12 Attractions in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor is a vibrant college town in southeastern Michigan, home to the prestigious University of Michigan. With a population of around 120,000 residents, Ann Arbor punches well above its weight in terms of cultural attractions, events, dining, and nightlife, aided no doubt by the huge student population.

1University of Michigan CampusA vibrant university campus known for its beautiful architecture and lively atmosphere.
2The Michigan TheaterHistoric theater offering a variety of films, live performances, and other events.
3Ann Arbor Hands-On MuseumInteractive museum with exhibits for children and families to learn through play.
4Matthaei Botanical GardensA vast area featuring gardens, natural trails, and conservatory, perfect for nature lovers.
5The ArkIntimate music venue hosting a wide range of performances from folk and acoustic to roots and indie music.
6University of Michigan Museum of ArtMuseum showcasing a broad collection of art from various cultures and periods.
7Main Street AreaLively area with shops, restaurants, and galleries, known for its vibrant nightlife and festivals.
8Ann Arbor Farmers MarketOutdoor market offering fresh produce, artisanal foods, and handcrafted goods.
9Zingerman’s DelicatessenIconic deli known for its gourmet sandwiches, specialty foods, and artisanal products.
10Top of the ParkSeasonal outdoor festival featuring live music, movies, and food, part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.
11Gallup ParkPopular park along the Huron River, ideal for kayaking, picnicking, and walking on scenic trails.
12Ann Arbor Distillery Tasting RoomA spot to sample and enjoy locally produced spirits, offering a unique taste of Ann Arbor’s craft distillation scene.

Visitors will find plenty to see and do in Ann Arbor. The compact downtown area centered around Main Street is eminently walkable, filled with indie boutiques, art galleries, cafés, restaurants, and bars. The university campus sprawls across central and north Ann Arbor, its handsome historic buildings and leafy grounds offering park-like spaces for strolling or picnicking. Beyond downtown and campus, tree-lined residential neighborhoods with pretty historic homes radiate outwards.

From museums and music venues to microbreweries and the famous Zingerman’s delicatessen, Ann Arbor charms and entertains. Nature lovers won’t be disappointed either, with parks and trails threading through and around the city.

1.University of Michigan Campus

Name and Location: University of Michigan Campus – Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the University of Michigan flagship campus covers 3,177 acres.

History and Significance: Founded in 1817 in Detroit, the university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837. It is one of the oldest universities in the Midwest and is considered one of the top public universities in the world.

What to Expect: The campus features historic buildings, museums, performance spaces, athletics facilities, libraries, restaurants, and green spaces. Visitors can explore the Diag central square, art installations around campus, shops, and cafes.

Visitor Information: Parts of campus are open to visitors, including many buildings during business hours. Guided tours are available through the visitor center.

The University of Michigan is inextricably linked to Ann Arbor’s identity. Japan’s first university founded in 1877, its flagship Ann Arbor campus covers 1234 acres just south of downtown. Taking a stroll across campus acquaints you with UM’s storied history and collegiate Gothic architecture dating back to the early 19th century.

Iconic sites include the Law Quad and Library, completed in the 1920s with their elaborate Gothic-style stonework, the Burton Memorial Tower whose carillon chimes songs daily, and the grounds of the President’s House laid out in the early 1900s. Also worth seeing are the Dennison Building with its Renaissance-style facade, the School of Education façade adorned with figures of famous educators, and the naturally-lit glass pyramid addition to the Museum of Art. Arrange a free guided tour or simply wander at your leisure. Don’t miss the Nichols Arboretum and Botanical Gardens either, a marshy oasis with woodland walking trails threading through gardens showcasing Michigan native plants.

2.The Michigan Theater

Name and Location: The Michigan Theater – Historic theater located in downtown Ann Arbor at 603 East Liberty Street.

History and Significance: Built in 1928, it was originally a movie palace and vaudeville venue. Today it hosts films, concerts, comedy, and other performances and is an iconic Ann Arbor institution.

What to Expect: This elegant theater features extravagant decor with Mediterranean and Indian design influences. Visitors can take in a show or film screening in the grand auditorium.

Visitor Information: The theater box office is open daily, guests can check event listings and buy tickets on their website. Tours are offered periodically.

Downtown’s Michigan Theater is an Ann Arbor institution and one of the city’s most famous buildings. Opened in 1928 as a movie palace and vaudeville venue, the theater awed audiences with its grand Baroque architecture and decor, including lavish chandeliers and ceiling murals emulating a night sky. Saved from demolition in the 1970s, today it hosts movies, comedy and music events in its main auditorium, while its upstairs screening room shows independent and foreign films.

Even if you don’t catch a show, try timing your visit during the day to take one of the fascinating backstage tours, where you can see the theater’s hidden water-suspended orchestra pit and chambered basement rooms that create special sound effects. The grand lobby with its gilded columns, red velour curtains and twinkling ceiling lights transports you back to the era of silent movies and live entertainment.

3.Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

Name and Location: Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum – Children’s museum located at 220 East Ann Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

History and Significance: Founded in 1982, it was the fourth children’s museum established in the United States. It has provided innovative and educational exhibits and programs for over 30 years.

What to Expect: Interactive science, technology, engineering, art, and math exhibits and programs geared towards fostering creativity and problem-solving skills in children. Popular permanent exhibits cover concepts like electricity, magnetism, simple machines, and optical illusions.

Visitor Information: Open daily, aside from major holidays. Admission is $9 for visitors over age 1. Group rates, annual memberships, and summer camps available.

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum located on East Ann Street makes for a fun family outing. Dedicated to sparking kids’ curiosity through interactive exhibits, the science and technology focused museum contains three floors of displays covering concepts in physics, engineering, geography, anatomy and more. Children can operate toy cranes, build structures on an earthquake shake table, walk through a human heart, explore optical illusions and fire foam rockets. New traveling exhibits also pass through from time to time, recent themes ranging from frogs to the science behind Pixar movies. Expect to spend around two hours playing through the engaging exhibits.

4.Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Name and Location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens – Botanical garden located at 1800 North Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Part of the University of Michigan.

History and Significance: Established in 1921 by UM professor G.P. Burns, it has expanded over the decades through community support into a beloved 125-acre nature destination.

What to Expect: Indoor conservatories feature desert, tropical, and temperate plant displays. Outdoor gardens include flowering trees and shrubs, a peony garden, herb garden, vegetable garden, wildflower hike, and more throughout the seasons.

Visitor Information: Open daily from sunrise to sunset, year-round. Free admission, donations appreciated. Tram tours and educational programs available seasonally for fees.

Stretching across 300 acres along the banks of the Huron River, the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens make for beautiful outdoor wandering any time of year. Specialty gardens include bulb, herb, wildflower andlegacy gardens, along with four miles of scenic nature trails winding through woodlands, wetlands and riverine habitat.

The indoor conservatory complex contains tropical, arid, carnivorous and bonsai plant displays in a series of greenhouses, as well as gallery space for botanical exhibitions. Outdoors, seasonal highlights include spring wildflowers, summer roses, fall foliage and festive winter light displays. The grounds also connect over pedestrian bridges to the university’s Nichols Arboretum for extended hiking options. Enjoy views across the Huron River or spot birds and wildlife along the trails through diverse ecosystems.

5.The Ark

Name and Location: The Ark – Located at 316 South Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI.

History and Significance: Intimate 400-seat concert venue established in 1965. For over 50 years has hosted musical legends, supported up-and-coming local artists, and aimed to build community through music.

What to Expect: Diverse musical acts spanning genres like folk, blues, bluegrass, and more in a casual, friendly setting. Food, drinks, and merchandise available on-site.

Visitor Information: Ticket prices vary by show. Box office hours Mon-Fri 12PM–5PM. Call or check website for show schedules, tickets.

Known as “Michigan’s most intimate venue”, The Ark concert hall has been showcasing primarily folk and acoustic artists in a small laidback setting since 1965. Located just off Main Street, the nonprofit venue has hosted talents like Bruce Springsteen, Vince Gill and George Carlin early in their careers. Today you may catch the likes of Tracy Chapman, Brandi Carlile or even a comedian or storyteller taking The Ark stage.

Intimate is right – with just six rows of chairs tightly encircling the stage and nobody more than 12 yards from the performers, you can see every chord strummed on their guitars or read their facial expressions as they sing. Grab dinner nearby and enjoy the show at The Ark for a quintessential Ann Arbor night out.

6.University of Michigan Museum of Art

Name and Location: University of Michigan Museum of Art – Museum located at 525 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI on UM campus.

History and Significance: Founded in 1817 alongside the university. Housed in a landmark 1910 building, expanded in 2009. Over 20,000 works in the collection spanning diverse cultures and eras of art history.

What to Expect: Rotating and permanent exhibits ranging from contemporary to historical works of varied media – paintings, sculpture, photography, weavings, artifacts, and more. Shop and cafe onsite.

Visitor Information: Free admission, open Tues-Sat 11AM–5PM, Sun 12PM-5PM, closed Mondays and major holidays. Tours offered.

Anchoring one end of the central campus Diag walkways, the University of Michigan Museum of Art was founded in 1817 as one of the earliest university art museums nationwide. The light-filled modern galleries today house over 20,000 artworks. European and American paintings and sculpture from the 15th to 20th centuries form the core collection, including works by Picasso, Monet, Whistler, Cassatt and Pollock.

Lively special exhibitions might profile anything from Japanese textiles and rituals to contemporary graphic design. Other galleries display ancient Mediterranean and Islamic art, Korean ceramics, Indian temple sculptures and more. The museum also oversees campus sculpture installations and the Liberty Plaza interactive sound sculpture. Don’t miss the museum shop, consistently voted one of America’s best museum stores for its well-curated collection of jewelry, home goods and creative gifts.

7.Main Street Area

Name and Location: Main Street Area – Heart of downtown Ann Arbor centered around the Main Street thoroughfare.

History and Significance: Heritage buildings house boutiques, bookstores, restaurants alongside newer businesses. Lively mix of culture with University of Michigan influence. Focal point for events and daily life.

What to Expect: Strolling pedestrians can shop indie stores, art galleries, try local eateries and cafes. Street performers, farmers market, festivals held throughout the year. Captures college town charm.

Visitor Information: Free to walk around. Shops open daily, restaurant/bar hours vary. Driving/parking downtown can be difficult with pedestrian traffic.

The vibrant Main Street area sits at the heart of downtown Ann Arbor, running from the campus Diag several blocks southwards. Always abuzz with students, locals, visiting parents and out-of-towners alike, the pedestrian-friendly strip brims with shops, eateries, coffeehouses and street performers. Independent stores and galleries offer up everything from comics to clothing, vinyl records to artisanal cheese.

Trendy cafés and casual pubs rub shoulders with farm-to-table bistros and cocktail lounges. For shopping, strolling, people watching and drinking in Ann Arbor’s youthful energy, Main Street makes an ideal jumping off point before diving into the bustling side streets like State and Liberty. Time your visit to coincide with Art Fair on Main taking over the strip each spring and summer.

8.Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Name and Location: Ann Arbor Farmers Market – Located at 315 Detroit Street in central Ann Arbor, MI

History and Significance: Farmers’ market held in various downtown Ann Arbor locations since 1919. A local institution promoting high quality, locally-produced goods.

What to Expect: Wide selection from over 100 vendors offering seasonal produce, artisanal baked goods, cheeses, meats, flowers, crafts and more. Festive community environment with live music.

Visitor Information: Held year-round Wednesdays/Saturdays 7AM–3PM. Some Sundays seasonally. Free entry, ATMs on site. Pets allowed on leashes.

For the freshest local produce, artisanal eats and handcrafted goods, make a beeline for the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Taking place year-round on Saturday mornings in the public market pavilions off Detroit Street adjacent to campus, the market offers all manner of seasonal fruits and veggies straight from Michigan farms.

Artisan bakeries and cheese sellers also square off alongside stands proffering natural meat, honey, maple syrup, flowers, soaps and crafted items. Arrive early to beat the crowds and stay for brunch or lunch, with food trucks and street food vendors setting up shop just outside. Launched in 1919, the farmers market is one of the oldest continuously operating markets nationwide and not to be missed when visiting Ann Arbor.

9.Zingerman’s Delicatessen

Name and Location: Zingerman’s Delicatessen – Iconic delicatessen at 422 Detroit Street, Ann Arbor.

History and Significance: Founded in 1982 by Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw, it put Ann Arbor on the international food scene with its high quality ingredients and culinary creativity.

What to Expect: Patrons can sample artisanal cheeses, cured meats, famed house-baked breads, classic delicatessen sandwiches, specialty foods, coffee, and desserts in a charming setting.

Visitor Information: Open daily 7:30AM–7PM, Sundays 8AM-5PM. No reservations. Long lines common given popularity. Eat-in or take-out options.

No writeup of Ann Arbor’s culinary scene is complete without mentioning Zingerman’s. This deli and specialty foods business has grown into an Ann Arbor institution and veritable brand since its humble beginnings as a sandwich shop in 1982. The Zingerman’s Delicatessen sits on Detroit Street west of downtown, housed in a cozy cottage-like dwelling.

Peruse the cornucopia of artisanal cheeses, cured meats, olives, oils, sweets and wine at the deli counter cases before ordering a sandwich stuffed with premium seasonal ingredients. Alternatively, browse the deli’s marketplace shelves for gourmet cheeses, coffee, vinegar, spices and treats to take home. Expect a wait at peak times, so put your name on the list for a table or order online for takeout. Whatever you do, don’t leave Ann Arbor without sampling a Zingerman’s sandwich or specialty food item!

10.Top of the Park

Name and Location: Top of the Park – Located on the 11th floor rooftop terrace of 411 E. Washington St parking structure downtown.

History and Significance: Popular outdoor bar/music venue providing panoramic views of Ann Arbor since 1981 from May-September annually.

What to Expect: Nightly live music spanning musical genres while attendees take in the skyline over craft cocktails or food offerings from visiting vendors. Lively outdoor event space.

Visitor Information: Cover charges vary by musician/event. Cash bar. Open seven nights a week during summer months, weather permitting.

For panoramic views across Ann Arbor and glimpses of the Detroit skyline, head up to Top of the Park. Located on the 12th floor rooftop of Ann Arbor’s tallest highrise, 411 Lofts, the casual restaurant and lounge offers alfresco and indoor seating along with trivia nights, live music events and Sunday brunch. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame picturesque views over downtown Ann Arbor with the University of Michigan campus and stadium in the foreground.

In warmer months, the outdoor terrace allows sweeping vistas across the metro to the distant skyscrapers. Go at sunset to watch the sky turn pink and orange through the vista. Head downstairs to eat in the dining room or lounge for a more relaxed ambience, as wait times upstairs fill up quickly. From bar snacks to sharable plates and handcrafted cocktails, Top of the Park pleases the eye along with the palate.

11.Gallup Park

Name and Location: Gallup Park – Public riverfront park located along the Huron River at 3000 Fuller Road in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

History and Significance: Situated on over 300 acres of conserved wooded parkland with trails, recreation facilities, and access to canoe livery services on the Huron River. Popular with community outdoors enthusiasts.

What to Expect: Visitors can hike/bike scenic trails, launch canoes or tubes to traverse the Huron River, play at playgrounds, utilize athletic fields/courts, enjoy picnics, see wildflowers in season, and more in a natural setting minutes from downtown.

Visitor Information: Park open daily from 6 am to 10 pm. Some areas of river or trails may close seasonally. Most activity free, nominal fees for boat/tube rentals.

For pleasant riverside strolling just minutes from downtown, head over to Gallup Park. Fronting the Huron River off Fuller Street, the 69-acre park provides a popular getaway with students and locals. Follow waterside pathways through peaceful wetland, prairie and woodland habitats that support waterfowl and songbirds. Interpretive signs detail the Huron’s history, geology and ecology.

Keep walking across the river over one of two pedestrian bridges leading into Nichols Arboretum for extended natural exploration. Back in Gallup Park, picnic tables encourage frolicking on the river beaches in summer or frost-framing views across the water in winter. Canoe and kayak rentals allow paddling upriver for more adventure. If you’re visiting Ann Arbor with kids, the playground and splash pad get them burning off energy.

12.Ann Arbor Distillery Tasting Room

Name and Location: Ann Arbor Distillery Tasting Room – Located at 220 Felch Street in Ann Arbor, attached to AAD’s production facilities.

History and Significance: Ann Arbor Distillery opened in 2007, marking the first legal distillery in Ann Arbor since Prohibition. It uses local grains to produce wheat vodka, gins, bourbons, and ryes.

What to Expect: The rustic tasting room offers guests samples showcasing AAD’s portfolio of spirits. Bottles and merchandise available for purchase. Food trucks often parked outside.

Visitor Information: Open Wednesday-Saturday 12PM-10PM, Sunday 12PM-6PM. Age 21+ only for tastings/facility tours. No reservations needed.

The tasting room for Ann Arbor’s first distillery since Prohibition makes for an intriguing visit. Opened in 2018 just west of downtown, the self-billed “Nano Distillery” concocts unusually flavored vodkas, gins, bourbons and liquors in small batches behind the scenes. Their tasting lounge on West Liberty Street allows sampling the goods, like blood orange hibiscus vodka, sweet potato bourbon and smoked honey whiskey.

Free tours are given on Saturdays detailing their unusual distillation processes and local ingredients. Beyond spirits, creative housemade mixers like ginger beer and black walnut tonic extend the cocktail possibilities. Chat with the distiller and resident mixologist while sipping samples in the sleek, modern lounge. Check out the range of their colourful bottled Spirits of Detroit to take home or gift.


This college town punches above its weight when it comes to cultural attractions and events. Beyond the beautiful university campus, downtown Ann Arbor delights visitors with indie shops, galleries, microbreweries and eateries, many centered along Main Street.

Performing arts venues like The Ark offer an intimate concert experience in a relaxed setting. Hands-on museums and pretty gardens encourage family-friendly exploration, while riverside parks allow communing with nature just steps from the city center. And the famous Zingerman’s Deli serves up quintessential Ann Arbor with its artisanal sandwiches and specialty foods.

Visiting students, touring parents and weekend wanderers alike will all find themselves charmed by Ann Arbor’s blend of small-city sophistication and college-town vibrancy.

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