Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor Michigan

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro Traveling Mom

Ann Arbor, Michigan is one of those lucky places that has been able to successfully combine urban hip with retro pizzazz. It is not uncommon to visit Ann Arbor and find the streets buzzing with commotion and people. This is a happening place, and rightfully so. As you can imagine with the growth of Ann Arbor, there are a ton of businesses and things to do to keep one busy for several days. But what if you only had a few hours to tour the streets? What if it was just you and your kids, going against the clock?

Last weekend my family and I took to the streets of Ann Arbor and made a list of our favorite places to visit around Main Street and a couple of fun things to do in the downtown area on only a short day trip schedule. We would consider the following the “Best of” downtown Ann Arbor for families and the things that we would definitely do if we found ourselves only having a short time in the city.


1. Search for Fairy Doors. 

As soon as my two children found out there were fairy doors in downtown Ann Arbor, they weren’t going to let us do anything else until they saw one. Luckily for us, the fairy doors are all over the city and not that hard to find, if you’re looking for them that is. These urban fairies are a big draw for young children and can be found both inside and outside at several businesses, so it is important to keep a conscious eye. We enjoyed wandering around aimlessly and letting the kids try to spot them, but if you have a very limited schedule, you can print off a map ahead of time.

Urban Fairy Doors in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro Traveling Mom

2. See the Michigan Theater. 

The Michigan Theater is a landmark in Ann Arbor and definitely worth seeing, at least once. Also, along with this notable landmark, Ann Arbor is full of several other noteworthy buildings, graffiti filled alleys and colorful blocks of buildings. It is an Instagrammers’ paradise.

3. Dine. 

Choosing a place to eat in Ann Arbor is both difficult and easy at the same time. It is difficult because there are so many great options such as Zingerman’s or Potbelly Sandwich Works to choose from, but at the same time it is easy because a good looking restaurant can be found on almost every block. Since we were short on time, we grabbed a quick sandwich at Potbelly’s, which is always a family favorite.

4. Shop. 

Shopping is always fun in Ann Arbor as eclectic boutiques and stores pepper the streets. Most notably our family’s favorite stop was the Peaceable Kingdom. It’s a knick knack store with lots of adult and child-like appeal. They also had a fairy door with a light switch so we could take a peek inside the fully decorated fairy home!

5. Savor a treat at the Cupcake Station. 

After a full day of fun, we ended our journey with a tasty treat at the Cupcake Station. This little downtown bakery surprisingly pumps out big flavors and artistic combinations. I had the salted caramel cupcake while my children picked out a mint chocolate chip combination and a cookies & cream. For research purposes, I taste tested them all and found each one perfectly delicious. This little bakery also had a couple of comfortable places to sit, relax and upload all of my photos from the day to Facebook. It was the perfect way to end out a fun filled day.

Cupcakes at the Cupcake Station in Downtown Ann Arbor

Photo Credit: Mary Moore / Retro Traveling Mom

Have more time to spend in the area? Check out the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum or take a “Girls Night Out” with friends.