5 FUN and FREE Ann Arbor Activities

American Life, Resources

by Ezra Min

See a PDF version of this guide here: 5 FUN and FREE Ann Arbor Activities

Welcome to Ann Arbor (A2)! A2 is filled with a vast amount of fun things to do, many of which are quite pricy. What about activities that you can do for absolutely free? Here are some top picks amongst locals:

1. Explore Nichols Arboretum

Known to Ann Arborites as “The Arb”, Nichols Arboretum is a massive 123-acre park right outside of the University of Michigan’s central campus. With its winding trails, scenic views, and peaceful atmosphere, it’s a great place for a relaxing evening walk, a morning jog, or afternoon picnic. In May and June, the Arb boasts an incredible display of peonies — the largest of its kind in all of North America (1). The Arb is open year-round, and each season offers a unique and stunning landscape.

2. Mural Hunting

Ann Arbor is famous for its vibrant street art. Ann Arbor’s murals are giant paintings that often fill the outside of a building from ground to roof. Take an evening to walk around downtown and hunt for murals that adorn the sides of buildings, alleys, and other unexpected places. These colorful works of art are perfect for selfies and social media and provide a great way to explore downtown’s curated beauty. New murals are constantly being painted, so keep your eyes peeled!

3. Walk, Jog, Run, or Bike the B2B

The Border-to-Border (B2B) Trail is a 35 mile, 10 foot wide path spanning from Ypsilanti to Stockbridge. The trail is a fantastic way to get some exercise and see the sights of Ann Arbor and the surrounding areas. This extensive path is perfect for walking, jogging, running, or biking. The primary section in the Ann Arbor area runs from Bandemer Park to Gallup Park (2).

4. Visit Museums

The University of Michigan is home to several museums that offer free admission, providing a great way to learn in a fun and free way! Optional donations are accepted in lieu of an admission fee.

  • University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA): This museum features a diverse collection of art from around the world. UMMA also has many outdoor exhibits to check out and study near!
  • University of Michigan Museum of Natural History: Explore fascinating exhibits on dinosaurs, prehistoric life, and the natural world. The museum is great for kids and adults alike — be ready to learn!
  • Kelsey Museum of Archaeology: Kelsey houses a large collection of ancient artifacts from the Mediterranean and Near East, offering a glimpse into ancient civilizations.
5. Special Events

Ann Arbor hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, many of which are free and open to the public. Two of the most popular events that occur in the summer include:

  • Ann Arbor Summer Festival: This month-long celebration features live music, outdoor movies, family-friendly activities, and more as festivities take over Ingalls Mall. Many of the events are free, making it a perfect way to enjoy the summer evenings. You can also purchase food at any of the excellent food trucks near the main stage.
  • Ann Arbor Art Fair: One of the largest and most well-known art fairs in the country, this event showcases the work of artists from all over the world. You don’t need to buy anything to enjoy the incredible art, live performances, and summer sun.
  • Ann Arbor District Library Summer Game: Hosted by A2’s library, this is a super fun way to explore the city! Complete activities, find codes hidden around the city, and earn points to redeem for free prizes. It’s a great way to discover new places and get involved in the community!

Ann Arbor is a city full of fun and free activities, all perfect for enjoying A2’s natural and created beauty. From exploring picturesque trails and hunting for murals to visiting fascinating museums and enjoying lively events, there’s always something to do without spending a buck. So get out there and start discovering Ann Arbor!

(1) https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2023/06/the-largest-heirloom-peony-collection-in-north-america-is-at-peak-bloom-now-in-ann-arbor.html

(2) https://b2btrail.org/explore-the-trail/

Photo Credit: https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/senior-travel/ann-arbor-michigan-best-place-to-retire-us