Beyond Detroit: Visiting Ann Arbor

By: Chantelle Symester

October 30, 2014

Ann Arbor may be small but it certainly has a lot to offer. A short drive from Detroit, this city is one part student town, one part historical district and one part cultural hub – an eclectic mix with a sprinkling of sophistication and a lively, fun-loving local community. From catching a big game at the Michigan stadium to soaking up some melodic jazz at one of the many late night bars, there are plenty of things to keep you busy when visiting Ann Arbor.

Daytime, playtime

Buhr Park Pool | Visiting Ann Arbor

Buhr Park offers limitless outdoor fun ©

Take the opportunity to explore Ann Arbor’s great outdoors and burn off some holiday indulgences at Buhr Park. With over 39 acres of pretty parkland, an open-air ice arena, an outdoor pool, and open field play, there’s every opportunity stay active when visiting Ann Arbor. If you’re more of a spectator than a participant catching a game at Michigan’s stadium, even if you’re not an avid football fan, is a must. With seating capacity of over 110,000, on a big game day the atmosphere is simply electric. You can also arrange a tour of the stadium grounds for a unique look at Ann Arbor’s beloved sporting hub.

Football game at Michigan Stadium | Visiting Ann Arbor
Don’t miss the chance to catch a big game at the Michigan Stadium ©

The brick streets of Kerrytown provide a cluster of local boutiques that have helped this historic market town continue to thrive. Pick up some stylish pieces at cool fashion boutique V2V or peruse Found, an artisanal store selling handmade and recycled goods. Finish up by passing through Spice Merchants and purchase some exotic teas to take home with you.

Kerrytown | Visiting Ann Arbor
Shopping in Kerrytown is second to none if you love local boutiques ©

Further afield, take a trip to the Dexter Cider Mill, an interesting local landmark where cider is pressed just as it was over 120 years ago. Alongside cider, visitors can also pick up an array of apple related produce, including treats like apple nut bread, strudel and apple butter.

Michigan Theater | Visiting Ann Arbor
Catch a show at Michigan Theater for the perfect end to a day spent sightseeing ©

A beacon of the vibrant local arts scene, the Michigan Theater offers access to a wealth of cultural entertainment. With a packed schedule of stage performances, live music concerts and film screenings, it’s the perfect way to enjoy the creative side of Ann Arbor.

After an active day out you’ll need to refuel, and luckily the city’s culinary offerings are up to the job. For tasty lunchtime options drop by famous deli Zingerman’s to sample the Sherman’s Sure Choice sandwich, made of corned beef, Swiss cheese and lashings of coleslaw. If you want to splurge on a fancy dinner, The Earle serves sophisticated French and Italian cuisine, and there’s a great selection of wines to wash it all down.

Zingerman's Deli
Go for lunch at the renowned Zingerman’s Deli ©

After Dark

One thing Ann Arbor isn’t short of is great watering holes. While Arbor Brewing has been providing visitors with a plethora of craft beers for nearly two decades, if hard liquor is more your thing then The Ravens Club will keep you happy (read tipsy) with their array of tasty bourbons and classic cocktails. For serious oenophiles, Vinology has over 150 wines available, and staff at the family owned venue are more than happy to pair your tipple with some of the dishes off the food menu.

Forget turning in early and hit up one of the local jazz bars. You’ll be forgiven for thinking that you’ve stepped into a time machine and arrived in the middle of the 1930s in art deco Cliff Bells – locals flock to this bar/restaurant to catch their selection of top classic and contemporary performers. Another great jazz haunt is Dirty Dog Jazz, which sees a revolving door of local legends like Chris Collins regularly grace the stage. Guaranteed to get you well into the swing before the opening song has finished.

Header image ©

What are your top tips for visiting Ann Arbor? Let us know in the comments section below.

Virgin Atlantic operate direct flights from London to Detroit, making it easy to book your next trip.

Written by Chantelle Symester


Chantelle Symester

Chantelle Symester is a writer and editor based in London. When she’s not chained to her laptop working she can be found hopping on a plane to far flung places across the globe. Trips so far include adventures to Mexico, South America and North Africa and she now has her heart set on discovering the East. You can find her @csymester

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