Time: 26 minutes, driving
Mileage: 7.4 miles
Sometimes, it’s nice to simply explore and get to know one area rather than hopping to and fro and getting only a taste of each place. Ann Arbor is a town worth relishing, and there is plenty to do within the city limits as well as the immediate surrounding area.
Since it’s a historic city, we’d recommend driving the tow vehicle or toad as much as possible, rather than trying to navigate with an RV. Some of our stops are within walking distance of each other, adding to the ease and immersion of this unique South-Central tour.
Stop #1: Leslie Science and Nature Center, www.lesliesnc.org
Located on the north side of Ann Arbor and with most of the center open to the public year-round, the Leslie Science and Nature Center has been a gift for all citizen and visitors since before its formal establishment in the 1980s – especially for the youngest of them all. One of the most popular attractions is the raptor enclosures, and there are programs throughout the year to introduce you to the occupants. In every season there is something new to see and hear along the one-mile loop of the Black Pond Woods Trail. Geocachers can search for three official geocaches hidden on-site. The Critter House, the home for a variety of native reptiles, amphibians, and more, allows you to get up close and personal. In short, it’s a wonderful location to spend some time outdoors and learn a thing or two, as well as conveniently located to the heart of Ann Arbor. Our next three stops are within a one-mile walking distance from one another, so hop in your vehicle of choice and drive down to…
Stop #2: Kerrytown, http://kerrytown.com
Ask locals where to go and they will likely direct you to Kerrytown portion of Ann Arbor that many feel is distinctive and reminiscent of an earlier time. In addition to the unique shops and eateries (Zingerman’s, anyone?), handcrafted wares, and friendly shop owners, Kerrytown is also home to the 103-year-old Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market, which is open for on-site shopping on Saturdays from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Take your time exploring! It’s easy to walk around and meander into shops as you please, especially with this walking map.
Stop #3: Nickels Arcade
Next up is another shopping district, Nickels Arcade. It’s a covered shopping district that stretches more than 250 feet along a mosaic-tiled corridor – and it houses some of the town’s oldest specialty retail shops.
Stop #4: University of Michigan, https://umich.edu/
Continue walking down State Street toward the campus of the University of Michigan. This historic institution is known for more than its nationally recognized football team. It has one of the best law schools and medical schools in the country, not to mention international recognition across multiple other disciplines. The campus, though extensive, is very walkable, as it’s situated within the city limits. You’ll find exquisite architecture all around, including the Law Quad (think “Harry Potter”), the library, and Hill Auditorium. Visit the Natural History Museum, which is free to the public, or take a walk around the beautiful Nichol’s Arboretum. Of course, you don’t want to forget to see Michigan Stadium, and tours are available if you set them up beforehand. It’s easy to spend an entire day exploring this “mini city” that nearly 50,000 students call home.
Stop #5: Lillie Park
You’ll need to get in a vehicle again to reach our final destination. Lillie Park is a hidden gem on the south side of Ann Arbor. There’s a playground for the kids as well as is a network of short, interconnected hiking trails, including some with wooden bridges and boardwalks that cross ponds. If it’s around mealtime, eat at the pavilion or picnic area. Bring the fishing poles and try your luck at one of the scenic overlooks. There are two entrances off of Platte Road. See the map for complete details.
If you’re in the area this summer…
If you love fairs and festivals, then you can’t beat lively Ann Arbor in the summer. If you don’t like the crowds so much, then maybe choose a different time to visit this amazing city. The nearby quaint towns of Saline, Dexter, and Ann Arbor – all within easy driving distance – also host their share of summer events, so make sure to peek at an event listing before you get into the area!
Ann Arbor Summer Festival, https://a2sf.org/
A2SF is an independent, non-profit dedicated to presenting a world-class celebration of arts and entertainment that enriches the cultural, economic, and social vitality of the region. June-July
State Street Area Art Fair, https://statestreetdistrict.org/fair
The Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair is one of the three nationally recognized and award-winning art fairs, collectively known as the Ann Arbor Art Fair. For 3 days in July, downtown Ann Arbor is transformed into the nation’s largest juried art fair with over 400,000 attendees.