Going to the Big House. Things to do for a football weekend.
August 21, 2007 7:16 PM   Subscribe

Myself and 7 friends are about to visit Ann Arbor MI for Michigan's opening football game of the season. We pick one team each year and converge upon that city for opening day. Its a nice way for us all to get together once a year, revive the sleeping binge drinker in us and just have a good time. Since none of us have actually ever been to Ann Arbor before I was wondering what are the "must do" things during a football weekend? We're coming in from all over the country so none of us will have cars. Are cabs common in the area, or will we be walking alot? We're staying south of the stadium by the Briarwood Mall and had planned on walking up to the game. Is it possible to do a pub craw from the mall area to the game or vice versa? Google's Street View isn't rolled out there yet or I'd virtually crawl it.
posted by lairc to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There really aren't any pubs from the mall to the stadium, although there are a couple of bars/restaurants near Briarwood. The good drinking spots are downtown Ann Arbor. There are cabs available, you'll usually have to call one, it's not like a major metro area where they cruise by all the time.

Tour the main UM campus. Visit the Natural History Museum if that interests you. Hang out downtown in the evening if the weather is nice ( a lot of open air sidewalk restaurants on Main Street). Visit the Diag off of State Street, visit Borders Main Store downtown.

Have fun... I work/live in the area, if you want any specific info, feel free to e/mail me.
posted by HuronBob at 7:55 PM on August 21, 2007

Oh my God. This one's right up my alley. I'm back at U of M for law school after being an undergrad here and then teaching for a couple years. I'm nearly shaking with excitement for the season to start and your question has only made it worse. Now for your answer:

Sorry to say it, but there really aren't any pub-crawl options heading from the mall to the Big House. If you want to hit some establishments before the game, I'd recommend cabbing it up to the campus area (you can get a cab easily if you look up a company and call- don't try to hail one on the street), where you'll find bars aplenty, packed with college kids looking to join you in your binge drinking. You'll be staying south of campus, the stadium is on the south side, so you'll go north of the staduum to drink. You could start at Scorekeepers on Maynard, a pretty rowdy frat-type sports bar. From there I would head west to Main Street, where you can hit up any number of bars. I'd strongly recommend Connor O'Neil's, which has good draught beers. If you head directly south from S'Keepers you'll hit lots of student tail-gates on apartment front lawns. They may or may not be big enough to have a keg that anybody can just walk up to and fill up. If you walk south on State St (through the heart of campus) you'll go by the 3-story beer bong (at least you would have in my day) and they're typically willing to share. Walk south on Main and you'll hit the Stadium. Follow the crowd.
You should start early, so that you can get the stadium in plenty of time, which I would call a "can't miss" part of the football weekend. Walk down the street with a river of people in Maize and Blue, make sure to get there in time to see the band's pre-game show, hear "The Victors," see the winged helmets touch the Go Blue banner... It's the best thing ever.

There are plenty of other bars that are worth visiting. You'll have to cab it back to your hotel if you wanna really have a good time- I wouldn't recommend walking or going out down there, since you'll be pretty much limited to a Max & Erma's or an Olive Garden.

So, head up to campus early- don't drive as parking is a BITCH. Hang out for a while but make sure you get to the stadium in plenty of time. Hang out after and cab it to the hotel. Email's in the profile if you have any other questions or if you need a guide (I'm up for it- all of my undergrad, binge drinking friends have moved away!).

Have fun and, most importantly- GO BLUE!
posted by PhatLobley at 8:00 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you like video games at all, I suggest a stop at Pinball Pete's. [video walk-thru]
posted by limeswirltart at 8:09 PM on August 21, 2007

Briarwood is about two miles south of the stadium, which is itself a little less than a mile south of the bars and such. If that seems too far to walk in the morning, you might want to look into game day bus shuttles. A pub crawl would be much easier later in the day, after which you'd probably want to take a cab back. Cabs seem common in the area (way more than I'd expect for a town this size), but you can't hail them and there are only a few taxi stands. Once you're in the downtown /central campus area, though, it's small enough to walk everywhere.

To help orient you, most of the bars are on or near one of two streets. South University has places like Good Time Charlie's and the Brown Jug, which typically cater to a slightly more rowdy crowd. Also near there is Dominick's, on Tappan St, which has a large outdoor section and is known for its tasty, if overpriced, sangria. Between South U and Main St are relatively few places, but some important ones. Ashley's on State St has a vast selection of beers on tap from all over the place and is worth checking out, as is the brewpub Arbor Brewing Company on Washington St, which has a smaller selection of their own excellent beer. A few other sports bars dot the landscape, also. On Main are generally slightly nicer places, but my guess is on game day that will be a relative term. A few names around there to start your adventures would be Connor O'Neils, Grizzley Peak (or rather, the Den next to it), and Old Town.

As for other must-do activities, you should definitely spin the cube while drunk. Or when sober, it's pretty great either way. It's not obvious from the road, so look at the map. It's just north of the Michigan Union. Zingerman's is an institution in town for its bread and (expensive but good) sandwiches. If you get tired of booze for the moment and are up in town, walk through central campus and maybe even up to the Nichol's Arboretum. For campus resources, the university keeps descent info.

Enjoy the game!
posted by Schismatic at 8:23 PM on August 21, 2007

omg Pinball Pete's was like my 2nd home in high school... go if you can. FUN for all.

Spin the cube seconded.

The Arb is a fun walk as Schismatic mentioned.

There are tons of great bars. The ones closer to campus are, not surprisingly, full of college students. If you go to Main Street, away from campus, you'll find more 20 and 30 something bars.
posted by k8t at 8:46 PM on August 21, 2007

I haven't been to Ann Arbor since I became of legal age, so I'm no help on the bar front, but I second the recommendation to get to the game early. I get chills just thinking about watching the players run out and touch the M Club banner before the game. And the same with walking into the nearly-full stadium before game time and seeing 100,000+ people in front of me ... basically, make sure to make it to the game. (And I'd advise not to wear red ...)

Go Blue!
posted by bijou at 8:58 PM on August 21, 2007

Ashley's Pub on State St. has like 1000s of beers. You can have a blast with their beer menu. There'll be drunk college students - but more of the sophisticated variety.

Other bars worth checking out are likely to be on Main St. such as Conor O'Neils (typical Irish pub) and Blue somethingorother.

Another pub worth the visit is Leopold Brothers Brewery - not only do they brew a nice batch of ales there, they also distill some very excellent and unique gin. It may be less crowded there since its farther out of the way down Main St.

There a dozens more, just walk around between Main and State and you'll find lots of neat little places for eats too. The ones I mentioned above are typically not frat-y sport-nut crowd - but they'll still be full of people who were at the game that day.
posted by dendrite at 11:37 PM on August 21, 2007

Oh and cabs are not common, and your walk from the hotel down to the stadium will be boring and full of old alumni without a lot of the spirit of the student body.

You should call a cab from your hotel, and the lot of you should be dropped off somewhere near the central part of campus away from the stadium. The corner of South University and Liberty would be good. From there, take a lengthy walk to the stadium with the students who'll be dressed in maize and blue and super duper psyched. You won't need a map, just follow the flow of 40,000 students. You'll also get a nice view of the campus separate from the bars and restaurants you'll be visiting later.
posted by dendrite at 11:42 PM on August 21, 2007

I can't believe I'm not the first person to tell you to spin the cube! So, I cube...er, third that suggestion.

If you or your friends are into such things, Maya Lin (designer of the Vietnam Memorial in DC) has a piece on North Campus (you could easily take a shuttle up and back from Central Campus - the main campus): Wave Field, by Maya Lin. I happen to love it, but it's probably not worth a trip up there unless one of you reallllly wants to check it out. It has absolutely nothing to do with football or drinking.

Finally, definitely watch the band's pre-game show. Just thinking about it gives me chills. Also, check out the drumline's step show before the game.

As a Wolverine who bleeds maize and blue, I am so jealous that you get to go to one of the games...enjoy it!

Go Mee-chigan!
Go Blue!!!
posted by splendid animal at 2:07 AM on August 22, 2007

Nthing Ashely's. And Dominicks. Main Street bars tend to have a bit older of a crowd than state street and south u (I can't tell how old you are). Dominick's is near the law school, which is really beautiful (although I'm biased).

I also recommend getting to the stadium early. At some point, the band marches down the street to the stadium, and that is worth seeing at least once. Call the U's info desk for times. (This isn't in the stadium. It's the walk to the stadium.)

If you like live music check out the Metro Times to see what is happening that night.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:04 AM on August 22, 2007

Can't approve of your choice of schools there buddy (sorry, UM fans, 2nd generation Spartan!) but do check out Ashley's. The stilton burger there is damn good. Also, Zingerman's, if you can get in there. Baked goods are worth the trip. Also, the Cavern Club might be worth a look; several floors, each with a different atmosphere, so even with a large group you might be able to find something that works for everyone in one spot.

Kick a Wolverine for me, and have fun!
posted by caution live frogs at 7:27 AM on August 22, 2007

Nthing Zingerman's. You think it's just a deli, but it's ohhhh so much more than that.
posted by Andrhia at 7:32 AM on August 22, 2007

Nthing Ashley's. Zingerman's is definitely worth visiting too. And Crazy Jim's Blimpy Burger. It's not a bar, but it's an experience. The burger is so worth getting yelled at by the cooks. Cheaper than food!
posted by mealy-mouthed at 8:13 AM on August 22, 2007

I'd echo the "go to Pinball Pete's," but the last time I was there, about a year ago, everything seemed to be in terrible condition, with broken buttons on every game I played.
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:54 PM on August 22, 2007

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