The Ann Arbor Art Fair is an Ann Arbor tradition, but attending with kids can be challenging. We are sharing 7 Tips for Visiting Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids.
Flipside Art Studio has sponsored these 7 Tips for Attending Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids. Be sure to check out their Let’s Get Creative sessions during Art Fair. All ages are welcome at the session, so you can attend as a family or the kids can create a project while you visit the Art Fair.
The Ann Arbor Art Fair is actually a collection of four fairs: Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original (North University/Washington, Ingalls Mall), Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair (Main Street Area), State Street Area Art Fair, Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair.
This year, the Ann Arbor Art Fair schedule has changed. The Ann Arbor Art Fair now runs from Thursday through Sunday instead of Wednesday through Saturday. The Ann Arbor Art Fair is open 10a-9 Thursday through Saturday and noon-6p on Sunday.
1 – Make Sure They Understand Art Fair
This advice comes from personal experience. The most vivid memory I have of taking my daughter to Art Fair was when she was 2.5. We had explored the Art Fair on Main Street one evening and had dinner at Conor O’Neill’s. As we were leaving the restaurant and headed to the car to go home, my daughter said “Ok, I’m ready to go to the Fair now.” While she had enjoyed looking at the various tents and picking out a pull toy for her baby cousin, she was pretty disappointed when we explained that the shopping was Art Fair and that there were no rides or games. I think she would have been fine if we had explained Art Fair in advance.
2 – Enjoy Kids Art Activities
Flipside Art Studio, who has sponsored these tips, is offering 1 hour Let’s Get Creative sessions for all ages during Art Fair. The whole family can sign up, or you can sign up the kids for an hour while you explore Art Fair.
Ann Arbor Art Fair, The Original offers an Art Activity Zone each day. With activities like butterfly marionettes, dinosaurs, candle design, psychedelic projection and more.
The Downtown Branch of Ann Arbor District Library is located near Art Fair and has several art themed events this week for Art Fair
3 – Which Art Fair to Visit?
With 4 Art Fairs and the typical Art Fair heat and thunderstorm predictions for Friday and Sunday, it can be difficult to decide which sections of Art Fair to prioritize. Location can play a big part in which section of Art Fair to visit. For example, if you want to add a visit to a museum or a particular lunch stop, it is best to visit the Art Fair section located nearby.
Personally, I prefer the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair sponsored by The Guild. In this Art Fair, we have found many craftsman selling items that kids will be interested in. The year I was pregnant with my daughter we bought her a hand-made wooden pull toy and returned two years later to have her name added to it (she got sick Art Fair week as a baby) and the following year to pick out a toy for her baby cousin. Also in this area, we found a number of other artisans selling items for kids and the house.
4 – Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids Logistics
Getting to Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids
Getting to the Ann Arbor Art Fair can definitely be a challenge if you don’t live within walking distance. This year it is even more complicated with M-14 closed between Maple and Main St. Park and Ride service is available from Briarwood Mall, Pioneer High School, and Huron High School. Parking is free at these locations with the shuttle costing $3/person round trip (See this link for more details including pricing for children). Parking is also available in city lots and select University lots that offer visitor parking. Lot pricing is typically a flat rate during Art Fair and is in high demand. Since my husband works at UM and has a parking permit, we usually use his permit to park in a University lot if we are attending on the weekend.
If you have small children and are bringing a stroller or wagon, it may be easier to drive and pay for parking than deal with the stroller on the shuttle.
What to Bring to Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids
As any local knows, the weather for Ann Arbor Art Fair is almost always HOT with a chance of thunderstorms. This year is no exception. Not only does it continue the trend of hot weather that we have had this summer, but the forecast is for some of the hottest days we’ve had so far this summer. When coming to Art Fair, be prepared for the heat by bringing water, sunscreen, hats, and cool clothing. Of course extreme heat has a tendency to generate thunderstorms (with a reasonable chance on Friday and Sunday), so it’s best to be prepared for rain too with umbrellas and ponchos. Ponchos are available at the Dollar Store, or you can get more durable ones from Coleman. We bought these last summer and have been quite happy with them.
With bringing water, sunscreen, and rain gear, it’s a great idea to bring a bag or two to help you tote all of this plus any crafts your kids create or anything that you purchase.
5 – Distract the kids with Pokémon GO
Downtown Ann Arbor is a hotbed of Pokémon GO activity! There are plenty of Pokéstops and Gyms. With the abundance of people, there are sure to be plenty of Pokémon to hunt. Playing Pokémon GO definitely makes a trip downtown more interesting for my daughter. Hopefully the Pokémon GO server will be able to keep up with the influx of people. I know I had trouble downtown on Wednesday and again today.
6 – Take a non-Art Break
Just because you’re at Art Fair doesn’t mean it needs to be all art, all the time.
A great option for a Non-Art Break is to visit one of the Ann Arbor Museums that is within easy walking distance of the Art Fairs. My daughter loves visiting the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaurs and other animals. She also loves the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. It’s been a few years since we visited the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, but she loved the Field Museum’s Egypt exhibit last week and would surely enjoy a return visit to the Kelsey Museum.
The Downtown Branch of Ann Arbor District Library is conveniently located to Ann Arbor Art Fair. You can always take a break inside and let the kids explore the library. There are books to read, games to play, and much more.
Don’t forget to look for the books in our Art Inspired Reading List.
Particularly if you visit the Art Fair sections on State St or Main St, you can always take a break to shop at one of the local stores. Vault of Midnight Comic Shop on Main St is probably my daughter’s favorite, closely followed by Cherry Republic. On State St, she enjoys shopping at M-Den.
7 – Enjoy a Good Meal
Downtown Ann Arbor has a number of great restaurants and many of them are kid-friendly. While there are some food stands and trucks out for Art Fair, with the hot temperatures it is always nice to take a break indoors while you are eating.
Below are links to our Reviews of Restaurants that our family enjoys in the Art Fair area:
- Sit Down Restaurants
- Counter Service Restaurants
Of course if you’re visiting Ann Arbor, a visit to Zingerman’s Deli is always a great choice. But, as a local I’ll wait to visit when there are less out of towners.
Have you visited Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids? What tips do you have to share?
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