Ann Arbor is a great weekend destination in the Midwest. It’s primarily known for its impressive collection of traditions and culture promoted all over the city streets.
The small US city is surprisingly packed with lots of fun attractions just waiting for you to explore them — ranging from stunning natural parks to world-famous universities and historic buildings.
There are so many amazing things to do in Ann Arbor that, if you’re visiting the area, you may be struggling with which things to add to your schedule and which to leave out during your vacation (see also ‘15 Amazing Things To Do In Cape May During Your Vacation‘).
Fortunately, this article will point you in the right direction.
1. Michigan Stadium
This is one of the largest and most iconic stadiums in the US, and the second-largest in the entire world. It seats a total of 115,000 people and truly lives up to its “Big House” nickname!
Michigan Stadium plays host to various sporting events including ice hockey, soccer, lacrosse, and, most importantly, football, with thousands of fans filing into the stadium to witness the Michigan Wolverines triumph.
If you aren’t interested in sports, you can take a tour of the venue or attend other activities including weekend movie nights and yoga classes.
2. Michigan Theater
This historic, larger-than-life theater, nestled in the heart of Ann Arbor, is one venue you simply cannot skip while on vacation (see also ‘15 Cool Things To Do In Waikiki On Your Trip‘)!
Built in 1928, this magnificent 1,700-seat movie palace was the place to be seen by socialities of the time. It screened movies, concerts, and stage productions for visitors who wanted to indulge and continues to do so today.
If you want to embrace Ann Arbor’s history and support a small business, it’s a win-win destination!
3. Hands-On Museum
Or, you may want to visit Ann Arbor’s Hands-On Museum, where learning truly comes to life through interactive and imaginative experiences.
Based in a vintage red brick firehouse, this is a place where people of all ages can jump, run, roll, and learn all about the wonders of science education, technology, engineering, math, and art.
The museum has over 250 interactive displays packed into around 20,000 square feet of exhibition space for visitors to explore. This means you can immerse yourself in the sounds, sights, and history of Michigan.
4. State Street
No vacation to downtown Ann Arbor would be complete without a stroll down State Street! Here, you can experience various lively restaurants, cafés, and stores just waiting for you to step foot inside.
If you’re fortunate enough to visit Ann Arbor at the right time of year, you’ll get to experience the festivals and fairs held on State Street, too! This includes the well-known State Street Area Art Fair in the summer and some ghoulish Halloween parties.
See the sights, walk the streets, and enjoy breathing in the fresh air of downtown Ann Arbor.
5. Ann Arbor Ice Cube
Michigan is a snowy destination that has its fair share of outdoor and indoor winter activities. But none of them quite live up to the Ann Arbor Ice Cube sports facility.
This premier sports venue features a three-surface ice arena that caters to just about everyone and any sport!
It’s the home of the US National Team, Huron and Pioneer High School, and Eastern Michigan University hockey teams, and is also open to the public.
Here, you can enjoy figure skating, hockey, or general skating on the ice rink regardless of when you go on vacation. What’s not to love?
There’s no time like a vacation to indulge in some of the tastiest beers in the US! Enter HopCat, an award-winning bar located in Ann Arbor.
HopCat serves over 100 different brews and is renowned for its array of “pub grub” such as buffalo rolls, wings, burgers, and fries.
With a delightfully warm atmosphere, a huge gleaming wood bar that acts as the focal point of the room, live music, and comfortable leather chairs, it’s no surprise that HopCat is such a hit with locals and tourists alike!
7. The Creature Conservancy
Make your vacation to Ann Arbor memorable by visiting the exotic wildlife up close and personal at The Creature Conservancy.
This is an educational organization that is dedicated to rescuing all sorts of animals and educating the local community about these animals.
It also offers various outreach programs for schools, homeschooling groups, and nature centers.
Here, you can find multiple exhibits where you can see kangaroos, vultures, and aquatic exotics.
8. University Of Michigan Museum of Art
Another popular attraction in Ann Arbor is the University of Michigan Museum of Art, especially for cultural and art buffs. If these are things you enjoy, you simply cannot miss out on this experience!
The things on display here are a small sample of what has been collected over 150 years.
If you choose to visit during your vacation, you can expect to see world-class paintings from leading artists such as Monet and Picasso. You can also bear witness to some incredible historical artifacts and pottery galleries.
9. Matthaei Botanical Gardens And Nichols Arboretum
If you want to embrace the serenity of Ann Arbor, look no further than these gorgeous locations, both operated by the University of Michigan.
In the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, you can take a stroll amongst the best that nature has to offer while listening to the unbelievable sounds of the birds all around you.
You can also check out historic and native plants, in addition to an incredible peony garden, in the Nichols Arboretum.
It’s completely free to enter both the arboretum and the gardens, and will make a worthwhile addition to your vacation.
10. University Of Michigan Museum Of Natural History
This is yet another fun thing to do in Ann Arbor on vacation!
There are so many amazing exhibits to see that your head and neck will be permanently swiveling as you take in the sights of taxidermy animals, dinosaur bones, and geodes.
While in the museum, you can check out planetarium shows and butterfly gardens, too.
You can even trace the development of humanity through life-like recreations of neanderthals and skulls in the “Hall of Evolution.”
Just a few blocks away from downtown Ann Arbor lay the extraordinary neighborhood of Kerrytown, a lively district oozing with lots of old-school charm and commercial ventures.
The roads are made of a distinctive red brick that creates an old-style feel in the area. And, if you’re fancying a light bite, there are plenty of cafés to choose from with outdoor patio seating areas.
You can wander through the farmer’s market on the weekend or attend charming festivals with artisans, musicians, and so much more!
12. Hill Auditorium
Another must-visit on your Ann Arbor vacation is the Hill Auditorium, one of the premier entertainment venues in the city.
The Hill Auditorium was built in 1913 and combines modern acoustics with stunning classic architecture.
This venue has hosted anything and everything from philharmonics and orchestras to pop legends like Elton John. Today, the auditorium regularly hosts symphonies, concerts, glee clubs, and so much more.
13. Hudson Mills Metropark
Located just 12 miles northwest of Ann Arbor stands the Hudson Mills Metropark, a place that is packed full of some of Ann Arbor’s most picturesque locations.
This land covers over 1,500 acres and incorporated wetlands, prairies, and woods packed with all sorts of fauna and flora.
The Metropark has many outdoor activities for all visitors to enjoy, including anything from kayaking and canoeing on the Huron River, to hiking, biking, and walking on the land.
14. Pedal Saloon Ann Arbor
This is an incredible activity that simply doesn’t stay put. The Pedal Saloon Ann Arbor is a pedal-powered pub on the move through the winding streets of the city, giving you a brilliant viewpoint of everything Ann Arbor has to offer.
All it takes is a group of people to climb aboard and power it with the pedals. You can join as a couple or as an individual but will need to book the trolley for larger parties.
Whatever you do, this is bound to add some much-needed fun to your Ann Arbor vacation!
15. Rolling Hills Water Park
The final addition to this list requires you to take a trip to Rolling Hills Water Park. You can find this water park just a short drive away on the outskirts of the city.
If you have kids, you’ll want to incorporate this on your vacation! It features a whole array of fun activities for you all to enjoy.
Enjoy a day of family fun splashing around in the water, relaxing in the lazy river, using the splash pad, and trying out the water tube slides. You can also sample many o the concession stands dotted around the water park.
Your Ann Arbor vacation should be centered on embracing all the historical and culturally significant things that the area has to offer.
However, you should also do your best to include as many fun activities as you can to truly make the most of your vacation in the city!