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What to Do in Ann Arbor

By Shirley

Peony Garden in June 2023

New to town and wondering what to do? Here is a list of places you should check out.

For Concerts, Plays and Shows:

The University of Michigan Music, Theater and Dance Schools offer many concerts and events free of charge mostly during the school year (September through April). There are a number of concerts by undergraduate and graduate students and visiting artists. Some are also live streamed if you can’t leave the house. Visit their website for more information on their concerts:

The University of Michigan Music Society organizes some of the best concerts in town. They bring artists from around the world. Tickets for most of these concerts and events go quickly and it is advisable to buy them in advance. They also offer smaller, more intimate events at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse. 

If you want to listen to American music - bluegrass, folk, jazz, western, and more, and want to mingle with true Ann Arborites, check out the Ark. The Ark has a more intimate atmosphere because it is not a concert hall, it is a club. Tickets for concerts sell fast and you should buy yours in advance.

The Michigan Theater and State Theater offer films but also concerts, plays, talks, readings and shows. Check their schedule for more information.

Another place that offers concerts and exhibits is the Kerrytown Concert House. This is a very small venue - it is a house - therefore tickets should be bought in advance.


Right smack in the center of Ann Arbor, or to be more precise, the center of the University of Michigan, you will find several museums. The UMMA (University of Michigan Museum of Art) is a very nice art museum, with rotating exhibits and different galleries, all of  which you can visit in one afternoon. They offer talks and curator-led exhibition tours for those interested in the visual arts.

Another University of Michigan Museum worth visiting is the Kelsey Museum of Archeology. It is a small museum with a very nice collection of artifacts, curator-led tours and talks about their exhibits.

One of the places children enjoy visiting the most is the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. Dinosaur bones and a planetarium dome theater - do I have to say anything else? Ah, yes! Admission is free. For those whose children are staying here during the summer, the museum is offering Summer Camps. Registration is open. Learn more on their website:

If you have children aged 6 months to 10 years, you have to take them to the Hands on Museum. They have exhibits that promote curiosity and learning, or in other words, the children love to play and explore the colorful exhibits.

IN Walking Group at Gallup Park


If the weather is good, and your children like playing/exploring the outdoors and learning about animals, check the schedule of activities for the Leslie Science and Nature Center.They also offer children’s summer camps.

What better way to spend a spring morning than going for a walk which, along with exercise, can give you a better understanding of the city you live in and its history? I learned from Barb B., one of IN’s founding mothers, that in commemoration of Ann Arbor’s bicentennial, 15 self-guided walking tours were created - Ann Arbor Smart Tours (also referred to as A2 Smart Tours). They range from a basic tour for those who are new to town, to historic tours and even a scavenger tour. At each stop on your tour, you can use your phone to read about each site and its historic importance. Some tours can also be accomplished by bike or by car. If you decide to complete all of the tours this year, you can get a certificate of completion from the mayor’s office. Learn more about Ann Arbor Smart Tours at

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 N. Dixboro Road, provide another opportunity for walking and learning. They have 11 outdoor gardens and a conservatory. Matthaei Botanical Gardens | Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum (

The Nichols Arboretum, 1610 Washington Heights, is an urban paradise for those who like the natural environment. There are 3.5 miles of trails that wander through six different areas of the park. Wonderful anytime, but especially in June, when the peonies are in bloom. Nichols Aboretum | Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum (

Photos by Shirley

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