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Living in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor ranks second in a recent book called the "50 Best Places to Live in the USA." The city has a cosmopolitan population devoted to urban amenities: music, theater, shopping, dining, athletics, education and cultural acceptance. Despite all it has to offer, Ann Arbor has remained a tree-shaded town of 110,000. It's a great place to work, have fun, raise a family and find friends that share your interests.

The city is 40 miles west of Detroit and only a 25-minute drive from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Chicago is a quick and easy getaway, with Amtrak departing from Ann Arbor three times daily.

Dining and Entertainment
There is probably nothing more inviting in downtown Ann Arbor than the delicious scents of the city's 200 tantalizing restaurants. From fine dining to casual cafés, there are exceptional dining choices for your every mood and every ethnic taste. Scattered among the downtown shops are scores of coffeehouses, bakeries and bookshops that provide a perfect, relaxing escape on days off. In fact, Zingerman’s Deli is rated the best deli in the nation by Forbes Magazine.

Excellent dining is not the only thing to do in this great city. There are festivals, concerts, art fairs and much more. Of special interest to serious moviegoers is the Ann Arbor Film Festival. For one week each spring, the Festival screens hundreds of experimental films, produced by independent artists from all over the world. It's the oldest and largest film festival of its type.

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Since Ann Arbor is a well-known college town, it attracts national tours from many popular musicians. Crisler Arena and Hill Auditorium offer a full schedule of top venues each year. For kicking back, the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival hosts legendary performers on the banks of the Huron River in Gallup Park. The city’s nightclubs provide dozens of musicians to satisfy all types of musical tastes.

Theater lovers can treat themselves to a play at the Purple Rose, Jeff Daniels' small but famous Midwest theatre for young actors and directors. In addition, you can attend performances by local acting organizations in several small theaters around town. For larger shows, the Detroit Theatre District hosts a full schedule of touring shows from New York, Chicago and Toronto.

When the beautiful weather of June and July arrive, Ann Arbor celebrates with a huge three-week outdoor festival. Each night, Top of the Park features a line-up of excellent bands and a late night movie shown against the side of a building… all for free. Great food, drinks and desserts are on sale in booths from local cafés and top-notch restaurants. During the three weeks, nationally known comedians, singers and dancers perform next door in the Power Center to help raise money for the festival.

In mid-July the downtown streets of Ann Arbor are blocked off for the annual Ann Arbor Art Fairs. Booths filled with paintings, pottery and other works are set up all over town. It's a great place to find one-of-a-kind accessories for your house or apartment. The fair has grown in recent years, and now includes mime shows, ethnic bands and strolling sidewalk musicians.

Shopping is excellent in Ann Arbor. The many downtown specialty shops sell everything from the latest outdoor gear to the coolest kitchen accessories. All summer, residents flood the Farmer's Market and Kerrytown Shops to buy the freshest food and browse through the cluster of small unique stores. The Briarwood Mall gathers popular stores such as: Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Abercrombie, Disney Store, Limited, Gap, Macy’s, Foot Locker, Gymborie, Coach, and Store of Knowledge. Nearby at the Somerset Collection, shoppers can access all the satellite Chicago stores from the famous Miracle Mile.

Ann Arbor Nightlife
As the sun goes down, this young, energetic town gets hopping. For laughs, many check out the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, a well-known venue on the national comedy touring circuit. Moviegoers can catch all of the latest blockbusters or small cultural films at several local cinemas. Music and theater aficionados can find concerts and plays in several well-known downtown theaters. For those looking to share a drink or two with friends, Ann Arbor has plenty of great bars and dance clubs. Medical residents and graduate students of all types frequently enjoy sangria outdoors at Dominick's and the great atmosphere at Conner O'Neils authentic Irish pub.

Family Fun
Ann Arbor and its surrounding areas are great places for family entertainment. In fact, Outdoor Magazine rated Ann Arbor the "Best Place to Raise a Family." The Hands-On Museum, located downtown, is housed in a fire station which is over 100 years old. It contains more than 250 interactive science exhibits where kids and parents "learn by doing" together. Domino's Petting Farm allows visitors to pet many of the animals, learn about farming and see a whole herd of buffalo.

Ann Arbor's three city pools are all brand new and excellent for families. The large shallow areas are loaded with fountains, spouts, water slides and toys. Organized children’s activities around town include: storytimes, arts and crafts, dance and music lessons, a huge variety of sports lessons for all ages (including ice-skating), nature hikes, and outdoor summer movies. Kensington Metropark is one of many places for families who enjoy outside activities. Visitors can roller-blade, swim, boat, hike and bike. There is also horseback riding and excellent winter sled riding.

In autumn, many families take a day to visit Wiard's Orchards in Ypsilanti. The orchards feature apple picking, a cider mill, a fruit market, a petting farm, pony rides and a rodeo. Their haunted barn will scare you just enough at Halloween time. Families can jump back in time at Greenfield Village, the nation's largest indoor/outdoor history museum. In addition, kids can visit real dinosaurs and cavemen in the University of Michigan History Museum.

Childcare and preschools are award-winning and interactive. Both UMHS and St. Joe’s hospitals offer top-notch, flexible day-care programs. In addition, Ann Arbor offers all varieties of private options from in-home care to larger organizations.

Ann Arbor Public Schools
Our public school system is rated in the top 5 in the nation. In this city, about 94% of the people have high school diplomas and two-thirds have four or more years of college.

The Ann Arbor public school system is on a mission to educate and empower every student to succeed. The teachers are dedicated and highly educated. About 76% of the teaching staff have earned at least a master's degree. Their effort shows in the success of their students. Ann Arbor schools easily exceed the national performance averages on standardized tests for all grade-levels.

If you appreciate natural beauty, take a trip to the Nichols Arboretum, a 125-acre living plant museum filled with trees and plants from around the world. The park is located right next to University Hospital. Numerous jogging trails, grassy fields and a twisting river provide the perfect place for scenic exercise or outdoor relaxation. Another great nature spot is the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. The gardens feature 350-acres of beautiful foliage, outdoor nature trails and a large indoor observatory full of tropical and desert plants.

Overall, Ann Arbor has an astonishing 2,000-acres of parkland at 140 park sites. Many of the large Metroparks are located along the winding Huron River and provide excellent spots for roller-blading, hiking, canoeing and picnics.

Sports and Outdoor Activities
Exercise and fitness are important to the people of Ann Arbor. In fact, Outdoor Magazine ranks it in the "Top 10 Best Places to Live." The city has built excellent bike paths on all of its major roads, and several residents bike to the hospital all year. The town boasts many exercise facilities, including two University recreation centers that residents can access very inexpensively.

The University of Michigan is internationally known for academic excellence, cutting edge research, state of the art medical care, and unique culture. It is also known for its excellence in Big 10 sports. Michigan Stadium remains the country's largest stadium, and the energy on football Saturdays is truly unparalleled. Football, however, is not the only great spectator sport in town. The University of Michigan prides itself on athletic diversity and consistently ranks in the "Top 10 All-Around Sports Colleges" in the nation.

Intramural sports leagues and city teams of all kinds are inviting and easily accessible. Softball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, hockey, biking, sailing and rowing are just some of the popular sports our residents currently participate in. Golf courses are plentiful in the Ann Arbor area, including two pristine courses owned by the University which offer inexpensive rates to all residents. Mountain biking is excellent at several places around town, most notably the challenging and beautiful Potawami Trails located in the vast Metroparks. Camping is very popular and residents have the ability to rent tents and gear from the recreation centers for a few dollars per day.

Downtown Detroit is currently undergoing a massive renovation which has been extremely successful. The city offers a huge variety of authentic ethnic neighborhoods that deliver tasty unique foods and culture.

The Detroit Institute of Art, located in the city's cultural center, is home to old and new art from around the world. The museum features large touring exhibitions that provide continuously changing variety. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is one of the most popular and prestigious orchestras in the world. The Michigan Opera Theatre, has been bringing some of the greatest operas to life for 35 seasons. Summer is a great time to experience the outdoor Michigan Shakespeare Festival. The festival has been bringing the themes and language of Shakespeare's greatest works to summer audiences since 1995.

Detroit is home to a whole collection of professional sports teams. Ford Field is the beautiful new downtown den of the Detroit Lions. Just next door you can find the Tigers hitting home runs out of Comerica Park. Joe Louis Arena, home of the champion Detroit Red Wings, sits right on the banks of the Detroit River. The Detroit Pistons and Shock basketball teams play nearby in the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Dining, shopping, arts, education and sports are only a fraction of what the Ann Arbor area has to offer. There is so much to enjoy here. However, what residents love most about Ann Arbor is actually the quality of people who live here. The town attracts a population that is intellectual, culturally accepting and fun. It truly is a tremendous place to live during residency and beyond.


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