THINGS TO DO
01 – Shop and Dine on the Kalamazoo Mall
N Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Opened in 1957, the Kalamazoo Mall was the first outdoor pedestrian mall in the United States. Take a leisurely stroll downtown and stop for a coffee, dine outdoors for lunch, or shop the many locally-owned boutiques.
The Kalamazoo Mall hosts Art on the Mall each summer, where pottery, painting, sculptures, and other media are on display from local and regional artists.
Photo: Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership
02 – Splash and Swim in the Kik Pool
1018 Walter St, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Cool off in the only 50-meter outdoor swimming pool in the Kalamazoo area, offering water play, aqua fitness, swimming lessons and birthday parties. The Kik Pool is named after the former head of the Kalamazoo Parks Department, Nicholas Kik Jr.
After you’ve dried off, head over to Upjohn Park’s boundless playground, where all ages and abilities are welcome to play on their rubber turfed surfaces. Upjohn Park also includes a skatepark, basketball courts, tennis courts and covered picnic tables.
03 – Explore your Creative Side at Art Hop
359 S Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 203, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Immerse yourself in the local arts on the first Friday of every month with Art Hop downtown. The Kalamazoo Arts Council organizes this free, public event where local artists display their work and patrons can “hop” from booth to booth to enjoy live music, vendors, and interact with many creative minds.
04 – Learn Hands-On at Kalamazoo Valley Museum
Kalamazoo Valley Museum
230 N Rose St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
The KVM is a local favorite for so many reasons: free admission, children’s area, regularly rotating exhibits, and a planetarium all in one, multi-level, magnificent museum. Families will move from one hands-on station to the next, learning geography, mathematics, history and other disciplines.
The planetarium features more than just stars: a variety of educational and seasonal shows play regularly on their domed ceiling.
05 – Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Sweetwater’s Donut Mill
Sweetwater’s Donut Mill
3333 Stadium Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
2138 Sprinkle Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Stop into Sweetwater’s Donut Mill for a yummy, frosting laden treat! Home to some of the most amazing donuts in Michigan, with original flavors like the grasshopper and classics from plain glazed to bavarian creme, we guarantee you’ll have a difficult time choosing just one.
Please note that donuts are not just for breakfast here: both Sweetwater’s locations are open 24 hours a day, seven days per week.
06 – Let Your Child’s Love For Reading Flourish at Bookbug
3019 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
This independently-owned bookstore is for kids only. Find all of your favorite titles here, and be sure to stay for their weekly morning storytimes. Kids will also love exploring the little house in the back of the store.
If you need books for grown-ups too, stop by This is a Bookstore next door and grab food from their Table of Contents Cafe too.
07 – Beat the Heat at the Florence Street Splash Pad
Florence Street Splash Pad
534 Florence St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Splash the summer days away at the free splash pad on Florence Street, featuring squirting frogs and a new, rubberized surface.
Photo: City of Kalamazoo
08 – Make Your Own Candle at Kalamazoo Candle Company
Kalamazoo Candle Company
166 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
The Kalamazoo Candle Company offers drop-in times at their marketplace to pour your own candle. Your personal wax creation includes scent selection and a custom label. Be sure to visit their Kids’ Day Out drop-in times too, for the youngest candle makers.
09 – Experience a Nostalgic Sweet Shop at Rocket Fizz
Rocket Fizz Kalamazoo
125 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Transport yourself into a Willa Wonka-inspired daydream at Rocket Fizz Kalamazoo, where sugary sweets, sodas, puzzles, and toys create an atmosphere sure to entertain kids of all ages. For social media fans, their Facebook page is one to follow on their latest products and silly shenanigans.
Photo: Rocket Fizz
10 – Go Apple Picking at VerHage Fruit Farm and Cider Mill
VerHage Fruit Farm and Cider Mill
8619 West ML Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
VerHage provides everything you need to experience a quintessential Michigan autumn day: apple cider, fresh donuts, u-pick apples, pumpkins, and a zip line.
Bring the family on weekends for fun, fall activities including hayrides, jumping pad, animal barn, and a ride on Andy the Apple Train.
11 – Get your Giggles at the Do-Dah Parade
Since 1984, the annual Do-Dah Parade is a Kalamazoo tradition built around satire and entertainment. Every June, head downtown and collect candy as local businesses show off their funny bones and dance through the streets.
12 – Paint Pottery at Art Bayou
3306 Stadium Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Art Bayou offers a drop-in style studio for painting pottery on Stadium Drive, featuring over 400 pottery pieces. Whether it’s a gift for a special family member or a personal keepsake, this studio is open six days a week to stop by and create your next masterpiece on a flexible schedule.
Photo: Art Bayou
13 – Listen to Some Beats on Bates Alley
Beats on Bates
Bates Alley, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Grab dinner downtown and settle in for some live music every Wednesday evening with Beats on Bates. This event features new artists weekly, from June through September.
Music is not the only form of art on Bates Alley; in 2018, local artist Patrick Hershberger designed the Bates Alley Street Mural, which covers the street in beautiful, watery waves.
14 – Tour the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
314 S Park St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Visit the KIA and browse their vast collection; over 4700 pieces of art are included in their permanent collection. The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts also teaches classes and camps for all ages in a variety of media.
Kids will want to head downstairs to the Upjohn Mason Grandchildren Interactive Gallery, where hand-on activities with pegboards, magnets and books encourage learning through play.
15 – Play in Bronson Park
200 W South St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Bronson Park holds four seasons of activities for local families. From live concerts and food truck rallies to winter strolls through Candy Cane Lane, this park merits visits all year long.
16 – Cheer for the Broncos at Western Michigan University
Western Michigan University Athletics
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Living in a college town has its benefits. Whether it’s football, hockey or another sport, Western Michigan University offers a number of fun opportunities to watch sporting events together as a family. Be sure to snag a photo with Buster Bronco if you see him!
17 – Hike the Trails at the Kalamazoo Nature Center
Kalamazoo Nature Center
7000 N Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
The Kalamazoo Nature Center offers 14 miles of trails for families to explore. Trails are labeled for ease of use with both distances and difficulty levels. In the warmer weather, stop by Nature’s Playground after your hike to cool off with some water play.
The KNC is also a fantastic source for nature education; check their schedule for children’s storytimes and programs.
18 – Conquer Your Fear of Heights at Climb Kalamazoo
136 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo MI 49007
Test your rock climbing skills at the indoor mountain climbing gym in downtown Kalamazoo. Climbers of all aptitudes and ages are welcome, starting at just three years old.
Photo: Climb Kalamazoo
19 – Tantalize your Barbecued Tastebuds with Ribfest
145 E Water St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
For over 30 years, Kalamazoo Ribfest pairs great food with live music downtown at Arcadia Creek Festival Place. Local and national vendors provide ribs and sides to fill your belly, while live bands perform on stage.
This three-day event is a Kalamazoo tradition since 1985.
20 – Visit Storytime at the Library
Kalamazoo Public Library
Central: 315 Rose St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Eastwood: 1112 Gayle Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49048
Edison: 1244 Portage St, Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Northside: 1000 W Paterson St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Your local library is a fantastic spot for storytimes; many have ones geared to toddlers or preschoolers to foster a love of reading for all ages. After storytime finishes, be sure to visit each branch’s unique play area.
21 – Snag Fresh Foods at the Farmers Market
Kalamazoo Farmers Market
1204 Bank St, Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Kalamazoo Farmers Market features over 100 vendors offering fresh produce, plants, flowers and local goods. The market runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from June through November.
22 – Train the Next American Ninja Warrior at Airborne Adventure Park
Airborne Adventure Park
5103 Portage Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49002
Airborne Adventure Park provides trampolines, a foam pit, obstacle courses and a zip line in this indoor park to engage your family in a number of different fun, physical activities.
For their youngest visitors, Airborne also offers Toddler Time for kiddos four and under to play without the big kids.
23 – Visit Santa at the Epic Center
Santa’s Workshop (Epic Center)
359 S Kalamazoo Mall Ste 104, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Santa and Mrs. Claus make an annual trip to visit local families at the Epic Center downtown, in the old Jacobson’s building. This free visit includes writing Santa letters, cookie decorating, craft making and taking photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
24 – Watch a Show at Miller Auditorium
1341 Theatre Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Located on Western Michigan University’s campus, Miller Auditorium features shows for families or a date night away: broadway productions, comedy events, family shows, and live concerts are on the schedule at this performing arts venue.
25 – Buy Some Peanuts & Crackerjack at a Growlers Game
251 Mills St, Kalamazoo, MI 49048
The Kalamazoo Growlers baseball team offers fun and excitement from the Northwoods League, a premier summer collegiate baseball league.
Fans can expect a lot of games in a short season: the Growlers play 72 games in 77 days, giving many opportunities to catch a game at Homer Stryker Field.
26 – Ride the Holly Jolly Trolley
Holly Jolly Trolley
Families will enjoy free rides downtown on this old fashioned trolley, decked out for the Christmas season.
This trolley may make more appearances in the future: in 2019, the trolley expanded its holiday schedule to include the “Trolley of Terror” for Halloween.
27 – Strike up Some Fun at Revel and Roll West
Revel and Roll West
4500 Stadium Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Revel and Roll West is a one-stop-shop for arcade games, bowling and laser tag. Families will also enjoy their laneside service, featuring scratch dishes (including specialty Detroit style pizzas) and full bar.
28 – Buy New Shoes with a Guaranteed Fit at Little Chick
Little Chick Shoe Shop
1924 Whites Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Open since 1938, Little Chick Shoe Shop is a shoe store for kids only that will transport you back in time with handwritten receipts and shopping history on index cards.
All of this history comes with a long-standing policy: all shoes are guaranteed to fit. If a child outgrows his shoes within their policy’s time frame, the replacement pair is pro-rated.
Cover photo image credit: City of Kalamazoo