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ann arbor city guide

by Stephanie

Illustration by Nicole Ray

Our Ann Arbor City Guide is brought to us by Michigan native Jaimi Gadaix. Jaimi has always had a passion for design, creative projects and traveling. She traveled the world for a year with her husband Arnaud and lived in The Sweetest Place on Earth: Hershey, PA. Now back in her native “Mitten State,” Jaimi shares with us this incredible guide to the tastes, sounds and even smells of Ann Arbor! Thanks Jaimi for this great guide! — Stephanie

CLICK HERE for the full guide after the jump!

If you ask anyone from Michigan where they live, you will see them promptly raise their right hand and point it out on the inside of their palm because, simply and conveniently, Michigan looks just like your hand nestled inside a cozy winter mitten. The Mitten State, as it is affectionately known, is home to Ann Arbor, or “A2”, which is situated near the base of the “thumb,” about 30 minutes west of Detroit. It is a great college town, with the University of Michigan bringing an impressive 40,000 students here each and every year to fill the streets with youth, energy and wit. Aside from university life, Tree Town is also home to many permanent residents, a.k.a. “townies,” who have the reputation of being earthy, intelligent and progressive. Ann Arbor boasts fantastic restaurants; a robust art scene with galleries, festivals and art centers; and enough sporting events to satisfy you any time of the year. This cozy town is also cool, like many college towns. Only in this case, Ann Arbor was actually voted the #1 Coolest Small City in America, and Parenting magazine considers it the 4th best place in the U.S. for families. It is also home to many new green and hybrid homes and a respectable number of Frank Lloyd Wright inspired midcentury modern homes, designed by local architecture heroes Robert Metcalf and George Brigham. These facts, along with dozens other noteworthy rankings are simply a great advertisement for what Ann Arborites already know. Ann Arbor is a great place to explore and satisfy every one of your five senses (and a few more). This town and its people inspire me. Below, my good friends and I have compiled what we consider the “best of A2” to tantalize your senses.


University of Michigan football game — Nicknamed “The Big House,” this stadium seats nearly 110,000 and is the largest stadium in America. A definite main attraction for sports enthusiasts, but be sure to practice the famous fight song, “The Victors,” before you arrive so you can be a real part of the action.

There are three museums that I love to visit. The first is UMMA, the University of Michigan Museum of Art. The second is the Children’s Hands-On Museum, a fun place to take the kids year-round. Finally, I love the dinosaur exhibit at the UofM Exhibit Museum of Natural History. Educational and cool.

Summer Art Fair — Attracting more than 500,000 attendees from across the nation, this festival is the largest of the summer and has enough events to keep you busy for a full week. (http://www.artfair.org/)

Westside Books — Even in the home of powerhouse book retailer Border’s headquarters, independent bookstores thrive and have an old world charm. Westside is a beautiful little shop known for its rare and collectible books and its quintessential professorial bookkeeper who surely knows a thing or two about each and every book in the place. (113 W. Liberty St., ph. (734) 995.1891)

Michigan and State Theaters — Watch a flick here on a rainy day or come into town for the Ann Arbor Film Festival. These theaters are beautiful, historical landmarks right in the heart of downtown.


To be clear, Ann Arbor is full of amazing restaurants, brew pubs and cafes. I couldn’t possibly list them all here, so be sure to check out Ann Arbor’s website before you visit to see everything this town has to offer. I’m including my favorites below (that I’ve visited so far). You will not be disappointed.

Zingerman’s Deli — Zingerman’s owns and operates several food-related venues in Ann Arbor. Voted the “Coolest Small Company in the World” by Inc. magazine and deemed “the center of my gastro-universe” by famous chef Mario Batali, Zingerman’s has a fantastically successful deli, a creamery where you can purchase amazing homemade cheeses, a bakehouse and even a Roadhouse Restaurant with a silver 1960s airstream camper car as the drive-through window, all located in different places around town. Oh yes, they love food. They even published a book all about bacon. Hook, line and sinker?

Grange Kitchen and Bar — Farm-to-table at its finest. This simple and friendly but elegant restaurant on Liberty Street is one of my favorites. Their philosophy of sourcing ingredients locally while providing an excellent meal with high quality taste is what I think Ann Arbor is all about.

Comet Coffee — True coffee lovers will not be disappointed. While short on seating, this small, hip shop is big on quality, style and satisfaction. Situated within the beautiful Nicols Arcade near the campus Diag, strolling here makes one feel as if they were temporarily whisked away to some charming backstreet in Italy. They don’t seem to have a website, but they are active with many fans on Facebook.

FridayMornings@Selma — Quintessential Ann Arbor, FridayMornings@Selma is a local-foods breakfast salon, offering a gathering spot for friends and the community to imagine and create new vital and sustainable additions to the regional food economy on the Westside of Ann Arbor. A rotating roster of local chefs and foodies prepare breakfast using seasonal local ingredients every Friday morning at Lisa Gottlieb and Jeff McCabe’s home on the Westside. (http://www.repastspresentandfuture.org/fmselma/)

Jefferson Market and Cakery — In the middle of a cool, old neighborhood, across the street from Bach Elementary School (with a great playground) and just blocks from downtown, Jefferson Market and Cakery is the place to go if you want a quiet but great cup of joe or a handmade lunch. Then, there are the cakes and pastries. A definite must-try.

Eve — Situated on the corner of a beautiful brick building in charming Kerrytown, you can easily miss Eve when walking by, but if you experience Eve, it is not easily forgotten. Think French/American/Asian fusion, delicious flavors, hip style and fresh ingredients. Every detail is thoughtful and the food is complex and delicious. Try the Spa Martini.

Durham’s Tacklments — This “smokehouse” provides what some consider to be the best tasting smoked fish they’ve ever tried. Located in Kerrytown, this small store-front specializing in salmon is big on flavor. Great for yourself or as a unique gift.

Sparrow Market — Sparrow Meat Market is a retail meat store featuring a variety of USDA Grade A choice cuts of beef, veal and lamb. Their inventory also includes specialty sausages and Amish poultry products as well as chicken, duck and pheasant. You can even find more exotic birds here, such as poussin, capons and more. Foiegras and Cajun foods are also available.

Aut Bar — I love the tagline and message of this place: “Changing the world one Cosmo at a time.” This gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender restaurant and bar located in the heart of Kerrytown is not only open, fun and proud, but it hosts incredible events year-round that support dozens of causes, encouraging everyone to play a part in bettering our community.

Seva — Since 1973, Seva has been the favorite vegetarian restaurant in town. Delicious and robust, even meat-eaters leave feeling satisfied.

Fleetwood Diner — This dive is awesome. Weird, hip and friendly, Fleetwood Diner is a place that most U of M students know well. It’s small and has limited seating, but always seems to be packed. I personally have not eaten here but people say it’s good “diner” food and being open very late makes it a huge draw for night owls.

Jolly Pumpkin — Located on the popular restaurant row of Main Street, this brewery and cafe is warm, cozy and perfect when you need a great place for a casual meal and a beer.

Dominick’s — I’ll just quote a review I recently read from Trip Advisor: “Sangria, drinks, atmosphere are the best in A2 . . . I seem to remember eating pizza and something too . . . ” Outdoor seating on huge picnic tables and drinking their famous Sangria from bell jars makes this a perfect summer hangout. (812 Monroe St., ph. 734.662.5414)

Monihans Seafood Market — Located in the Shops at Kerrytown, this fresh fish and seafood market has a fantastic reputation and fresh seafood daily. What’s best — you can order anything from the case made-to-order to eat in-house for lunch or to take home as a gourmet meal.

Kosmo’s — Kosmo’s is directly across from Monihan’s Seafood Market. With it’s out-of-this-world decor, you can order Korean dishes such as B-Bim Bop, Bulgogi, and twigim. It’s constantly busy, but tables turn quickly and the food and service are well worth the wait.


Growing up on the west side of the state (yes, holding up hand and pointing to the right outer edge of my palm), I always heard Ann Arbor had an amazing music scene. Nestled between Detroit’s industrial sprawl and Chicago’s bustle, people tend to mingle here to play to the university crowd.

The Ark — Considered one of the best music clubs in the world, The Ark is a non-profit club home for folk and roots acoustic music.

The Blind Pig — A hot spot for hip local acts and up-and-coming touring bands, The Blind Pig once hosted Jimmy Hendrix, John Lennon, Iggy Pop, The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam, to name a few. It was Nirvana, however, that put this club on the map when they said The Blind Pig was their number one venue of choice anywhere, ever, in a televised MTV interview. That’s a pretty good testimonial.

The 8 Ball Saloon — Inherently cool and proudly one of Ann Arbor’s last surviving true dive bars, The 8 Ball is in the basement of The Blind Pig. It is the only place in town with Old Style on tap and it has many of the tried-and-true traditional activities, including darts, a jukebox and pool tables. It reminds me of the kind of place that would be called, during prohibition, The Library, if you know what I mean. (http://www.blindpigmusic.com/8BALL.html)


Kerrytown District — Kerrytown is the historic area of downtown Ann Arbor. Homes and businesses coexist here in perfect harmony. It’s charming and has many great places to swing into (click on the link below for full listing of shops and restaurants), but the highlight of this district is surely the Farmer’s Market, open each and every Wednesday and Saturday. Touch, taste and pick up your weekly produce and check out some very talented local artisans.

Blue House of Ann Arbor — I couldn’t possibly write about this town without mentioning how creative it is. Now there is a home (a cute blue one across from the football stadium) that brings together makers of all levels to create, share and connect in an environment dedicated to everything handmade. This creative, handmade studio is like Etsy, only you can actually shop there in person to find that locally made perfect gift for you and a friend without breaking the bank. You can even sign up for a super casual class with a local artist to create your very own handmade item (I took the screen printing class lead by Marcy Davy and it was fantastic). If you are coming from out of town, this would make a perfect souvenir. Siobhan Lyle, the HCC (Head Crafter in Charge) is so cool, laid back and welcoming that you will instantly feel at home. She says “creation is part of our existence. By sharing these creative experiences and talents, we grow stronger together and foster community.” Be sure to check the schedule of events and attend one of the many hip arts and crafts shows that take place here year-round. Blue House also has studio space and supplies available for local artisans with ideas, but no place to execute them. Photos courtesy of Blue House and Miss Monet Photography.


Pot and Box — Hailing from the northwest and Hawaii, Pot and Box has thankfully planted roots here in Ann Arbor. Talented landscape artist Lisa can make your yard resemble Eden, or you can simply bring home the most delightful arrangement of flowers to grace your dining table. And we love her in Ann Arbor, because she promises only beautiful, ethically-sourced and responsibly-serviced flowers and plants.

Hash Bash — Yes, you are reading that correctly. The Hash Bash is an event that takes place every spring for thousands of cannabis aficionados from all over. This is within the “smell” category because once a year, you know it’s Hash Bash from anywhere in the city by simply holding your head up high and taking a whiff. This gathering began with The Beatles. Well, actually it was John Lennon and Yoko Ono who lead a rally in Ann Arbor in 1971 to protest the jailing of poet John Sinclair for possession of marijuana. Each April, the Hash Bash commemorates the occasion and supports the reform of MJ laws. If you plan to make the trip for this event, please research current state and local laws and do be responsible.


If you’re in the mood to shop, there are plenty of great “university stores” (Urban Outfitters, American Apparel), and many unique, eclectic, artsy and vintage shops that will keep you plenty busy. But I still secretly wish for an Anthropologie or a Design within Reach. It must be said that people here appreciate good clothes, but instead of being fixated with what’s new at the Gap, we are more into our own individual styles, creatively consigning and living a life that is slightly more focused on experiences vs. material objects. That, in my opinion is why Ann Arbor has major style in it’s own right. Here are some of my favorites:

Acme Mercantile — Self-proclaimed as The World’s Smallest Department Store, at 900 square feet, Acme is part retro/fun gift shop, part hardware store with a midcentury modern twist in its merchandise and display. Located in an historic brownstone building, Acme is on Liberty Street, one of best streets in town.

Treasure Mart — Walk down Detroit Street from Zingerman’s Deli and you will find a blue brick building appropriately named The Treasure Mart where you can shop (or consign) gently-used items and experience the best of our re-use and re-purpose lifestyle. Treasure Mart has anything you can imagine — a good consignment store with amazing furniture and great vintage kitchenware.

Bivouac — On popular State Street, Bivouac is “where outdoor passion meets indoor fashion.” Find all the major outdoor brands here such as KEEN and Patagonia.

The Get Up — A fabulously packed little treasure full of great vintage clothes, accessories and more. The have amazing style. Be in the mood to hunt and/or take a friend for opinions.

Heavenly Metal — Heavenly Metal is a gallery/gift shop in downtown Ann Arbor featuring recycled-metal artwork, jewelry, purses, books, scarves, apparel, shoes, home goods and unique gift items. Most work is handcrafted by artists around the globe.

Perpetua Boutique — Specializing in sustainable, environmentally friendly, organic clothing for men and women.

Elephant Ears — Simply the best children’s boutique I’ve ever visited. In the heart of Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown District, this beautiful store is situated in an old brick building with two floors and fabulous merchandising. You simply cannot go in without buying a) what you were looking for and b) a few extras. They have clothing, accessories, toys, furniture, strollers and a great play area for your kids while you shop. The staff is always knowledgeable, friendly and incredibly willing to help. This store is so fun that I sincerely hope they decide to open an adult clothing store, too.

The Little Seedling — This children’s boutique offers a lovely selection of organic baby clothes, hip gear and wooden toys. But the reason I love this shop on the far west side of town is that the owner brings her baby to work, so I never feel embarrassed that mine wants to run around and “make noise.” This place started out as (and is still known for) a cloth diapering educational center, set up with a huge selection of cloth diaper supplies and a helpful staff that gives any mom looking to “take the giant leap” away from the world of disposable diapers confidence.


Ann Arbor is a fun town. It’s a place where college students rule, bike lanes are everywhere and neighboring city folk come to party, enjoy a great meal, see a sporting event or visit a museum. Playing is what we do best. But I do think that Ann Arbor’s amazing outdoor “playgrounds” for kids and adults alike are what make the city so fun.

Parks and Rec — If you plan a trip to Ann Arbor, you won’t get far from I-94 without noticing how important parks are to this town. Proudly, Ann Arbor has 157 city parks linked all throughout this “Tree Town.” Whether you want a long leisurely stroll along the Huron River through Gallup Park, a hike through the beautiful Nichols Arboretum or a visit to the amazing Children’s Garden at Matthaei Botanical Garden, you will surely find a park to suit your mood and your schedule. As a stay-at-home mama, I personally love the endless number of great playground parks in town. It’s always fun for my kids to go on an adventure to find a new one. Ann Arbor is also home to seven beautiful golf courses and endless trails. With the Huron River flowing through town, the city boasts some of the finest kayaking and fishing around. The city parks and recreation website has all the information you will need to plan your outdoor voyage.

Fairy Doors — If you are in the mood for a fun, easy and free family event, Ann Arbor’s Fairy Door Hunt is the perfect adventure for you. Magical little hidden fairy doors are hidden throughout town. Download the Fairy Door Map to get started.

Vetrans Park — Who doesn’t love to go sledding? If you come here in the winter, Vets Park is the perfect place to feel like you are in a winter wonderland.

There isn’t a college town out there without a few “secrets” and this town is no exception. Be sure to ask around during your visit, as you will surely find a great new spot or an unexpected adventure. And if you do a bit of Googling, you can learn how both Madonna and The Naked Mile played a part in Ann Arbor’s history.


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  • Love! I lived in Ann Arbor for many years and have always felt it was a special gem of a city. So many good people, so much fun stuff to do!

  • Thanks for featuring Ann Arbor! I live just a little north of there in Lansing. (another college town) I’m looking forward to checking out some new Ann Arbor Awesomeness!

  • this is such a beautiful post!! i was born and raised in ann arbor and even though i have moved away, it will always be my home!! zingerman’s is one of my favorite restaurants and celebrities really do frequent there often!!! there is soo much school spirit (go blue) that it is just amazing!! :D michigan summers are beautiful and there are always tons of activities going on in A2!!!

  • Great list! As a fellow Ann-Arborite, I heartily agree with all your selections. Of course there is much more to this great town than can be listed in this space! I see that Comet Coffee gets a photo but no description, so I’ll offer a brief, effusive review…for coffee-lovers, this place is a MUST. Excellent coffee by the cup, very knowledgeable staff, great atmosphere. No website, but check them out on Facebook, or on Twitter (@cometcoffee). Come to Ann Arbor, everyone! :)

  • I moved from Chicago to Cleveland this summer and still have not been to Ann Arbor (right in the middle!). When I do, I’ll have this guide in tow. Also, LOVE the illustration.

  • I love Ann Arbor! My hubby and I lived there for several years and miss it! There are so many good places to eat … but here are a few: Ann Arbor Brewing Company, Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, Prickly Pear, Pizza House, Red Hawk and of course Ashleys!

  • I just keep hoping someone will write up a Chicago guide before I visit in the middle of November

    • emily

      we have a chicago guide in the guides section of d*s. it’s being updated right now, but there are still plenty of current places on it ;)


  • Ann Arbor in the house! Gosh, I was wondering when my town would pop up on D*S.

    I live in A2 and I can say this City Guide couldn’t be better. It really is a magical little place.


  • what a wonderful post! i moved to ann arbor a year ago and was so excited to see it featured in your city guides this morning. i thought i knew my way around this little town, but i guess i still have a lot to learn. thanks!

  • I am a transplanted NYer, recently moved to a tiny town just outside of Ann Arbor, and I really appreciate this post. I’ve been to a couple of these places, and now I am looking forward to exploring the rest of Ann Arbor.

    It really is a cool town.

  • Thanks Jaimi for making this happen! A lovely guide. I’m glad I wasn’t the one narrowing things down. :) Great illustration!

  • Thanks for representing Michigan! Live in East Lansing (go green!) but do love Ann Arbor. Been to a lot of the places but can’t wait to check out the others. :)

  • Great post! I was a townie for four years and miss it. Viva la Ace Deuce and America’s High Five! (By the way, I think I spot a typo–“brew pups”? :)

  • Sorry to pester–I see a few more typos! It should be Nickels Arcade, not Nicols, and Durham’s Tracklements (also the link for that has an extra “o” at the end, which breaks the link).

  • Yay, Ann Arbor! What a cool surprise. Fellow Ann Arbor resident here. Great list, here are a few of my personal faves.
    1. The tea room upstairs at Crazy Wisdom. My favorite coffee shop type space in the city.
    2. Knight’s. Townie hangout on the Westside for steaks, burgers and strong drinks.

  • As a former Ann-Arborite, I love this! Ann Arbor is THE best place to be & there is so much to do. Gorgeous pictures & details.

  • AH! I was so excited to scroll down and find the Ann Arbor City Guide! I love this city and I’m happy to see it’s getting love from others.
    I have to recommend Red Shoes for shopping (you’ll find them on the fairy doors hunt): http://redshoeshomegoods.com/
    and Sweetwaters Cafe for great coffee drinks and Cafe Felix for martinis… I could go on and on.

  • Great guide! Makes me want to take a trip back – haven’t been since I moved 5 yrs ago.

    It is true, there are too many restaurants to list. Cafe Zola rocks- my favorite dinner/cocktail spot in A2. Raja Rani and Shalimar both have great Indian food. Arbor Brewing Co. and Grizzly Peak are two great pubs.

    While its a tad pricey, Zingerman’s thankfully has an amazing mail-order system in place for those of us not so fortunate to live around the corner. Pure heaven in a box, shipped directly to your door.

  • This is fabulous. I currently live in Chicago and have been considering a move to Ann Arbor for awhile. I love this post.

  • thanks for the shout out for pot & box! though i must say, i am a native michigander who’s lived and worked in the PNW & hawaii and the link doesn’t click to the site…

    but yay for ann arbor!

  • Oops, I must have missed Comet’s blurb the first time around…thanks again for this great spotlight on our city! :)

  • I’m so excited Ann Arbor finally got a d*s city guide! I have a few more additions to the list:

    Ann Arbor Film Festival – the longest running independant and experimental film festival in North America

    Northside Grill – one of the locals’ favorites for breakfast & lunch

    Cafe Felix – martini & tapas bar with a romantic sidewalk patio, a francophiles delight

    Casey’s Tavern – a cozy, local watering hole with the best pub food in town

    Prickly Pear Southwest Cafe – best margaritas in town (splurge for the Gold), always busy and doesn’t take reservations so arrive early

    Krazy Jim’s Blimpie Burger – no-fuss, down to business burger experience. Google it and make sure you are prepared to order “the right way” – the rules are very strict!

    Ann Arbor Folk Festival – one of the best in the country

    Adorn Me – women’s accessories & apparel boutique

    Hollander’s – specializes in decorative papers, bookbinding supplies, & workshops

    Maison Edwards Tobacconist – not just for smokers, an old-timey men’s shop specializing in shaving & grooming products and of course, tobacco

    Nicola’s Books – A2’s premier independent book store, check their events page for author talks & book signings

    Vault of Midnight Comics – huge shop with great selection of graphic novels, games & comics

    Blue Karaoke – get a group of friends and rent a private room by the hour, reservations and walk-ins accepted. BYOB appropriate

    The Wave Field – outdoor waves of earth sculpture by renowned artist Maya Lin

    Bab’s Underground Lounge – one word: photobooth

  • Most of the links for the individual places don’t work. They have a DS link in front of them, and it takes you to a DS file not found page. Thanks.

    • crafty a2

      i’ll check this out- sometimes word mangles the code we drop in from posts so i’ll go through and fix any wonky code…


  • And some more…

    Tickled Fancy Burlesque Company – exactly what it sounds like! Check their website for upcoming shows

    Elevated Press – letterpress printing and design studio

    Whirly Ball – a combination of basketball and jai alai played from electric bumper cars. Get a group together, BYOB appropriate for those over 21

  • Ooh! I’m so excited to see this city guide and learn about all these wonderful new places in my former college town. Ann Arbor is an amazingly charming place made lush with gorgeous Victorian houses and some choice university architecture (hello, Law Quad & Rackham). I also want to give a shout out to the restaurant that sustained me for four years with unbelievably good falafel, hummus, lentil soup and fatoush – Jerusalem Garden. JG rules! I barely eat Middle Eastern food now because they’ve raised my standards so high. This city guide makes me want to explore Ann Arbor again and visit some old favorites. Thank you!

  • I was so happy when I saw this guide!! I live in NYC now, but am from a small town about 40 minutes south of Ann Arbor–all the towns/cities around that whole area are pretty closely knit. I have a couple cousins and stepsiblings that have recently moved there, so I’m looking forward to checking more things out in one of the greatest small cities out there!

  • I love this!! My husband’s family is from Michigan and live in Royal Oak. I’ve been wanting to head up to Ann Arbor on our next visit. This guide is perfect!!! Merci!!!

  • Not only am I happy to see my hometown getting its due recognition (big shout outs to the Jefferson Market for being in my “cool, old neighborhood”, and for being everso delicious), but I also love seeing how many Ann Arborites read D*S!! We are awfully like-minded, even if some of us move to far, far away lands (like Minnesota..!)

  • If you’re a vintage lover, make sure to check out The Getup! Great stuff for women and men! The only thing more fabulous than the clothes (and prices) is the staff!!!

  • My home town is Toledo, Ohio . . . a forty minute drive to beautiful Ann Arbor. I’ve always seen Ann Arbor as a unique treasure full of culture, art and music. To this day, it is still the place I look to for inspiration. Such a cool place to explore! So glad you posted a city in Michigan. I don’t think people give the state enough credit for it’s unique towns and beautiful landscape.

    : )

    There is also a great project going on right now in Detroit. . . check this out


  • Ann Arbor (and MI in general) have some great record stores. Encore at 417 E. Liberty and Wazoo at 336 1/2 S. State are not to be missed for music fans. Also, there is PJ’s at 617 Packard St Ste B.
    For an amazing burger and Bell’s beer at incredible prices head to Sidetracks in the adjoining town of Ypsilanti (56 E Cross St, Ypsilanti, MI 48198).
    There are some great parks in and around Ann Arbor. The Arboretum and Gallop Park are quite nice as well as Hudson Mills.

  • Love this post! After attending the UofM, Ann Arbor is definitely my home away from home. Reading this post makes me nostalgic… I need to go for another visit soon!

    I also love the other suggestions in the comments, many reminders of places I’d almost forgotten!

  • So cool to see the Ann Arbor Farmers Market and local food restaurants like Grange, Jolly Pumpkin and the amazing Friday Mornings @ SELMA mentioned here! There’s a great local food scene in Ann Arbor and a cool new site called Real Time Farms that connects people to farms, farmers markets, and locally sourcing restaurants! http://www.realtimefarms.com/ann-arbor
    Real Time Farms started in Ann Arbor, but is expanding nationally, and may have great info for your area too!

  • Awesome! Love A2…museums, great food, art fair, antique mkt! Just there yesterday dropping my son back at UofM. Of course he forgot 3-4 things, so I will bring the guide along with me later in the week! Thanks!

  • Hooray, Ann Arbor! Just wanted to add quite a few spots that I consider essential. The following places made me really happy while living in Ann Arbor: For shopping, I’d like to see 3 Chairs Company for upscale furniture; Hollander’s, which I consider to be of the best paper and stationery stores in the US (they also do bookmaking and letterpress classes!); V2V, a well-curated collection of upscale clothing and housewares; and Downtown Home and Garden, a lovable take on the old-fashioned general store where you can buy fertilizer and bulbs, but also Le Creuset. I also like the Produce Station for plants and produce. The Washtenaw Dairy’s donuts are one of the absolute best things about Ann Arbor. These, with apple cider, are what a Michigan autumn is all about. Someone already mentioned Jerusalem Garden and the greasy diner-style Blimpy Burger, both classic Ann Arbor quick eats. Enjoy, everybody!

  • Oh Ann Arbor. I’m a native Michigander, and I spent a LOT of time there over the years (dated a UofM student). So many fantastic places. Cafe Zola… banana nutella crepes. I salivate just thinking about them!

  • These city guides you do are amazing. You should be paid a lot of money for such in depth writing. I appreciate them very much and have considered relocating to pittsburgh and now ann arbor because of you. Thank you.

  • Thanks so much everyone! I had a great time writing this and working with the fabulous D*S team! I will definitely be checking out some of the places many of you recommended! So good!

  • I was thrilled to see this fine little article about my home town of Ann Arbor! I go back every summer (from my new home in NORWAY) and there are always new shops, restaurants and all kinds of cool new stuff to discover. There is one amazing young man named Brian Anthony Woolridge who dances like Michael Jackson in the so called “BUBBLE GUM ALLEY” on weekends. It is located just to the left of the MICHIGAN THEATRE. He has been doing this for many, many years and is really great to watch! Being a HUGE Michael Jackson fan, I was touched to tears to watch Brian in action as he really captures the essence of the moves without being a full-on impersonater. He has his own expresssion and is very respectful, dignified and sweet. Michael would be proud to have such a good representative here on earth to cary on his artistry! If you visit Ann Arbor for the first time, you simply must go see Brian do his thing. You will leave smiling (or crying), but you won`t walk away feeling that you have not had an experience to remember.

  • Don’t bother with the others: Comet Coffee is absolutely the best espresso, and coffee generally, in AA for those who like the good stuff, straight, and well-made. Just superb. A highlight is a frequently changing sampling of coffee from small, independent roasters.

  • Thanks for a stroll down memory lane. I remember Drake’s, a little corner place to get a sandwich and chocolate rum cordials by the pound. My husband went to U of M through medical school. I was able to spend three whole days there during one of the art street fairs week. One friend told me she and friends cut high school and went to a hash bash in the mid 70s. She thought she got away with the adventure until her parents saw her on the news that night! I miss the original Borders Book store, too.

  • I LOVE the deuce (another local term for A2). It’s a GREAT city full of interesting, well-educated people from all over the world who just decided to settle down in this small little city. There are festivals and concerts that roll through there year round. I lived there for several years and I’ll move back to settle down with a family someday!

    Thanks for hosting a spotlight on it!

  • What a lovely surprise!! When I got this post in my mail, I thought, “I am a block from there right this minute” and got a rush of pride!

    Thank you for including my home!


  • I am so excited to see Ann Arbor here!

    As a current resident who was also born and raised around AA, I agree with everything covered, but I have to agree with those who have mentioned Hollander’s. As a book artist it’s quite rare to have access to binding supplies within walking distance of home. And even if you’re not the crafty type there is the stationary and kitchen section.

  • I second all of Alisa’s add-ons and I’ve got to include a couple of my own:
    1. Earthen Jar– by-the-pound vegetarian Indian fare with THE BEST mango lassi in town.
    2. Arbor Brewing Co.– better beer than Jolly Pumpkin, in my opinion. The Sacred Cow IPA has a cult following.

  • Gina from Toledo, Ohio…the link you posted ROCKED!!! Thanks so so much! And I just loooved reading so much about Ann Arbor! I moved right outside of A2 9 years ago from Omaha, NE, and I swear I was meant to be here! The communities and the people are just amazing!!! I always love knowing about more places to visit!! :)

  • This is so cool y’all featured A2. I lived here all through College. My fave place is definitely Dominicks. When I was in school Dominick, the old owner, would check our ID’s at the front porch. Also Big Ten Burrito saved my life multiple times.
    Also, Sidetracks in Ypsi is awesome. Order the Caramel Apple beer (1/2 guiness and 1/2 woodchuck) and the fried pickles. :)

  • Oh Ann Arbor, I heart you. This post makes me miss it so much!
    Other amazing places:
    Nichol’s Arboretum (“The Arb”)
    Washtenaw Dairy (best ice cream ever!)
    Sweetwater’s Cafe
    Cafe Zola
    Fantasy Attic (if they still exist, it’s a great place to buy all your halloween costumes)
    Downtown Home and Garden
    Eastern Accents (yummy cherry turnovers)

  • I live in Toronto and travel to Ann Arbor 2 or 3 times a year for a little getaway. It ranks up there with Burlington , Vermont as my 2 fav US small cities! Thanks for the guide — and thanks to all the additional commentors for some new “must sees”!

  • I grew up in NW Ohio & every summer, from the time I was in high school, we went to the Ann Arbor Summer Arts Festivals, and we’d talk about how great it would be to come back & get to know the city sans arts fests. We never did, though, and I’ve moved to BC–far, far from Michigan–but it’s still on my list of things I’d like to do. Thanks for the city guide! (I’ll send it to my family back in Ohio.)

  • Great review of Ann Arbor! Nestled in Kerry Town you will find a store that is a combination of both Design Within Reach and Anthro, it is called V2V. Check them out for fashion and amazing gifts!

  • How cool my store is included in this great review of ann arbor! My store is in the Kerrytown neighborhood, which is home to all locally-owned – and very cool – businesses: a topnotch tea store and cafe, a food coop, dog & cat boutique, two excellent used and antique book shops, a spa, and a birkenstock shoe store. My store has been referred to as ann arbor’s little year-round art fair!

  • also for more vinyl love you need to check out: http://tiny.cc/undergroundsounds . The guy who owns it is super down to earth and not as ‘snobby” about vinyl. They are a more current selection than the other places. Plus his dog hangs out there. Bonus!

  • if there were a “stay” section i would add the palmer house. a restored 3 bedroom frank lloyd wright home that can be rented for $3-400/night. another little ann armor secret!

  • This is a great showcase of Ann Arbor! I live here & happen to have been taught by the wonderful miss marcy davy! Wonderful city guide!!!

  • Thanks everyone! I also just wanted to add one more place. I recently visited Star Vintage on State st. and it was amazing. The staff loves working there and helping customers find the perfect treasure. They even Polaroid you and post it on their walls! Thank you star!

  • I LOVED this guide as I LOVED A2 on my very first (but am sure not last) visit there this year. It is currently my most favourite place on earth – and i have lived in a LOT of places :) We (my husband, two daughters aged 8 and 6, and I) touched, smelt, tasted and saw many of these recomendations and loved them ALL. Also loved the people of A2, many of them my brothers’ friends of course, but even complete strangers were really nice and friendly and many went out of their way to make our visit there very very pleasant. I am definitely going to be back for more.

  • I’ve lived here ten years now, grew up 30 mi down freeway and we ain’t in Oz anymore. Lived both as college student and faculty wife, used to be hipster princess, now just cool loner. I just wanted to say about Dominick’s, don’t eat the food the owner is afraid of throwing out food so will literally sell it rotten till too many complaints, then gorge himself on the rest so it “doesn’t go to waste” or feed it to his children too young to know.
    But you forgot to mention a couple (with so many how can u not?). FOUND is one of the best places to go for finding weird mediums to make art with, quite literally found things and owner is a doll and wonderful woman.
    Best boutique but hard to notice cuz it’s part of, but upstairs from the Bead Shoppe on Liberty is a Adorn Me. The girs who run it are amazing and it’s like having a personal shopper cuz they remember things I got years ago! And what I like.
    Also SAMS clothing for reasonably priced Regular clothing for those who don’t happen to b a hipster and are proud. Sweaters, reg Levi”s, button down shirts.
    And amazing boutiques. I haven’t been to the mall since I lived here (except CIY on S University) in ten years of walking by every day I’ve never seen one thing I want to buy and I’m a shopaholic.

  • Sorry to say this is very outdated. I would be very willing to help update it being an Ann Arborite of 38 years.