” Michigan’s renowned football stadium with a capacity of nearly 110,000 fans.
Take an afternoon break from exploring Ann Arbor to visit the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA). Located on Central Campus, this museum houses more than 17,000 works ranging from antiquity to contemporary art pieces.
But the fun doesn’t stop there – the museums on campus are free to visit, including the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. This impressive heavy-hitter museum offers a variety of exhibits, a butterfly garden, and even a planetarium.
UMMA also hosts various exhibitions throughout the year that explore different themes and cultures around the world.
Pro Tip: Save time to for a visit to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum, the 38th US President, found on north campus of the university. The museum is closed on Mondays. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for military and seniors, and $6 for youth ages 6 to 18.
For a dose of history and shopping, don’t miss strolling through the unique and beloved Nichols Arcade – a charming covered shopping district from 1918 listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum
Spend some time outdoors at Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum. These two sites offer visitors over 300 acres of gardens, trails, woodlands, and ponds where they can explore various habitats like prairies or wetlands while admiring native plants, birds and other wildlife along the way.
Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, birdwatching, or just want to take a leisurely stroll (that’s me!) through nature’s beauty, these two locations have something for everyone!
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the peony garden
Where to Stay in Ann Arbor
Step into a world of unique charm at the Graduate Ann Arbor. This hotel boasts a sophisticated lobby that feels like a grand library, complete with cozy plaid fabrics and TV stands that mimic a card catalog. You’ll be enveloped in comfort amidst the dark walls (lined with impressive commissioned murals and manifestos) and stylish decor.
But that’s not all. The real standout feature is the lobby’s communual table- a whopping 40 feet long- perfect for working, people watching, or just soaking up the warm sunlight streaming in from the oversized windows. And the murals and manifestos on the walls are great conversation starters.
Traveling with pets? No problem! The Graduate Ann Arbor is pet-friendly, and the complimentary bike rentals are a fantastic way to experience all the city has to offer. You won’t want to stay anywhere else after experiencing the unique charm of the Graduate Ann Arbor.
Tasty Places to Eat in Ann Arbor
Welcome to Ann Arbor, where food and drink are a true art form. You don’t need a lot of time to indulge in the righteous food scene, especially with TopCat’s happy hour deals.
For just a few bucks, you can munch on crispy fries smothered in a decadent cheese sauce, and sink your teeth into juicy burgers. During happy hour, both were still under $10 — how cool is that? And let’s not forget about the 100+ tap beers and drink specials.
Looking for something a little more upscale? Make your next stop at Mani Osteria and Bar, where wood-fired pizzas and gourmet salads are the main event. This hotspot is always buzzing with locals and visitors alike.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert. Michigan Creamery’s ice cream is a must-try. From quirky flavors like Wolverine Tracks and Michigan Pot Hole to classic favorites like Coffee Mocha Chip, there’s something for everyone
Or, if beer is more your thing, head to Jolly Pumpkin Brewery for a seasonal brew. Ann Arbor truly is one of the best beer towns in Michigan and I couldn’t wait for you to experience it.
Even if you only have 24 hours to spend in Ann Arbor, Michigan, you’re in for a real treat. This city with a loyal following and friendly locals not only delivers a great meal and craft beer but abundant outdoor attractions, free museum admissions, and world-class sports.
Enjoy your time there. Go Blue!
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