Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids – Ask an Ann Arbor Expert

With Ann Arbor Art Fair this week, I thought I would crowd source Tips on attending Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids.

Ann Arbor Art Fair with Kids

Before Art Fair

Go to the Townie Street Party on Monday, July 17 from 5-8p. 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

My Favorite Story

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.


Getting to Art Fair


Several readers recommended using the AAATA Art Fair Shuttles. Free parking is available at both Briarwood Mall and Pioneer High School. On Thursday-Saturday, ArtFairRide service operates 9a-10p from both locations. On Sunday, the ArtFairRide only runs from Briarwood Mall. AAATA routes 24 and 45 will run from Pioneer High School to Downtown on Sunday. 

ArtFairRide has two drop-off points downtown. The Main Street Shuttle drops off at the corner of Main and William St. The South State Shuttle drops off at South State and Madison St. Both stops are available from either pickup location (except on Sunday)

ArtFairRide is $1.50/adult (one way). Children in K-12 and TheRide Fare Deal cardholders ride for $0.75 (one way). Children 5 and under, GoldRide, and A-Ride cardholders ride ArtFareRide for free.


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 and construction.

What to Bring

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.

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

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

Other Tips


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:


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.

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. For preschoolers and early elementary kids, you could give them a scavenger hunt – find a painting of a flower, of a body of water, find a butterfly, etc. 

Ann Arbor Art Fair - Activity Zone

My Suggestions

Visit the Art Activity Zone on Ingalls Mall. I don’t suggest making this your first activity, or the kids won’t want to leave.

Get out of the heat. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant (see our reviews above), explore the Natural History 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.

Anna Mae

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