Long known as the home of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor’s appeal runs well beyond the college gridiron of its massive stadium, the largest in the country. While football is still a major pastime in season, locals and visitors alike, including attendees convening in this compact Michigan community for business, are enjoying an expanding repertoire of cultural offerings.
“One of the biggest selling points for Ann Arbor is that it has that big-city feel in a small-town environment,” says Laura Berarducci, director of marketing for the Ann Arbor Area CVB, adding that the destination mainly attracts small groups in the 50 room night range.
Berarducci says Ann Arbor has always had a great arts and cultural scene. That includes the town’s culinary offerings, which are continuously evolving, she adds.
“From a meeting planner perspective, there are historic and unique meeting locations that can really cater to group needs, then you have the opportunity to go out and enjoy a vibrant downtown with a very fresh culinary scene,” she says. “And so many of these places will also provide catering services. Ann Arbor is really making a name for itself as culinary destination.”
Berarducci points to three exquisite, group-friendly dining experiences: Mani Osteria & Bar; serving artisanal Italian food; Isalita, focusing on upscale Mexican cuisine; and the Spanish-inspired Aventura.
One of Ann Arbor’s most interesting new experiences for groups will also tie into the food scene. The town’s famous Zingerman’s community of businesses, which started as a corner deli in 1982 and has grown into an artisanal food empire that includes the deli, a creamery, a bakery, a coffee company and other establishments, will soon debut Corman Farms for private events.
“They are raising a huge, beautiful barn, and groups can go out and choose the pig or goat to have prepared for their event,” Berarducci says. “Farm to table and local sourcing has become a key element for a lot of local dining options as well.”