I recently spent some time in Michigan and had the pleasure of visiting Ann Arbor. Despite the cold, I had a fantastic visit. I was able to dine on international cuisine, snap some street art photos and go to a concert! So whether you’re a Michigander looking for a staycation or an Out-of-towner, here are five reasons you should add Ann Arbor (A2) to your wander-list.
Who knew A2 was an international food destination? I didn’t! With Cuban-inspired burgers & fries at Frita Batidos (Top Chef contestant Eve Aranoff’s spot), and the most delicious paella I’ve ever tasted at Aventura, or Korean cuisine at Miss Kim, and traditional dish Doro Wat at Ethiopian eatery Blue Nile. Ann Arbor makes it clear that you don’t have to leave the country to get a taste of some delicious foreign fare.
Zingerman’s Deli is somewhat of an institution in these parts. What started as a deli in 1982. Has grown into a gourmet food business group that includes Zingerman’s Creamery, Zingerman’s Roadhouse and more. It’s one of those places that everyone suggests when you mention A2. And in 2008 was listed as one of Oprah’s favorite sandwich spots.
So, of course, I had to conduct a taste test. Purely for scientific purposes. While the wait was extensive, I did get to munch on some pickles and try a delicious parmesan gelato (which was interestingly delicious) while I waited. After ordering a meaty sandwich, gourmet chips and a cup of birch beer I headed upstairs in search for a seat. Which can be a difficult task but worth the effort. And let’s face it, if it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for us all!
Here are a few more places to add to your food and booze list while you’re in A2.
- The Last Word – This speakeasy-style bar is chic and dimly lit with bacon wrapped dates to die for.
- HOMES – A local favorite, this brewery does super-fruity beers that basically taste like juice. Along with the classic IPAs and lagers.
- Pacific Rim – Was just what I needed to get my Asian-food fix. I started with the Saigon Spring Rolls then devoured the Seared Big Eye Tuna.
I was lucky that one of my favorite bands just happened to be in town at the same time I was. I saw Delta Rae at The Ark, an intimate setting without a bad seat in the place. As one of the top music clubs in the world, The Ark is a nonprofit with over 300 nights of live music each year.
If you’re a film buff you can head to the Michigan Theater for an independent film or local Film Festival. The Michigan Theater was home to the Sundance Film Festival from 2010-2014. Walk down the street to catch a new release at the nearby State Theater.
Fun fact: The Michigan Theatre houses one of only a handful of historic pipe organs that remains in its original home. The nearly 100-year-old Barton Opus 245 has been played almost daily since 1972.
We all know that street art equals instant gram-worthy photos. Not only is there ample street art opportunities in A2. There’s Graffiti Alley! What started as a commissioned mural by artist Katherine Cost in 1999 has been developed into an ever-changing brick canvas for local street artists.
Finding where you fit in is not only an essential part of life, it’s an essential part of traveling. While shopping at the Farmer’s Market in Kerrytown my eyes were drawn to the rainbow flags in Braun Court. Since the 80’s Braun Court has been a safe haven for Ann Arbor’s LGBTQ+ community. Including a gay bar and restaurant, the Jim Toy Community Center and an LGBT+ bookstore.
Fun fact: In 1970, a time when homosexuality was still considered a mental illness and same-sex relationships were illegal in Michigan. Jim Toy came out publicly as gay which was the start of the Detroit Gay Liberation Movement.
The Big House
Are you ready for some football? Michigan Stadium aka “The Big House” is the largest stadium in the country and probably an ideal location. Join the small crowd of over 100,000 to cheer on the team that has won more games than any other college team. Go ahead, jump on the bandwagon. No one in A2 will judge you!
I had a fantastic time in Ann Arbor thanks to Destination Ann Arbor and Kensington Hotel! Have you ever visited A2? Did you check out any of the locations on my list? Did I leave anything out that’s a must-see? Let me know in the comments below.