Destination: Ann Arbor

Where to stay, eat and explore

In about two hours, a nonstop flight can have you up to the northern Midwest and away from the Florida humidity.

Granted, winter might not be the best time of year for anyone used to the warmer temperatures, but the spring is beautiful. Ann Arbor, Michigan is a city that has plenty to offer: a giant university, unique fine dining, a thriving “shop local” atmosphere and museums.

WHERE TO STAY

In downtown Ann Arbor, rooms cost between $200 and $300 a night, depending on the season. Another option is moving a bit out of the city center. It’s about a 10-minute drive to The Kensington Hotel at 3500 S. State St.—located just off Interstate 94, which runs from Billings, Montana, to the lower peninsula of Michigan.

The Kensington Hotel

The boutique hotel has 200 newly updated guest rooms and suites. With an urban transitional design, each room includes a marble bath, Beekman 1802 bath/beauty products, deluxe furnishings, plush bedding and complimentary Wi-Fi, among other upscale amenities.

The hotel also features an indoor pool, a dry sauna, a fitness center, a complimentary Viennese coffee bar and a selection of pet-friendly rooms.

The highlights of this hotel are the amenities, attentive staff and luxurious bedding. Staying on the executive level provides access to beverages and snacks, as well as some sweet treats delivered each night.

WHERE TO EAT

There could probably be an entire book written on the vibrancy of the local dining scene in Ann Arbor. One notable business stands out, not only for its food but also its presence and longevity in the community.

Zingerman’s isn’t just a restaurant group, it’s an Ann Arbor institution. The name appears on various businesses nearly everywhere around the city. Many other restaurants in town (and beyond) are led by chefs that once sliced deli meat or cheese at the original Zingerman’s Delicatessen.

Zingerman’s started in 1982 by Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig, originally serving a few sandwiches and traditional Jewish dishes. Now, in addition to having a line extended outside for their deli sandwiches on a regular basis, it also contains a specialty store selling cheeses, jams, coffees, teas and more. Items in the store are mostly available by mail order as well.

Zingerman’s has since added its Bakehouse, the Creamery and the Roadhouse.

For something a bit more refined, the Standard Bistro & Larder, a fairly new addition to the Ann Arbor food scene, offers fine dining and wine selections.

Chef Alex Young, a former James Beard Foundation award recipient and partner to opening Zingerman’s Roadhouse, established The Standard in 2017. A lover of French cuisine, Young’s menu is filled with dishes like pot-au-feu, or French beef stew, ravioli Bolognese, oysters, lobster and one fine recipe for French onion soup.

French Onion Soup at The Standard

The Standard also offers regional French-style wines and cocktails. But for another solid wine option, head a little off the beaten path and find York, formerly called Morgan and York.

At first glance, it’s another high-end deli with fine meats and cheeses, but in the back there’s an impressive wine selection, some bottles costing up to $700 a bottle and some particularly nice ones going for a fraction of that.

At The York some of it’s finest wines go for $700 a bottle.

Tommy York, owner, operator and longtime Ann Arbor resident, is preparing to add a full liquor bar to the establishment to capture business in the evening hours.

WHAT TO DO

Shopping and sightseeing could easily take up a few full days in Ann Arbor. There are high-end shops that can be found in any metropolitan area, like Urban Outfitters, but skip those. There are too many great local shops not found anywhere else.

Muse Atelier is a small vintage boutique owned by Tanya Luz. Items in the shop are curated for authenticity, quality and condition. Jewelry, shoes, dresses and accessories move through this shop fast.

For the more playful and quirky, take a trip to the neighboring town Ypsilanti, or “Yipsy” as the locals call it. For funky candy and novelties there’s The Rocket, which has nothing you need but everything you want, like funny socks, Grumpy Cat items and plenty for the self-proclaimed nerds of Harry Potter, Marvel Comics and Game of Thrones, which includes nearly everyone at this point.

Pop into these smaller stores and be delighted by some of the treasures you didn’t know you needed in your life.

Museum of Natural History

One highly recommended stop is the Museum of Natural History, which opened on the campus of University of Michigan this past spring. There are interactive science exhibits, dinosaur bones and the Digital Dome, which offers a traditional planetarium experience as well as video experiences of other sciences like geology, biology and archeology.

Ann Arbor, and the nearby region, is an enjoyable place. Locals are happy to share their city with visitors, and Midwestern charm and hospitality is alive and well there. ♦

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