Also nicknamed the People's Republic of Ann Arbor, A Squared, A Two and Tree Town, Ann Arbor is home to more than 116,000 people, making it one of the biggest cities in Michigan. It is the home of the University of Michigan, as well as a host of technology companies. Ann Arbor has been ranked second best city for raising families, second top college town, and the fifth best place to retire by such prestigious organizations as Kiplinger, Fortune and Livability.
Ann Arbor combines the charms of a college town with big city amenities. This is the reason why visiting the city is a treat all in itself. Having a bus rental in Ann Arbor, Michigan to shuttle you and your group to Tree Town's many attractions not only ensures that you would have a stress-free mode of transportation, but also ensures that everybody is comfortable and safe.
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Planet Rock is found in Ann Arbor. It is among the largest indoor climbing gyms in the continent. You get five story-high walls to conquer. If you need help, trained staff will be there to assist you.
Ann Arbor may have a small land area, but it is bursting at the seams when it comes to arts and cultural offerings. From art galleries to it myriads of museums, to theater, dance and music groups, Ann Arbor can rival the arts and culture scenes of the country's biggest metropolitan areas.
Visual arts. Your first stop should be the University of Michigan Museum of Art, one of the biggest university art museums in the country (Ann Arbor, MI 48109). The museum underwent a massive $42-million renovation in 2009 and currently has close to 19,000 art works that are diverse enough to include the works of notable artists such as Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Max Beckmann, Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline, Randolph Rogers, James McNeill Whistler, Joshua Reynolds, Walker Evans, and Kara Walker.
Then you have the University of Michigan Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, one of the very few museums that focus on the history of dentistry. The museum has at least 15,000 objects, some of them dating back to the 18th century. The University of Michigan Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments, meanwhile, has more than 2,500 musical instruments that came from all around the globe. This is one of the biggest collections of musical instruments in a university museum.
Another museum on campus is the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History and Planetarium. Here, you would find exhibits on prehistoric life and dinosaurs, as well as the state's wildlife, geology and anthropology. It also features a planetarium that has a 360-degree domed screen, a butterfly garden and a perennials garden.
The Ann Arbor Art Center is one of the most respected and oldest community arts venues in the state. The center has three rotating exhibits that feature original art, paintings, ceramics, and jewelry.
Then there are the other museums, such as the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, where you can view nine different galleries that have at least 250 hands-on and interactive exhibits for visitors of any age. Or the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, with close to 100,000 ancient and medieval artifacts that come from the Near East and Mediterranean civilizations.
You should also visit the city's art galleries:
Performance arts. The University Musical Society, launched in 1880, currently holds 75 performances per season, as well as educational events. Their performances bring some of the best performers from all around the country and the world. Meanwhile, the Purple Rose Theatre Company has been bringing new plays to life as well as educational programs for more than two decades. The group was founded by Jeff Daniels. Another group that churns out Broadway-quality productions is the Performance Network Theatre. The group has produced a wide variety of classics, comedies and dramas since 1981. You could also catch great performances at Concordia University and the University of Michigan as they show student productions.
The Kreft Center for the Arts at the Concordia University holds several theater productions, concerts and art exhibits, while the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre showcases the talents of students from the University of Michigan School of Music Theater and Dance.
Venues. Michigan Theater (Ann Arbor, MI 48104) shows both movies and live concerts, while the Kerrytown Concert House has a more intimate setting, accommodating only 110 people. You can enjoy intimate performances, theater shows and musical concerts as well as art exhibits.
Other performance arts attractions here include:
Festivals. Be sure to check out the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, which is actually a composite of four different art fairs:
These fairs draw half a million people every year.
Main Street is an art lover's paradise with its art galleries. You can also find collectibles, bookstores and boutiques here as well. Travel + Leisure has named Ann Arbor as having the best main streets in the country.
Check out the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, Capella Farm, White Lotus Farms, and Scio Valley Farm Market for some of the best and freshest produce, baked goods, flowers, and other handmade items. Sunday Artisan Market is where you could find great quality stuff including woodwork, fiber, tile, glass work, paintings and other handmade items.
You can also shop at Briarwood Mall, which has 120 tenants in close to a million square feet of space. It is anchored by JCPenney, Macy's, Von Maur, and Sears. Or you could go to Arbor Hills Shopping Center, where you have more than a dozen establishments that you could visit for a variety of merchandise including beauty products at V2V, custom bags and purses at 1154 LILL Studio, home goods and clothing at Anthropologie, home accessories and furniture at Arhaus Furniture, and clothes at Hot Mama, lululemon athletica, Madewell and The North Face. Other stores here include My Urban Toddler, Paper Source, and Running Fit.
Another shopping mall in the city is Arborland Center, where you have 30 stores, including Nordstrom Rack, DSW, and Starbucks.
Meanwhile, the Kerrytown Market & Shops is just a few blocks away from downtown. It gives you a chance to shop at many unique stores that you can only find here. You can even find an item that is expertly made by artisans and specialists. Buy great kids stuff at Elephant Ears, or get fine spices and herbs at Ann Arbor Spice Merchants. If you want to find the perfect gifts, check out 16 Hands. Or perhaps check out the merchandise at Everyday Wines, Hollander's, Mudpuddles Toys, Sparrow Produce, and Princess Designs.
Another place you should go to is State Street. State Street is the city's entertainment hub, with a collection of museums, movie theaters and performance venues. And there is a growing collection of bookstores, clothing shops and eateries here as well. This is where you could find Nickels Arcade, which is one of the very first indoor shopping centers in the state.
Further, check out South University where University of Michigan students get their garbs and other things they need. And if you like antiques, check out Antelope Antiques, Arcadian Antiques, the Get Up Vintage, Gibbons Antiques, and Treasure Mart.
Dining. Midwest Living has ranked Ann Arbor as the third best Midwest food town. Dining choices is so diverse that you can choose to eat at a fine dining establishment or enjoy the relaxing atmosphere at some of the local favorites. You can also sample the world's best flavors at some of the best restaurants in Ann Arbor.
For example, you can get Asian fusion at Melange or Pacific Rim (Ann Arbor, MI 48104); Korean food at Arirang, Broadway Café & Jumbo Steak Hoagie or Seoul Garden; Japanese cuisine at Miki Japanese Restaurant; or American fare at Logan Restaurant, Vellum, Zingerman's Roadhouse, Sava's or the West End Grill.
You could have the best Italian food at Mani Osteria & Bar, Paesano Restaurant & Wine Bar, Palio, or Gratzi. Or perhaps sample some Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food at Jerusalem Garden.
Further, there is great Indian food at Raja Rani, Cardamom Restaurant or Shalimar Restaurant, while TMAZ Taqueria, Prickly Pear Southwest Cafe, and Isalita have good Mexican cuisine. Frita Batidos has great burgers, while The Chop House serves the best steaks.
Get served with the best breakfast at Café Zola, Angelo's or the Cloverleaf. You can also have your fill at the Broken Egg. Or have some seafood at Gandy Dancer Restaurant, which has a great breakfast menu as well.
If you are looking for a great night cap, then head out to Vinology or The Earle, two of the better wine bars in the city.
Other places here that you should not miss include:
The city has several golf courses that you can play at. Choose from any golf courses within the city or in nearby areas:
On top of these golf courses, you can also play at the Huron Hills Golf Course, an 18-hole par 67 course that is overseen by the city's parks and recreation department. There is also a miniature golf course facility at Putterz, where you have three 18-hole mini golf courses, arcade games and batting cages.
Sports. Ann Arbor is big when it comes to college sports, especially with three different universities in the city. The most notable of which is the University of Michigan, a part the Big Ten Conference. As such, there are a lot of famous college sports venues here like the Michigan Stadium, the biggest American football stadium in the entire world; Crisler Center; and Yost Ice Arena.
What's more, you can join Detroit fans for some professional sports action, all less than an hour drive from the city!
Check out the history museums here.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library is a National Archives Library that brings access to documents, periodicals and other materials related to domestic issues. Now, the public can read presidential papers from the former president and his staff. There are also artifacts and exhibits here.
Bentley Historical Library acts as the University of Michigan's official archives, containing documents that tell people about the state's history and its notable personalities.
Museum on Main Street is housed in a historic home that was built in the 1830s. It has rotating exhibits that tell visitors about the past of Washtenaw County.
You should also go to Kempf House Museum (Ann Arbor, MI 48104), where you could learn about the city's history, as well as the life and times of a German-American family who lived in the 1890s.
The Cobblestone Farm, on the other hand, is a two-family home constructed in the 1840s. The historic home has a classic revival architecture. The farm now houses a museum.
On top of these places, you can get on a bus rental in Ann Arbor, Michigan and visit the city's sites that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are close to three dozen sites that you can go to, including two historic districts: the University of Michigan Central Campus Historic District and the Old West Side Historic District.
The list also includes several homes that are historically important or architecturally significant:
Then there are the sites related to the University of Michigan, such as Detroit Observatory, Newberry Hall, Delta Upsilon Fraternity House, and the President's House.
Three churches are also on the list: Methodist Episcopal Church Parsonage, St. Patrick's Parish Complex, and Unitarian Universalist Church.
Others on the list include First National Bank Building, Germania Building Complex, Michigan Central Railroad Depot, Northern Brewery, Tuomy Hills Service Station, and Weinmann Block.
There are more than 150 parks in Ann Arbor. Almost all of the parks in the city have walking and hiking trails. You can also camp, swim, play games and sports, or enjoy the playground in some parks. Older people will love the Ann Arbor Senior Center, where they can join in a range of programs and services that cater to them. Meanwhile, you can have a grand time paddling, tubing, and canoeing at Argo Canoe Livery.
The Buhr Outdoor Ice Arena and Pool covers 39 acres of space that features an outdoor pool and ice arena, as well as softball diamonds, play structures, basketball and tennis court, open fields, picnic facilities, and a sledding hill.
The Fuller Park Pool has a waterslide, a lap pool, and a shallow area for the kids. There is also a deep diving well and open spaces for you to enjoy. You could also go to the Gallup Park Canoe Livery, where you can go canoeing, kayaking, paddling and rowing. There are fishing spots, a boat launch, picnic areas, and playgrounds here as well. Then you have the Ann Arbor Skatepark, which is free to the public. The skate park covers 30,000 square feet of space where skateboarders can enjoy a top-notch facility.
You could also go to the Mack Indoor Pool and the Veterans Ice Arena and Pool for some swimming time and other fitness activities.
What' more, the city has close to three dozen nature areas, including:
As for parks, you should go to the Nichols Arboretum, which is perfect for hiking with its great trails that take your through forests, hills and flat areas. It also has some of the loveliest blooms in the city. Gallup Park provides a lovely setting for your runs, kayaking, canoeing, and playing with your dogs.
Meanwhile Bandemer Park also has a great biking path where you can run, too. Parker Mill County Park is a smaller park but it is no less beautiful. You can also skate, swim, play baseball or tennis at Veterans Memorial Park.
Further, check out Lillie Park, with its impressive nature trails, athletic fields, and playground. Some locals consider Allmendinger Park as the best all-around park in the city, where you can play several sports or go around their trails. Then you could go to County Farm Park, which is just perfect for kids.
Other parks here include:
You can also rest at the Diag, a green space on the University of Michigan campus. If you are not a freshman entering the university, then feel free to step on the M near the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library. Student lore has it that anyone who steps on this would get an F for his or her first ever university exams.
The Great Lakes Zoological Society is an indoor zoo that has amphibians, reptiles and other animals on display. You get more than 5,000 square feet of space housing at least 100 animals from 70 species. Here, you could see a Russian tortoise, bearded dragon, green iguana, cane toads, Sumatra water monitor, Taiwan Beauty Snake, anaconda, Peach Throat monitor, Cuviers Dwarf Caiman, and other exotic reptiles.
If that gives you the creeps and would rather interact with cuter and more domesticated animals, then check out Domino's Petting Farm, where you can go up close to ponies, cats, sheep, chicken, alpaca and cows. You could also go on a pony ride, or spend time feeding the animals.
Check out the Leslie Science and Nature Center, where you have at least 50 acres of space and where you could learn more about natural science and the environment.
Another offbeat attraction you could only see in Ann Arbor is the Urban Fairy Doors. Here, you go around downtown and look out for tiny doors that are placed on the front doors of some businesses in the area. Opening them would bring out the fairies.
Or you could go on a tour of the city's best microbreweries, such as:
Day tours out of Ann Arbor. You could also go on a day tour via a bus rental in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and check out these places:
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