Located in southeast Michigan, Ypsilanti is the college town where you’ll find Eastern Michigan University. Michiganders refer to it as Ypsi, but no matter what you call it, the city is as fun as its name. They have excellent craft beer pubs, foodies will enjoy their dining scene, and art enthusiasts will find something to do in their eclectic art scene. In addition, those interested in automotive and aviation history will find plenty of exciting things to do on a weekend trip.
Served by all the major airlines, Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) in Romulus is the nearest airport to Ypsilanti. Here are eight fabulous things you can do in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
1. The Yankee Air Museum
The Yankee Air Museum is a Smithsonian aerospace and science museum affiliated with the Willow Run Airport. It offers a variety of aviation experiences. In addition to exploring 20th-century exhibits from World War I to Vietnam, you can even ride in one of their World War II aircraft or a helicopter from the Vietnam era. They also have aircraft from the Gulf War.
One fun and unique thing about this museum is that it takes a hands-on experience to a whole new level. You can book a ride on one of their five historic aircraft and take a trip through history. They offer rides in the C-47 Hairless Joe Skytrain, the B-17 Yankee Lady, the B-25 Rosie’s Reply bomber, the UH-1 Huey, and the Ford Tri-Motor.
If you’re not up for riding in one of the aircraft, check out the Deep Landings exhibit, where you can be the pilot in one of their flight simulators.
Pro Tip: They offer flight experiences from May to October, so plan before you go.
2. Fly Fishing On The Huron River
Go fly fishing on the Huron River and you’re in for some of the best fly fishing in the Midwest. This area is famous for catching smallmouth bass. Located in Depot Town on the shore of the Huron River, Schultz Outfitters offers guided fly-fishing trips for all levels. You can also take a lesson or two before your trip, which is especially helpful if you’re new to fly fishing.
And if you’re new, they have all the gear you need to get started. They also have all the supplies for fly tying, including lessons.
Pro Tip: Since I have some mobility challenges, I appreciate that you don’t need to trek into the wilderness to fish in the Huron River.
3. Border To Border (B2B) Trail
Another outdoor activity is the Border To Border (B2B) Trail, which features six trails of varying lengths for hikers and bikers. The Ypsilanti segment is 11.67 miles featuring views of Ford Lake and the Huron River. Using the trail as transportation makes sense if you’re exploring the city. This corridor takes you through campus to dining options and museums.
In addition to the Ypsilanti Trail, you’ll find five more that will allow you to get out and explore a broader range of the area. Plan your route using their B2B map. Some parking lots at the trail’s access points require a parking fee.
Pro Tip: The trail is wheelchair-friendly and designed with stable surfaces and gentle slopes.
4. Unicorn Feed & Supply
Shopping in Ypsi is fun, with various unique and funky shops. One of my favorites is Unicorn Feed & Supply. It’s not a typical farm and feed store unless you’re looking for something to feed your soul. This cute gift shop was a hit with my unicorn-loving granddaughter, who found a fluffy stuffed unicorn. They also have something for the dragon-loving grandkids. Overall, you’re sure to find a gift for yourself or a loved one. They have everything from stickers and sparkles to books and puzzles.
Pro Tip: If you have mobility issues, be aware that some of their events occur on the second floor. Call to verify as they don’t have an elevator in their historic building.
5. Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum
Since Ypsilanti is just 36 miles from Detroit, you’ll find a rich automotive history there. Connected to what was once the world’s last operating Hudson automobile dealership, the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum focuses on the town’s automotive history. A favorite in the collection includes the last Hudson ever manufactured — a 1957 Hudson with lots of chrome and a red, black, and white tricolor.
Pro Tip: Check the hours before your visit. The museum is open from 1–4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.
6. Ypsilanti Historical Museum
You can explore a prominent 19th-century home in Ypsilanti at the Ypsilanti Historical Museum. Hooded windows, a hipped roof, and extended eaves are all Italianate-style characteristics of this home built in 1860. In addition, the museum offers special exhibits that cover over 200 years of Ypsilanti’s history.
Over the years, several prominent families lived in this house. First, Asa Dow built the home and founded the National Bank of Ypsilanti. Then, Aaron Goodrich, the manager of Ypsilanti’s largest hotel the Follett House, and his family lived here for about 10 years. Finally, Lambert Barnes, Ypsilanti’s mayor in the late 1800s and president of the Peninsular Paper Company, owned the home. Subsequently, it became apartments before being converted into the Ypsilanti Historical Museum.
One item to mention is the stunning Tiffany Window in the library. They have docents available to provide guided tours if you prefer that over a self-guided tour.
Pro Tip: Admission to the museum and its archival services are free.
7. Michigan Firehouse Museum
Located in Ypsi’s historic district, the Michigan Firehouse Museum is in an authentic 1898 firehouse, complete with a brass pole. Since my mother-in-law was once the secretary in our town’s fire prevention department, we always have fun learning about firehouse gear. Fire safety is another essential part of this museum. It brings back fond memories for our family.
With over 3,600 items on display, you’ll find everything related to firefighting — historic and modern fire trucks, extinguishers, helmets, and bells. The museum is open Thursday through Sunday.
Pro Tip: When planning your visit, the Depot Town area has three museums: the Ypsilanti Historical Museum, the Automotive Heritage Museum, and the Ypsilanti Fire Museum. Arrange your visit to cover them all while you’re in the neighborhood.
While you’ll find Ypsi restaurants with an American retro flair, you can also find a variety of international cuisines and craft beer pubs.
The Bomber Restaurant
It was the 1940s and Rosie the Riveter worked in the nearby Willow Run Bomber Plant making B-24 bombers. World War II was in full swing. The Bomber Restaurant served diners then and still does today. While they serve breakfast and lunch, I must mention their Bomber Breakfast. The Food Network even featured this colossal breakfast. It includes breakfast potatoes, four eggs, toast, and one grill choice of either six sausage patties, seven sausage links, 10 bacon slices, or two ham slices. No matter what meat you choose, this breakfast is the bomb.
Casa Blanca features authentic Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine. I always enjoy hummus in Middle Eastern restaurants, and Casa Blanca’s was no exception. Their version of hummus includes a topping of signature Moroccan vegetables. If you want chicken, try the Casablanca whole grilled chicken. They debone it, marinate it in lemon juice and a garlic sauce with Moroccan spices, and then grill it. If you’d prefer something lighter, they offer a variety of sandwiches, including a gyro.
While Ypsi Alehouse has good food and beer, I especially enjoy the live music featured on most nights. Live music sets the brew pub-style restaurant apart from others in the area. In addition, they offer indoor and outdoor seating, which takes full advantage of summertime in Michigan. Also, try their house-made beer cheese, which they feature in various dishes, including their cheese fries.
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