A vibrant downtown, a strong food culture and a major research university help define Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Home of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is about 50 miles west of Detroit.
“Group tour attendees love the Ann Arbor area,” said Mary Kerr, president and CEO of Destination Ann Arbor. “Wolverine fans, Ann Arbor Art Fair enthusiasts, antiquing aficionados and others find lots to love when traveling to Ann Arbor, and we have a dedicated staff member who is ready to help with all the arrangements for groups wishing to visit.”
Ann Arbor is one of the centers of food culture in the Midwest. The local food economy is discussed with passion, and local farmers’ products are featured prominently on menus.
The Ann Arbor Farmers Market, located in the Kerrytown neighborhood, is on Saturdays year-round. A guided tour can be arranged for a group and most large groups visit the Wednesday market, as it is less crowded than Saturday.
The Zingerman’s community of businesses, including the Roadhouse; the Deli; the Bakehouse; the Creamery; and Miss Kim, a Korean restaurant, is another important component of Ann Arbor’s food scene. What started with a deli in 1982 has expanded into a dozen businesses employing over 700 people.
Those businesses are super picky about ingredients. For example, Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory uses muscovado brown sugar from Mauritius because it has a rich and varied flavor and is minimally processed.
“The old foods were generally produced more sustainably and have more flavor,” said Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman’s co-owner and founding partner. “Our food focuses on traditional and full flavored. When you do that, good things tend to happen.”
Tour planners can set up tasting dinners at dessous, Standard Bistro & Larder, Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina, Gratzi, Adventure, Mani Osteria & Bar, Detroit Filing Station, Slurping Turtle and Ypsi Alehouse.
Hail to the victors
University of Michigan landmarks include the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and the U-M Museum of Art. The archaeology museum displays artifacts and works of art from ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece and the Near East. At the art museum, docents lead tours based on the collections or a special topic of interest. A self-guided tour is another option.
Michigan Stadium, aka the Big House, welcomes 107,601 fans for football games on Saturday afternoons each fall. Guided tours are available for a fee.
Nichols Arboretum is known for its Peony Garden, while the distinctive conservatory at Matthaei Botanical Gardens was designed by Alden B. Dow.
More to see
Since former U.S. president Gerald Ford was a U-M graduate, he decided his presidential library would be built in Ann Arbor. All other presidential libraries include an on-site presidential museum, but Ford’s museum is located in Grand Rapids, 130 miles west of Ann Arbor.
The library’s permanent exhibit of over 100 seldom-seen documents and photos, plus a biographical film, tells the story of Ford and his wife Betty. Special programs can be arranged to show groups how researchers use more than 20 million pages of documents and other materials.
Yankee Air Museum in Belleville is located near the only remaining portion of the Albert Khan-designed Willow Run Bomber Plant. When the plant was in full production during World War II, a B-24 bomber was rolling off the half-mile assembly line every 55 minutes.
“That rate of production was one of the reasons the U.S. won the war,” said Kevin Walsh, executive director.
Flights can be booked in a restored WWII bomber.
For more information on Destination Ann Arbor, call 734-995-7281 or visit destinationannarbor.org.