Here in Ann Arbor, we know we live in a pretty special place (actually, the #1 place to live in the United States!). So when our town shows up on numerous “best of” lists each year, we’re reminded to be truly grateful for our extraordinary city – which was recently named the most walkable town in the Midwest!

Ann Arbor has grown accustomed to celebration. This college town (named the best college town in America) — which is beautiful yet cute, intellectual but fun — is constantly regaled with awards and often tops the “best of” lists. Despite being one of the most educated cities in the United States (thanks to the ideas and intellectualism coming from the superb University of Michigan).

There are tons of ways to unwind around Ann Arbor, from reading a book at the stunning Law Library (named one of the most beautiful libraries in the country) or at one of our many independent bookstores, to taking a walk in the gorgeous Nichols Arboretum or Matthaei Botanical Gardens (and don’t be afraid to come solo – Ann Arbor is one of the top destinations for singles travel!). And since we’re so entrenched in nature, locals tend to care deeply about the environment and make a deliberate effort in day to day life to care for the earth – apparent in events like the Mayor’s Green Fair. Ann Arborites’ commitment to environmental friendliness makes our city one of the greenest in the country - so relax and breathe in some clean Ann Arbor air in the best mid-size city in the Midwest!

But don’t worry — when we want to get riled up, we can! Ann Arbor is one of the best towns for college football because on Saturday game days, we all bleed maize and blue. Michigan is a classic Big 10 university town that can keep the enthusiasm for the home team going all weekend long. In Ann Arbor, we really can have it all!

However, there are certainly other ways to spend the weekends right here in southeastern Michigan. Want to get the true Michigander experience in autumn? Go to Ypsilanti and breathe in the crisp fall air at one of the best cider mills around: Wiard’s Orchards. Named one of the best cider mills around Metro Detroit, this Ypsi orchard is a great place to enjoy a classic Michigan tradition of donuts and cider. However, Wiard’s has more than the typical cider mill — there are also several haunted attractions on the premises that will get you in the Halloween mood.

After a long day at the office, unwinding with friends, snacks and perhaps a drink or two becomes a necessity. Ypsi has some of the best happy hours in the area. At Maiz Mexicana Cantina and Sidetrack, you can help yourself to tasty drinks and great bar snacks. These bars are fun but not too crazy — perfect for a low key happy hour.

In the Ann Arbor area, the opportunities to commune with nature are boundless. But the best spot to bike and hike near a cute, small town? That’s only in Dexter. Dexter’s Potawatomi Trail, which starts in the Pickney recreation area, is one of the best road trips from Detroit. It’s the perfect place to release some of your stress from the city, bond with family and friends, and reawaken your senses in the greenery.

Chelsea has small town charm with proximity to big cities, making it the perfect place to raise kids — one of the best, we might say. Chelsea has some of the best public schools in Michigan, prioritizing safety and learning for the little ones. On nights off from the kids, there’s plenty to do in town, with live music and some of the best theater in the area at Jeff Daniel’s The Purple Rose.

Think there’s a better place to settle down than Saline? Think again. The small town with a lively, fun energy was named one of the best places to live in the United States. The town hosts a number of colorful, zesty festivals to bring the town together and learn about culture through food, fun and dance. There’s practically a festival for every season, including the Saline Summerfest, the Harvest of the Arts Oktoberfest, the Saline Celtic Festival and the Saline Winterfest.

Milan’s emerging downtown area isn’t just enjoyable and entertaining — it’s also been recognized nationally as an accredited Main Street America program. This acknowledgement is a direct result of the robust community engagement in Milan, who are planning events and creating a connection between the town and the community. And good things are just going to keep coming to Milan — Main Street America programs generated billions of dollars in local reinvestment and generate thousands of new jobs across the country. With this new economic growth coming to the central business district, Milan is certainly one to watch.

Everything you need to know about the Ann Arbor area can be described in that one little word you’ve heard so many times — best. We don’t settle for second place around here! If you’re coming to Ann Arbor, be prepared to eat, drink and experience excellence. 

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