Parking strategies for the Ann Arbor Art Fair
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
Here are some strategies that might be worth trying. None are brilliant or even particularly creative — but a lot of fairgoers won't try any, and spend an awful lot of time cruising the streets in search of a perfect parking spot that doesn't exist. (If you have a tip of your own, please add it in a comment at the end of this post.)
• Be prepared to walk.
You can park for free for the Art Fair, if you're determined. It's not even that hard. There are neighborhoods surrounding downtown that don't have parking restrictions on residential streets; just find a street with ample available space and don't block anyone's driveway. You might have to hike a mile or so to get to the core of the fair, but what's a little extra in the context of all the walking you'll be doing anyway? Just be careful in the heat, and maybe stop at one of the local brewpubs when your batteries need recharging.
If you're willing to pay, but not too much, there are other options just a slight distance from the fair. The Ann Arbor Community Center on North Main Street, for example, usually has a reasonable rate, and it's really only a few blocks from the heart of downtown.
• Be prepared to pay.
Some people like to cruise around and look for a bargain rate for parking from some small entrepreneur. Well, good luck with that. You might find one, but odds are, you won't. If you really want a great place to park close to the action, just assume you're going to pay for it. Pretend you're in downtown Chicago for the day and go ahead and do your part for the local economy.• Try a parking structure, especially one that's less visible.
Some fairgoers — we're looking at you, Gladys from Farmington Hills — seem to insist on surface parking. If you do that, you're foolishly reducing your options. Try a public parking structure — in particular, one that's hidden a bit, which can make quite a difference. Around fair opening time this morning, many city parking decks were just about full, but the Forest Avenue structure had nearly 200 spaces available. Decks are listed on the DDA website.
• Use your phone.
A cell phone — especially a smart phone — can be a big help. Before you set out, you might want to check conditions via Google Traffic. To find out how many spaces are available at the downtown parking structures, call 734-761-9477 or check online (note that the city warns that the phone line may have more current information than the website). The Ann Arbor Art Fair Twitter feed and Facebook page may provide useful information, too.
• Use the bus.
If you're close to a regular Ann Arbor Transportation Authority bus line, you're already golden; just check on route detours before you go. But even if that's not convenient, shuttle buses are a great alternative. Air-conditioned park-and-ride shuttles run from three different locations: Maple Village Shopping Center at Jackson and Maple Roads, Pioneer High School, at 601 W. Stadium Blvd., and Briarwood Mall (near Sears) on State and Eisenhower. Parking is free; round trips are $3. For more details on the shuttles and other logistical information on attending the fairs, see our rundown of Art Fair facts.