You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

Parking strategies for the Ann Arbor Art Fair

By Staff


The Liberty Square parking structure was full earlier this afternoon — but there are alternatives.

Angela J. Cesere |

Dealing with parking and traffic can be major challenges at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. But they don't necessarily have to be. Those who are willing to take a somewhat unconventional approach — in other words, not necessarily hoping to find a reasonably priced place to park their car right in the middle of the action — can end up having a much easier time of it.

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.

More on the fair

Additional Ann Arbor Art Fair stories:

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.



Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

The above photo shows a care going the wrong way on the ramp! is The Liberty Square parking structure that confusing that drivers end up going the wrong way?


Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

Yesterday around 6 we arrived, and were very surprised at the amount of open street parking. We parked right off Washtenaw a block from the Rock, and walked the two blocks or so to the fair. LOTS of open spaces. Fair was very, very empty.


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 1:24 a.m.

Art Fair, what Art Fair, is there an Art Fair in town?


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

If you come in the evening you can park in the U of M Credit Union's lot at 333 E William St (between 5th Ave and Division) in exchange for a $5 donation to Food Gatherers. That's after 5:30 pm on Wednesday and Thursday and after 6:00 pm on Friday. You can also park there after 8:00 am on Saturday but the charge might be a little higher. It's for a good cause and it's a prime location for the booths on Main, Liberty and Maynard/State.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 9:26 p.m.

It's $10 to park on Saturday.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

Hey, parking in Chicago is nothing like $10. a day. Try $21. for UP TO an hour! C'mon guys, it's $10 bucks. That's a couple coffees. The bigger problem is getting there early enough to find a space at all. We used to go early enough to get breakfast first, before the official opening time. These days we welcome the out of town visitors and live on our memories in our AC home.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 11:19 p.m.

This isn't Chicago - and we don't pay $5 a cup for coffee either. It used to be that the bus shuttle was free, paid for by the Art Fairs to reduce congestion in the neighborhoods. There were several places charging $5 to park right off downtown, which is a much better deal than taking the bus. Me, I'd rather park a quarter mile away and ride my bike in - I didn't see any bike racks downtown that were posted off-limits.

Lynn Liston

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

From several year's experimenting, I've concluded that the park-and-ride option is the best, combined with strategic use of the circulator trolley. You can't beat the cost, $3 for round trip conveyance on a comfortable A/C equipped bus, plus a little extra for the trolley to save your feet. It's still less than the $10 charged at the parking structures. I've never had a problem arranging for local home delivery of larger items, at a reasonable fee to the artist for their time. And if you live on the bus line, that's a good way to go, too. Unfortunately, this year I had a pickup from my CSA farmer at the Farmer's Market and ended up getting the *last* spot in the Ann St Structure at 10:15 a.m. :(


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

Oh, a bike - what a lovely idea! But take note that Ann Arbor prohibits parking at most of the bike racks around town during Art Fair (they've got signs on 'em). Stupidest thing I ever heard of.


Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

That's because they're not really bike racks, JD, they're ART!


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 7:16 p.m.

My solution is so very easy! I will be staying home!


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 7:07 p.m.

Ride a bike! No muss, no fuss, and when you're ready to go, you're ready to go. If you buy something big you'll have to make special accommodations to pick it up.

rusty shackelford

Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

Although they do seriously restrict bike parking during art fair as well. Nearly had my bike impounded two years ago!

John of Saline

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

The heatstroke's just a bonus.