Urban Fairies, Novelties and Jazz

Look! There’s tiny fairy door next to the regulation human door!

Everyone loves Ann Arbor. Also known as A2 or Tree Town, it is home to the University of Michigan. Bursting with quirky, kitschy shops aimed at students, it is paradise for the young, or anyone with a sense of whimsy. (Please do not call it AA–that acronym is for a completely different set of words).

There is much to do in Ann Arbor, so it is certain to be featured in more than one entry. Here are just a few stops from a recent trip. Two friends and I met for shopping, dinner and a show.

First stop: Middle Earth Gifts. Their slogan says it all “Harming only the humorless since 1967.” Looking for hedgehog, tooth, octopus or other creative jewelry? This is the place to go. Find your Doctor Who merchandise, Quotable goods, grammar correcting items, and really zany novelties here. Need bacon floss? What about mustache-shaped hangers? Does your Jane Austin bandage supply need replenishing? Now you know where to go.

As we worked our way from the South University area to Main Street, we ran into something surprising along Liberty. If you keep an eye out, throughout Ann Arbor, you may see a special kind of public art: Fairy Doors. Believed to have started appearing in 2005, fairy doors are all over Ann Arbor (some are even in neighboring areas). There is even one in Google’s Ann Arbor office. They are quite exciting to find if you do not know their locations in advance. If you would like a Fairy Door hunt, though, the map is available here.

The fairy door matches the other door!

We ate dinner at a restaurant which apparently has 145 locations in 37 states, so, instead, I will clue you in about a restaurant available in a few less areas. Only in Ann Arbor, Toledo, OH and Naples, FL,  The Real Seafood Company is a treat for anyone. “Specializing in the freshest seafood from Boston, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes.” Yes, the latter means that you can get lake perch. You definitely want to get lake perch.

After dinner, we headed to the great Ann Arbor Ark to see Kat Edmonson. This is my favorite concert venue, period. With only 400 seats, there is no more intimate place to see your favorite artist. The Ark caters to a Folk, Jazz, Blues, World, and Independent music-loving crowd.

I have seen some truly great artists there such as Arlo GuthrieVienna Teng, Sarah Harmer, and more. Colin Hay, Shawn Colvin and many other big name, internationally known names regularly appear.

There are also special events such as song writing events by established  artists (I attended one last year by Theo Katzman). They also have open mics. Another great event is “Take a Chance Tuesday.” Held monthly, one can see an up-and-coming artist for free. (Well, nearly free–admission price is a canned good). Take some time to stop by The Ark one day.

This was a great day in Ann Arbor. Be sure to check it out sometime since this is a mere sampling of what the Tree Town has to offer.


About cjn56

World traveler, guitarista/ukulele-enthusiast, composer, wearer of many hats–both figuratively and literally.
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