Only 24 hours into my Michigan journey, and it feels like I’m just getting started!
My first few hours in Ann Arbor consisted of getting my Nashville on, checking out Zingerman’s Deli, and seeing how Michigan does BBQ. Today’s post starts with The University of Michigan and ends with a tipsy kayak ride along Gallup Pond.
72 Hours in Michigan: Part 2
Go blue! No stop in Ann Arbor is complete without a visit to the University of Michigan. Friday afternoon, Chelsea took me on a brief tour of the campus. It was beautiful, and it reminded me a bit of Vanderbilt with its lush, tree-covered quads. It also seemed to me an eclectic mix of old and modern architecture. Our tour took us past the Ross School of Business, the William W. Cook Legal Research Library, the law school and its quad, and the Hatcher Graduate Library. Other noteworthy sights: a man playing a washboard, a girl setting up her own hammock in central campus, and several students moving in early.
Some interesting campus facts I learned from Chelsea the tour guide:
- The Martha Cook Building, a female-only residence hall, has tea time for its residents every Friday from 3:30-5 p.m.
- The flagpole displayed in central campus was purchased at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.
- Ann Arbor consistently ranks among one of the smartest city in the U.S. (Which makes sense given the concentration of educators and university employees that live there.)
- The University of Michigan ranks 29th on the list of top universities in the U.S.
After our campus tour, we wandered around downtown Ann Arbor. There aren’t too many super tall structures in A2 (as the locals call it), and a lot of the 1950s-60s architecture has been preserved. The city has a lot of small town charm but with the hustle and bustle of a larger metropolitan area. My overall impression is that it feels intimate and accessible, but there’s always plenty to see or do. (For my Ohio friends–it reminds me of the Short North in Columbus, but, like, times five.)
Aside from the architecture, I noticed that all of the fire hydrants were painted different colors and patterns. Years ago, the “Fire Up Downtown” initiative gave middle, high school, and college-aged students the opportunity to paint 39 fire hydrants downtown. Not sure if this is still an opportunity available to local students (since Fire Up Downtown seems to have occurred in 2003), but A2 is certainly not at a loss for public art.
One of the highlights of our afternoon was Graffiti Alley–an alleyway specifically dedicated to displaying the works of local graffiti artists. Anyone is welcome to display their art. In fact, as we were leaving the alley, I noticed three young adults readying their spray paint cans.
We didn’t budget any time for window-shopping, but I’m positive you could spend several days checking out all the shops downtown.
No Friday afternoon is complete without happy hour. We stopped at Sava’s, an upscale restaurant with a modern-meets-industrial vibe with just a sprinkle of femininity. They offer $3 off all specialty cocktails during happy hour. (Considering the price of some of their cocktails, I was happy to save a few bucks.) Two gentleman at the bar near us were speaking French. What a happy hour this would be.
round 1//champagne in the shower (
ingredients//st. george terroir, st. germain, cremede violette, lavender syrup, bubbles
As I mentioned in part 1 of this series, I love anything lavender, so I had to try this cocktail.It was also one of the teeny weeniest cocktails I’ve ever had, but its potency was not lost on me. I loved the name of this drink. I really felt like I was drinking champagne in the shower (sans the shower and nudity, of course). This would make a great drink for either a girl’s night in or a bridal shower.
round 2//ginja star (
ingredients//bulleit bourbon, intense ginger liqueur, grand marnier, muddled ginger, flamed angostura bitters, ginger beer
As you can see, making the Ginja Star was quite a process. (I love when my drink glass comes pre-blow-torched.) I enjoyed the way the ginger in this cocktail united the sweetness of the grand marnier and the bitterness of the bourbon. I also liked the name. Of note: Apparently bourbon makes me talk like I’m from Boston because I kept referring to this drink as the ginja “stah.”
While enjoying our drinks, we had the foresight to place a pizza order. After finishing up at Sava’s, we headed across the the street to pick up our veggie pizza and cinnamon sticks from Pieology. And, of course, we ate some on the drive back to Chelsea’s. I’m not a thin crust kind of gal, but the price was right and the carbs were well-received by my alcohol-filled stomach.
At the park, we were instructed by a parks and rec employee, who couldn’t have been older than 17, to “be back by 10:30.” Right on! The events page instructs participants to “watch for wildlife as you paddle your boat.” We didn’t see much wildlife, besides a Canadian goose or two, but that could be because we decided to do some kayak karaoke to pass the time. We sang “Don’t Stop Believin'” at least two times.
I’m glad we had the opportunity to watch the sun set while kayaking through the tree-lined, lily-pad filled lake. I don’t mean to brag, but I think Chelsea and I have a good shot at participating in doubles kayaking at the summer Olympics in 2020.
Once we made our way back to the dock (before 10:30!) the employee asked if we had fallen in. I explained to him that we hadn’t, but that we had been throwing kelp at one another. No further questions, your honor.
Let the good times roll! We wound up bar-hopping downtown looking like swamp people. This was an adventure in and of itself because Chelsea had forgotten her ID at the park. We started at Scorekeepers, which I imagine is packed when school is in session. It’s a large bar with two balcony spaces and lots of big screen TVs. There were only about five or six people sitting at the bar that evening. We explored the balcony spaces, and, as “Don’t Stop Believin'” played through the speakers, we found ourselves singing along to this song for the third time that day.
We ended the evening with some heart-to-heart conversation at Ashley’s. Much like Scorekeepers, this seems like an Ann Arbor staple. They have a jukebox, which is cash only. After learning this, I walked back to our table, dejected. However, our server was kind enough to give me $2 so I could could play our song: “This Is How We Do It.” Consider my spirits lifted!
Travel tip: All restaurants and bars check your ID in Michigan. So if you plan on drinking in this state, don’t forget your ID!
That’s all I have to report from Friday. In part 3, I’ll recount our visit to Detroit–a vibrant city despite its financial hardships.