Ypsilanti houses Eastern Michigan University, so there are many entertainment options and things to do for the 20,000 college students as well as the city’s full-time residents. Here are some examples:
Discover Depot Town
A popular gathering spot adjacent to Frog Island Park and Riverside Park is Depot Town, which has specialty shops, a farmer’s market and several bars and grills. Most buildings were constructed from 1850-1880 and have been renovated, and events in the district include classic car shows, flea markets and annual festivals.
Take a Brake
More than 30 classic cars are on display at Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, including such rarities as a 1952 Hudson Hornet owned by Herb Thomas when he won the NASCAR championship in 1953. Also on exhibit is a 1991 Chevrolet Caprice police car that was manufactured at the nearby Willow Run GM Assembly Plant.
On the east end of Depot Town is a popular restaurant called Sidetrack Bar & Grill, a major hangout for faculty and students from Eastern Michigan University. The establishment has operated since the 1850s and is still known for its good food and many beer and wine selections.
Michigan’s only solar-powered grocery story is Ypsilanti Food Co-op, located in historic Depot Town. The year-round YFC features natural and organic food, sustainable household and gardening products, Michigan beer and wine products, coffee and chocolate, artisan breads and pastries, and frozen and dairy foods.
Be at Pease
On the campus of Eastern Michigan University is Pease Auditorium, a music venue constructed in 1914 specifically for concerts. Seating capacity is 1,700 for dozens of EMU music performances each year that feature local bands and national acts. The architecture is beautiful, with Pease Auditorium listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1980, city officials wanted to distinguish Ypsilanti as a summertime destination for festivals. As a result, annual events include an ElvisFest, Latin American Festival, Michigan Brewers Guild Festival, Orphan Car Festival, Shadow Art Fair and the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival.
Catch a Show
Adjacent to Riverside Park is the Riverside Arts Center, established in 1994 with a 115-seat black box theater and a large art gallery with exhibits that change monthly. Companies that stage performances at RAC include Ann Arbor Young Actors Guild, Center Stage Productions, People Dancing, PTD Productions and Ypsilanti Youth Theatre.
Order a Growler
Corner Brewery features microbrew brands such as Bollywood Blonde, Buzzsaw American IPA, Fraser’s 50 Something and Recyclops Imperial Rye, plus menu items like pizzas, sandwiches, salads and appetizers. Draft beers are available to take home in growlers (mason jars), and the brewery sells six packs to go.