Congratulations to all the poindexters – and no, we don’t mean the popular coffee chain – for making Ann Arbor the most educated city in America, compared to 150 other major metropolitan areas.
All in all, Tree Town proved itself to have the second-highest percent of high school diploma holders, the highest percent of associate and bachelor’s degrees and the highest percent of graduate degrees. The University of Michigan and surrounding colleges also landed Ann Arbor third on the list of highest university quality. Of course this is nothing new for U-M, which regularly finds itself on the top of lists comparing American universities.
While students, faculty and alumni are the main focus of these studies, you don’t need to be a scholar to hit the books. The university isn’t the only knowledge-centered attraction in town, after all!
If you’re on the quest for higher learning that’s plenty of fun, too, make sure to hit up some of these top Ann Arbor educational attractions.
1. Bookstores galore
Hit the books. Other “top 10” lists Ann Arbor has landed on are: The best cities for book lovers (ranked No. 3), the most book stores per 10,000 residents (ranked No. 7) and the 20 most well-read cities (No. 4).
Remember Borders? Ann Arbor was home to the bookseller’s flagship store. While Borders is gone now, there are still plenty of independent bookstores where you can pick up everything from Charlotte Bronte to Charlotte’s Web. Many stores, like Literati and Nicola’s Books offer story time and interactive events for kids too (check out their websites to plan a family-fun trip ahead of time).
If the kids groan at the thought of a traditional bookstore, Ann Arbor is also home to the comic book store Vault of Midnight, so they can brush up on their Stan Lee references. (Hey, reading is reading, right?)
2. Natural learners
If your kids love science and nature, pop into the Leslie Science & Nature Center or The Creature Conservancy. Both of these centers will teach kids about the animal kingdom, and the importance of conservancy.
If you want hands-on learning with nature, hit the trail behind Leslie, the U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum or head to the Bird Hills Nature Area, Thurston Nature Center or one of many parks and nature areas around the city.
Kids can learn the lay of the land by hiking through the trails and paths coursing through these areas.
3. Young thespians
If your kids walk around singing the soundtracks to Annie and Wicked or if they want to know more about high kicks and jazz hands, take them to see a production – or sign them up to be in one – at one of Ann Arbor’s many theaters.
The best-known is Michigan Theater, which features hour-long educational productions like The Magic School Bus through its “Not Just for Kids” program. The Wild Swan Theater also features kid-friendly productions and has classes, workshops and camps available for people of all ages.
You head to the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre or the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, too, to take in shows or sign up for workshops.
4. Mapping out Ann Arbor landmarks
The best way to learn is through experience, and what better experience than to discover all of Ann Arbor’s landmarks. From the small shops lining the historic streets of State and Main streets to the towering gothic facades of the buildings in U-M’s Law Quad, a walking tour will teach the family all about the rich academic history of Ann Arbor.
Take the kids around to find fairy doors, too, or take a break at the historic Nickels Arcade. The historic Burton Memorial Tower makes a great starting, or rendezvous, point if the tour gets broken up, since it is right in the middle of the U-M campus – and kind of impossible to miss.
5. Museums of history, science and art – oh, my!
If you were surprised by how many bookstores there are in this intelligent city, then prepare to be overwhelmed with options for family outings. Your day will be filled with learning opportunities with the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, U-M’s museums of art and natural history, Kempf House Museum, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and many more museums.
There is even a museum of dentistry and a firehouse museum for kids who need a reminder to brush their teeth and not play with matches.
Want to feel like one of the smartest people in America? Then head over to Ann Arbor to spend a day learning like a scholar!