Good Life

The game is on at Ann Arbor’s Big House; more fun to follow about town

Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery.
Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery. Photo provided

The subtle crispness in the air, the colorful foliage, students from all over the country returning to the classroom, these are all part of the processional leading up to America’s favorite fall pastime — college football.

For Penn State fans, that means tracking the big cat into Wolverine country. There are good reasons to attend the Oct. 11 game in Ann Arbor, Mich.. There is momentum to build upon; last year’s 43-40 win provided the Nittany Lions a taste of victory. In addition, for the first time in the history of Michigan Stadium, otherwise known as the Big House, the event will be the first night game to be played there against a Big Ten Conference opponent. That means more excitement, more pizzazz.

For enthusiastic football fans, little can compete with the pursuit of the touchdown. Yet, there are more reasons to follow the Nittany Lions to Ann Arbor. It’s the perfect destination for a daytrip, weekend getaway or week-long vacation.

Ann Arbor’s got it all: a thoroughly walkable vibrant and lovely downtown filled with international restaurants, sophisticated nightlife, performing arts, museums, art galleries and an abundance of unique shopping opportunities. And, of course, the University of Michigan’s beautiful campus is full of artful surprises.

Nothing enriches the mind’s eye like time spent wandering through a magnificent collection of art. The University of Michigan Museum of Art shines with more than 18,000 pieces. The museum’s current exhibits are “Reductive Minimalism: Women Artists in Dialogue, 1960-2014” and “Fred Tomaselli: The Times.” Starting Oct. 18 is “Detroit Before the Automobile: The William L. Clements Library Collection.” To learn more about regional artists, visit WSG Gallery. Also, don’t miss an opportunity to get lost in ancient history at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. Extend family fun into the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Tour Motawi Tileworks for a taste of the Arts and Crafts Movement-inspired designs.

History doesn’t seem so far in the past at the Gerald R. Ford Library, where you can read the private correspondence of the President and First Lady. Or, bookworms can read almost anything by browsing through the city’s numerous book stores, a rarity these days.

Full or empty, the Michigan Theater is a majestic place to be. Join the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 11 for “Made in the USA,” a performance dedicated to American composers, or on Oct. 12 for “Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage,” part of the orchestra’s family concert series.

Don’t miss an opportunity to hear some live music at The Ark, a nationally known acoustic and folk music venue. Townsfolk like to say it’s where Bob Dylan would play if he ever he comes to town.

No reservations are necessary to paddle the Huron River. The City of Ann Arbor has two locations on the river offering a variety of boat trips and rentals. You’ll be thoroughly invigorated and back in time for the 7 p.m. game.

Beer hounds will have happy hunting grounds here. There are a number of breweries making their mark including Arbor Brewing Company Brewpub, which does it all with award-winning beers, great nightlife and family dining; and The Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, known for its made-from-scratch menu items. If it’s wine or finely crafted cocktails you seek, check out the new VinBar or The Last Word.

It’s easy to find a fantastic restaurant in Ann Arbor, but it’s tough to pick one from so many. Appetite meets delight at Ayse’s Turkish Cafe, and satisfaction is sure at Blue Nile, Ann Arbor’s spot for authentic Ethiopian food. Vellum and Gratzi both recently earned much deserved attention, and Isalita is your abuela’s Mexican fare with a decidedly modern twist. You’ll also want to save room for the delicacies at The Slurping Turtle and the new Mezzevino.

Lodging in Ann Arbor is abundant with a large number of bed and breakfasts and representation from almost every hotel group.

For more information on Ann Arbor and upcoming events, visit