Seven places in Ann Arbor to see before the school year starts

Make sure to check these places out before you get too busy

Graffiti Ally is located on E. Liberty St. between Encore Records and the Michigan Theater. Photo | Sarah M. Parlette
Graffiti Ally is located on E. Liberty St. between Encore Records and the Michigan Theater. Photo | Sarah M. Parlette

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – It's move-in week, which means that school is right around the corner. 

For any type of student, the new school year means less free time and more time stuck inside studying. For parents, this means a lot less free time and even less family time. 

Here are seven places in Ann Arbor to check out with (or without) your family before the new school year starts. 

Graffiti Alley

Take a super quick trip to downtown's Graffiti Alley. Check out the ever-changing wall art, from playful emojis to cartoons and lettering. Take your back-to-school photos then check back in a few weeks to see what has changed. 

University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

With free admission, a fossil prep lab, $10 planetarium shows and Darwin's cafe -- the museum offers fun for every museumgoer. On the weekends, the UMMNH has interactive stations where patrons big and small can talk to docents about natural history fun facts and touch things like stegosaurus scales. Parking in the Palmer Parking Structure is free on Sundays and some unmarked faculty parking becomes available. 

Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair

Spark that back-to-school creativity by finding like-minded robot fans and tinkerers at this downtown shop. Full of robot-themed books, apparel, kits and more, Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair is also home to 826 Michigan, a nonprofit writing center that helps students hone their skills. 

Ann Arbor foodie institutions

It's no surprise that Ann Arbor has a bunch of great eateries, but some have been around longer than others. Stop by Zingerman's Delicatessen, Angelo's or Old Town Tavern for some townie delights. Alternatively, avoid the traffic downtown by heading over to Northside Grill or Satchel's BBQ on Washtenaw Avenue. Looking for one last cold treat? Go to Washtenaw Dairy for Ann Arbor history (and ice cream).

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Ann Arbor has some of the best independent bookstore cultures around. From the famous typewriter of Literati to the beloved Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor‘s independent bookstores draw visitors to the city year-round. Before the school year hits, browse through stacks and stacks of paperback finds and hardback gems at Dawn Treader, Book Bound or one of the many other bookstores.

Nichols Arboretum

During move-in week, traffic is crazy and you'll spend more time waiting in traffic than you will at your destination. Get out of the downtown area and head to Nichols Arboretum for some traffic-free tranquility and easy-to-navigate trails. 

The Petting Farm at Domino's Farms

Another way to avoid the busyness of downtown this week and during the first week of school is to get away to another part of the city. Head over to the Petting Farm at Domino's to pet some alpaca, horses, donkeys, rabbits and more. Patrons can also buy bags of feed for the animals or go on tractor rides. 

Admission costs $6. 

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