Fun Things to do in Ann Arbor, Michigan with Kids
While best known as the home of the Michigan Wolverines and the “Big House,” Ann Arbor is so much more than just a college town; it’s also a fantastic family destination. Follow my one-day itinerary with these fun things to do in Ann Arbor, Michigan with kids.
Fun One-Day Itinerary for Visiting Ann Arbor with Kids
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum Through Early Afternoon
The most kid-friendly attraction in town is the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Located downtown, this kid’s museum offers a great mix of hands-on playing and scientific education. There is a dedicated area for preschool aged kids, too. You can easily spend the better part of an entire day here. The museum is located near plenty of restaurants for lunch, and they let you come and go throughout the day with your purchased ticket.
Late Lunch at Jerusalem Garden
After playing all morning, our family is always hungry for a delicious lunch. And to fill that bill, let me recommend Jerusalem Garden, serving up authentic Palestinian food located only two blocks south of the Hands-On Museum. The founder, an immigrant from Jordan, was born in a small village outside Jerusalem but passed away in the early 1990s. His family keeps his legacy alive by running the restaurant and continuing to cook all of his delectable Old World recipes.
We always stop by Jerusalem Garden in the early afternoon to avoid the lunch and dinner crowds and it works out perfectly. The homemade kibbeh and falafel are out of this world and both the chicken shawarma with hummus plate and kafta kabob are incredible. Everything we ordered was flavorful, fresh, and absolutely superb. The prices are very reasonable and there is something on the menu for everyone, even the pickiest of eaters. Everything we ate we enjoyed and devoured; that was true for our kids, too.
Fun and Photos at the University of Michigan Campus
After lunch, driving down to the University of Michigan campus for a couple of stops is always one of the fun things to do in Ann Arbor with kids. The University of Michigan Museum Of Natural History is free to visit and has four floors of exhibits, including the largest display of dinosaurs in the state of Michigan. The lower two floors are the most interesting for the little ones and especially for any kids who like dinosaurs and animals. You can see all the exhibits in an hour or so and then walk across campus for some unique family photos.
From the museum, it is a short walk to the University of Michigan Law Quadrangle. The old, Gothic-styled buildings make it look like you are taking pictures at an Ivy League school or maybe on a Harry Potter movie set. If there is a little snow on the ground, you’ve got the perfect set-up for holiday cards.
Dinner at a Famous Deli
While many delis close after lunch, Ann Arbor’s famous Zingerman’s Deli stays open for dinner. Their menu is broad, including classic deli style sandwiches, a dedicated Jewish section and a flavorful and healthy kids’ menu. On a side note, our oldest daughter swears they have some of the best homemade pickles in the world, and you get to choose one with every sandwich! I can never get enough of their #48: fried knishes and matzo ball soup.
Make sure you also stop by Zingerman’s Bakery next door to pick up some fresh baked bread and pastries. My favorites are the chile cheddar bread and chocolate sourdough, but they also have special and seasonal bread offerings like cranberry pecan, chocolate cherry and peppered bacon farm bread. And don’t forget to grab a Zzang bar before you leave; these small-batch homemade candy bars are incredible!
Drive Just a Little Way for Dessert
For dessert, I highly recommend driving about five miles to the west side of town and visiting the Grand Traverse Pie Company. While you can find the Grand Traverse Pie Company throughout the state of Michigan, I love their ABC Pie so much that I always make my poor family stop by whenever we are in the vicinity of one of their stores.
You can order any of their pies by the slice or you can buy the entire thing. They also offer ice cream and coffee to complete your dessert needs. I have tried about a dozen of their fruit pie varieties and every one of them has been phenomenal. Their cream pies are wonderful too! It is well worth the drive outside of downtown for a slice of their homemade goodness surrounded in flaky crust.
Where to Stay in Ann Arbor, MI
Our favorite hotel in Ann Arbor is Hilton Garden Inn located just south of downtown. The hotel includes an indoor pool with a kids’ play area which is perfect for the fickle Michigan weather. The location is less than four miles from downtown Ann Arbor which keeps you separated from the busyness of campus, especially if there is a home football or basketball game in town. Hilton also offer other options for staying in or near Ann Arbor, MI.
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Amy grew up in Southern California but has lived all over the globe. Her latest move brought her to Panama City, Florida, where she lives with her…