During the Ann Arbor Art Fair, downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan, becomes an outdoor art gallery as nearly 1,000 artists from around the world display and sell their works. In this post, I share my tips for navigating the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair, the largest juried art fair in the United States!
As a regular visitor, I absolutely love walking the artisan-booth-lined streets, admiring the craftsmanship, shopping for photographs and jewelry, and dining in one of the most diverse food scenes in Michigan.
Every year, the Ann Arbor Art Fair, which comprises three separate juried art fairs, attracts nearly a half-million visitors to this Midwest college town.
For more than 60 years, the Ann Arbor Art Fair has been a time-honored summer tradition spanning three days and 30 blocks of downtown Ann Arbor’s streets.
As you walk through the fair, you’ll see photographs of Michigan landmarks and European vistas, handmade handbags, cute children’s clothing, detailed textiles and fiber pieces, unique mixed media, beautiful woodwork, funky sculptures, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and so much more!
Plus, downtown Ann Arbor’s brick-and-mortar shops have street sales. Many restaurants set up outdoor seating during the fair. And, live musical and theatrical performances, art demonstrations, chalk art, and more activities round out the three-day festivities!
After attending this award-winning fair since I was a teenager (or younger), I’ve compiled my top Ann Arbor Art Fair tips for your visit.
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. When you click on or make a purchase via one of these links, I may earn a small commission. Of course, this is at no extra cost to you, and I only recommend hotels where I would stay myself. I absolutely love the Graduate Ann Arbor, where I was hosted by Destination Ann Arbor for a three-night stay in May 2018.
When is the Ann Arbor Art Fair?
2023 Ann Arbor Art Fair Dates
The 2023 Ann Arbor Art Fair runs Thursday, July 20, to Saturday, July 22.
Ann Arbor Art Fair Hours
- Thursday, July 20: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Friday, July 21: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Saturday, July 22: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
When should you go to the Ann Arbor Art Fair?
I recommend going early to beat the crowds and heat. I also recommend attending the Ann Arbor Art Fair on Thursday, if your schedule allows.
Taking a lunch break at one of the downtown restaurants is my favorite part of attending the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Later in this post, I’ll share some places to eat near the fair, or you can check out my five favorite lunch spots in Ann Arbor.
Otherwise, I recommend going in the evening to peruse the fair, dine downtown, and listen to live music at one of the three entertainment stages.
Parking and Getting to the Ann Arbor Art Fair
If you choose to drive to downtown Ann Arbor, most of the nearby parking structures cost $18 per day. However, after 5 p.m., the rate is reduced to $9. You can use this map to find Ann Arbor Art Fair parking in downtown.
To avoid the hustle and bustle downtown (and possibly save money), you can park your vehicle at Briarwood Mall or Huron High School (2727 Fuller Rd.), where you can then take a shuttle to the fair.
Parking is free at both Briarwood Mall and Huron High School, but shuttles rides cost $8 round-trip per person for ages 6 and older. Shuttle rides are free for children ages 5 and younger.
Both shuttles run from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.
The Briarwood Mall shuttle stops at Main Street at Williams Street and State Street near South University Street. The Huron High School shuttle drops off and picks up from Fletcher and Washington streets and South University and Forest streets.
What should you wear and bring to the Ann Arbor Art Fair?
Wear Comfortable Walking Shoes
You are going to cover a lot of ground at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. That is why I highly recommend footwear with supportive soles.
For comfortable walking shoes in summer, my go-to is Sperry Boat Shoes.
Don’t Forget Sun Protection & Rain Gear
The week of the Ann Arbor Art Fair almost always seems to be the hottest of the summer. Since the event is outdoors, you should definitely be prepared for exposure to the sun.
When it isn’t miserably hot during the art fair, it’s, unfortunately, due to rain. Scattered showers and thunderstorms aren’t unusual this time of year in Southeast Michigan, so bring a compact umbrella or a poncho.
If you get stuck in a downpour, you’ll be grateful you came prepared. On the chance you forget to bring rain gear along, The M Den, located at 303 South State Street, usually sells ponchos.
Bring Bags for Your Purchases
Attending the art fair isn’t just about browsing, it’s about shopping, too. Between the art fair, street sales, and downtown shops, there are plenty of opportunities to find art, decor, clothing, and more.
When I attend with my mom, we bring along a reusable bag to collect our purchases. Reusable grocery bags that fold down would work out perfectly for shopping at the Ann Arbor Art Fair.
Consider Items to Keep Cool & Hydrated
As I mentioned, temperatures during the Ann Arbor Art Fair are sometimes the highest of the summer.
If there is one thing I’d definitely bring along, it’s a reusuable water bottle filled with refreshingly cold still water. These bottles will keep your water cold for up to 24 hours.
Where should you eat during the Ann Arbor Art Fair?
Though food vendors and food trucks are located throughout the fair, I recommend getting respite from the summer heat at one of downtown Ann Arbor’s restaurants.
My mom and I had a tradition of splitting salads and pizza at the Original Cottage Inn.
If pizza isn’t whetting your appetite, don’t worry! There are many restaurants in downtown Ann Arbor. Below are some that I recommend around the art fair.
Best Places to Eat During the Ann Arbor Art Fair
- Black Pearl — Seafood and martinis here, and I highly recommend the fish tacos.
- Blank Slate Creamery — Beat the heat with a scoop of ice cream made in-house!
- Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery — The menu features barbecue with southern side dishes that you can wash down with craft beer, signature cocktails, or a selection of bourbon and whiskey!
- Frita Batidos — Cuban burgers and tropical milkshakes here. Try the passion fruit batido!
- Grizzly Peak Brewing Company — A great spot for local craft beer and pub fare.
- HopCat — You’ll find 100 craft beers on tap, and you can’t go wrong with an order of Cosmik fries.
- Isalita — At this downtown Mexican restaurant, don’t miss the guacamole!
- Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales — Sour beer lovers, this is your brewery. I also highly recommend the truffle pizza for mushroom lovers.
- Knight’s Steakhouse — So much more than steak here! The menu offers salads, burgers, sandwiches, and more. On a hot summer day, I recommend the halibut tacos topped with pineapple salsa and pairing your meal with a refreshing craft cocktail or Michigan-brewed beer.
- Michigan Creamery — Don’t miss the imaginative flavors and Ann Arbor mural inside this family-owned ice cream shop!
- Pretzel Bell — On the menu are Detroit-style pizzas, burgers, and other handheld options. I recommend the blue burger.
- Sava’s— Quench your thirst with a lavender lemonade, and order Sava’s Greek salad for a light yet filling lunch.
RELATED: Lunch Restaurants in Ann Arbor
Where should you stay during the Ann Arbor Art Fair?
Visiting from out of town? Or just want the convenience of staying nearby? Then consider reserving a room at an Ann Arbor hotel!
Stay Downtown at the Graduate Ann Arbor
Based on my own Ann Arbor visits, Graduate Ann Arbor would be the ideal place to stay during the Ann Arbor Art Fair.
Its location puts you right in the heart of downtown for a short walk to the art fairs.
However, due to its prime location, this university-inspired boutique hotel books up very early for the weekend of the art fair. To stay at the Graduate Ann Arbor, I recommend reserving your room well in advance.
RELATED: Graduate Ann Arbor Review
Take the Shuttle from Hotels Near Briarwood Mall
Since the Graduate Ann Arbor books up so quickly, I’ve also compiled a list of Ann Arbor hotels near Briarwood Mall, where you can board the $5 round-trip shuttle to the fair.
This Hyatt Place hotel has an indoor pool, a 24-hour fitness center, complimentary breakfast, free WiFi, an on-site restaurant and bar/lounge, room service, and free parking.
With an indoor pool and hot tub, a continental breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking, this hotel may sell out during the Ann Arbor Art Fair.
Amenities of this family-friendly hotel include a fun indoor pool area for kids, an indoor hot tub, complimentary breakfast buffet, free WiFi, and free parking.
At this Courtyard by Marriott hotel, you can enjoy amenities such as the indoor pool, fitness center, free wifi, and free parking.
This hotel offers in-room dining, an on-site restaurant, an indoor pool, and fitness center.
Not quite what you were looking for? Use the map below to find nearby lodging for your desired dates!
Ann Arbor Art Fair FAQs
Which art fairs make up the Ann Arbor Art Fair?
The following three art fairs compose the Ann Arbor Art Fair:
Where can I find an Ann Arbor Art Fair map?
Ann Arbor Art Fair maps are available online. Click here for a map of the Ann Arbor Art Fair.
You can also view a map of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original.
What time is the Ann Arbor Art Fair? How late does the Ann Arbor Art Fair go?
The Ann Arbor Art Fair 2023 starts at 10 a.m. each day. It ends at 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 20-21, and at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 22.
Where is the best place to park for the Ann Arbor Art Fair?
I recommend parking at Briarwood Mall or Huron High School. Both offer free parking and $5 round-trip shuttle rides to the fair. Otherwise, you can use this map to find parking in downtown Ann Arbor, where parking is $18/day and $9 after 5 o’clock in the evening.
How many artists are at the Ann Arbor Art Fair?
Usually, there are about 1,000 artists participating in the Ann Arbor Art Fair each year.
How old is the Ann Arbor Art Fair?
The oldest art fair in Ann Arbor is the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, which began in the summer of 1960. It also considered the “original juried art fair.”
Read More About Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Awesome Ann Arbor Lunch Spots
- Ann Arbor Weekend Getaway Guide for Food and Art Lovers
- Graduate Ann Arbor Hotel Review
- Weber’s Boutique Hotel Review
- Unique Ann Arbor Coffee & Tea Shops
- Downtown Ann Arbor Bookstores
- Day Trip from Ann Arbor: Best Places to Eat, Drink & Shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan
- Ann Arbor Takeout & Food Delivery Guide
- Date Ideas in Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Michigan Football Game Day Tips
- Midwest Romantic Getaways
Save this Ann Arbor Art Fair guide to your Michigan travel board on Pinterest for future reference!