Insider: Vinal Desai Burbeck

Nov 02, 2015

How long have you lived in Ann Arbor?

I first came to Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan and I immediately fell in love — first with the campus, and then the city. I love it so much that I’ve never left (except for brief stints in London, Washington, DC, and London). This year, I celebrated ten years as an Ann Arbor resident.

What makes your city so awesome or unique?

Though it’s small, Ann Arbor has all the characteristics of a large city: a walkable downtown, hundreds of independent restaurants and bars/pubs, world-class arts and entertainment. Ann Arbor also has a few tricks up its sleeve! During a visit, you might spot a fairy door or get serenaded by our resident Violin Monster.

Any sustainable travel tips for visiting your city?

Unlike other cities in Michigan, you do not need a car. I prefer exploring on foot, but you can also rent one of our shiny new ArborBikes.

Favorite local food or restaurant?

That’s a tough one! We have so many amazing dining options, including some celebrity chef spots. But if you’re new to the area I might start with one of our casual brewpubs, which are essentially breweries that serve food. Grizzly Peak is one of the originals, while Wolverine State Brewing Company is a newer option that is very popular among locals.

Favorite local neighborhood to explore and why?

Kerrytown is special for many reasons. Not only is it historic and as a result very charming, it has some of Ann Arbor’s best shopping, food and drink — including the famous Zingerman’s Deli. 

Favorite local festival people should experience?

I adore the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, a three-week performing arts and entertainment extravaganza. Many of the events are completely free.

Favorite cultural tradition?

As a University of Michigan alum, I have to say “football Saturdays.” Ann Arbor doubles in size when over 100,000 people descend on the city to see the University of Michigan Wolverines play American football at the Michigan Stadium, the largest stadium in the United States.

Best spots to get off the beaten track?

My neighborhood, the Old West Side of Ann Arbor, is considered a historic district because of its beautiful Victorian style homes, many of which were constructed in the early 1900s. Coincidentally, the neighborhood is home to not one but TWO delicious ice cream shops: Blank Slate Creamery, which boasts housemade ice cream cones, and Washtenaw Dairy, which also has incredible donuts.

Are there any helpful words or lingo in the local language we should know?

Longtime Ann Arbor residents are called “townies.” I am proud to be one.

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