[note] Thanks to Little Sprout Children’s Boutique for their sponsorship of the Summer Bucket List. We appreciate their support! Check out all of the fun stuff they have at Little Sprout if you haven’t had a chance. [/note]
by Jill Piwko
We love summer in Southwest Michigan! It is a great time to get outdoors and explore all of the great things that Kalamazoo has to offer! If you’re a “list-maker” like me, you’ll love our Summer Bucket List of fun ideas to do this summer. We’ve included things from not only the Kalamazoo area, but many ideas that are within driving distance of Kalamazoo (1 and 1/2 hours away or less).
65 Things to Do with Your Kids This Summer
- Did you know there’s a new baseball team in town? Catch a Kalamazoo Growlers baseball game at Striker Field.
Meet up with friends at Ramona Park or Oshtemo Park.
- On a rainy day, go to a movie. The Alamo Drafthouse in Kalamazoo is a fun place to watch a movie and get food at the same time. (Note: generally the age policy is 6 and up, but on all G-rated and many PG-rated movies (for kid-oriented titles) they will allow 3 and up before 6 p.m.).
- Go for a hike at the Kalamazoo Nature Center or at Fort Custer.
- Attend one of the Children’s program at Leila Arboretum in Battle Creek.
- See some alligators at the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary or birds at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary.
- Eat at either the Root Beer Stand in Kalamazoo or West Lake Drive-In in Portage for some old-fashioned drive-in fun.
- Ride the Trolley in Grand Haven and get a tour of the town.
Head to Amish Country in Shipshawnee and take a buggy ride.
- Vist the Cheese Lady in Kalamazoo and taste some of the best cheeses around.
- Attend the Kalamazoo County Fair from August 4-9. Check out the 4-H animals, pony rides, and Kids Zone events.
- Join one or two of the summer reading programs offered by the area libraries.
- Attend an area Art Fair or Art Hop on the first Friday of each month.
- Garden – allow the kids to have a designated area of the yard and plant/maintain their seeds throughout the Summer.
- Watch a movie at Movies in the Park by the Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Department.
- Head to Milham Park, bring some cracked corn and feed the geese/ducks. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it!
Go berry picking – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries.
- Build a bird house with popsicle sticks.
- Take a train ride on the Coopersville & Marne Railway Train or the Little River Railroad in Coldwater.
- Visit Mooville and learn about how milk and ice cream is made!
- Visit the splash pad at Silver Beach in St. Joseph. Make a day of it and visit the Curious Kids’ Museum and get pizza at Silver Beach Pizza-yum!
- Take a road trip to Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids. Attend one of the Children’s Garden Summer Activities while visiting.
- Catch one of the 4th of July Fireworks displays.
- Have fun in your own driveway……wash the cars, bikes, scooters and tricycles. Make sure to use LOTS of soap to create tons of suds!
- Set up and run through the sprinkler.
Take a family bike ride at a the Portage Pathway or the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail.
- Attend a Wednesday Night Cruise-In at the Gilmore Car Museum for free!
- On a rainy day, go bowling. Sign up your kiddos for two free games of bowling a day during the summer. (Shoes not included).
Have a water balloon fight with another family.
- Visit Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market or one of the other local Farmers’ Markets to check out all of the great local produce.
Take a swim at Ramona Park or Fort Custer.
- Make your own pinwheels.
- Visit to the Air Zoo on a day when it’s too hot to be outside or on a rainy day. Enjoy the rides.
- Have a nighttime photo shoot with sparklers.
Go fishing at the Wolf Lake Hatchery. Family fishing days are offered on Fridays and Saturday for free.
- Find a local food truck and have lunch there. Check out Lunchtime Live! at Bronson Park on Fridays from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm beginning on July 11.
- Head over to Battle Creek to see the “World’s Longest Breakfast Table” and Cereal Festival.
- Attend one of the summer Hands-On Happenings at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and visit the Robot Zoo exhibit while you are there.
- Summer is not complete without a day trip to the beach….both South Haven or Saugatuck are all beautiful.
- Pick your favorite park and perform a mini-service project by cleaning up any trash you see on the ground.
- Find a park you haven’t been to and visit it. See our listing of Kalamazoo Park Guide for our favorite parks in the area.
Attend the Battle Creek Air Show and Hot Air Balloon Festival in July.
- Do a fun run with the kiddos from our Fun Runs Guide.
- Have a kid friendly lunch at Garden Gate Cafe in downtown Kalamazoo.
- Pack a picnic and take it to the Air Zoo picnic area. Watch the airplanes take off and land.
- Go to a parade around the area.
- The summer concerts series offered in Bronson Park and Kindleberger Park are wonderful! Pack a blanket, a picnic, and enjoy!
- Plant flowers in outdoor containers and deliver them to friends.
- Attend a Summer Camp… or two or three! See our Summer Camp Guide.
- Go out for donuts for breakfast to Sweetwater Donuts.
Go horseback riding.
- Celebrate “Christmas in July”, you could bake cookies, put out a few decorations, and get out the stockings.
- Always wanted to be a pirate? Check out the Pirate Chaser cruise in South Haven for a fun summer adventure.
- Go to Michigan’s Adventure for the day.
- Camp out in the backyard (or in your living room).
Experience June Jubilee in downtown Kalamazoo…Art on the Mall, KIA Art Fair, Dionysis Greek Festival, Summer Reading Program Kick-Off, and the Do-Dah Parade.
- Visit the barn animals at the Kalamazoo Nature Center.
- Stay up late while catching (and releasing) fireflies, reading your favorite books on a picnic blanket and make s’mores on the grill.
Ramona Park is a great place to meet up with friends for a picnic and then some beach and playground fun.
- Visit either Binder Park Zoo to feed the giraffes or John Ball Zoo to see the new tiger exhibit, or both!
- Visit as many playgrounds as you can, have your kids keep a journal about your adventures.
- There are so many festivals during the summer…RibFest, Taste of Kalamazoo, etc. make sure to attend at least one.
- Make your own ice cream, or enjoy an icy cold treat at one of the numerous ice cream parlors in our area!
- Attend the Vicksburg Old-Fashioned Car Festival and check out the old cars, arts and craft show, and ice cream social.
- Take a day with nothing planned, head outside and just enjoy!
Hope You Have A Great Summer!