An Ecotourism Mini-Stop in Ann Arbor, Michigan



Cheese at Zingerman’s Creamery

It’s not just about the vibrant, local, farm-to-table culinary scene, though plentiful food and drinks were the focus on my recent visit to Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan. Sure, backpacks are everywhere, but in this case, they’re worn by students attending the University of Michigan and used to carry books and notepads around campus – not camping gear.

But with rolling farmlands an easy bicycle trip out of town, the Huron River meandering through downtown, the 700-acre University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, and a vibrant arts scene, these can beckon an ecotraveler who doesn’t require wilderness to be in nature. With all the tree-lined streets and green spaces, Ann Arbor justly earns its moniker as “tree town”. And for many ecotravelers, cultural attractions and activities are as important as natural ones.

Get Active Outdoors

The Argo Canoe Livery will happily put you in a canoe, kayak or inner tubes on the Huron River, perhaps to shoot the Argo Cascades on a run between Argo to Gallup Park. Or stay dry and hike through the acres of gardens and natural preserves of the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. Be advised, strolling through the “Diag” on the main campus, or through the magnificent Law Quad, may make some pine nostalgically for campus life.

You don’t have to go far out of town (less than 20 miles) to get to the 11,000-acre Pinckney Recreation Area, with miles of mountain bike or horseback trails, hiking trails, plentiful lakes to fish, rustic cabins to rent or remote primitive camping sites in the backcountry to pitch a tent.  You can event stay in a yurt. If that’s not enough, cross over to the adjacent 20,000-acre Waterloo Recreation Area, largest state park in lower Michigan.

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