Detroit has gotten the most buzz lately, but its underrated neighbor Ann Arbor has all of the “Midwestern charm” and just enough cosmopolitan flair to satisfy New Yorkers looking for a quick weekend getaway. The Michigan town offers world-class performing arts and the great dining and museum experiences that you would expect from a top-tier college town. The semester may be over, but Ann Arbor shines in the spring as Michiganders and visitors alike explore the town’s bustling Main Street and farmers market. Here’s how to spend a long weekend there.
Pop into Slurping Turtle (608 E. Liberty St., 734-887-6868, slurpingturtle.com) for a quick lunch at the Chicago import. Try the classic Tokyo shoyu ramen, slurping encouraged.
Late spring is peony season at the university’s Nichols Arboretum (1610 Washington Heights, 734-647-7600, mbgna.umich.edu), and locals and tourists alike flock to take in the seasonal blooms.
Afterward, explore the University of Michigan’s expansive collection of public art. There are more than 100 pieces to discover, with well-known installations including Maya Lin’s “Wave Field” and Tony Rosenthal’s “Endover” cube (you might recognize its “cousin” at Astor Place).
After a tapas dinner at the bustling Cuban-inspired Frita Batidos (117 W. Washington St., 734-761-2882, fritabatidos.com), head to a performance at The Ark (316 S. Main St., 734-761-1818, theark.org). The intimate 400-seat club is regarded as one of the best contemporary folk music clubs in the country.
Ann Arbor Farmers Market (315 Detroit St., 734-794-6255) kicks into high gear during spring. Grab a coffee and a bagel sandwich (the #446 Paprika Sunrise — paprika fried eggs, pea shoots and cheddar cheese on a toasted sesame bagel — is a favorite) from the renowned Zingerman’s Delicatessen (422 Detroit St., 734-663-3354, zingermansdeli.com) to sustain you as you stroll. It just might keep you stuffed until dinner.
Spend the rest of the day exploring the boutiques that line Main Street and adjacent blocks, including indie bookstore Literati (124 E. Washington St., 734-585-5567, literatibookstore.com) and long-standing outdoor gear shop Bivouac (336 S. State St, 734-761-6207, bivouacannarbor.com).
Go farm-to-table at the upscale Grange Kitchen and Bar (118 W. Liberty Rd., 734-995-2107, grangekitchenandbar.com), which turns out dishes such as wild-caught Michigan lake trout with fried Brussels sprouts and pickled cauliflower. Then grab a nightcap around the corner at The Last Word (301 W. Huron St., thelastwordbar.com).
Neighboring Ypsilanti is home to the Yankee Air Museum (47884 D St., 734-483-4030, yankeeairmuseum.org). Take an early-morning flight in the museum’s historic C-47 Skytrain, a World War II-era military transport aircraft ($95/person). During the seven-minute trip, you’ll get great views of the Big House, University of Michigan’s famed stadium, among the largest in the world.
For the last hurrah, have lunch at Ollie Food + Spirits (42 E. Cross St., 734-482-8050, ollieypsi.com), a new addition to the Ypsilanti food scene. The menu is filled with classics — think burgers and club sandwiches — that rely on fresh ingredients from local purveyors.
GOOD TO KNOW
Getting there: Most major carriers fly direct from New York into the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The flight is quick — about 90 minutes — and Ann Arbor is a 30-minute drive from the airport.
Getting around: Ann Arbor’s city center is easily walkable, but Uber and Lyft are readily available if you need to go further afield.
Where to stay: The Ivy League-inspired Graduate Hotel (615 E. Huron St., 734-769-2200, graduatehotels.com) has a cozy club feel, with lots of plaids and dark wood. Friendly staff and sweet touches like milk and cookies at turndown will make you feel like you’re in a dorm — in a fun way, of course.