21 Things to Eat, See & Do in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Jessica Peterson

21 Things to Eat, See & Do in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Would you believe my 15 Things to Do in Ann Arbor, Michigan is the most popular post on Global Girl Travels? After spending the summer in this hip, college town once again, I’ve got even more hand-picked recommendations for things to eat, see, and do. Adding to my original list, here are 21 things to keep you entertained in Ann Arbor.

1. Kayak the Huron River

Argo Canoe Livery and Gallup Canoe Livery on the Huron River each offering different river trips and boats. You can bring your own vessel or rent a kayak or canoe to glide down the scenic river.

2. Zingerman’s Delicatessen

If you want to feel like you’re in an authentic European deli, head to Zingerman’s in Kerrytown. A multi-building experience, you’ll weave through more cheese, olive, and meat selections than you can mentally handle before you hit the three-figure olive oils and artisan pastas. Then you’ll land at the deli counter where you can order sandwiches. Pace yourself because you’ve still got to make it through the coffee and dessert houses next door.

Bonus points to Zingerman’s for a super friendly and helpful staff ready to whet your tastebuds with samples at every turn.

3. Real Seafood Co.

Budgets be damned, Real Seafood Co. is worth breaking the bank. This upscale restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor lives up to its name and even its prices with both classic and modern dishes. White tablecloth service is befitting for meaty, mouth-watering oysters, which is a perfect start. I also recommend the French martini and the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass is to die for. Buttery, tender meat melts in your mouth with the perfect kick of wasabi and ginger-soy sauce. Served with sautéed spinach and sticky rice, this meal reminded me of Asia and that’s always a good thing!

4. Westgate Ann Arbor Public Library

Library of Congress, it’s not. No arcane pillars or dusty leather-bound first editions, this library is as modern and comfortable as they come. In fact, people have been known to talk there in a voice much louder than a whisper (gasp!). Recently expanded, there is an added bonus to this particular branch — the library houses a Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea.

There are tons of seating options with power outlets from tables to comfy leather chairs. With meeting, reading, and study rooms, there is always a place to escape any little monsters running around the children’s section (I’m a miser, I know, but it’s a library for crying out loud!). The WIFI is great and you can even check out vinyl, which really makes me want a record player.

5. Seva Vegetarian Restaurant

General Tso's Cauliflower at Seva Vegetarian Restaurant, Ann Arbor

In the same shopping center as the Westgate Library is Seva, a delicious vegetarian restaurant. And yes, I mean delicious compared to “regular” food, not just good for vegetarian. Yes, it’s slightly pretentious, but this is Ann Arbor, where babies are born with more self-awareness than the entire cast of “Annie Hall.”

I recommend you start with the General Tso’s Cauliflower, which is vegan, but loaded with flavor. Light tempura batter, sesame seeds, green onions, and sweet & sour chili sauce coat crispy cauliflower, making an picky eater happy.

Next, dive into a tempeh burger, which is meatier than most fast food burgers. Order it with smoked mozzarella and I swear, you won’t miss the beef. The accompanying yam fries are to die for.

6. Wasem Fruit Farm

Wasem Fruit Farm apple orchard, Milan, Michigan

I’m including this one destination outside Ann Arbor because Wasem Fruit Farm is a perfectly reasonable drive of 30 minutes from downtown. Located in Milan, Michigan, this working farm has exactly what you need for fall — hot apple cider, and fresh donuts. All the testimony you need to know it’s good is the line wrapping out the door. Come to eat or to tour, this is a fun spot for the entire family and did I mention fresh, hot pumpkin donuts?

7. TeaHaus

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TeaHaus serves upscale teas and food in a coffee shop setting. The most beautiful aromas waft through the two-room cafe and shop in Ann Arbor’s charming downtown. More than 170 tea tins line the wall and customers are welcome to smell as many as it takes to choose the right tea for the day. I chose a complex and spicy Earl Grey, while the Hubs chose an Irish breakfast tea.

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Owner Lisa McDonald is a font of information, not just about her business but about the entire tea process, from the leaves to the brewing. McDonald is a tea sommellier and it shows in her menu. According to McDonald, TeaHaus is the only one in the U.S. to test all its tea in Germany as certified organic. Germany has the highest standards of quality control which is why all TeaHaus product comes from there.

You can expect gluten-free and vegan selections and tea incorporated into the food. A full English tea is a three-tiered service brought out to each table already set with white china and linens. It includes all the tea you can drink and five finger sandwiches (savories), two scones with jam, jellies, curd, clotted cream, and three desserts. I highly recommend this!

8. Nickels Arcade

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A single strip of shops frames this 1918 structure, which illustrates just how charming Ann Abor is.

9. Aventura

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Chic tapas restaurant offers al fresco dining, happy hour food and drink specials, and sizzling plates of Spanish delicacies. What more could you ask for? I highly recommend the octopus and the stuffed peppers with a glass of sangria.

10. Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Sample coconut-infused honey from the honey stand, shop for handmade wool hats, or pick up locally grown produce — it’s all part of the Ann Arbor Farmers Market in historic Kerrytown.

11. Art Deco Theaters

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Ann Arbor boasts not one, but two Art Deco theatres — State Theatre and Michigan Theatre — which is half of why I love this historic and quaint college town.

12. Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea

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Open and airy coffee shop departs from the rest by serving the French Vietnamese Cafe Au Lait — espresso with condensed milk. Trust me, it’s good. Exposed brick interiors and plenty of seating make this a popular hangout for college kids downtown.

13. Four Directions

This upscale hippie jewelry shop sells precious gems. I picked up an amber pie-shaped ring.

14. Rock Paper Scissors Shop

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Specialty paper, stationary, and gift shop may seem like a quick stop, but trust me, it’s easy to get lost and hard to pull yourself away. Snarky greeting cards alone will detain you.

15. Ann Arbor Art Fair

Ann Arbor Art Fair, Michigan

Established in 1960, the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair is the original of the now four award-winning Ann Arbor Art Fairs. Together, the fairs attract over 500,000 attendees from across the nation.  The Original Fair was named the Number One Art Fair in the country by AmericanStyle magazine readers survey (October 2004) and has made the Top Ten Fairs and Festivals list every year since.

Full of food, art (of course), live music, and even demonstrations, there’s something for everyone at the fair. See my live Facebook broadcast from the Ann Arbor Art Fair this summer!

16. Mighty Good Coffee Shop

Choose how you want the coffee made, it’s roasted onsite. Pick the brand then pick the method of brewing.

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What’s your favorite thing to do in Ann Arbor?

Jessica Peterson
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Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson is a travel filmmaker, photographer, and journalist. She released her first documentary film about indigenous culture on Guam in 2016, after having lived nearly 7 years on the Pacific island. Jessica is currently on the Great American Roadtrip in her Airstream trailer.
Jessica Peterson
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  • Kassie- The Fly Away Life

    This is awesome! Michigan is a state I also seems to pass over when planning a trip but I will definitely have to add it to my list for the future.

    • Because I have family there, I discovered there’s quite a bit of nature to discover in northern Michigan too.

  • I’ve never been to Ann Arbor (or Michigan for that matter). This is the perfect post to save in case we ever make it on the road and can check it off of our ‘see-all-the-states’ list!!

  • I went to undergrad in Ann Arbor.. I love that town so much! Zingerman’s and Real Seafood Co were a couple of my favorite places to eat. There are so many great food places there though, it’s hard to choose! The Art Fair is amazing too. I’d have to add just strolling around the U of M central campus to this list. It’s a beautiful campus.

    • Yes, definitely U of M campus. I mention that in my subscriber-exclusive list of 5 additional things to do.

  • Jim Vail

    I’ll tuck this away for a future visit to Ann Arbor. #wkendtravelinspiration

  • I’ll definitely be returning to this post in the future! We’re only about an hour or so from Ann Arbor! We haven’t made it over there yet to explore though.

  • Every time I find a new travel blog I find a new place in the US that I must visit.This is getting slightly ridiculous. 😉 Thank you though!

  • I scrolled down and hit your first photo of kayaking but I was distracted by the bagels in the second photo. I think I’d like to visit Ann Arbor.