The Short Version: Ann Arbor, also known as Tree Town, is a quiet college town surrounded by rich natural forests. The Michigan city may look small, but over 120,000 people of all backgrounds have found a home here. The University of Michigan, a leading public university, contributes to the culturally rich and diverse atmosphere of this progressive community. Dating is never dull in Ann Arbor because there’s just so much to do. You can go to an art festival, take in an indie flick, or kayak down the Hudson River with that special someone. We’ve named Ann Arbor one of the most welcoming places for Michigan daters because of its varied selection of indoor and outdoor date locations. If you’re brainstorming date ideas in Ann Arbor, we’ve got several budget-friendly recommendations to help you enjoy a romantic moment at a restaurant, museum, or public park.
On May 25, 1824, John Allen of Virginia and Elisha Rumsey of New York registered a new town called Annarbour in Wayne County, Michigan. The two men had bought the 640 acres of land from the US government for $800 because they wanted to build a settlement where people could raise their families in peace.
Legend has it that John and Elisha named the town after their wives (Mary Ann Rumsey and Ann Allen) and the impressive bur oak trees in the area. They wanted to pay tribute to the arboreal atmosphere as well as their beloved Anns. And that’s how the modern-day Ann Arbor came to be.
Over time, Ann Arbor’s alliterative name has led to nicknames such as Ace Deuce, Deuces, and A-Squared. But, whatever you call it, there’s no denying the beauty of this small town. The dense forests and quiet residential neighborhoods give the community a romantic feel, and yet it’s also home to the University of Michigan, one of the largest public universities in the US, which means there’s always something going on here.
Our dating experts have named Ann Arbor among the most welcoming cities for active daters in Michigan because of its uniquely friendly and diverse atmosphere. If you know where to go, the college town has plenty of entertaining, engaging, and educational date venues to take advantage of.
It can be difficult for singles and couples to come up with fresh date ideas, so we decided to help out Ann Arbor residents by coming up with some recommendations of our own. We specifically looked for places a bit off the beaten path, so you can shake things up on your next date night.
“When you’re dating, you don’t want to go somewhere generic,” said Margaret Wyzlic, a spokesperson for Ann Arbor. “You want to make it special.”
Couples Enjoy International Cuisine & Independent Movies
First off, the tried and true dinner-movie routine gets an upgrade in Ann Arbor. This city has an abundance of excellent eateries and classic cinemas to show you and your date a good time
Margaret said residents can eat around the world in Ann Arbor because the city’s restaurant selection features authentic cuisine from so many countries, including Korean and Ethiopian food. Pacific Rim by Kana serves up Southeast Asian appetizers and entrées with refreshing ginger drinks to wash it all down. It’s an intimate spot to bring a date any day of the week.
The international bent of these restaurants offers a remarkable experience for daters with adventurous taste buds. Or, if you want good old-fashioned American dishes, you can make a reservation at Logan Restaurant, a high-end date-night favorite in Ann Arbor.
During Ann Arbor Restaurant Week in January, dozens of participating restaurants offer affordable three-course dinner menus to allow couples on a budget to explore the city’s dining establishments and enjoy dinners for two for less than $28.
Now for the movie part of the dinner-and-movie date night. If your date is tired of endless sequels and blockbusters, why not suggest an award-winning indie film or a black-and-white classic?
Ann Arbor has two historical theaters that show independent films and classic movies. The Michigan Theater often runs month-long film series along a certain theme, including holiday films, ’60s movies, and family-friendly flicks. The State Theater, known for its towering lighted sign, can trace its roots back to 1942, but it’s far from old-fashioned. The theater uses state-of-the-art technology to draw audiences into the action on screen.
During the winter months, you and your significant other can take to the indoors and snuggle up together in these theaters. You definitely won’t be the only ones splitting popcorn and candy there. The Michigan and State theaters entertain over 300,000 movie goers each year.
Last of all, heading to a community-organized festival can be a great way to sample local fare, browse through handcrafted artworks, and enjoy performances from talented musicians in the area. And it’s an ideal venue for daters. The Annual Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, for instance, is one of the largest of its kind, featuring 375+ exhibiting artist booths and drawing over 400,000 attendees each year. Throughout the year, many of Ann Arbor’s festivals attract a crowd and give daters something to do and talk about.
Home to a University: There’s Always Something to Learn Here
You may not think of museums as a go-to date venue, but they’re actually terrific at stimulating conversation between couples. Whether you’re on a first date or looking to get out of a rut with a spouse, our dating experts recommend visiting Ann Arbor’s museums — because when you learn together, you grow together.
Located just outside the city, the Yankee Air Museum gives visitors a chance to experience history by taking a flight in a 70-year-old bomber plane. You can book an adventure for your next date and take in a sweeping view of Ann Arbor. Talk about taking the dating experience to new heights!
Museums offer people the opportunity to appreciate the heritage and history of bygone eras. Sharing that sense of wonder with someone can be really romantic. Margaret said her second date with the man who is now her husband was at UM’s Museum of Natural History where they looked at dinosaur bones because they shared an interest in prehistoric times. The couple found plenty of conversation starters in these halls. Years later, they came back to take their wedding photos at the museum where they first felt that spark of connection.
The University of Michigan adds significantly to the educational spirit of the town. “There’s a strong learning culture,” Margaret said, “and we pride ourselves on always being open and inclusive.”
The university’s musical theater department is known for putting on must-see shows featuring young performers who often go on to careers on professional stages, including on Broadway. Whether you enjoy seeing plays or listening to a cappella groups, you can find plenty of entertaining date options by checking out UM’s calendar of shows.
And, of course, football plays a huge part of Ann Arbor’s social scene. On game days, the city practically shuts down as people attend tailgates and root on the Wolverines. “UM football is considered a religion here,” Margaret told us, “so you’ll probably be going to games together on your dates.”
Lush Parks & Towering Trees Help Set the Mood
Ann Arbor has a population of over 120,700 people and over 1.45 million trees. That’s why they call it Tree Town! The tree population is not only pretty to look at; it also substantially contributes to the overall health of society. The small town’s extensive forests remove 405 tons of pollution per year, effectively negating the pollution produced by 358,000 automobiles.
Under a canopy of tree branches, it’s easy to create a romantic moment with someone special. At Ann Arbor, you’re never more than a 10-minute walk from a public park or green space. That’s a promise the community’s leaders take seriously. In 2017, the mayor committed to the 10-Minute Walk pledge along with 133 other cities.
“Ann Arbor certainly recognizes and appreciates the value a park can bring to a neighborhood,” said Colin Smith, the parks and recreation services manager at Ann Arbor. “Supporting this 10-minute walk idea nationwide is important because a lot of things a park can provide are a great benefit for any community.”
Ann Arbor residents of all ages enjoy the city’s 157 parks and outdoor spaces. From the picturesque riverfront views of Gallup Park to the hiking and biking trails of Bluffs Nature Area, these public parks give visitors the chance to connect with nature as well as each other. During the spring and summer, you can pack a picnic and take a loved one to a romantic spot under the shade of Ann Arbor’s lush trees. Just, please, don’t disturb the natural beauty by carving your initials into the tree’s bark.
You can go fishing, kayaking, golfing, or biking with a date to get your blood pumping on a warm afternoon. Whether you’re chatting up a crush at the dog park or playing Frisbee in an open field, Ann Arbor’s parks give active daters the space to make a lasting memory.
“We call it an urban oasis,” Margaret said. “While it’s a decent-sized city, you still have these beautiful rivers to kayak on all year long.”
Ann Arbor: A Diverse & Cultured City For Romantics
Ann Arbor’s name perfectly captures the long romantic history of this Michigan township. It’s the kind of place where oak trees tower over young lovers and inspire admiration. The community likewise continually branches out to include and celebrate talented people from all over the world. Ann Arbor’s diverse array of festivals and eateries speaks to the rich cultures within the population.
Daters should have no trouble finding romantic things to do in Ann Arbor. Whether you’re a student at the University of Michigan or a divorcee trying to get back out there, you can date like a pro by taking your crush to an eclectic restaurant, independent cinema, historical museum, or public park in the heart of Tree Town.
“Ann Arbor is different from other places,” Margaret said. “You can experience the big city life of fine cuisine and cultured entertainment — and you can also get out under the trees within 10 minutes of walking.”