I graduated from the University of Michigan, and haven’t been back to Ann Arbor in years. The winters there could be pretty harsh, but the summers were beautiful.
When I heard about the Ann Arbor Art Fair Do, I thought it would be a good opportunity to check out my old stomping grounds, see some good friends, take in the art fair, and hang with miles and points enthusiasts.
What is a Do?
When frequent flyers get together for an informal gathering, they call it a “do.” The Ann Arbor do is a relatively small gathering that features several guest speakers.
Who is Drew?
The guest speakers at the 2014 Ann Arbor Art Fair Do will be Drew who blogs at Travel is Free and his wife Carrie whose blog is Freakin Flyers. Drew and Carrie have been traveling long-term for practically nothing, and should have a lot of stories to share. Tahsir Ahsan, aka the Bengali Miles Guru, writes for Hack My Trip and will be speaking on rental cars and how to manufacture points and miles.
The “do” is an annual event organized by a guy who calls himself “Bikeguy” on the Flyertalk forum. As a relative newcomer to this hobby, I hope to pick up some tips and tricks from the veterans coming from around the Midwest and elsewhere.
What to Do in Ann Arbor
The big event of the week will be the Ann Arbor Art Fair, which is a street fair of juried artists and craftspeople near the campus of the University of Michigan. The event has grown in recent years to encompass four concurrent art fairs all over town. There will be entertainment as well as fine arts and crafts.
Since this trip is a “reunion” of sorts, I want to visit some of my favorite places on and off campus like the Dana building and the Inter-cooperative Council houses where I lived. I hear Lenny Bruce coop is long gone, but Robert Owen coop is still going strong. I also want to stop by Dominick’s Italian cafe, where I waitressed one summer.
I’ll be on the lookout for urban fairy doors in the downtown area, something that I find very intriguing. I’m looking forward to spending a day with my friends at Pickerel Lake, a small undeveloped lake about 20 miles from Ann Arbor.
Where to Stay in Ann Arbor
This is a miles and points conference and I am using points to get to Michigan. I have reservations on Southwest, where my nonstop flights price out at 6,500 Rapid Rewards points each way. Curiously, the nonstop flights on this route require fewer points than tickets involving plane changes.
I earned these points through a combination of flying Southwest, and making purchases on my Chase Southwest credit card. There is currently a promotion for the card which offers a 50,000 point bonus after spending $2,000 in the first three months, with an annual fee of $69. The Southwest credit card is an outstanding deal for budget domestic travelers, and award seat availability on Southwest is very good.
The Ann Arbor Art Fair draws several hundred thousand visitors so hotel rooms are at a premium. I used Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points to book a room at the Sheraton Ann Arbor for the points and cash rate of 3,500 points and $55 per night. This hotel is located several miles from campus in hotel row near the Briarwood mall. There is an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, and they offer a shuttle for local transportation.
By using the points, I am saving about $100 per night. I earned these points by opening the Amex SPG credit card and making purchases on the card. Through the end of June, this card has a sign-up bonus of 30,000 points, after spending $5,000 in a six month period. The annual fee of $65 is waived the first year. If a friend refers you for the card, they will earn a 5,000 point bounty. (Let me know if you would like a referral.)
Frank Lloyd Wright House on VRBO
In looking for a place to stay for the weekend, I came across the Palmer House, a beautifully preserved house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, complete with all the original Wright furniture. The house sits on two acres overlooking the University of Michigan Arboretum.