Ann Arbor is a beautiful little city. The appreciation for the arts is palpable. There are great foods, activities for families, and liveliness found only in college towns. Best of all, there are plenty of things to do that cost little to no money. Here’s a list of 51 free & cheap things to do in Ann Arbor.
51 Free + Cheap Things To Do in Ann Arbor
Finding Free Or Cheap Things To Do In Ann Arbor is simple when you go through our list. Some of these things will be great days of fun, while others will be a simple trip or visit that takes only a short amount of time. Spending time with your family exploring the city with a fresh pair of eyes will show you amazing new things and help you appreciate this great gem in Michigan. Be sure to check out 100+ Summer Bucket List of Things To do in Michigan
Things To Do In Ann Arbor
- Matthaei Botanical Gardens: For beautiful gardens, trees, and landscapes this is the best location to go. Great for a romantic stroll, having family pictures taken or to share more about plant life with your kids.
- Nichols Arboretum Trails: Here, you’ll find two great trails designed for either the gardener or activist at heart. The Clean Water Trail is particularly great for teaching kids about conservation.
- Delhi Metropark: Complete with grilling areas, a nearby river and great hiking trails this is a fun place to spend with your family hiking then cooking some burgers and hot dogs for a fun evening meal out.
- Hudson Mills Metropark: This giant park has everything from picnic areas to golf courses and fishing areas. It’s a great place to spend time outdoors with your family.
- Free Fridays at Hands On Children’s Museum: Totally interactive for kids and adults, this is a great destination for the whole family.
- Fuller Park Pool and Waterslide: This public community pool is a great place to take kids to splash around and have fun on hot summer days.
- Michigan Theater: Experience an old-school movie theater with great performances and movies at reasonable prices year round.
- Argo Canoe Livery: If canoeing is appealing to you, this is the perfect place to rent one and go for a little exploration on the water.
- Museum of Natural History: From the beginning of time to today, this museum has amazing artifacts and exhibits to learn from and enjoy
- Independence Park: Home of soccer fields galore, it’s a great place for tourists to use playgrounds and walk trails around the park for exercise or just to let kids work off excess energy.
- University Of Michigan Museum Of Art: On campus and easy to find this free museum is a favorite for art lovers visiting the city.
- Bel-Mark Lanes: Take your family bowling for a low price at this great local Ann Arbor bowling alley.
- Kelsey Museum of Archaeology: This is an amazing place to visit and learn more about how fossils are discovered and their impact on our daily lives.
- Dixboro General Store: Step a few miles out of Ann Arbor to go back in time when you visit this classic general store of the olden days.
- The Playground: This recreation center is just outside of Ann Arbor and a great place to take the whole family for an evening of fun. Games, sports and more that suit every member of the family.
- Arctic Edge Ice Rink: This indoor ice rink is located in Canton, just a few miles from Ann Arbor and is a great choice for the ice skating fan in the family.
- Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library: If you’re a history buff or have a project due, take advantage of this free resource. The library collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public archival materials on U.S. domestic issues, foreign relations, and political affairs during the Cold War era, focusing on the Ford administration.
- University of Michigan Law Quadrangle: These stunning, Gothic-style buildings are something to be seen! One of the world’s best law libraries is housed within, in addition to classrooms and offices. The Quad makes the perfect backdrop for awe-inspiring photography.
- Dexter-Huron Metropark: Explore 122 acres of peace and tranquility, just northwest of Ann Arbor. This heavily wooded park offers shady picnic areas, swings, slides, a softball diamond, fishing, and convenient canoe launching.
- State Street District: Stroll this area, particularly during the 50-year-old State Street Art Fair, when 300 artists join forces with merchants and food vendors for a pretty incredible event.
- Main Street: There’s always something fun going on here! Expect film, book, food, and music festivals. Check the website’s event calendar before heading out.
- Gallup Park: This 69-acre park is Ann Arbor’s most popular recreation area. It has scenic walkways, two playgrounds, a canoe livery, fields, trails, picnic areas and grills scattered throughout the park.
- Swift Run Dog Park: Load up Fido and head to this park, which has a large fenced-in field for off-leash play, and both small and large dog runs.
- University Museum of Contemporary Art: This museum isn’t affiliated with the University of Michigan. It’s actually the teaching museum of University Massachusetts Amherst and is a multidisciplinary, international laboratory for the exploration and advancement of contemporary art. Take a peek inside, and maybe even a workshop!
- Kerrytown: Browse the shops inside this cute and modern market space.
- Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase: Have a laugh and an inexpensive night out!
- Revel and Roll: This bowling alley, arcade, and pool hall combined have more than 2,400 square feet of fun, not to mention fabulous dining options!
- Witch’s Hat Brewery: This pub in South Lyon has a wide variety of unique beers year-round and seasonal brews, too. Look out for special events and food trucks, as well.
- Charles Baird Carillon in Burton Memorial Tower: This awesome feat of engineering will be music to your ears! A carillon is a musical instrument consisting of bells played from a keyboard. Thirty-minute recitals are performed at noon every weekday that classes are in session.
- Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market: Check out this 98-year-old market that’s open year-round.
- Find the Fairy Doors: Take your kids on a scavenger hunt to find the decorative fairy doors scattered throughout the city!
- Rolling Hills Water Park: Float down the lazy river, catch a wave in the wave pool, or take a trip down one of the water slides! The Activity Pool has lots of stuff for little ones, including a gentle bubbler, geysers, a waterfall and a kiddie slide.
- Have lunch at the famous Zingerman’s Deli.
- WSG Gallery: Browse the ever-changing exhibitions here.
- Ann Arbor District Library: This library has more to offer than you’d expect, from film screenings to arts and crafts, to concerts!
- Power Center for the Performing Arts: See a show in this modern feat of architecture.
- Cool off at the Heritage Park splash pad in Canton.
- Arbor Brewing Company: Here you can enjoy live music and trivia along with unique brews.
- Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments: See 2,500 historical and contemporary musical instruments from all over the world.
- Planet Rock: This indoor rock climbing experience has something for all ages and experience levels.
- Domino’s Farms: Visit this petting farm for story time, presentations, and giveaways.
- Tour the Jiffy Mix plant and sample the products!
- Creature Conservancy: What started as a rescue center of sorts is now a pretty large non-profit organization that aims to educate and inspire the public to protect the earth’s inhabitants.
- Makielski Berry Farm: Pick your own berries, gourds, and pumpkins!
- Midnight Karaoke: This place offers karaoke to rival the best spots in Tokyo, complete with professional audio equipment and private rooms!
- Water Hill Music Fest: The city erupts in song during this fun day-long event.
- Quality 16: Take the kids to see a free movie, thanks to Quality 16’s Morning Movie series.
- Go sledding! Check out any one of these hills for some free winter fun!
- Volunteer at Ozone House: It’s the only agency in the area that provides free, confidential, and voluntary shelter and support services to homeless youth, including runaways and high-risk teens and their families.
- Paint your own pottery at Creatopia.
- Blank Slate Creamery: Try some Wolverine Tracks flavored ice cream, or if you’re feeling adventurous, Balsamic Strawberry!
These free or cheap things to do in Ann Arbor are great for the whole family to enjoy. Whether you enjoy hiking and outdoor activities, or the quiet of a museum, this list has plenty of great free or low-cost entertainment choices for the entire family.
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