Taking Kids to Ann Arbor Art Fair

My favorite memory of taking my daughter to Ann Arbor Art Fair came when she was 2.5 years old. We had met my husband after work and wandered around looking at the displays on Main St and then stopped for dinner at one of the restaurants. As we are getting ready to walk back to our car, my daughter says “I’m ready to go to Art Fair now.” The poor kid was expecting a carnival like fair with rides (earlier in the summer we had attended other fairs with carnivals/rides). I felt so bad that we hadn’t explained what Art Fair was to her. Aside from her disappointment, she had enjoyed herself at Art Fair.

The 2014 Ann Arbor Art Fair runs from Wednesday, July 16 through Saturday, July 19. The Art Fair runs from 10a-9p Wednesday through Friday and 10a-6p on Saturday. There are actually 4 separate Art Fairs that are held during Art Fair:

The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original offers an Art Activity Zone on Ingalls Mall (off of Washington Street between Thayer and Fletcher) from 11a-6p each day of the Art Fair offering kid-friendly projects.

  • Uchiwa Fans – paper fans from Japan – sponsored by Detroit Institute of the Arts
  • Sculptural Relief – use reclaimed, recycled, and found objects to make sculptures – sponsored by Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)
  • Paint Mini Masterpiece – Wine & Canvas Ann Arbor will lead sessions every 30 minutes, on-site registration required
  • Designer Dinosaurs – Make skeletal dinosaur sculptures from recycled corn based packing material – sponsored by UM Museum of Natural History
  • Beeswax Candles – sponsored by Rudolph Steiner School of Ann Arbor, Detroit Waldorf School, & Oakland Steiner School
  • Funny Faces Photo Booth – Take funny photos with props and the photo booth with SHEI Magaizine, University of Michigan.
  • Ceramics – create your own masterpiece with The Michigan Art Center, clay donated by Rovin Ceramics
  • Safari Sand Art – sponsored by Kalahari Resorts & Conventions

This year’s weather looks much better than typical Art Fair weather. Temperatures are considerably lower than normal and there is a minimal chance of rain. With the nice weather, there is less of a need to find an indoor location to cool off/stay dry.

However, if your kids need a break from browsing the Ann Arbor Art Fair, I do have a few recommendations to take a break in the middle of your visit. My daughter loves the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History and looking at the dinosaurs, Mastodons, and more. The museum is located at 1109 Geddes Avenue on the University of Michigan campus. She also loves the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, particularly the child mummy. The Kelsey Museum is located at 434 South State St. They will be offering drop-in tours at 2p each day of Art Fair. We visited The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum on Sunday and my daughter had a ton of fun visiting the new exhibits and she wants to go back to see the L is for Laser interactive laser art installation that opened yesterday. The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is located at 220 E. Ann St.

The Downtown Branch of Ann Arbor District Library can also be a fun visit. While out of town visitors won’t be able to checkout materials, they can relax in the children’s area by reading to their kids, doing puzzles, letting the kids play computer games, etc. There is also a preschool story time at 11a on Wednesday.

If you are visiting from out of town, I definitely recommend a visit to the famous Zingerman’s Delicatessen at 422 Detroit St.

Other activity ideas beyond Downtown Ann Arbor for families visiting Ann Arbor for Art Fair:

Welcome to all Ann Arbor visitors! If you’re looking for more activity suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

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