A guide to Ann Arbor’s magical fairy doors

. August 1, 2017.
Anna Eldon, Natalie Henry, and Peter Eldon leave trinkets for the Red Shoes fairies.
Anna Eldon, Natalie Henry, and Peter Eldon leave trinkets for the Red Shoes fairies.

Ann Arbor is 25 square miles of magic surrounded by reality, and there is no greater proof than the abundance of fairy doors within the city limits. Fairy doors came to downtown Ann Arbor in the early 2000s thanks to the magical influence of Ann Arborite Jonathan B. Wright, a self-described fairyologist.  Since then, fairy doors, villages, and gardens have sprung up all over the city and have given townies and visitors one more unique thing to tour and observe in Ann Arbor.

To step into the world of fairy magic, follow this hour-long trek to some of Ann Arbor’s best fairy doors.

Fairy door destinations

Start your journey along Main Street at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room (114 S. Main). Its wooden fairy doors, located on the right just inside the front entrance, open to reveal a fairy setting.

Head south on Main and west on Washington to the Sweetwaters Café on the corner (123 W. Washington). This is the original fairy door in the downtown business district, appearing in 2005. The white fairy door mimics the architecture from the exterior building and is on the wall opposite the cream station. Sweetwaters also sells fun souvenir postcards, posters, and copies of Who’s Behind the Fairy Door.

Head south on Ashley, and look for the ruby red door at Red Shoes (332 S. Ashley). The wide porch is often home to other whimsical scenes, from a tiny red car to a toy soldier battle.

Loop around on Liberty back to Main Street. While it doesn’t bode well to reveal the exact location, there is a gray goblin door north of The Ark. Goblins are testy creatures, so tread lightly. Continuing south, The Ark  (316 S. Main) has a fairy door to the left of the exterior door leading to the ticket booth.

Next, go south on Main and east on William to the Fairy Village Garden at the corner of the Fourth & William parking structure. Kids can have fun pointing out their favorites from the many free-standing fairy homes.

Continue along William to the fairy door at the Downtown Library (343 S. Fifth Ave), which is tucked inside the children’s section. When you enter the main doors, head straight back to the Fairytale and Folklore section in the children’s area. This door is housed inside several vintage books, including The Book of Wonder and Through Fairy Halls.

Lastly, head north on Fifth and east on Liberty to The Michigan Theater (603 E. Liberty), where the door is located to the right of the exterior ticket booth. The booth’s dark wood blends in with the exterior frame of the door. Be sure to get out your flashlight so you can see inside this final stop on the fairy tour.