Home Travel Exploring Fall Foliage In Ann Arbor, Michigan

Exploring Fall Foliage In Ann Arbor, Michigan

by Dewan Gibson
giant fall leaf covering woman's face

One of the great American traditions is road tripping during a pandemic to view fall foliage and consume legal marijuana. We did just that with a recent 24-hour stay in Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan and more Black Lives Matter signs than Black people. Here are some pictures from the quick getaway.

Water near Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor.

We stayed at the Graduate Ann Arbor. It’s part of a chain of college-themed boutique hotels. “Boutique” being a euphemism for lil’ ass rooms (though well-designed). This is the view from the 13th floor, the second highest in the hotel. I thought the clerk hooked us up with a view because of our politeness, but maybe did it because there were only a handful of people staying. Whatever…$100 a night was a good deal. The lobby was cool, too. In normal times you’d probably spot a guy writing “the great American novel” on a typewriter while wearing a silk scarf. Don’t be that person.

Lobby of Graduate Hotel in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

UM’s one of my top five most beautiful campuses in the U.S., along with the University of California Santa Barbara, Indiana University, Ohio University, and the University of San Diego. As someone who’s loitered on many college campuses and continues to do so, I’m confident in my picks.

If you look closely through the trees in the picture below, you might see bros playing beer pong. Or you might not because I need to upgrade my camera. Three days before we arrived, students were issued an emergency stay-at-home order due to coronavirus. Classes went virtual and students were only permitted to leave to eat, complete work that could not be done online, vote, and worship. Though football players could continue to do whatever the hell they want. So why’d we even visit? Well, we didn’t know about the stay-at-home order (just ig’nant!) and our only plans were to walk around in nature and share each other’s air.

Fall foliage on the University of Michigan main campus in Ann Arbor.
woman holding fall foliage on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor
Forest Hill Cemetery in Ann Arbor during the fall.

Their campus squirrels are fat and run up on you for snacks. They’re fed and drugged by students.

Fat squirrel wanting food on the University of Michigan campus.

We spotted this bumpy tree during a hike through Nichols Arboretum. My wife, who was raised in the woods, identified it, but I can’t remember its name. It reminded me of that episode of Martin where he gets his face lumped by Thomas Hearns.

Tree with bumpy park on the walking path at Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor.
Fall foliage on the walking path at Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor

After four miles of leaf peeping and campus wandering, we picked up some edibles. Shout-out to the essential workers at Exclusive Ann Arbor. Simple process: You order via app, show ID and text message confirmation to security in the parking lot, and then pay cash curbside for the goods. It’s Chick-Fil-A level customer service, except I don’t have to betray my LGBT friends when buying. Quality product, too. It provided a tingly out-of-body experience and eight hours of deep sleep.

A rarity in the Midwest. Ann Arbor has a Black Lives Matter flag flying at its courthouse.

Black Lives Matter flag at Ann Arbor courthouse.

We drove the scenic route across Huron River Drive and stopped at one of the parks. That’s me wearing my fall 2020 outfit. It’s also likely to be my fall 2021 and fall 2022 outfit.

leaves galore at a park near the scenic route along huron river drive

The scenic route ends in Dexter, Michigan. There’s a taqueria there called Chela’s. They were only serving brunch at that hour, but they agreed to make tacos just for us. We asked for all the meats. An hour later my stomach said, “You doing tew much.” We had to make a semi-emergency stop at an off-highway gas station, but man, those tacos were good.

Authentic Mexican tacos from Chela's in Dexter, Michigan.

-Dewan Gibson

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