Growing up in Ohio where everyone assumes we’re all Ohio State fans (spoiler alert: I’m really not), it’s basically required knowledge that Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan.
The University of Michigan is home to nearly 45,000 students, but the city of Ann Arbor is home to roughly 122,000 – meaning there’s more to this Michigan city than just the UofM.
On a recent trip to Ann Arbor, I made it my mission to get to know the city beyond its famous university. Because, even though Michigan Stadium is the largest football stadium in America (yes, really), not everyone is a football fan (shocking, I know).
Note: This post was written in partnership with Wanderful and Destination Ann Arbor, who I’m currently an ambassador for! As always, though, all opinions are 100% my own.
A quick Ann Arbor history lesson
Ann Arbor was founded in 1824 by a pair of land speculators before Michigan was even a state. The town became the seat of Washtenaw County just three years later in 1827, and was incorporated by 1833. Ann Arbor lost a bid to become Michigan’s state capital, but instead became the new home of the University of Michigan in 1837 after the university moved away from Detroit.
The rest, as they say, is history – and in fact, the history of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan has been closely linked since 1837.
In the 1960s and 70s, Ann Arbor became a focal point for political activism (especially among left-wing liberals), which I think has influenced the city to this day.
5 reasons to visit Ann Arbor
Here are 5 reasons you should consider a visit to Ann Arbor (that has nothing to do with college football).
1. A character-filled downtown
Downtown Ann Arbor is unlike any “college town” I’ve ever visited or lived in before. Instead of dive bars and fast food joints, Ann Arbor’s downtown is home to historic theaters, vintage clothing shops, independent bookstores, street art, a couple craft breweries, and lots of unique restaurants.
Ann Arbor has a creative, youthful vibe, but without feeling like your stereotypical university town. There’s a reason that it’s consistently named among the most livable cities in America.