Artistic and Vibrant Culture in the State Street District
Ann Arbor’s rich history as a destination for arts & culture goes back decades. Seamlessly interwoven with the University of Michigan’s presence as an artistic and theatrical giant in the community, Ann Arbor - and specifically the State Street District on the east side of downtown - is the perfect destination for those who love history, performances, galleries, studios, and more.
The newly-renovated University of Michigan Museum of Natural History is not to be missed. This place will blow you away. Its new Planetarium & Dome Theater will entertain you and educate you with programs from archaeology to zoology and everything in between. The mammoth found just minutes away in the small city of Chelsea will be on display for the first time, along with tons of other new exhibits that are interactive, hands-on, and utterly fascinating. The University of Michigan Museum of Art is one of the largest university art museums in the country. With frequent boundary-crushing exhibitions and events, this super instagrammable museum is an artistic punch in the face. Where can you visit a mummy with a Twitter handle? Right here in Ann Arbor’s State Street District at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. Djehutymose (the aforementioned sarcophagus), is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to WOW moments you’ll have at the Kelsey Museum.
Love classical music? The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra will satisfy your craving for classical - but they also perform pieces rooted in pop culture, like their recent Harry Potter-inspired event and annual Disney show. University Musical Society - better known as UMS - is a world-renowned institution that brings world music and barrier-busting performances to Ann Arbor’s historic venues. The Michigan and State Theaters are historic gems that offer both film and live performances - series of eccentric and international films, internationally-known comedians, and award-winning artistic presentations.
Each January, the Ann Arbor Film Festival descends upon the Michigan and State Theaters. The oldest experimental film festival, this event attracts over 3,000 entries from filmmakers in over 60 countries. A bit later in the year, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival draws eccentric and acclaimed performances from artists all over the world to the State Street District during the summer months. And perhaps most famously, the State Street District is home to one of the four art fairs that comprise the Ann Arbor Art Fair event each summer. Each fair has its own distinct flavor and appeal, and the State Street District’s is a great blend of world-class art, unique retailers (with great sales!), and crafts.
Feeling hungry? The State Street District is home to many outstanding restaurants and bars, with classic American flavors and international influences alike. If you’re a cocktail drinker, look no further than Knight’s Steakhouse on Liberty Street - known for their strong and unique libations and hearty, high-quality food. Slurping Turtle is another great option, with Japanese food that is at once crowd-pleasing and adventurous. Pizza places are numerous in the State Street District - our favorites being Mani Osteria (which has lots of other great Italian food as well) and Cottage Inn (the original!).
There’s also fantastic shopping in this part of downtown Ann Arbor. Stroll through Nickels Arcade and check out Van Boven Menswear, a longtime favorite of locals and visitors alike. Around the corner, both Verbena and Pitaya have trendy women’s clothing, and MDen has all the University of Michigan gear you could ever want.