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Four tips for visiting the Ann Arbor Art Fair

Downtown Ann Arbor, Mich., becomes an outdoor art gallery for four days every July, and I absolutely love walking the artisan-booth-lined streets, admiring the craftsmanship, shopping for photographs and jewelry, and dining in one of Michigan’s most diverse food scenes.

The annual Ann Arbor Art Fair attracts a half-million visitors and is comprised of four separate juried art fairs that fill the streets around the University of Michigan campus. After attending this award-winning fair for the past two summers, I’ve compiled some tips for navigating it.

The Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor (Photo by Erin Klema)

The Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor (Photo by Erin Klema)

When to go

The annual art fair runs Wednesday through Saturday in mid-July — usually the hottest week of the Michigan summer. The fair stays open until 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, so I’d recommend attending one evening to visit some of the artists’ booths, listen to some bands (music at the Fountain Stage ends at 7 p.m.) and eat dinner at one of the downtown restaurants. The fair opens at 10 a.m. for those of you looking to make the most of your time. Keep in mind that the fair ends early — at 6 p.m. — Saturday.

Where to park

Parking downtown during the art fair will be your greatest challenge. Streets are closed and downtown garages charge $12 per day or $6 after 5 p.m. — at least that was the rate for 2014. Make life easy and park for free at Briarwood Mall, Huron High School or Pioneer High School. Then take the shuttle that drops you off at the art fair (round-trip fare was $3 in 2014). For more information about the parking and shuttle situation, check out the art fair’s website.

What to see and do

Ann Arbor Art Fair 2013 attendees browse artwork

Ann Arbor Art Fair 2013 attendees browse artwork (Photo by Erin Klema)

The Ann Arbor Art Fair is comprised of four individual art fairs full of artists from around the country. You’ll see photographs of Michigan landmarks and European vistas, handmade handbags, cute children’s clothing, detailed textiles and fiber pieces, unique mixed media, beautiful woodwork, funky sculptures, one-of-a-kind jewelry and so much more! Shops also have street sales and many restaurants set up outdoor seating during the fair.

Where to eat

The Original Cottage Inn in Ann Arbor, Mich. (Photo by Erin Klema)

The Original Cottage Inn in Ann Arbor, Mich. (Photo by Erin Klema)

You’ll find many dining options along Main Street, State Street and the connecting side streets to suit any cuisine you’re seeking — southwest, seafood, barbeque, Indian, Cuban, you name it. Some of my favorite restaurants in downtown Ann Arbor include the Original Cottage Inn for pizza and salads, Black Pearl for fish tacos and cocktails, Ashley’s for its international beer selection and Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery for mac & cheese and bourbon.

More information

For more information about the art fair and Ann Arbor, here are some helpful websites:

(Photo by Erin Klema)

(Photo by Erin Klema)

Wish you were here,


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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Love this art fair…but to really take it all in requires at least 2 days. So plan accordingly and wear comfortable walking shoes.

    July 25, 2014
    • Yes, I would most definitely agree. To really see all four fairs and enjoy some music, visiting for two days is the way to go. Comfortable walking shoes are always a must!

      July 25, 2014
  2. this looks adorable! I love a good art fair.

    July 28, 2014

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