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Weekend Activities in Ann Arbor

kayak on water

Huron River at its most tranquil on a beautiful weekend.

Last spring, I wrote a post about slightly odd things to do in Ann Arbor – special thanks to commenters who added to the list! This summer has been my first one spent in Ann Arbor, so I want to continue the series with some fun summer-time activities in town. Please add your own favorites in the comments – Ann Arbor is a summer city, and there is loads to do!

Kayaking and swimming
Ann Arbor might not be on the Great Lakes, but there are still many options to get to water. My favorite is kayaking down Huron River on the weekends. There is a shorter, 1.5-hour route that leaves from Argo and finishes in Gallup Park, and a 2.5-hour one from Barton Park to Gallup. Both routes are easy and suited for complete beginners, but include tiny, fun man-made rapids you can paddle through. The river is a wonderful experience no matter what, but note that on sunny weekend afternoons you will be surrounded by merry tubers floating along the river at a snail’s pace with beers in hand – depending on your preferences, this might be a delight or an annoyance. If you drive to the canoe livery, both routes include a van ride back to your car.

While lovely for kayaking, Huron River is not ideal for swimming – I speak from (accidental) experience. Instead, head to the Fuller Park Outdoor Pool. The park has something for everyone, with tennis and soccer fields, water slides, and barbecue grills. The pool itself has sections for children, adults who just want to bop around in the water, and lanes for swimmers of different levels of seriousness. There are also sun chairs for lounging by the pool. Bring your own towel, water bottle, and snacks.

Ann Arbor Summer Festival
If culture is more your jam, check out the schedule for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival which runs for a month in June and July. Most of the events take place on Central Campus. There is everything from yoga classes to food and beer tastings, movies, and live music. There are chairs, but I recommend bringing a blanket and claiming a comfortable spot on the grass to watch the sun set while listening to pretty decent music.

The sun sets as the band The Crane Wives plays on Central Campus as part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.

The sun sets as the band The Crane Wives plays on Central Campus as part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.

Smell the flowers
Ann Arbor is filled with parks, but the Arb remains the fairest of them all. I was last there during peony season – and magical fairy season (look for a tiny village built for the inhabitants of the woods near the Washington Heights entrance) – but there is always something different to see depending on what is in bloom.

One of the fairy houses constructed for the fairy folk living in the Arb.

One of the fairy houses constructed for the fairy folk living in the Arb.

Get artsy!
This might fall closer to the “odd things” category than summer activities, but there are many ways to express your inner artist during long summer weekends.

I just had a blast learning how to do silversmithing at the Ann Arbor Art Center. They offer classes ranging from one evening to a semester in things like jewelry-making, ceramics, and painting.

Elina's painting of flowers.

The fruit of my artistic labor and mild day-time intoxication at Painting With a Twist.

I also recommend paint and pours, the perfect combination of low-stress creative expression (you make a painting based on detailed instructions by a teacher) and getting your drink on (you are encouraged to bring drinks with you to sip on while you paint). I recently went to Painting With a Twist.