Ann Arbor MI

#2. Ann Arbor, MI

Head west from Detroit about 40 miles and you’ll find yourself in Ann Arbor, the #1 city on Livability’s list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live this year and home of the top-ranked University of Michigan. This tight-knit college town offers tons of family-friendly amenities.

There are a whopping 159 parks in Ann Arbor, plus other cool outdoor places to explore, like the Dexter-Huron Metropark, a 120-acre wooded area with trails, canoeing, disc golf, swings, slides and picnic areas. The school district serves more than 17,000 students and maintains an impressive 17:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Plus, Ann Arbor’s 120,000 residents are highly educated, with nearly 73 percent of adults over the age of 25 earning a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Best Way to Keep Everyone Entertained on a Saturday Afternoon: Hands down, the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (pun intended). Kids and parents rave about this place, which has interactive science and technology exhibits galore.

Kid-Friendly Restaurant: Locals rave about the kids’ menu at Grizzly Peak Brewing Company.

Best Date Night Spot (for frazzled parents): Not only does the Gandy Dancer serve up delicious steaks and seafood, but it’s also located in a charming restored train depot from 1886.

Where to Score the Sweet Stuff: Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory, where you can watch the confectioners make Zingerman’s unique candy bars and then taste their handiwork.

Dog-Friendly Hangout Spot (because they’re part of the family too!): Leash up and head to Nichols Arboretum, aka “The Arb,” at the University of Michigan, where fur-children and humans alike will enjoy the 3.5 miles of trails through flower gardens, fields of prairie grasses and wooded nature areas.

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