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University of Michigan Museum of Art
University of Michigan Museum of Art | © Lian Chang / Flickr
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How to Spend 24 Hours in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Picture of Tim Marklew
Updated: 5 May 2018
Ann Arbor is famously home to the University of Michigan, but there’s far more to it than that. The small, walkable city is perfect for a relaxing day of browsing independent stores and galleries, eating delicious food and enjoying beautiful outdoor spaces. Here’s what we think you should choose to do and see during one day in Ann Arbor.

Morning

Spend the morning taking in Ann Arbor’s pretty downtown, checking out the many unique businesses dotted around the city while keeping an eye out for those famous fairy doors too, of course. See what’s going on in the Ann Arbor Art Center, and get a recommendation on something new to read at the Literati Bookstore. Or enjoy some retail therapy in the stores of the Nickels Arcade, which also has the Comet Cafe, a great place for a drink and a snack.

In the late morning, take a walk around either of the University’s beautiful outdoor spaces, the Nichols Arboretum or the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. The Arboretum contains displays and natural areas featuring prairie lands, woods, and the Huron River. Highlights from the Botanical Gardens’ 11 outdoor spaces include the bonsai and penjing collection, the English Tudor garden, and woodland wildflowers.

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Nichols Arboretum | © mrdonduck / Flickr

Afternoon

For lunch, it’s a name everyone in Ann Arbor is familiar with, Zingerman’s Delicatessen. The Zingerman’s empire includes a bakehouse, coffee company, roadhouse restaurant, creamery, and candy store all within the city, but it’s the deli on Detroit St that’s your go-to for lunch. Generously stuffed deli sandwiches are its specialty, though you can also get homemade soups and salads.

For the afternoon, take a gentle stroll around the University of Michigan Museum of Art, which has a broad collection and exhibitions that regularly rotate. Alternatively, if you’ve got children with you, there’s the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, complete with four stories of colorful and interactive science-based exhibits.

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University of Michigan Museum of Art | © Lian Chang / Flickr

Evening

It’s time for dinner, and again, there are options for every taste. The popular Frita Batidos offers Cuban street food and tropical cocktails, while Sava’s has an eclectic menu of contemporary, locally sourced meals.

For your evening entertainment, there’s nowhere more longstanding and storied than the Blind Pig. Nirvana once called it their favorite venue in an MTV interview, and long before that, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon amongst others graced the stage. These days you’re more likely to catch local talent and the occasional larger act.

If you prefer a quiet drink instead, there’s the Vinology wine bar or one of Michigan’s famous HopCat bars.