Family Road Trip Ideas 2 – 5 Hours From Kalamazoo

Road Trip

Road Trip Destinations with Kids

Where would you travel with your family if you only had time for a day trip or a short weekend stay?

Children’s museums, zoos, and local restaurants all made our list as we compiled our favorite drivable locations. Our picks are all reachable in less than five hours from Kalamazoo and include kid-friendly attractions and dining.

Here are worthy trip options that aren’t too far from Kalamazoo and won’t break the bank. Get your weekend adventure started now!

Kalamazoo Road Trips

Destinations Less than 3 Hours from Kalamazoo

Ann Arbor (Estimated drive: 1.5 hours)

Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor hosts one of the best children’s museums in the area, the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (expect a few hours here). Local favorite Zingerman’s Deli is located near campus and worth the stop for chocolate bread and hot chocolate.

Dearborn (Estimated drive: 2 hours)

Dearborn is full of automotive and innovation history. Visit the Henry Ford Museum, tour the Ford Rouge Factory, and explore Greenfield Village. Tip: Greenfield Village is not open year-round (typically mid-April through late October, and weekends during winter).  Before you leave, grab a slice from Buddy’s Pizza, voted Detroit’s #1 square pizza since 1946.

Auburn Hills, MI (Estimated drive: 2.5 hours)

Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills is Michigan’s largest indoor outlet mall, offering 185 stores and services. After some shopping, take a ride on the indoor carousel and dine with animatronic animals at Rainforest Cafe. Two attractions located in Great Lakes Crossing Outlets: Legoland Discovery Center and Sea Life Michigan Aquarium. It’s highly recommended to purchase tickets in advance. Tickets packages are available for both attractions. 

Frankenmuth, MI (Estimated drive: 2.5 hours)

Nicknamed Michigan’s “Little Bavaria,” Frankenmuth offers great shopping (check out Main Street and Bronner’s), dining, and Zehnder’s Splash Village Indoor Water Park.

Zehnder’s Restaurant is famous for their “world famous family-style chicken dinners” which feature a very filling, multi-course meal. Before you leave, make the stop at the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. This store contains over 50,000 decorations and gifts in a retail space equal to one and a half football fields.

Other FUN cities to explore:

Destinations 3-5 Hours from Kalamazoo

Chicago, IL (Estimated drive: 2.5 – 3 hours)

There is no shortage of museums in Chicago: Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago Children’s Museum, and The Field Museum are some of our favorites. Chicago is also the place to get your deep dish pizza fix: Giordano’s and Gino’s East of Chicago are popular among both tourists and locals (expect to wait during busy times and note that deep dish can take 45 minutes to cook).


Other places worth exploring include Millennium Park (take your photo with “the bean”) and a ride on the Centennial Wheel is a must at Navy Pier. 

RELATED: Taking the Train to Chicago

Traverse City, MI (Estimated drive: 3 hours)

When visiting the “cherry capital of the world,” Cherry Republic is a great place for generous samples, a grand cafe, and a fun play area for the kids. Sleeping Bear Dunes is another must stop in Traverse City, covering a 35-mile-long stretch of Lake Michigan’s coastline.

Favorite dining spots include Jolly Pumpkin Old Mission, Blue Tractor, and Slabtown Cafe and Burgers. For dessert, check out Moomers Homemade Ice Cream. TIP – Moomers offers tours in the summer months, call ahead for tour reservations.

Indianapolis, IN (Estimated drive: 4 hours)

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis should be at the top of your list when visiting Indianapolis. Block off most of the day in order to see everything; we recommend Dinosphere and the outdoor experiences (tennis, hockey, racing) when visiting between March and October. The Indianapolis Zoo is another favorite and known for its dolphin viewing. For dining, check out Old Spaghetti Factory.

Milwaukee, WI (Estimated drive: 4 hours)

Our picks in Milwaukee include Discovery World with tons of hands-on science and technology exhibits, the Harley-Davidson Museum, and Bounce Milwaukee (laser tag, rock climbing, obstacle courses). For dining, grab a bite at the Milwaukee Public Market and ice cream from Purple Door Ice Cream.

Other fun cities to explore less than five hours away:

What other worthy road trip options would you recommend we add? Drop us a comment!

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