Autumn fun in Ann Arbor

It’s not all Wolverines and tailgating in Ann Arbor on fall weekends.

Venture beyond the Big House and you’ll find plenty of shopping and cafes along the city’s inviting and pedestrian-friendly main streets ” Main, Washington, Liberty and State, to name a few. Border’s may be gone, but Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room on Main Street is worth a visit. Its shelves are stocked with a fascinating mix of spiritual, New Age, religious and other books, as well Buddha statues, incense and jewelry.

The leafy University of Michigan campus is worth exploring and home to interesting museums, including the Museum of Art. The school’s performing arts students offer plenty of entertainment in the fall, including a variety of music, opera and drama. Check out the University Musical Society for a schedule and venue information. Prefer something outdoors? Explore the hilly landscape of the 123-acre Nichols Arboretum, near the medical campus. The park-like grounds hug the Huron River and include a restored prairie. Outside of town, the Matthaei Botanical Gardens are home to floral gardens, hiking trails and woods.

On Saturdays, long before kick-off, you’ll find the cobblestones streets of Kerrytown swarming with shoppers picking up apples, squash, pumpkins and other fruits and vegetables, as well as baked goods, jams and jellies, cheese and flowers at the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market. If you need to warm up, duck into Zingerman’s Next Door or Sweetwaters Cafe for some interesting coffee and tea choices. Both sell tantalizing pastries, muffins and other treats.

And while you’re in Kerrytown, Zingerman’s Deli – next door to the coffee house – is not to be missed. The selection of cheeses, deli meats, breads, olive oil and vinegars and sweets is overwhelming. You won’t leave without a few packages in hand.

And then there are the restaurants, too many to name here. Among my new favorites are: Mani Osteria & Bar. I like the contemporary ambiance of the dining room, which overlooks Liberty, and the homemade pasta and wood-fired pizza selections. And Jolly Pumpkin Cafe and Brewery on Main Street. You’ll find craft beers and a diverse and trendy menu with fresh and changing specials.

You can find more activities to pack your weekend at Visit Ann Arbor.

Greg Tasker
Greg Tasker is Detroit News Arts and Entertainment Editor and has been writing about travel for more than a decade. His travel stories have appeared in AAA Living, Frommer's Budget Travel, Scouting, AMC Outdoors, Vermont Life and Island Life.