Recently I discovered a gem in the Great Lakes region of the Midwest, Ann Arbor, Michigan. You can stay, dine, drink, club, see theater, tour museums, attend a college football game and find culture around every corner of this warm and welcoming city. At a fraction of the cost, easy access, and much less crowded cultural attractions, it offers a nice change from New York or Chicago. Ann Arbor is just a quick 20-minute jaunt from Detroit’s Wayne Airport and is a place you must see during a weekend getaway. Every season offers a different view. Here are some of my favorite highlights in this great small college town with the big-city heart.
Affordable, classy and comfortable and right in the heart of all there is to see and do in Ann Arbor, I highly recommend The Graduate Ann Arbor for your stay when visiting.
There are so many great places to eat, I cannot fit them all in this article, but here are a few of my favorites during my trip!
Eyse’s Turkish Café – Join Ayse Uras, owner and chef, as she creates some authentic and beautiful Turkish dishes for you to enjoy. http://aysesturkishcafe.com/ – Don’t let the small setting in a shopping plaza fool you. The food and service are great, and you will be treated like family.
Pictured: smoky eggplant, wheat-berry with pomegranate, small spinach borek.
Mikette Bistro & Bar features Southern French cuisine. Definitely more rugged than typical prim and proper French. Oysters, mussels, escargots, shrimp, king crab, schnitzel and ratatouille are on the menu. The wine list is just right and pairs wonderfully with dishes. www.mikettea2.com
Zingerman’s is a local favorite and is certainly a necessary stop when visiting Ann Arbor.
The buttermilk fried chicken is a specialty and not to be missed!
A small place in the middle of town, Vin Bar features Michigan wines. When in a new area, you may just find your new favorite drink. Don’t be a wine snob, give it a try. Featuring Black Star Farms, Good Harbor Vineyards and L. Mawby Vineyards all from the Peninsula near Traverse City. www.vinbara2.com
Just a 20-minute Uber ride west of Ann Arbor, in the beautiful town of Chelsea, population 5,103 is the Purple Rose Theater, dedicated to producing four plays per year. Founded in 1991 by actor, director and playwright Jeff Daniels has absolutely transformed Chelsea into a thriving community and a destination for visitors from all places of the world to see top-shelf talent. What I saw was Broadway at its best and I was surprised to see it in a town of its size. This is coming from someone who has seen over 25 plays/musical on Broadway and around the world.
Trip Advisor gives this place a 5 out of 5-star rating and I would agree with them!
Ann Arbor is the home of the Gerald R. Ford Library. A perfect fit for the hometown University of Michigan football hero. You will find amazing detail in this 50,000 square feet of the presidential collection during the Ford administration. It’s amazing how much paper there was in the ’70s and how much was captured of everyday activities and recordings. Make plans by visiting https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/visit-library.aspx
Photo of book signed by Muhammad Ali to Gerald R. Ford — one of many treasures found
The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is definitely worth a visit. They take great pride in care, interpretation, and presentation of its amazing collection. With over 100,000 artifacts, ranging from prehistoric through medieval times, there is more to explore as time may allow. Most items derive from the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, dynastic and Roman Egypt, or the Near East. If you like to study history, this is certainly the place during your visit.
One of the best hands-on museums, the Yankee Air Museum, will give you a chance to fly in a historic DC 47, explore archives and take a journey to the days when Rosie the Riveter was building aircraft during WWII. A great Family or business team building event; you will want to get up close and see the plans and historical war items.
Voted the best nightclub in Michigan, the Necto Nightclub allows every group known to man to be themselves and have a good time! Drink, chat, dance, people watch and make new friends. This place attracts locals and worldwide visitors. If you want to let your hair down and have some fun, please stop in https://www.necto.com/.
A fun music-club venue is the Blind Pig, who seemingly got their slang-name, used to refer to police officers who had been bribed to ignore illegal speakeasy establishments in the days of Prohibition … so, in 1971 this establishment opened legally, as a place for all types of music to be shared with this hot college town. It certainly captures world-renowned talent, such as introducing the group Nirvana to the world. Also, accolades bestowed by Rolling Stone magazine doesn’t hurt them either. I certainly enjoyed seeing Sweater Beets.
Take a historic tour of the largest college stadium in the United States. Seating 107,601, you see and hear about the history of this great establishment. Sit in the press box, tour the locker room and walk on the field. Imagine you are taking the next snap, what a great photo op. For more information, visit http://facilityrentals.ath.umich.edu/index.php/facility-tours/.