The best activities to do on a rainy day in Ann Arbor

(Photo: University of Michigan Kelsey Museum of Archaeology)
(Photo: University of Michigan Kelsey Museum of Archaeology)

ANN ARBOR – Found yourself stuck in the house, hotel or office with showers outside?

We've got you covered. 

Here are the best indoor activities to enjoy on your own, with the kids or friends or family visiting from out of town.

Explore Matthaei Botanical Gardens

While the gardens boast miles of trails and 11 outdoor gardens, its indoor conservatory is year-round and features plants from around the world. Conservatory admission is free.

It has three climate spaces, including the Tropical House, the Temperate House and the Arid House.


(Photo: Eric Branson)

Winter Hours (Labor Day – Mid May)
Monday, Tuesday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Thursday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Summer hours (Mid May – Labor Day)
Daily: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Trails: Daily sunrise to sunset

1800 N. Dixboro Road

The Creature Conservancy

This nonprofit's indoor facility is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. They house many animals which were abandoned, injured and non-releasable. Over time, they've acquired other animals for educational purposes. Each month, they rotate their 'feature creature,' which they present on their stone stage. Animals on display include warthogs, an alligator, piranhas, a crested porcupine, emus and more. 


(Photo: The Creature Conservancy)

Admission prices:

Children (ages 2-12): $6

Adults (ages 13+): $8

4950 Ann Arbor-Saline Road

Sip a warm drink and read a good book at Literati Coffee

Book lovers could spend hours in this beloved downtown shop. Browse their diverse book collection downstairs and leave a message on their anonymous guest typewriter. Then head upstairs to their coffee shop and grab a table -- preferably next to the window so you can observe the busy streets below.


(Photo: Destination Ann Arbor)

124 E. Washington St.

Escape the raindrops and stroll around Nickels Arcade

This 100-year-old covered shopping district is the perfect place to wander. Enjoy its boutiques, including the Caravan Gift Shop, which has been there since 1927. Other great spots are MIX clothing shop,  Parrish Fine Framing & Art and The Arcadian Antiques.


The Caravan Gift Shop (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

Visit the University of Michigan Museum of Art

More commonly known as UMMA, this museum has plenty to see. It features a broad range of collections, including modern/contemporary art, African art, Asian art, photography and more. It also features an Asian art conservation lab where visitors can view conservation efforts in real time through a glass wall. Admission to the museum is free (though they encourage donations of $10 when possible).

Gallery hours:

Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m.–5 p.m.  
Sunday 12–5 p.m.
The museum is closed on Mondays


(Photo: Destination Ann Arbor)

525 S. State St.

Visit the University of Michigan Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

Just a stone's throw from UMMA is this gem of a museum that houses more than 100,000 artifacts dating back to prehistoric times and ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt and the Near East. The museum is open every day but Monday and admission is free. The newer Upjohn Exhibit Wing houses the museum's impressive permanent collection.


(Photo: University of Michigan Kelsey Museum of Archaeology)

434 S. State St.

Get lost in Kerrytown Shops

It's easy to spend hours in this brick complex that's loved by locals. Grab lunch at Monahan's Seafood Market, get a coffee at Sweetwaters and explore the shops, including Found Gallery, Hollander's on the lower level. Upstairs you can taste your way through Fustini's delicious oils and vinegars and explore the magical world of Mudpuddles toys. Kerrytown Shops is also located right next to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. It operates in the summer on Wednesdays and Saturdays and is covered in case of rain.


Found Gallery (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

407 N. 5th Ave.

Spend a few hours at the Hands-On Museum

If you have kids, this is the perfect destination on a rainy day. Enjoy rooms and activities for all age ranges, including a designated area for infants. The museum is spread out across several floors and includes a fun water area with complimentary smocks, a toddler room with age-appropriate toys and structures, a real ambulance ready for climbing and much more. 

Local parent tip: The museum is open til 8 p.m. on Thursdays -- so many families will pop by after day care or school and enjoy the extended hours.


(Photo: Destination Ann Arbor)

Museum Hours:

Monday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tuesday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Wednesday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-5 p.m.

Admission Prices:

Members: Free
Adults and children: $12.50
After 5 p.m. on Thursdays: $5 
Babies 0-23 months: Free

220 E. Ann St.


About the Author: