Planning a trip to Ann Arbor, MI? One visit and you’ll quickly realize this midwest “Tree Town” offers much more to do beyond just a University of Michigan visit. With tree-lined streets, outdoor parks, a history of political activism, and a food scene to drool over, parents and students alike will find fun things to enjoy together.
Planning a University of Michigan Visit
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Getting There to The University of Michigan
If you are flying in for your visit, you will want to fly into DTW (Detroit Metropolitan Airport.) There are shuttle options to Ann Arbor, where the University of Michigan is located, or it is possible to take Uber or Lyft. But if you want to explore beyond the downtown and campus, you can also either rent a car at the airport or use ZipCar or Maven vehicles found in parking garages around Ann Arbor.
Whether you are flying in and renting a car or driving in for your college visit, you are probably wondering where to park around The University of Michigan. With ePark, Ann Arbor’s paid street and lot parking is stress free and easily paid on go. After all, you don’t want your walking tour to turn into a parking ticket!
What to do in Downtown A2
No matter what brings you to this amazing little mecca, there are always plenty of great things to do. The BIG House is the biggest draw, literally. The Michigan Wolverines claim the biggest stadium in the United States and catching a game will definitely give you a taste of the college school spirit. Make sure to stop at The Drip House on game day too.
Walking tours of the University of Michigan are a must! Wear good shoes, and pace yourself as you check out Michigan Union, Hill Auditorium, and the Law Quad (and library). If you are visiting with a prospective student, be sure to register online for a tour and informational session.
Take a break at Nickels Arcade and Comet Cafe. Then if you have time, also plan to visit the University of Michigan Natural History Museum and the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
Beyond Campus: Things to do on Main Street, Ann Arbor
A great way to explore this fun city if you have a group is High Five. This pedal-trolley tour lets you customize your route to include breweries, restaurants, book stores, and more.
If strolling to shops downtown is more cup of tea (or coffee), then get ready for bookstores like Literati, Crazy Wisdom Tea Room, Dawn Treader, and West Side. Stop to enjoy your newfound read in one of Main Street’s many coffee shops including Avalon, Zingermans, Espresso Royale and Shinola’s Cafe.
When you get hungry, places such as Frita Batidos, Loomi Cafe, The Lunchroom, Miss Kims, Jolly Pumpkin Cafe will make everyone happy. If your student is busy, The Earl, Sava’s, The Black Pearl, and Taste Kitchen will give you an excuse to get dressed up for parent’s night out!
Discover Pure Michigan! Ann Arbor offers outdoor spaces, parks, and trails to enjoy as well. Most notably, Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. There are gardens, a conservatory, and trails to explore.
Gallup Park is also a great place to enjoy the river and trails. While Fuller Park has an outdoor pool and waterpark to enjoy in warmer weather. But that isn’t all. If you’re looking for more ways to stretch your legs, make sure to see all that Ann Arbor parks and recreation have available.
Lodging to Love in Ann Arbor
What Ann Arbor also offers are historic and themed hotels such as The Graduate, which you will find in many university towns, and The Kensington hotels. Webers Restaurant and Hotel will meet all your needs for both lodging and fine dining.
EVEN Hotel Ann Arbor is right next to Briarwood Mall where you’ll have great eats like Anna’s House, California Pizza Kitchen, and PF Changs nearby.
University of Michigan Student Life and Area Tips
Many traveling to The University of Michigan have a special student in mind. Whether you are visiting with a prospective student or coming to see your enrollee, below you’ll find some local information regarding services, stores, and great places to put together gift care packages.
If you need to pick up groceries or other items for a care package, there are plenty of local stores including: Meijer, Target, Kroger, Trader Joe, Aldi’s, Buschs, Walmart, and Plum Market.
If your student needs anything before you get there, UberEats, GrubHub, and Postmates all offer delivery services. Instacart offers local options, as well as Shipt when shopping at Meijer and Target. Costco and Sam’s Club are both located in Ann Arbor, MI as well.
When traveling in this area, many utilize the local Park and Ride car lots. However, Ann Arbor traffic, crosswalk policies, and one-way streets can often be confusing until you get used to them. It may be easier to get around by checking out the UM and AATA routes and schedules to see if this is an option during your time here.
If your child has food allergies or follows a gluten-free diet, you will be happy to know that there are plenty of options in Ann Arbor. Silvio’s Pizza, Stadium Market, Blaze Pizza, CoreLife, and Tropical Smoothie are a few local restaurants that are allergen and gluten-friendly. National chains such as Culver’s and Red Robin offer gluten-free buns. And you’ll find that Ann Arbor as a whole is very allergen friendly.
If you don’t see a menu marked allergen or gluten free, ask the hostess or waiter. Many locations typically have a separate allergen-friendly menu for you to view. You’ll also see that Tasty Bakery, Big City Small World, and Simple Pleasures are perfect for your sweet tooth. There are often sold at local eateries so everyone can have dessert!
When shopping, Aldi’s offers a Gfree line of gluten-free breads and frozen items. Walmart’s Great Value brand also carries allergen-friendly foods and Sam’s Choice fresh bread.
If your student is bringing a car to school and needs to park, there are parking lots and parking garages that rent spaces monthly. But with 30,000 UM employees, those spaces are still often hard to find. So here’s a tip, place an ad on FB Marketplace, Craigslist, or Nextdoor to see if a local resident will allow parking at their home for a fee.
More to Michigan
But the metro Detroit area has plenty of fun for you as well. Explore The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, MI. If you want to shop, check out Great Lakes Crossing outlets in Auburn Hills, MI or Somerset Mall in Troy, MI.
If you are still not finding the lodging, shopping, or eats you need in A2, then extend your search to Dexter, Brighton, Saline, Milan, Ypsilanti or Canton, MI. You’ll still be within a half hour drive to The University of Michigan when you visit.
There you have it! All the great things to get your started on your next trip to Ann Arbor, MI. Now what are you looking forward to most? Add your favorites in the comments below.
Visiting Other Schools?
If you are visiting other schools, you may want to check out our guides for: