How To Spend Your Summer

Making the Most of Summer Break

By Bailey Burke April 26, 2023
How To Spend Your Summer

Finals are finished and Michigan is finally bursting with early summer blooms. Winter seems gone for good (well, at least until October) and almost every road is under construction. Whether you’re staying in Ann Arbor for the summer, returning home, or working in another place, there are so many ways that you can make the most of these next four months.

Summer in Ann Arbor

Firstly, if you’re staying in Ann Arbor, you get to enjoy a quieter campus. Perhaps you’re taking classes or working in town, but in your free time, Ann Arbor has a lot to offer. Restaurants and public parks tend to be less crowded than during the fall and winter semesters, so now is the perfect time to visit new places in town. It’s also a great chance to revisit places like the Nichols Arboretum (the Arb), as they come alive in a different way during the warm summer months. Check out the Peony Garden in the Arb, which consists of around 800 peonies (with roughly 10,000 flowers during peak bloom of over 270 peony varieties). Peak peony season typically runs from late May to mid-June.  

There are a plethora of great summer events in Ann Arbor as well. For example, the Ann Arbor Art Fair runs from July 20-22 and takes over town. Hundreds of artists share and sell their work, attracting nearly half a million visitors each year. There are also musical performances and different activities each day. 

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival is another big event that spans June 9-25 at Ingalls Mall. This festival offers musical and theatrical performances, art exhibitions, movies, and more! 

The Ann Arbor District Library and local businesses also offer special events throughout the summer, so keep your eyes peeled! There’s almost always something happening in town. 

Museums and organizations on campus also offer programming and exhibitions during the summer. You can check out things like the Planetarium & Dome Theater at the Museum of Natural History. 

For more summer events, visit the Destination Ann Arbor website.

For Everyone, Wherever You Are

If you’re not staying in Ann Arbor, the summer is a great time to work in your hometown, to study or travel abroad, or to explore your home state/city in new ways. Wherever you end up for the bulk of the summer, mini adventures are a great way to make memories this summer. A quick trip to the beach (which, if you live somewhere in Michigan, is never too long a drive away), a picnic in a local park, or a day spent exploring local bookstores are budget-friendly options for when you’ve got a free afternoon. 

I am from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and, like Ann Arbor, there are loads of free events throughout the summer. It’s worth doing a little bit of research to see what your town or nearby cities have to offer, as you can likely fill your weekends with music festivals, street fairs, and fun outings. Farmers markets are amazing in the summer, with loads of fresh fruits and vegetables (and you can support local farmers in the process!). Local libraries often have summer reading challenges as well, and community centers might offer free classes. 

While it’s great to fill your summer with fun activities — perhaps in addition to working or taking classes — summer is also a fantastic time to unwind. The school year is busy and stressful, but the summer months can offer a slightly slower pace. 

Think about building new routines this summer. Perhaps you make a morning stroll a regular part of your week, or spend time reading for fun each afternoon. The possibilities are endless! I often return to neglected hobbies during the summer, like sewing, baking, and gardening. 

Summer is also a great time to reconnect with old friends and stay in touch with new ones. If you find yourself at home, reconnect with some high school friends. Perhaps have a bonfire or revisit old high school haunts. You also might be temporarily parting ways with your college friends, so think about how you can remain connected. I love writing my friends letters and having group game nights over Zoom during the summer months. 

Lastly, summer is a wonderful opportunity to learn new things and discover more about yourself. Read books about topics that interest you, take an online course, or do research in your spare time on whatever excites you intellectually. Learning isn’t just about sitting in a classroom or taking notes from a textbook. You can learn a lot just by taking a walk in your neighborhood and truly observing. It’s good to keep your brain active in the summer, even if you’re not actively studying things for your major (though, if you’re studying something like a foreign language, it’s not a bad idea to brush up on vocabulary and grammar every now and then). The knowledge you gain in the summer can help you think in new ways and make connections during your fall classes. 

Summer is a time to grow, often outside the traditional classroom. The experiences you gain through work, travel, studies, and leisure can make you a more well-rounded person. Moreover, the things you do in the summer, while typically a mix of fun and practical, can help prepare you for the fall semester. Get lots of rest, learn something new each day, and have fun! Happy summer!

Bailey Burke
Bailey Burke

Bailey Burke is a senior in the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts, pursuing majors in history and creative writing & literature, with a minor in Spanish. She is from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bailey is in the Residential College, where she founded RC Letters Forum. She is also involved in campus ministry with St. Mary Student Parish and the Kateri Institute for Catholic Studies. She studied abroad in winter 2022 in Dublin, Ireland, and is hoping to travel after she graduates. In her free time, you can find Bailey reading, writing letters, and drinking tea.