17 Amazing Family Things to Do in Plainwell, Otsego, Allegan and Fennville


Cover image: Positively Allegan

What to do in Plainwell, Otsego, Allegan and Fennville with Kids

What’s in between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids?

Head north on 131 and you’ll find multiple welcoming communities including Allegan, Fennville, Otsego and Plainwell.

While they began with paper mills and sawmills, these areas have transformed into unique cities with historical significance and recreational activities, enticing many families from both Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo to relocate here.

The communities north of Kalamazoo have many fun, family experiences to offer. Read on for some favorite things to do in Plainwell and surrounding areas:

Allegan, Michigan
Photo: City of Allegan

Plainwell MI Area Snapshot

HISTORY: Allegan is well known for its historical business district. The “Old Iron Bridge” was built in 1886 and still stands today, thanks to continual preservation efforts.

FUN: Zoom down the 100ft sledding hill at Thurl Cook Park in Plainwell.

FOOD: Plainwell offers two delicious ice cream options: Plainwell Ice Cream Co. and Dean’s Ice Cream. We recommend both.

OUTDOORSAllegan Game State Area offers 50,000 acres to explore, including two campgrounds and over 20 miles of hiking trails.

Life in Plainwell

Why people love to live here:

Family favorite Sherwood Park is nestled between two ice cream shops within walking distance: Plainwell Ice Cream Co and Dean’s Ice Cream.

You should know:

Plainwell is known as the “Island City” due to a power canal diverting a portion of the Kalamazoo River around downtown Plainwell.

Food giant Tyson Foods has a meat processing plant in Plainwell.

Population: 3,842

Life in Otsego

Why people love to live here:

Bittersweet Ski Resort and its 350 foot vertical draws skiers and snowboarders from all over the Kalamazoo area annually.

You should know:

Founded in 1831, Otsego was originally named Pine Creek. Its current name was assigned four years later.

The Otsego volunteer fire department started in 1866 and is still in operation today.

Population: 4,066

Life in Allegan

Why people love to live here:

The Allegan County Fair is the largest in Michigan, hosting a massive agricultural and entertainment event since 1852.

You should know:

Pharmaceutical company Perrigo is headquartered in Allegan since its inception in 1887.

The Allegan Community Players is the oldest theatre company in Michigan.

Population: 5,068

Life in Fennville

Why people love to live here:

The Goose Festival is a long-standing tradition in Fennville for over thirty years. The weekend-long event features a carnival, car show, parade, fun run, cornhole tournament and live music.

You should know:

Fennville’s name is attributed to early settler Elam Atwater Fenn, who built a sawmill in the area.

Fennville is part of the American Vinicultural Area or AVA, a designated wine-grape growing region.

Population: 1,446

Things to Do in Plainwell MI & Nearby Cities

Head north of Kalamazoo and you will find an abundance of outdoor activities: splash pads, kayaking, skiing and zip-lining are just a few options in these communities.

Crane’s in Fennville

1 – Climb the Walls at Allegan Event

Allegan Event
439 River St, Allegan MI 49010

Allegan Event is packed with indoor adventures: ropes courses, rock walls, arcade and indoor zip rails provide fun for the entire family. You can also rent the entire 13,000 square feet for parties or company events!

Allegan Event
Allegan Event 2022
Allegan Event has the largest indoor ropes course in Michigan

~ Allegan Event Trip Planner

2 – Pick the Perfect Pumpkin at Crane Orchards

Crane Orchards
6054 124th Ave, Fennville, MI 49408

Crane Orchards has a little bit of everything: u-pick fruit (peaches and cherries in the summer; apples and pumpkins in the fall), fall activities (hayrides, corn maze) plus a pie pantry and restaurant across the street, owned by their cousins.

3 – Get Ready to Deck the Halls at Leber Christmas Tree Farm

Leber Christmas Tree Farm
2439 36th St, Allegan, MI 49010

A family tradition for over 100 years, the Leber Christmas Tree Farm is passionate about its firs and spruce trees. All trees remain planted and growing until purchased to take home and decorate.

Take a wagon ride to select your perfect tree and stop in the heated gift shop for coffee or hot cocoa before you head home.

leber christmas tree farm wreaths
Leber also sells fresh Christmas wreaths

4 – Ride the Ferris Wheel at the Annual Goose Festival

Goose Festival
Fennville, MI 49408

This annual in Fennville promotes area game and wildlife, as thousands of Canadian geese pass through the Allegan State Game Area during migration. 

For over thirty years, the weekend-long event includes a carnival, car show, parade, fun run, cornhole tournament and live music.

Fennville Goose Festival
photo: Fennville Goose Festival

5 – Go Kayaking

Plainwell Kayak Company
211 N Main St, Plainwell, MI 49080

Plainwell Kayak Company features 1,2, and 3 hour Kalamazoo River trips or they can transport you to a local lake. Families can opt for either single or tandem kayaks. 

Furry family members are welcome here too: dogs can join you during kayak trips as long as you provide a canine life jacket.

photo: Plainwell Kayak Company

~ SWMI Kayaking, Canoeing & Tubing

6 – Explore Your Artistic Side at Express Yourself Art Barn

Express Yourself Art Barn
6459 130th Ave, Fennville, MI 49408

This drop-in art barn welcomes all talents and ages to create projects in a variety of media: painting, beads, mosaics and glass fusing are all options here.

Pay a flat fee for the studio and a small fee for your project and get started! They have staff on-site to help you create your masterpiece.

Art Barn

7 – Go Sledding at Thurl Cook Park

Thurl Cook Park
Oak Street & Glenview Circle, Plainwell, MI 49080

This 5-acre park features a 100 ft lighted sledding hill, a dog park, tennis, pickleball and basketball courts, and covered picnic tables.

8 – Celebrate with a Birthday Cake from Island City Bakery

Island City Bakery
118 E Bridge St, Plainwell, MI 49080

Opened in 2019, Island City Bakery makes its own macarons on-site in a vast variety of flavors. These melt in your mouth treats also adorn their delicious cakes.

Birthday Cake Bakery
photo: Island City Bakery

~ Birthday Cake Bakeries

9 – Listen to Live Music at the Allegan County Fair

Allegan County Fair
150 Allegan Co Fair Dr, Allegan, MI 49010

With 115 acres of land and over 38,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space, the Allegan County Fair is no small feat. This massive event is held annually since 1852 and hosts a full week’s worth of events.

Visitors can watch a parade, rodeo, tractor pulls, live music, monster trucks, and an extensive set of agricultural and livestock events.

photo: Allegan County Fair

10 – Hit the Slopes at Bittersweet Ski Resort

Bittersweet Ski Resort
600 River Rd, Otsego, MI 49078

Bittersweet Ski Resort offers 20 runs of skiing fun and a 350 foot vertical. Beginners can ride the “Wondercarpet” (think moving sidewalk) to the tops of the hill, rather than a chairlift. They also teach ski school, race camps, private and group lessons.

Don’t have your own equipment? Don’t worry- they offer rentals on skis, snowboards and helmets.

Otsego skiing
photo: Bittersweet Ski Resort

11 – Cool off in the Perrigo Splash Pad

Perrigo Splash Pad
189 Riverfront Plz, Allegan, MI 49010

Take a seat in the rainbow-colored chairs as the kids run and play through the long pad full of fountains and squirting water. This splash pad opened in 2019 as an addition to the Allegan Riverfront Boardwalk.


~ SWMI Splash Pads

12 – Go for a Swim at Allegan Aquatic Center

Allegan Aquatic Center
1560 M-40, Allegan, MI 49010

Allegan Aquatic Center offers aquatic fun for all ages. The smaller, warmer pool includes a small slide, lazy river and basketball hoop, perfectly sized for younger swimmers. The larger, second pool features diving boards and an inflatable obstacle course for the big kids.

This facility also teaches swimming classes and is available for hosting birthday parties or other events.

Boys at Indoor Pool

~ Indoor Pools in SWMI

13 – Grab a Scoop of Plainwell Ice Cream

Plainwell Ice Cream Co
621 E Bridge St, Plainwell, MI 49080

Open since 1978 by Art and Judy Gaylord, this now third-generation family-owned shop makes their own ice cream in house and offers over 60 varieties of dairy deliciousness.

Best Ice Cream- Plainwell Ice Cream Co

14 – Or Pick your Frozen Favorite from Dean’s Ice Cream

Dean’s Ice Cream
307 N Sherwood Ave, Plainwell, MI 49080

Open since 1916, Dean’s also makes their own ice cream and serves up food including hamburgers, chili dogs and hot pretzels.

~ SWMI Ice Cream Shops

15 – Have a Picnic at Dumont Lake Park

Dumont Lake Park
2417  31st St, Allegan, MI 49010

Dumont Lake Park is home to 550 feet of beach with a playground, restrooms, boat launch, and many picnic tables. This 18.6-acre park is also a favorite spot for fishing and features a watercraft/boat launch facility.

Lake Playground

~ Parks & Playgrounds

16 – Grab Some Fresh Produce from Brookside Farms

Brookside Farms
1475 116th Ave, Otsego, MI 49078

Stop here for delicious food from this family-run farm.

The Fritz family has been farming since 1876 and offers three retail/u-pick locations in Gobles, Paw Paw, and Otsego/Martin.

Brookside Farms Otsego

17 – Take a Spooky Stroll in Plainwell

Scarecrow/Harvest Stroll
Downtown Plainwell MI

The annual Scarecrow/Harvest Stroll takes place annually in Downtown Plainwell, offering a fun competition for local businesses to decorate their storefronts in October. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorites.

Scarecrow Harvest Stroll Downtown Plainwell 2022
photo: City of Plainwell

~ Halloween Displays

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