At the start of August, the United States marked almost two and a half years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two and a half years of shutdowns, remote university instruction, and two full classes of Eastern Michigan University students who haven't experienced a normal campus.
In those two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that the cases in Michigan reached 2.39 million.
EMU sophomore Tori Rivers said she has had limited experiences on campus and in the surrounding community of Ypsilanti.
“I missed events and going to things that would have made my college experience better,” Rivers said.
Taking location, price, and COVID-19 safety into consideration, college students finding activities to do off campus can be daunting. Still, there are many sweet spots in the area that young adults should check out during their time at EMU.
The Michigan Firehouse Museum
This museum is located at 110 W Cross St., right off EMU’s campus and about 10 miles from the University of Michigan’s campus. Dave Egeler, the museum curator and director of operations, said the museum has been in operation for 24 years. Although its location is very close to both campuses, the museum doesn't receive many college student visitors, said Egeler. To encourage students to visit the museum, they are offering a student discount, which lowers the ticket price to $8. The museum was closed for 16 months due to COVID-19, and since reopening, it has required vaccinations for all staff and volunteers, Egeler said. “We will always follow state requirements,” Egeler stated. The museum also has good ventilation, and the staff disinfects the exhibits, said Egeler. With three floors of exhibits that display the history of firefighting, Egeler said, “you can take a step back in time and experience history with a modern display.”
The Michigan Firehouse Museum is about four blocks away from Downtown Ypsilanti. Downtown Ypsilanti is on W Michigan Avenue. This street is a few blocks from Eastern Michigan University and about nine miles from The University of Michigan. Downtown Ypsilanti contains restaurants, small businesses, various shops, and a cocktail club. Spending time downtown will provide plenty of outside time. The CDC said, “outdoors is the safer choice.” With a variety of restaurants and shops, there is a lot to explore for all different types of people.
This restaurant, located at 200 W Michigan Ave., is one of the leading food spots in downtown Ypsilanti. Drew Salazar, the general manager, said Bobcat Bonnies has been around for seven years and has six locations. The Ypsilanti location employs plenty of college students and receives quite a few college student visitors, said Salazar.
To attract more college student visitors, Bobcat Bonnies offer a 25% student discount on Wednesdays. Salazar said the COVID-19 pandemic caused their location to struggle, but “our employees pulled together, and we made it through.” Right now, this location encourages masks, said Salazar. The company also has hand sanitizing stations and wipes tables between customers, said Salazar.
“This is such a diverse and accepting place. There is no better company to serve these people,” Salazar said.
Bobcat Bonnie’s Ypsilanti location, featuring glass and brick décor, is less than a mile from Eastern Michigan University’s campus on the corner of West Michigan Avenue and North Washington Street. In winter, they include outdoor seating in igloos.
Bobcat Bonnie’s Ypsilanti location, featuring plant and mural décor, is less than a mile from Eastern Michigan University’s campus on the corner of West Michigan Avenue and North Washington Street.
Riverside Park is located at 2 E Cross St., Ypsilanti, several blocks from downtown. This location is about 10 miles from The University of Michigan and is a 10-minute walk from Eastern Michigan University. Riverside Park contains trails, boardwalks, a playground, a garden, and a sports field. A visit to the park finds people walking the trails, enjoying the playground equipment, and taking pictures of nature. The boardwalk goes right over the river and passes under East Cross Street. This location is open year-round and is entirely outdoors.
Shops, restaurants, and bars, including Tap Room and Red Rock Downtown Barbeque, along West Michigan Avenue, east of North Huron Street, on March 11, 2022, just blocks away from Eastern Michigan University.
East Liberty Street
Right off of The University of Michigan’s campus is East Liberty Street. This location is about 10 miles from Eastern Michigan University and has several visitor parking garages. This street has restaurants of all different tastes, clubs, shops, and much more. The attractions on this street include Tomukun Korean BBQ, Necto Nightclub, Michigan Creamery, Jolly Pumpkin Café & Brewery, and much more. This entertainment district can be enjoyed in all seasons and provides a lot of time outside.
East Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan, is an entertainment district. Bright sun shines on the street attractions, including the Michigan Theater, Tea Ninja, and Gamma Piercing.
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
Lastly, the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is at 220 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor. This location is two blocks away from East Liberty St. Jan Klute, reservations and accounts payable manager, has worked at the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum for 24 years. Klute said that they get very few college students at their location. Although they don’t have a student discount, students can be admitted for free if their instructor sets up a visit for part of a class, said Klute. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the museum to have to lay off most of its staff, and right now, managers are rebuilding the crew, Klute said. The Hands-on Museum installed new air filters, and Klute said masks are optional. Klute believes that The Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum is a great place to visit because “All the exhibits are fun and interesting and allow for interacting with the exhibits and each other. If you are interested in science, or how things work, or basic physics, you will have a good time.” The museum has three floors of experiments and activities for all ages.
The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, East Ann Street, displays its colorful exterior in downtown Ann Arbor. The museum, just blocks away from The University of Michigan, has three floors of exhibits for all ages.