Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids Guide

Are you attending the Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids? Check out our Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids Guide. The recommendations below are based on 2018 information provided by the Ann Arbor Art Fair and past reader suggestions.

Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids

About the Ann Arbor Art Fair

The Ann Arbor Art Fair is the largest juried art fair in the country. It is the combination of four independent juried art fairs across 30 blocks in downtown Ann Arbor. The four Art Fairs are:

  • Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original (59th year)
  • Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair (49th year)
  • South University Art Fair (19th year)
  • State Street Art Fair (51st year)

Combined the Ann Arbor Art Fair features more than 1000 juried artists in various media like painting, sculpture, mixed media, jewelry and more. There will also be three stages with live performances, and street performers.

The four Art Fairs start on Thursday, July 19 and run through Sunday, July 22. The Fair is open 10a-9p Thursday through Saturday and noon-6p on Sunday.

Before Ann Arbor Art Fair

Attend the Townie Street Party

Go to the Townie Street Party on Monday, July 16 from 5-9:30p. Shop from the Youth Art Fair participants, enjoy fun art zone activities, engage with community partners, and more. There will be live music and food tents available (and some adult beverages for you too).

Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids - Townie Party

Explain Ann Arbor Art Fair to Kids

Every year, I share the story of my daughter at 2.5. Earlier that summer we had attended the Milan Fair which had rides. We visited the Ann Arbor Art Fair one afternoon and she had fun exploring the booths. We stopped for dinner at a nearby restaurant. As we walked back to the car, my daughter says “I’m ready to go to the fair now”. The poor kid was expecting rides and games. So, the moral of my story is to make sure your kids know what to expect.


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Activities at Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids

There is plenty to do with kids at the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

Art Activity Zone

Each day the Art Activity Zone on Ingalls Mall offers fun activities for all ages. Activities in the Art Activity Zone are:

  • Punk Posters! – Sponsored by the Cranbrook Art Museum
  • Clay Creations – Sponsored by the Clay Work Studio
  • Stabiles – Sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts
  • Wool Felting Fun – Sponsored by the Flipside Art Studio
  • Insect Inspirations – Sponsored by the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

Ann Arbor Art Fair - Clay Art

Get more details in the Art Activity Zone Event Listings:

Date/Time Event
πŸ’™πŸ†“
07/19/2018
11:00am-6:00pm
Ann Arbor Art Fair - Art Activity Zone
at Ingalls Mall, Ann Arbor Michigan
πŸ’™πŸ†“
07/20/2018
11:00am-6:00pm
Ann Arbor Art Fair - Art Activity Zone
at Ingalls Mall, Ann Arbor Michigan
πŸ’™πŸ†“
07/21/2018
11:00am-6:00pm
Ann Arbor Art Fair - Art Activity Zone
at Ingalls Mall, Ann Arbor Michigan
πŸ’™πŸ†“
07/22/2018
12:00pm-6:00pm
Ann Arbor Art Fair - Art Activity Zone
at Ingalls Mall, Ann Arbor Michigan

Chalk The Walk

David Zinn will be creating his famous chalk creations at Fifth and Liberty from 1-3p on Thursday, July 19 and Sunday, July 22. Chalk will be available for you to add your own creations throughout Art Fair.

Getting color suggestions from a work in progress. #streetart #sidewalkchalk

A post shared by David Zinn (@davidzinn) on

Demo Zone

The Ann Arbor Art Fair Demo Zone runs Thursday through Saturday from 11a-5p and Sunday from noon-3p. Stop by under the big maple trees on North University by Hill Auditorium. Get the full schedule on the Art Fair website.

Music

There are three stages for live music at Ann Arbor Art Fair.

The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair Stage presented by The Ark is located in the Palio restaurant parking lot on the corner of Main & William. They will have live music from 6-9p on Thursday, July 19 and 4:30-9p on Friday and Saturday.

The Fountain Stage is located on Ingalls Mall between E. Washington and N. University. They have family-friendly live music from 11a-6p Thursday-Saturday and noon-4p on Sunday. See their lineup on the Art Fair website.

The Pizza House Main Stage is at the corner of Willard and Church. They have live music from 11a-11p Thursday-Saturday and noon-5:30p on Sunday.

Get more information on the musical performances at the Ann Arbor Art Fair on their website.

Getting to Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids

ArtFairRide

Several readers recommended using the AAATA Art Fair Shuttles. The Ann Arbor Art Fair provided us with the following information on the Shuttles:

There are three convenient shuttle pick-up and drop-off locations: Briarwood Mall, Huron High School and Pioneer High School. Parking is free at all three locations. Shuttle service runs every 10 to 15 minutes and is offered each day one hour before the Ann Arbor Art Fair opens until one hour after the art closes. Shuttle service hours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Pets are not allowed; service animals are welcome. Busses and shuttles are wheelchair accessible and air-conditioned.

Briarwood Mall

  • Parking free
  • Round-trip $3; one way $1.50
  • K-12 Students with student ID & Fare Deal cardholders, one-way $.75
  • Senior/A-Ride and GoldRide cardholders & kids five and younger ride free
  • Shuttle stops: Main Street at William and on State Street near South University
  • Buses return to both parking locations from either shuttle bus stops
  • Thursday – Saturday, 9am – 10pm
  • Sunday – 11am – 7pm

Huron High School

  • Parking Free
  • Round Trip $3
  • Kids five and under ride free
  • Shuttle stops: Fletcher and Washington & South University at Forest
  • Thursday – Saturday, 9am – 10pm
  • Sunday – 11am – 7pm

Pioneer High School

  • Parking free
  • Round-trip $3; one way $1.50
  • K-12 Students with student ID & Fare Deal cardholders, one-way $.75
  • Senior/A-Ride and GoldRide cardholders & kids five and younger ride free
  • Shuttle stops: Main Street at William and S. University near State Street
  • Buses return to both parking locations from either shuttle bus stops
  • Thursday – Saturday, 9am – 10pm – Powered by The Ride
  • Sunday – 11am – 7pm – Powered by Trinity Transportation

Parking

Other parking suggestions from the Ann Arbor Art Fairs:

Ann Arbor Art Fair attendees also can park at downtown parking structures and lots for $15 per day or $7 after 5 p.m.

Personally, my husband works at UM and has a Blue Pass. We have used his pass to park in Blue Lots when attending Art Fair. If you are planning to use a UM Parking Pass, make sure that the lot is accessible with Art Fair closures.


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What to Bring to Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids

Water was the number one recommendation from my readers. Art Fair week is typically hot, so you will want to stay hydrated. I also suggest a bag for any art activities your child creates (Art Activity Zone is located on Ingalls Mall). If your child is not up for walking long distances, a stroller or wagon is a good option. With crowds, the stroller may be easier to maneuver.

Also, be ready for rain. Umbrellas and ponchos can be helpful (and are another good reason to bring a bag).

What to Wear

It is also important to dress properly for Art Fair. You will be outside, so dress for the weather. Lightweight fabrics are a good choice. 

Visiting Art Fair requires a lot of walking. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Other Tips for Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids

Safety

Thank you All About Ann Arbor for sharing that you can get child safety wristbands. These wristbands include contact information for a parent. Wristbands can be obtained at:

  • Safety Service Plaza at Liberty Plaza (at the corner of Liberty and Division)
  • Art Fair information booths
  • Community Emergency Response Team volunteers (who will be wearing yellow CERT vests) 
  • Ann Arbor Emergency Management mobile command unit

I definitely recommend these wristbands for younger children. We got one for my daughter at a UM football game several years ago. The contact information faces inside and is only visible once it is removed.

Michigan Football Game - ID Bracelet

Food

Make a plan for food. Either bring snacks (a reader suggests protein snacks), or take a break at one of the food courts set up around Art Fair. There are also a number of good restaurants in the Art Fair district. Check out our reviews of restaurants near Art Fair:

Bathrooms

One of our readers suggested using UM buildings for bathrooms instead of porta-pottys. A few suggestions (from me) are the UM Museums, Michigan League, and Michigan Union. Also, make sure to use the bathroom if you take an indoor meal break or visit a museum.

Make it an Adventure

A reader advises, don’t expect to see everything. Make the whole trip an adventure. There’s taking the bus, trying a new food, and visiting the Art Activity Zone. Make a scavenger hunt for the kids – find a painting of a flower, of a body of water, find a butterfly, find art you can wear, etc. This will keep the kids engaged with looking at the art.


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Take a Break

My last suggestions is to take a break. Especially on a hot day, it gives everyone a chance to cool off and recharge. It also gives an escape from the crowds at Art Fair.Stop for lunch at a local restaurant (see our reviews above), visit the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, or stop at the Downtown Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library.

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Anna Mae

Anna Mae owns & operates Ann Arbor with Kids, a website dedicated to Family Activities in Ann Arbor. My husband and I moved to Ann Arbor in 2003 and our daughter joined the family in 2006.

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