Ann Arbor did some extremely sensible planning, with the result that places like Gallup Park exist. Combining a biking/walking/rollerblading trail which intermittently reaches larger park spaces, the city has preserved 69 acres of the riverine environment. As long as there isn't a train passing (both passenger and freight rail use the tracks which are adjacent to the bike path), the loudest noises you hear may be the burbling of the river or the warning honks of Canada geese protecting their young from intrusion. It's amusing to watch the medical students roller-blading to U Hospital, their short white coats flying. Like many such trails, there are often mothers with jogging strollers. Many strategically placed benches offer a respite to the weary walker. The river itself offers kayakers a pleasant paddle, and there is a canoe livery as well as paddle boats at locations along the river.
My mother lived in the Huron Towers, which overlooks the Arboretum and the old railroad bridge across the Huron River. (My boys used to love listening to the hollow sound made by bicycle tires on that bridge. If you have children, I'll bet they'll love it, too.) Daily when I'd visit, Mom and I would walk slowly down to the fourth or fifth bench. She called it her "restorative environment" and after a bit, I could understand the peace that seeped into her life because of her exposure to Gallup Park.
Go for walks in any one of Ann Arbors parks. One of my favorite places to take a quiet stroll is at the end of Island Drive. The address is:
1450 Island Drive
For other parks in the area goto the City of Ann Arbor Parks and Rec site listed below.
p.s. My Island Drive Walk has parking available.
Let me encourage you to drive out of downtown Ann Arbor on a fall afternoon, just twenty minutes along scenic Huron River Parkway, to get a special treat at the Dexter Cider Mill. For more than 120 years, it has operated continuously, pressing cider in the traditional oak rack press (see photo), using three to five varieties of locally-grown apples. In addition the Mill makes all manner of apple-related products (pies, turnovers, strudel, caramel apples, jellies, apple butter, boiled cider) and the most delicious donuts (your choice of plain or cinnamon sugar). They also carry vinegars, barbecue sauces, mustards and pickled asparagus, and several locally grown products like popcorn and flavored packaged soybeans.
Once you've gotten your gallon and dozen, wander back to the Huron River where you can perch on a hay bale to munch and drink and watch the water sweeping past. If things get too crowded, you can drive a mile or so to the Huron River Metropark where there is more room to spread out.
The Mill is open from late August to mid-November, Wed-Sun 9-5 PM. On Saturdays from 11-5 PM and Sundays from 12-5 PM, you can also enjoy wine tasting from the Sandhill Crane Winery and purchase chocolates from the Backyard Gourmet.
If you've never been to Michigan, you need to know about Meijer's. Imagine a grocery store that also sells (a lot of) clothing, CDs, books, music, furniture, toys, electronic equipment, automobile accessories, and lawn and garden equipment. Now imagine it being open 24 hours a day.
If it's 3am and you just -really need- to swing by the store to pick up milk, frozen pizza, a bookcase, a can of Fix-Flat, pictures for your living room, the latest Madonna CD, some underwear, a couple of cans of paint, and a barbecue grill, there's no better place. Since I've been living in California, Meijer's is, oddly, one of the things I miss the most. Having a one-stop store which keeps pace with my sometimes odd schedule was just amazing.
Walking through the Arboretum - the university has a large area of land that is basically in the city that is great to walk around. It is quite hilly and goes down to the river. It is very pretty, and very relaxing (or great for a short trail run) You can enter the 'Arb' from near the hospital or off of Geddes, just east of Observatory