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. Don’t miss our Printable Art Fair Scavenger Hunt.

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 (60th year)
  • Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair (50th year)
  • South University Art Fair (20th year)
  • State Street Art Fair (52nd 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 18 and run through Sunday, July 21. The Fairs are open 10a-9p Thursday through Saturday and noon-6p on Sunday.


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Before Ann Arbor Art Fair

Attend the Townie Street Party

Go to the Townie Street Party on Monday, July 15 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:

  • Simple Adornments
  • CAPS! Community Awareness Plastic Solutions
  • Clay, Play, Create
Ann Arbor Art Fair - Clay Art

Get more details in the Art Activity Zone Event Listings:

Date/Time Event
💙🆓
07/18/2019
11:00am-6:00pm
Ann Arbor Art Fair - Art Activity Zone
at Ingalls Mall, Ann Arbor Michigan
💙🆓
07/19/2019
11:00am-6:00pm
Ann Arbor Art Fair - Art Activity Zone
at Ingalls Mall, Ann Arbor Michigan
💙🆓
07/20/2019
11:00am-6:00pm
Ann Arbor Art Fair - Art Activity Zone
at Ingalls Mall, Ann Arbor Michigan
💙🆓
07/21/2019
11:00am-6:00pm
Ann Arbor Art Fair - Art Activity Zone
at Ingalls Mall, Ann Arbor Michigan

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 two stages for live music at Ann Arbor Art Fair.

The Stage on Main presented by Destination Ann Arbor Featuring The Ark is located in the Palio restaurant parking lot on the corner of Main & William. They will have live music from 5:30-9p on Thursday, July 18 and 4:30-9p on Friday and Saturday. From noon-4p each day, the Neutral Zone will take over the stage.

The Fountain Stage is located on Ingalls Mall between E. Washington and N. University. They have family-friendly live music from 11a-7p Thursday-Saturday and noon-5p on Sunday. See their lineup on the Art Fair website.

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. Note: There is no shuttle service from Pioneer High School this year.

Briarwood Mall (by The Ride)

  • 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 (by Trinity Transportation)

  • 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

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 $18 per day or $9 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 and this year’s forecast is no exception. Make sure to stay hydrated. I also suggest a bag for any purchases or 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 particularly on Saturday and Sunday. 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

Identification wristbands are available for a 7th year to help reunite lost children with their parents. Wristbands can be obtained at:

  • Safety Service Plaza at Liberty Plaza (at the corner of Liberty and Division)
  • Art Fair information booths
  • 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 – or both.

We recommend stopping by The Cookie Dough Cafe for a free sample during Art Fair. They will be on the UofM Diag. The first photo from their Instagram post below is mine with the samples my daughter and I got on Wednesday at Sam’s Club.

There are also a number of good restaurants in the Art Fair district. Check out our reviews of restaurants near Art Fair:


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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.

Check out our Ann Arbor Art Fair Scavenger Hunt. Have the kids find art featuring the pictures on the list.

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, the UM Museum of Natural History, 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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