Families Will Soar High with the Air Zoo: Membership Perks, New Exhibits & Anytime Fun

Flight Innovation Center

Experience a Local Kalamazoo Treasure at the Air Zoo

As a Kalamazoo transplant, I have come to appreciate the places, food and culture that are uniquely Kalamazoo: a pizza from Bilbo’s, handwritten receipts from Little Chick Shoe Shop, and a walk down the painted blocks of Bates Avenue are all things you will not find elsewhere.

Among that list of local favorites is the Air Zoo: a world-class, Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum. With over 100 aircraft, full-motion flight simulators and exhibits updated regularly, it’s easy to be impressed.

However, the Air Zoo is more than just a museum full of artifacts: it’s a welcoming, family-friendly space that encourages children to learn through hands-on experiments and develop a love of science. It’s a place where toddlers can run, strollers can roll, and big kids can fly (simulated flight, that is).

After just one visit with my children, our family was hooked and we were planning our return. It was not long after that we bought a family membership. Four years later, my kids request museum visits regularly, attend Air Zoo Summer Camps and other special events.

NEW AT THE AIR ZOO

The Air Zoo’s ever-changing landscape is great for families. You and the kids can visit again and again and still find new things to do and see.

New Exhibit: Spend time with some pop culture icons that have taken up residence at the Air Zoo, in Alien Worlds and Androids. This exhibit includes some pretty famous droids and Ironman in its collection.

Air Zoo C3P0

Virtual Learning: The Air Zoo adapted quickly to COVID-19, offering engaging education virtually with summer camps and its Launchpad to Learning.

Their latest virtual endeavor, [email protected], offers affordable STEAM content to families who school at home. Students will complete interactive activities with live instruction from an Air Zoo educator.

Air Zoo Virtual Learning

AIR ZOO MEMBERSHIP

Something we quickly discovered with our inaugural trip to the Air Zoo: one visit is not enough. Our departure only left us planning our return to see more exhibits and revisit favorites.

A family membership allows you to visit as often as you like for an entire year; it also comes with discounts and perks.

DAY TRIP ITINERARY

Ready to visit and don’t know where to start? The Air Zoo spans two buildings and has plenty to see.  We’ve outlined an itinerary of must-sees during your stay.

The Flight Innovation Center

Start your day here. After checking in and getting your wristbands,  stop by the coatroom to shed any unnecessary layers and take your walk through the clouds.

Air Zoo Lobby Entrance

Once inside you’ll find two things: planes as far as the eye can see and some very friendly volunteers (take them up on their free tours if you have time).

Why Only Look at the Planes, when You Can Fly Them? Virtually of course, but still…

The main area of the Flight Innovation Center is massive; feel free to browse all of the aircraft and exhibits. A couple of our favorites include the following:

  • Learn Hands-On: Learn through play with interactive exhibits located throughout the Air Zoo. These fun activities teach physics, engineering, and other science disciplines.

Air Zoo Hands On

  • Get Lost in Space: More than just planes can fly. The Air Zoo also features a number of exhibits dedicated to space travel, featuring spacecraft, equipment and astronaut suits. Make sure to see how astronauts can sleep in zero gravity!

Spaceships Air Zoo

Once you’ve finished exploring the Flight Innovation Center, it’s time to check out the other building at the Air Zoo. Head outside for a short walk to the Flight Discovery Center (or you can move your car; there are parking lots for both buildings).

Flight Discovery Center

Previously known as “East Campus,” the Flight Discovery Center provides another showcase for aircraft. Take a stroll through all of the exhibits here; there are several planes the kids can climb inside (Tip: if there are stairs, the kids are welcome).

The big highlight here though is the aircraft restoration.

Airplane Restoration Air Zoo

They fix planes here too?

The skilled team at the Air Zoo has staff and volunteers that are world-renowned in their restoration abilities. Their current work includes two WWII aircraft recovered from Lake Michigan.

Visitors are encouraged to talk to the team and ask questions while you watch their efforts to reconstruct these 1940s era aircraft to their original beauty. Many of these volunteers are veterans, and all of them are friendly and bursting with aeronautical knowledge.

Flight Discovery Center

Wrapping Up your Visit

Head back to the Flight Innovation Center and revisit some favorites before you head home. My kids usually require return trips to a few favorite exhibits before we can depart (we recommend launching some water bottles).

Air Zoo Hands On

The Fly Buy Gift Shop

After you leave the clouds, make a stop at the coatroom for your belongings and be sure to browse The Fly Buy for souvenirs (we love the winged tigers).

Short on time? You can shop online when you return home too.

Toys at the Air Zoo Gift Shop

Pro Tips for Navigating the Air Zoo

Families can easily spend all day at the Air Zoo. Here are tips from a card-carrying member of the Air Zoo that will guarantee a soaring good time.

  • The Air Zoo caters to families from the moment you walk in the door. Bathrooms have changing tables and a nursing room is available upstairs (ask a staff member to unlock it).
  • Have a wagon or stroller? Bring them! If you forgot yours, you can rent a wagon.
  • You can park at either building. If you would rather visit the Flight Discovery Center first, you can reverse our itinerary.
  • The Air Zoo considers guest safety and health a top priority. See their policies and admission requirements here.

What are you waiting for?

An Air Zoo membership is a great value and they also make the perfect gift.

PARTNER INFO

Air Zoo Open

6151 Portage Road
Portage, MI 49002

FACEBOOK | (269) 382-6555

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