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26 Reasons We Love Ann Arbor
Here's an A to Z list of why we love Ann Arbor, Michigan, from its casually arty Attitude to ... well, you'll Z!
Attitude Every time we visit Ann Arbor, Michigan (population: 112,000), we come back raving--about the vibrant downtown, the eclectic cuisine, the affordable galleries, the sleek museums and, of course, that infectious college-town energy. Just 45 minutes west of Detroit, the University of Michigan's hometown makes a colorful (and tasty) weekend getaway.
Big Blue The University of Michigan blends into downtown Ann Arbor. Take a stroll on the 3,200-acre campus (pictured). 734/764-1817; umich.edu
Ceramics Motawi Tileworks makes Arts and Crafts-style tiles for homes, plus clocks, pendants and other goodies. Come Thursdays for tours. See (734) 213-0017; Midwest Living's review. www.motawi.com
Downtown districts Main Street, State Street and Kerrytown are different, but they share this: almost no chain businesses. (800) 888-9487; visitannarbor.org
Espresso Love Breakfast Stout This smoky, coffee-infused ale is our fave among Arbor Brewing Company's beers. (734) 213-1393; arborbrewing.com
Fried pig's head Sounds awful, tastes great. Try it with mustard at Grange Kitchen and Bar, a fabulous farm-to-table spot downtown. (734) 995-2107; grangekitchenandbar.com
Glass cherries Selo/Shevel Gallery's cheerful bowls of glass fruit make great Michigan souvenirs. (734) 761-4620; www.seloshevelgallery.com
Haute pub grub (pictured) Oven-dried-tomato pizza. Truffle-oil fries. The Jolly Pumpkin turns a pint into a food adventure. See Midwest Living's review. (734) 913-2730; jollypumpkin.com
Intriguing jewelry The tempting selection at 16 Hands Gallery includes watches made from silver spoons. (734) 761-1110; 16handsgallery.com
Juicy steaks Weber's Restaurant and Hotel serves the most tender prime rib in town. (The rooms are comfy, too; from $150.) See (800) 443-3050; Midwest Living's review. webersinn.com
Kneading bread Zingerman's Bakehouse (see Z), hosts hands-on classes where you can learn to make doughnuts, croissants and more. (734) 761-7255; bakewithzing.com
Louis Comfort Tiffany collection The glitzy University of Michigan Museum of Art displays a stunning array of Tiffany glass. Free. See (734) 764-0395; Midwest Living's review. umma.umich.edu
Morning food Cafe Zola's French-inspired brunch menu includes 13 omelets. Our pick: goat cheese and asparagus. (734) 769-2020; cafezola.com
Napoleons Custard-filled pastries cap off an old-world feast of kielbasa and paprikash at Amadeus Cafe and Restaurant. See (734) 665-8767; Midwest Living's review. amadeusrestaurant.com
Open-air art (pictured) Ann Arbor hosts four art fairs at the same time each summer. (800) 888-9487; artfairs.visitannarbor.org
Premieres The tiny Performance Network Theatre stages one new play each year, plus old faves. See (734) 663-0681; Midwest Living's review. performancenetwork.org
Quixotic gifts Shop for decorative papers, bookbinding materials, stationery and more at Hollanders. (734) 741-7531; hollanders.com
Railroad rumble Trains rattle past the Gandy Dancer restaurant, offering a thrillingly gritty backdrop to steak and seafood dinners. See (734) 769-0592; Midwest Living's review. muer.com
Sidewalk cafes (pictured) Spring in Ann Arbor means dusting off the tables and umbrellas for another season of alfresco dining. Ethnic fare, smoothies or subs—you name it, someone's eating it while basking in the sun and smiling.
Taramousalata This addictive, garlicky potato-caviar spread with the texture of whipped butter starts every meal at Mediterrano. See (734) 332-9700; Midwest Living's review. mediterrano.com
Upscale Italian food Forget red sauce. Paesano Restaurant-Wine Bar serves innovative dishes such as chestnut risotto. See (734) 971-0484; Midwest Living's review. paesanosannarbor.com
Vibrant art The nonprofit Ann Arbor Art Center (pictured) has a colorful gallery and hosts lots of classes. (734) 994-8004; annarborartcenter.org
Wind chimes Spruce up your nest with outdoor music-makers from Downtown Home and Garden. (734) 662-8122; downtownhomeandgarden.com
Xtra calories Indulge in a midday truffle at Schakolad Chocolate Factory. (734) 213-1700; schakolad.com
Youthful vibe College towns have a sneaky way of making you yearn for pre-responsibility days. Wallow in the nostalgia (maybe over a slice of pizza) before checking back into reality.
Zingerman's (pictured) Not just a name, but an institution, this family of businesses includes the original deli, a bakery, a creamery and, our latest obsession, the Roadhouse restaurant. Together, they form the backbone of the city's culinary scene. Zingerman's also shares the foodie love via mail-order, so even if you can't visit Ann Arbor, at least you can taste it at home. See Midwest Living's reviews of Zingerman's Bakehouse , Zingerman's Deli and Zingerman's Roadhouse . (888) 636-8162; zingermans.com
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® March/April 2011. Prices and other details can change; please check specifics before making travel plans.)
Links:  http://www.midwestliving.com/slide/highlights-of-ann-arbor-a-to-f