A campus tour of the University of Michigan (www.umich.edu ) reveals the expected and the less expected—both backpacked and Birkenstocked students and a quirky collection of 2,500 rare musical instruments. The heart of it all is the “Diag,” the diagonal walkway crossing the original 40-acre campus between State Street, North University, and South University.
Many of the buildings house classrooms, and on many days this is the site of student protest demonstrations and outdoor concerts. Ann Arbor , while still politically aware these days, is not the hotbed of activism it was in the 1960s, when an ongoing campaign began here to legalize marijuana.
For a terrific view, climb the eight floors to the map room in the Hatcher Graduate Library. Afterward, cross State Street, where you’ll find the venerable Michigan Union (530 S. State St., 734/763-5750, 7 a.m.–2 a.m. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–2 a.m. Sun. fall/winter, 7 a.m.–midnight Mon.–Thurs., 7 a.m.–2 a.m. Fri.–Sat., 9 a.m.–midnight Sun. spring/summer), built in the 1920s and site of President Kennedy’s announcement to form the Peace Corps.
Just north of the Diag, you’ll find another historic student union, the Michigan League (911 N. University Ave., 734/764-0446, 7 a.m.–11 p.m. daily), opened in 1929 as a center for women’s social and cultural activities on campus; today, it houses a gift shop, an information center, a 640-seat theater, and a small inn for visitors.
Across from the League is the Burton Memorial Tower, a campus landmark that’s capped by one of the world’s heaviest carillons, containing 43 tons of bells. Another campus favorite is the Law Quadrangle, home of U of M’s respected law school. Built 1923–1933, the picturesque quad was modeled after Britain’s Cambridge University. The level of workmanship in the Gothic building was rare even in the arts-and-crafts inspired 1920s. Rest your feet in the library’s hushed reading room, where blue and gold plaster medallions decorate the ceiling.
No visit to Wolverine territory would be complete without a stop at Michigan Stadium on Stadium Street and Main. The largest collegiate stadium in the United States, it draws more than 105,000 screaming fans for home games and post-game tailgating marathons. Constructed in 1927, this historic stadium remains open and active, even as it undergoes much-needed renovations.