Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

#4 in Best Things To Do in Ann Arbor
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Key Info

1800 N Dixboro Rd

Price & Hours

Hours vary by season


Free, Parks and Gardens Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend


  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are operated by the same organization on the grounds of the University of Michigan. The Matthaei Gardens feature 11 outdoor spaces with bonsai, medicinal plants and seasonal blooms, as well as approximately 3 miles of scenic trails. There is also an indoor conservatory that is open year-round – ideal if you are visiting during Michigan's icy months. At Matthaei's visitor center, you will find maps and other information, as well as restrooms and a snack bar. Recent travelers had nothing but positive things to say about the expansive grounds and gorgeous flowers, noting it is a great attraction for all ages.

Meanwhile, Nichols Arboretum is a joint operation between the City of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. It is a 123-acre property with varying landscapes, ranging from wetlands to forests to glacial grounds. At the arboretum, travelers can hike up to panoramic views and enjoy the tranquility of nature, without venturing far from civilization. Recent travelers remarked Nichols is a delightful hidden gem, and many said the Peony Garden – which typically blooms between late May and mid-June – is a must-see.  

During the summer, Matthaei Botanical Gardens is open daily between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. In the fall and winter, it is open every day from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – except on Wednesdays, when it closes at 8 p.m. The on-site trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Parking is available on campus and costs $1.90 per hour (exceeding no more than $5 per day). The Nichols Arboretum is open seven days a week between sunrise and sunset; its visitor center is open every day between mid-May and Labor Day, but only on Saturdays and Sundays between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Street parking is available. Admission is free of charge for both attractions. To learn more, visit the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum website.

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#1 University of Michigan

As the crown jewel of Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan boasts many of the city's top attractions. Start your visit by touring the manicured grounds of the campus, which was opened in Ann Arbor in 1837 (though the school got its start in Detroit in 1817). U-M has a total enrollment of about 48,000 students and stretches across a massive 3,207 acres. You'll find University of Michigan properties dispersed throughout Ann Arbor, though the main campus is centrally located within the city near parks, museums, bars and dining establishments.

When it comes to things to do on campus, you won't be left scratching your head. The university is home to 30 stunning libraries and more than 16 museums, including the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Art, the Kelsey Museum of Archeology, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Nichols Arboretum, the Herbarium and the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry. Other points of interest include the William W. Cook Law Quadrangle (a 10-acre compound comprising pristine green space and impressive gothic-style buildings), the Gerald R. Ford Library and Hill Auditorium (a classical music concert hall). You'll even find a hotel and restaurants on the premises. Campus visitors praised the gorgeous architecture and were wowed by the sheer size of the university. They also enjoyed the many museums on-site.

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