Top Things to Do in Ann Arbor, Michigan

This was our first time in Ann Arbor and it was a gorgeous September vacation! This tied with Alaska as my favorite end of summer destination. We stayed with Josiah's brother who took us to some of his favorite spots in town. 

Here's a nutshell look at our trip and some ideas for what to do in this cool city. We went in mid-September, but I recommend going in late September or (even better) October. There are so many trees and I hear the fall colors are breathtaking. Also, fall is apple cider season, which is my first suggestion for those traveling to Ann Arbor.


Fall may be the best time to come here because of the wonderful apple orchards and cider mills. On our second day in Ann Arbor we stopped by Plymouth Orchards in the evening. The place was just filled with the smell of ripe apples! And the cider we got there was so good. I am, by no means, an apple cider buff, but this stuff is the best I have ever had!

The cider had just the right amount of spice to it. It wasn't too sweet, and it was  . . . how can I put it? Creamy. I guess there was a bit of pulp in it because it was smoother and richer than ordinary apple juice, or any apple cider I had experienced before. It was all smooth and tasted like pure autumn happiness. We also purchased a dozen cinnamon donuts which went wonderfully with our cider. 

After enjoying our treats, we wandered the grounds in the evening light, admiring the farm animals, clusters of sunflowers, and the apple trees stretching to the north. I could have meandered through those orchards for hours if given the opportunity.  

We bought some cider from Wasem Fruit Farm near the end of our trip, because I really wanted some of that goodness one more time. Unfortunately, this cider just wasn't as good. Still, it was better than anything I had ever had from the grocery store. This would be a great place for apple picking, but Wasem's cider was not thick like Plymouth's and there wasn't as much cider-like spice too it. It was more like glorified apple juice. It was good, just not as good as Plymouth's cider. 


There are so many trails around here! It's a good thing we had Josiah's brother to take us on a couple of his favorite hikes. Traveling with a local really is so great, because they know the best things to do. 

On a nice afternoon, we found ourselves trekking through the woods around Crooked Lake. If we had been on our own, we wouldn't have known where to step off the path and push through the foliage to see the peaceful water capped with lily pads. A heron was hanging out nearby and farther down the trail we found a big brown frog. I love all the animals! (I know. I'm like a little kid.) It's so nice to get out in nature, especially in a new place. Josiah and I are used to mountains and red rock, so the mildly undulating trails and lush forests were a novelty  

Another place you can find some pretty walking paths is in Parker Mill County Park. The Hoyt G. Post Trail led us to the largest oak tree I have ever laid eyes on! The boardwalk path winds through quiet woods and along the stream, and is wheelchair friendly. If you come in the evening, you might see some cute rabbits nearby. Look for the bench facing the Huron River where you can watch the the last of the sun's rays fade on the still water. 


The Huron River is so crazy pretty. I can only imagine what it would look like later in autumn, encompassed by fiery foliage. 

We rented two-person kayaks for $27 each at the Gallup Canoe Livery then took a ride to the docks upstream in Argo. From the moment we launched, the paddle down to Gallup was a distance of 3.7 miles and typically takes about and hour and a half to complete. (Kayaking excursions also launch further upstream in Barton for a distance of 5.7 miles. Two-person kayak rentals for 2.5 hour trip coasts $32. )

The first part was the most exciting. Our kayaks rushed down the Argo Cascades, a series of 9 man-made rapids. We splashed through the level II rapids, though we didn't get completely soaked. You can opt for a launch down stream from the spillway if you would rather not get wet. 

The last portion of the trip was relaxing. At least, it would have been if Josiah and I weren't trying to out-do his siblings. The smooth current displayed serene reflections of the sky and trees. Near the end, we came upon a family of swans lined up evenly on the water. They were so pretty, but we got a little too close to one and it hissed at us. The ride was otherwise pleasant as can be. 


Founded in 1817, this 201 year old university boasts some beautiful architecture. The campus is very close to downtown, and since my brother-in-law is a student there we decided what it's all about

My favorite building was the university's Law Library. This castle-like structure was considered for the Hogwarts library set in the Harry Potter movies and holds over 700,000 printed volumes! Sadly, we could not go inside, but what I wouldn't give to sit in such a pretty building and read for just one afternoon! I would read Harry Potter, of course. 


Located at 521 E Liberty Street, this marvelous mess of paint is the perfect location to take creative photos. It's full of unique styles of art bearing vibrant colors and funny messages. Also, it's crazy to imagine people climbing the pipe at the end of the alley to spray paint ever higher. How did they do that?!

If you're lucky you may even get to hear some great musicians who like to lurk here. Also, rumor has it that there is a guy who occasionally likes to dance to Michael Jackson songs here, and apparently he is really good. 


 Seven dollars for a heaping pile of these Truffled French Fries is totally worth it. These shoe string fries are tossed in white truffle oil and served with a rosemary aioli. Hands down, these are my favorite fries of all time. They are even better than all the combinations the amazing Boise Fry Company has to offer. (My brother, who lives in Boise, would be disappointed in me.)

They have more than fries, of course. I ordered the Perfect Fried Chicken Sandwich with it's delicious turmeric aioli, sriracha and pickles. Josiah chose the Grilled Chicken with Brie sandwich with a side of extra truffled fries.  We loved the food so much, we came back the next day for dessert and, of course, another order of fries. The pumpkin whoopie pies with ginger clotted cream seemed a fitting choice, and we also tried the coconut milk ice cream with almond shortbread and berries. Mmmmmm. 


Nickels Arcade is a lovely, alley-sized mall, and one of Ann Arbor's most famous spots. It was an old meat market until 1915 when Tom Nickels inherited the property from his father and rebuilt it to resemble European arcades of the time. The business , the barber shop, opened in 1917 and is still there today. 

We explored The Arcadian Antiques shop, then popped into Caravan to peek at cool lamps and handmade wooden boxes.  The short stroll through the mall almost felt like stepping into the past. 


There are used bookstores all over downtown Ann Arbor! We wandered among the maze-like shelves of Dawn Treader on Liberty Street (kitty-corner from Graffiti Alley). The shop looks small from the front, but it just keeps on going. Books were stacked in corners, spilling out into the walkways. We found ourselves deep in the seemingly endless halls crammed with books and random decorative items such as old posters and toys which hung from the ceiling. We even saw a life-size Egyptian sarcophagus which stood against a bookcase. I assume it was fake but it looked pretty cool. 

It was fun to discover copies that we have in our library at home. I could have meandered through all those sections forever long just looking through books, like scrolling through Netflix without actually choosing anything. Someday I would like to run a used bookstore, but for now I am content to admire them.    


I've only scratched the surface of the awesomeness that is Ann Arbor. I know, I am enthusiastic about every trip I have blogged, but I guess that comes with the wanderlust in me. During this vacation, we took a little roadtrip to Cleveland, Ohio and I can't stop raving about it! 

I loved the trees in Ann Arbor, and the indescribable personality of the city.  All I can say is it's unique with beautiful places, delicious food, and rich culture. I'm guessing we will be talking about these experiences for years to come. 

So, what would you like to do in Ann Arbor? Let us know in the comments below. 

Hi! My name is Kait. Follow this link to learn more about me and my blog. 


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