Ann Ar­bor, MI

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nn Ar­bor is Heart of Amer­ica. It’s easy to get around and at­tracts a di­verse au­di­ence – mu­sic fans, art afi­ciona­dos, the­ater and film buffs, book col­lec­tors, shop­pers, food­ies, en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cates and Univer­sity of Michi­gan alums, known as Big Blues, who hang out at the Big House: the largest sta­dium in the U.S., with an of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity of 109,901.


When Bob Seger wrote his song “Main­street,” he was in­spired by Ann Ar­bor, where he grew up.The sim­pler time and place to which he al­ludes may have changed, but Ann Ar­bor has def­i­nitely re­tained the feel of Main Street, USA. A unique blend of Mid­west­ern ru­ral val­ues and cos­mopoli­tan ur­ban vibe are es­pe­cially ev­i­dent in strong com­mu­nity sup­ported agri­cul­ture (CSA), farm-to-ta­ble and slow food move­ments. In ad­di­tion, the city’s long-stand­ing com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­ity has re­sulted in a litany of awards, in­clud­ing recog­ni­tion as win­ner of the in­ter­na­tional 2010 En­ergy Globe Award for Sus­tain­abil­ity for LED Light­ing Ini­tia­tives at the 2010 World En­vi­ron­ment Day, one of Amer­ica’s Top 50 Green­est Cities by Pop­u­lar Sci­ence, one of Amer­ica’s Best Walk­ing Cities by Preven­tion mag­a­zine, one of Amer­ica’s Health­i­est Home­towns for Re­tire­ment by AARP, one of 21 Top Cities for Cy­clists by Bicycling mag­a­zine and a Tree City USA ev­ery con­sec­u­tive year since 1980.

Why go now:

Af­ter this year’s bru­tal win­ter, folks in Ann Ar­bor are ready to cel­e­brate spring. At Mat­taei Botan­i­cal Gar­dens and Ni­co­las Ar­bore­tum, you can see 20,000 daf­fodils bloom­ing in a row. Lilacs per­fume the air, woody plants show off their flow­ers and peonies be­gin to show off in May. (www.lsa.

A packed cal­en­dar of fes­ti­vals and events in­cludes Ann Ar­bor’s Earth Day cel­e­bra­tion on April 27. May brings the Lenore Mar­wil Jewish Film Fes­ti­val down­town to the his­toric Michi­gan The­ater, ex­hibit­ing films from around the world that illuminate Jewish is­sues and themes. And with more than a hun­dred arts and en­ter­tain­ment venues, there’s al­ways some­thing to hear, see and do.

Spend your day:

Tour the Ger­ald R. Ford Li­brary on the Univer­sity of Michi­gan cam­pus. Dis­tinct from the Ford Mu­seum in Grand Rapids, this mu­seum col­lects archival ma­te­ri­als on U.S. do­mes­tic is­sues, for­eign re­la­tions and po­lit­i­cal af­fairs dur­ing the Cold War Era. (www.­brary/about­lib.asp)

Then, to feed the other side of your brain, walk over to the 10-sto­ries tall Michi­gan Car­il­lons for a chance to see dozens of bells rang­ing from 20 pounds to more than 12 tons each! The bells are played year round from noon12:30 week­days. (­­search/stearn­s_­col­lec­tion)

Af­ter­wards, tour Motawi Tile­works and learn to make a tile. At this stu­dio they founded in 1991, Nawal Motawi and his sis­ter, Karim, share their talent and the skills they de­vel­oped study-

ing sculp­ture and de­sign at Univer­sity of Michi­gan and at Pe­wabic Pot­tery in Detroit.You’ll leave with a true ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the craft of tile-mak­ing.Your tile – dried, fired, glazed and fired over and over – will be shipped to you. (

On Wed­nes­days and Satur­days, browse the Ker­ry­town Farm­ers’ Mar­ket, where you’ll find spec­tac­u­lar pro­duce, plus good­ies like Mill Pond Bread, Mindo Ch­co­late, Pi­lar’s Ga­males and Maite­lates Al­fa­jores (my-tay­lah-tes al-fa-hor-es): dulce de leche filled short­bread cook­ies bap­tized in rich Bel­gian choco­late. (www.ker­ry­

Must do:

Ann Ar­bor is a cul­tural melt­ing pot of in­tel­li­gence, talent and en­trepreneur­ship, all of which is de­light­fully ev­i­dent in the city’s clean, cre­ative down­town – con­sid­ered by many as the best pedes­trian shop­ping in the Mid­west. Look for an eclec­tic collection of used books at Dawn Treader Book Shop, funky metal col­lectibles at Metal (which is also a de­sign and fab­ri­ca­tion shop), the largest collection of dec­o­ra­tive pa­pers in the U.S. at Hol­lan­der’s and Michi­gan cherry prod­ucts at Cherry Repub­lic. But for the sig­na­ture Ann Ar­bor ex­pe­ri­ence, visit Zinger­man’s Deli, the most well-known of the Zinger­man’s Com­mu­nity of Businesses. Started in 1982 by Paul Sag­i­naw and Ari Weinzweig, the Deli started small, serv­ing only a few sand­wiches, tra­di­tional Jewish dishes and a care­fully cu­rated collection of spe­cialty foods.To­day, the Deli serves thou­sands of sand­wiches and is branded as a spe­cialty foods store, sell­ing a mind-bog­gling va­ri­ety of cheeses, meats, olive oils, vine­gars, cof­fees, teas and much more – de­scribed as “gen­uine and hon­est, global and bal­anced.” All these items (ex­cept the sand­wiches) are avail­able by mail. (www.zinger­

Where to eat:

Frita Bati­dos (www. fri­ta­bati­; $$) French-trained owner/chef Eve Aronoff’s “fan­tasy” restau­rant in­spired by her time in Mi­ami. Ex­pect “slow, nat­u­ral and lo­cal” in­gre­di­ents in her Cuban street food:The frita – a burger tra­di­tion­ally made from spicy chorizo served with shoe­string fries on top in a soft egg bun and bati­dos – trop­i­cal milk­shakes made with fresh fruit, crushed ice, and sweet­ened milk, with or with­out rum. Zinger­man’s Road­house (www.zinger­; $$-$$$) Chef and man­ag­ing part­ner Alex Young is the 2011 win­ner of the James Beard Foun­da­tion award for Best Chef: Great Lakes (selected over four Chicago fi­nal­ists). Chef Young com­bines Zinger­man’s pas­sion for a global ap­proach to food (not con­fined to any sin­gle move­ment or in­ter­est) with a pas­sion for lo­cal and nat­u­ral foods.

Where to stay:

Many of the ho­tels in the Ann Ar­bor area boast “Green” cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to help re­duce your car­bon foot­print. Hil­ton Gar­den Inn (www.hilton­gar­deninn3.hil­; $$) Cen­trally lo­cated, in-house din­ing, plunge pool and busi­ness-class ameni­ties make this chain ho­tel a re­li­able choice. Towne Place Suites Ann Ar­bor South (www.mar­; $$) Con­tem­po­rary, techie-style lodg­ing with a hip vibe and zoom-speed In­ter­net.

Get­ting around:

Get­ting around and en­joy­ing the Ann Ar­bor area is, in and of it­self, a “green” ex­pe­ri­ence. More than half of the Ann Ar­bor Trans­porta­tion Author­ity’s (AATA) bus fleet runs on hy­brid tech­nol­ogy. And their all-new fleet of Michi­gan Flyer lux­ury mo­tor­coaches com­prises near-zero emis­sions ve­hi­cles. All down­town lights are LED, which are not only more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient and pro­duce far less CO2, but they also pro­vide a lively am­biance for Ann Ar­bor’s vi­brant nightlife.

Don’t bother:

Try­ing to eat din­ner with­out a reser­va­tion on a Big Blue game day.

So you know:

Even Hol­ly­wood has taken no­tice of the area. Scenes for Drew Bar­ry­more’s de­but, “Whip It” and Hil­lary Swank’s new film, “Betty Ann Wa­ters,” were filmed in nearby Yp­si­lanti.

More in­for­ma­tion:

Ann Ar­bor Con­ven­tion & Vis­i­tors Bureau. (

Ann Ar­bor caters to the so­phis­ti­cated au­di­ence of a univer­sity com­mu­nity with an im­pres­sive collection of pub­lic art and ar­chi­tec­ture, well-en­dowed mu­se­ums and a vi­brant gallery scene. But the most hal­lowed green space in town is Univer­sity of Michi­gan foot­ball field.

Ann Ar­bor artists Claudette Jo­ce­lyn Stern and John Daniel Wal­ters own METAL, a de­sign and fab­ri­ca­tion stu­dio that pro­duces sculp­tural, util­i­tar­ian and me­chan­i­cal forms from metal - many of which are made from re­pur­posed vin­tage ma­te­ri­als

Down­town Ann Ar­bor is con­sid­ered by many to be the best pedes­trian shop­ping area in the Mid­west, blend­ing Mid­west­ern ru­ral con­ser­vatism with a cos­mopoli­tan ur­ban vibe. (Photo, Ann Ar­bor CVB)

Zinger­man’s is a fam­ily of small food-re­lated com­pa­nies and en­tre­pre­neur­ial ven­tures in Ann Ar­bor. Each year, thou­sands of vis­i­tors sam­ple and pur­chase huge corned beef sand­wiches, an ex­cep­tional ar­ray of farm­house cheeses, es­tate-bot­tled olive oils, va­ri­etal vine­gars, smoked fish, salami, cof­fee, tea and much, much more. Alex Young, chef at Zinger­man’s Road­house, is the 2011 win­ner of the James Beard Foun­da­tion’s Award for Best Chef in the Great Lakes Re­gion.

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