There is nothing better in the summer than taking your family to a park with a picnic blanket, some food, and enjoying the outdoors. We asked our readers for their favorite places around town, and this is what they had to say!
1. Prairie View County Park
899 E U Ave, Vicksburg, MI 49097
This park is the perfect place for a picnic if you aren’t fond of beach crowds, you love swimming, and your children don’t need one of the newer playgrounds. There are slides and swings, but old fashioned metal ones. The real draw of this park are the hiking trails, boat rentals, and the lake which is at the bottom of a hill. There is plenty of space to throw out a picnic blanket and spend the day at the lake, which on a warm day has water that feels like you are taking a bath. If you aren’t in the mood for swimming, there are other areas within the park with picnic shelters and tables. As this park is part of the Kalamazoo County Parks, there is a $5 fee per car, or you can get a county park season pass for $25. Also worth checking out as a picnic location is Markin Glen County Park, where there is also a beach, or River Oaks County Park, which is home to the area’s splash pad.
2. Lakeview Park
9345 Portage Rd, Portage, MI 49002
This park has two play areas, paved walking trails, and a couple of piers that go out over beautiful Austin Lake. There are benches for sitting and enjoying the view or bring a fishing pole and fish with the family! Two pavilions offer shade and there are bbq grills and picnic tables throughout the park. There are plenty of opportunities to play sports too, as this park has places for baseball, tennis, basketball, and volleyball.
3. Harbors West Park
3458 Summersong Path, Portage, MI 49024
Located just west of Angling Road and north of Milham, this park is tucked away at the tail end of a newer neighborhood. There’s a pavilion next to the playground which has slides of different heights for different aged kids. There are also paved walking trails, a sand volleyball court, and an in-line hockey rink. Two large open areas sprawl out from either end of the playground and there are little hills which are fun for little ones to run on and roll down.
4. Schrier Park
850 W Osterhout Ave, Portage, MI 49002
Schrier Park is located off of Osterhout in South Portage. There is one pavilion, but plenty of room to relax in the rolling grass, which is also home to apple trees. They have a new playground that is very friendly for younger kids and miles of walking trails, paved, woodchipped and grass. If you go at the right time, you can stop to pick some black-capped raspberries in the woods on your walk after your picnic.
5. Oakland Drive Park
7650 Oakland Dr, Portage, MI 49024
Oakland Drive Park is located on Oakland drive between Romence and Schuring. If you have a daredevil, this playground boasts three of the tallest slides in the area. It also has a covered pavilion, a giant hill that kids can run down (and sled down in winter), a beach volleyball court, tennis courts, a baseball diamond and in the far back a soccer field. The baseball diamond and soccer field are often deserted and make a great place to spread out on the grass. There are also trails going through the forest and looping around the giant crater.
6. Celery Flats
7328 Garden Ln, Portage, MI 49002
Celery Flats has two separate areas. North of Garden Lane the Interpretive Center focuses on the celery industry to Kalamazoo, and south of Garden Lane is the Historical Area, which is full of several relocated and restored buildings. There is a playground and restrooms on the north part, and it’s also a popular place to start a bike ride or walk on the Bicentennial Trail which ends up at the park of the same name. There is also a picnic area and shelter. The south side offers plenty of room to bring a blanket and have lunch surrounded by history, and there are often events on this side and art shows.
7. Milham Park
400 E Kilgore Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Milham Park is a historic 49-acre park which is on the Portage Creek and has several playgrounds and picnic areas. There are two entrances, one located off of Kilgore Road, the other off of South Burdick. There are picnic tables scattered throughout the park, a ton of bbq grills and two shelters, one large and one small. There are also trails that meander through the woods and park, and bridges that go over the Portage Creek where you will see ducks, geese and swans.
8. Kalamazoo Nature Center
7000 N Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
The Kalamazoo Nature Center offers a ton of year-round fun, but did you know it makes the perfect location for a picnic? If you head the opposite way from the interpretive center after parking, there is a huge expanse of grass with picnic tables, gardens, and the newer natural playground which has a stream, balance beams made out of logs, hills and rocks to climb, and everything else a young explorer would want. There are plenty of programs to see on the weekends as well, and don’t forget to hit up the DeLano Homestead (their secondary location off of West E Avenue and included with admission) to pay a visit to the animals. Kalamazoo Nature Center does have a daily admission fee per person, adults $7, children 4-17 $4, and three and under are free.
9. Air Zoo – East Campus
6151 Portage Rd, Portage, MI 49002
(Head over to the east campus building – off Milham Road)
The Air Zoo no longer allows food to be brought into the main building, however, near East Campus are a few picnic tables that offer a prime viewing location for planes taking off and landing, which is perfect for little aviation lovers! You can reach the picnic area by parking in the East Campus lot of the Air Zoo or parking in the main parking lot and taking the little walk towards East Campus (follow the signs). There is no charge to use these tables or enjoy the show, you would only need to pay if you went into the main Air Zoo building itself.
10. Leila Arboretum
928 W Michigan Ave, Battle Creek, MI 49037
If you’re in Battle Creek, Leila Arboretum offers a beautiful, tranquil place to take the family for a picnic. There is no charge to get into the arboretum which also includes The Children’s Garden, The Kingman Museum, and a disc golf course. There are rolling hills, a fountain, paved walking trails through the beautiful gardens, and a picnicking area with a large shaded pavilion.