Before you throw tomatoes at an Ohio girl visiting our rival city, hear me out.  I think it’s time we put away our differences and embraced the beautiful state of Michigan.  Once you hear all the great things to see (and especially to eat) in Ann Arbor, I’m sure you’ll be ready to let bygones be bygones.

Ann Arbor is so much more than the University of Michigan; it’s only a 3 hour drive from Columbus, and I consider it to be the perfect overnight stay to explore the rest of Michigan.  If you are continuing on to visit more of Michigan, such as any of the Great Lakes, Ann Arbor is a great choice for an overnight stay enroute from Columbus.  Michigan has so much to offer, and this city is big enough to keep you interested, but small enough to enjoy by foot.

We were thrilled to be hosted by Destination Ann Arbor.  Their suggestions for what to do and see were just what we needed.  Unfortunately, we were there on a Monday which meant many of the museums and restaurants were closed.  That just means we have to come back!  Right?  I will tell you about where we stayed, what we saw, and what we ate.


We were put up at the Graduate, which was incredible!  I’ve stayed in my share of hotels, so it takes a lot to “wow” me, but what struck me the most about this hotel was all the details in the decor.  For example, at the check-in desk, there is a whole wall decorated with vintage rulers.  There were beautiful tables, lighting and wall art.

Parking was $25 a night, and no wonder, because the hotel is in a great location.  You’re within steps of the Michigan Theatre and some great restaurants.  I read on their website that in the summer, they have bicycles available.  I want to go back just to ride around town!  I say what you get with this hotel is location, adorable decor and some super comfy beds.


There are many museums that we didn’t get to explore because they were closed, but we got recommendations from Destination Ann Arbor about what to explore.  Jared and I talked a lot about the importance of Visitors and Convention Bureaus for getting the “inside scoop.”  Who knows what the city has to offer better than those working here?  They simply have a wealth of knowledge that can really enhance a trip.  At times, they can even save you money.  For example, when we were in Napa Valley last month, we visited the Napa Visitor Center and got coupons for wine tasting.  Those coupons added up, too.  With a buy one get one free coupon, we saved $30 on a wine tasting.  It’s always worth visiting the visitors bureaus for the insight scoop.  I’m certainly glad there are people who are true cheerleaders for their cities and can share their tips and tricks.  We ended up following this guide to “Selfie” locations created by Destination Ann Arbor.

Even if you don’t take selfies, you can still have a lot of fun seeing the quirky highlights of the city.  One of my favorite things to do in any city is walk around and explore, and this was just the ticket!

To get your own copy of this, and other guides for the city (which I highly recommend) visit one of the Destination Ann Arbor offices:

Ann Arbor: 315 W. Huron St.

Ypsilanti: 106 W. Michigan Ave.

Their Instagram also has great recommendations for things to do, as well as their Facebook page.

Here were some of the highlights we experienced from checking out places in the guide:

University of Michigan Law Quad

Singing in the Rain Mural

Michigan Theater

Nickel’s Arcade

We also visited some of the Fairy Doors.  There are tiny doors throughout the downtown area and they’re really cute.  One was right below the ticket counter at the Michigan Theater.

One of our other favorite places was Graffiti Alley.  I think some people either love it or hate it, but it smelled of fresh paint and I loved the fun colors!


Mini-Day Trip: Ypsilanti

This little town is only 20 minutes away, and I found it very picturesque.  Truth be told, the only thing I knew about this city was that it contained the “World’s Most Phallic Building.”  According to a local urban legend, the building will crumble if a virgin ever graduates from the nearby Eastern Michigan University.  So, naturally, you have to at least drive by and see this building.

The town itself was quiet and pretty to drive through.  I really enjoyed the architecture and colors of the buildings.

On the drive back to Ann Arbor, you can visit the Zingerman’s Bakehouse.  It’s in quite a large complex.  We stopped here to visit the newly renovated coffee shop where you can see the beans being roasted.  It was the perfect pick me-up and seriously one of THE best lattes I’ve ever had.


Zingerman’s Deli

Obviously, we enjoyed the Zingerman’s Coffee Shop, but we had to visit Zingerman’s Deli.  We ended up eating here twice, because it was that good.  (Plus I wanted another latte.)  This place is deserving of the hype.  It’s got great food.  It’s a little overwhelming for someone who hasn’t been there before; there are a lot of choices and it’s a large space.  Just ask an employee for help!

Mani Osteria and Bar

This place had great italian food.  We shared a Puttanesca pizza and the ravioli and the ingredients were unique and good.  We each got a different cocktail to try: the Mani Negroni and the Vesuvious.  I highly recommend either!  They were both good.

Sava’s Restaurant

We both loved our breakfast here.  He ordered the hash and I had the daily omelet special.  Huge portions and very tasty!  Honestly, we probably could have split one breakfast and been full!  But what’s the fun in that?

Tio’s Mexican Cafe

We got the 6 taco plate and split it, and tried some of their tequilas.  We happened to be here for Monday night trivia, and that was so much fun!  We ended up staying for two full rounds.  It made me want to look for a local trivia night!

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Ann Arbor and I highly recommend it as a stop-over on your journey through Michigan.  We love visiting the Michigan lakes, and this city would break up a long 8 hour drive to Traverse City.  There is plenty to eat, and plenty quirky cool things to see, that it makes it a great little visit!

Have you ever visited Ann Arbor?

Nina Thomas

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  • Kasey March 5, 2018 on 4:09 PM Reply

    What a fabulous get away! You have definitely highlighted the exact places I would hope to run across in a 3 day trip. The sight seeing and food is well worth the trip, even for an Ohio girl. Great article!

    • Nina Thomas Kasey March 5, 2018 on 6:30 PM Reply

      Thank you! Ohioans can be Michigan lovers too!