Ypsilanti: Why You Should Spend the Day in this Cute, Quirky Town

Julie Bitely

| 3 min read

Historic Ypsilanti
The Healthier Michigan team recently spent a day in historic Ypsilanti and we were blown away by its charm.
Let’s get one thing clear, right off the bat: it’s pronounced “Ip-sill-ann-tee”, or “Ip-see” for short. Don’t ‘yip’ yourself into looking like a complete tourist. Now that you know how to pronounce the name, here are a few suggestions for what to do during your visit.
Fuel up for a cause. Properly caffeinate for your adventure by stopping in at Cultivate Coffee & Tap House. This gorgeous little community hub actually operates as a non-profit, with proceeds benefiting Growing Hope and Food Gatherers. Whether you charge up with coffee or tea or wind down with a Michigan ale (coming soon), you’ll be helping local people in need of hunger relief.
Eat. Day trippers need sustenance and there are plenty of charming places to get good eats in Ypsi. For a glimpse into the city’s history, try Haab’s, Aubree’s, or Sidetrack, the city’s oldest restaurants.
Drink. Wash down your meal with a locally crafted adult beverage at Arbor Brewing’s microbrewery or at Unity Vibration, a unique brewery specializing in kombucha tea and beer.
Take in some history. Ypsilanti has four museums, with something for everyone.
  • Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum: This museum is inside the last active Hudson car dealership in Michigan. The fully preserved 1930s dealership not only features the now discontinued Hudson brand, but has displays about the Chevrolet Corvair, General Motors Hydra-matic, Tucker and Kaiser-Frazer brands, as well as how Ypsilanti played a major role in automotive history. A must-see for car buffs!
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  • Michigan Firehouse Museum: Learn all about firefighting history in a restored 1898 firehouse. The museum boasts the largest collection of fire truck bells in the country, along with historic tools and equipment.
  • Yankee Air Museum: This aviation museum houses a number of permanent and rotating historical displays, including many functioning and retired aircraft. The original “Rosie the Riveter”, Rose Will Monroe, actually lived and worked in Ypsilanti.
Shop. No matter what you’re looking for, Ypsilanti has you covered. Find over 200 Michigan artists represented at The Eyrie, get your health food fix at the Ypsilanti Food Co-op, or gear up for your next athletic pursuit at the Ypsilanti Running Company. Materials Unlimited gives antique lovers three floors of treasures to browse, while Mix offers contemporary fashions and home décor. The Rocket was a favorite for our group, with shelf upon shelf of comic-inspired collectibles, unique gift items, and cheeky goods for sale.
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Park it. Ypsilanti’s Depot Town area has two connected parks, with plenty of recreational opportunities. Enjoy a community garden, amphitheater and running track at Frog Island Park, which connects to Riverside Park via the “tridge” (three-pointed bridge) at the park’s south end. With 13.8 acres to enjoy, Riverside Park plays host to several major Ypsilanti events, including the Michigan Summer Beer Festival. Make sure to look out for smeet frogs, or at the very least, the marker that tells the tale of this mythical animal.
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Get bombed. It’s really not what you think. As you’re walking through Ypsilanti, pay special attention to the light posts. Chances are you might spot the work of the Friendly Neighborhood Yarn Bomber, known for decorating the city with knitted goods and just another little quirk that makes Ypsi our kind of town.
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Are you from Ypsilanti or love the city like we do? Tell us your favorite spots in the comments.
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Photo credit: A Healthier Michigan. See more photos from our day in Ypsilanti on Flickr here.

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