Fun and Free (or Nearly Free) Winter Activities and Events for Kalamazoo Families

Free Winter Fun for families - indoor and outdoor activities near Kalamazoo

“Mom, I’m Bored.

Keeping my family entertained during the long winter months in Southwest Michigan is a challenge.

We stay busy in December when I overbook my family in a frenzy of Christmas light hunting and Christmas celebrations galore. Then we collapse from exhaustion when it’s over, relieved that our calendars are fairly open heading into the New Year…for a few weeks at least.

After that, cabin fever rears its ugly head. Snow days and winter storms limit options. My kids don’t love playing in the snow, so getting them bundled up just to have them come back in five minutes later just doesn’t seem worth the effort.

There are over 25 options of indoor and outdoor winter activities near Kalamazoo to keep everyone busy. We’ve compiled and categorized some of the best.

These affordable winter activities can help you have maximum fun with minimal budget.

Whether you have a household of outdoor enthusiasts or warm blanket-loving bookworms, there is an activity to chase away the boredom.

Winter Activities for Families around Kalamazoo

Break A Sweat This Winter by Keeping Active

The family is sure to burn some of that built-up energy with this list of activities. It’s easy to feel stir-crazy when the weather keeps you inside, so we have included indoor and outdoor options to consider.

Indoor

1.Turn down the lights and stretch those cold muscles with kid’s yoga on YouTube. Unexpected bonus: Yoga may mellow them out enough to take a good nap! Our friend Mary S. recommends Cosmic Kids or Bari Koral.

2. Take them roller skating at Roller World or Great Skate. Money-saving tip: Roller World participates in the Kids Skate Free program, which means kids get free admission during certain open skate sessions.

3. Check out the Little Movers Club or Just Move Playdates at Just Move Fitness and More. My kids always have a blast singing and dancing with Miss Heather. 

Outdoor

4. Take advantage of that snow by sledding or ice skating. Our Winter Fun Guide has the scoop on sledding hills, skiing, and outdoor ice skating (as well as indoor if it gets too chilly) around Kalamazoo.

Girl sledding Kalamazoo - Family Fun

5. Head south of Kalamazoo to Snowfest at Bair Lake Bible Camp on January 12. This event is totally free and includes tubing, ice climbing, and even dinner.

Winter Wagon Rides - Kids - Free Bair Lake

Keep Your Minds Sharp with Educational Entertainment

We are fortunate to have a few free museums nearby, as well as a public library system that offers a vast variety of programs to satisfy all interests. If the weather is keeping you home, there are always board games and cards.

6. Go to the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. In addition to everyday free admission, you’ll want to scope out the calender of events that includes daily circle time for preschoolers and shows.

Kids hands on activities at the KVM

7. Check out your local library for daily activities. Kalamazoo Public Library hosts preschool storytimes during the week and plenty of school-age activities on Saturdays. From LEGO building sessions to yoga for teens, there are free or inexpensive events for everyone.

8. Have you heard of the Kingman Museum in Battle Creek? It is open on weekends only and has free admission ($2 fee for the planetarium). 

9. Teach your kids how to play an easy card game like Go Fish or War, then create a family tournament.

Nature Lovers Don’t Have to Hibernate

There is still plenty of ways to connect with nature in the winter. Whether you grow plants inside or take a winter hike and guess the animal tracks, the great Michigan outdoors is waiting to be explored.

Indoor

10. Visit a pet store. Katie M. reports that her kids can spend hours watching the fish. I know my son thinks the mice and gerbils are hilariously entertaining. It’s free so long as you can resist the cuteness.

Little kid looking at pets in store Kalamazoo

11. Create an indoor garden with your kids. Purchase a few seed packets, soil, and pots. Teach your kids how to plant and care for the seeds. Tip: Buy unfinished clay pots they can decorate to up the creativity factor. 

Outdoor

12. Visit the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery. The outdoor trails and fish feeding are open all year long and free to the public. Make plans to attend the free outdoor scavenger hunts on January 11, February 15, and weekly in March. 

13. On a day when the roads are clear, trek out to your favorite lakeshore town to check out frozen Lake Michigan. It’s definitely a sight to see.

14. Falling under both the Indoor and Outdoor categories is the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Admission is relatively cheap ( free for kids 3 and under), and their calendar offers everything from indoor storytime and outdoor snow hikes/snowshoeing.

KNC - Indoor activities

Get Crafty with Your Budding Artists

Playing in the snow not your cup of tea? Let the family’s creative side bloom with these activities.

15. Make homemade playdough or finger paints. Both use ingredients that are commonly found in your pantry. My favorite playdough recipe is here.

16. Have you been to a FREE Crybaby Concert? They offer room to move and plenty of space for stroller parking. Nutritious, kid-friendly snacks are provided after each performance, and complimentary coffee is available for the adults. The next one is March 7 at Friendship Village. For a full list of family-oriented theatre options visit HERE

17. Are your kids tired of the same old coloring books? Go online and let them pick from a variety of printable coloring and activity pages. Pinterest, Nick Jr, and Disney are great resources for this.

18. Visit the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts’ Interactive Galley. This lower level gallery has one rule – Please touch! Children under 12 are always free, and students get a discounted rate.

Eat, Drink, Play, and Pamper Yourselves

Here are a few other affordable entertainment ideas during the winter months. Have fun!

19. Create an indoor picnic. Pack up lunch, grab a blanket, and set up. Better yet – serve the picnic in a homemade fort!

20. See a movie. Theatres can get expensive, but apparently Tuesday is the day for discounts. Celebration Cinema celebrates “TACO (Tickets Are Cheap On) Tuesday” with $6 admission, and Goodrich/Kalamazoo 10 offers a similar discount with $6 shows. Tip: Get a free popcorn for joining GQT’s Rewards.

21. Assemble your own hot cocoa bar. Let the kids come up with their own creative toppings and let them set it up.

22. Pamper each other with a home spa day. Set up a foot soaking station followed by lotion and nail-painting. This isn’t just for the kids – don’t forget about yourself.

23. Let the kids make their own pizzas. They will have a blast rolling out the crusts and customizing their toppings. Make your own crust from scratch (my favorite), or buy the premade ones to save time. 

24. Meet a friend or two for a playdate at one of Kalamazoo’s family-friendly breweries. The kid’s menus and play areas will keep the kiddos occupied while you catch up with your friends. 

25. Create your own homemade bird feeders. The birds will be thankful.

For additional ideas, visit our Events Calendar.

Outdoor Free winter activities for kids

Click on our sponsors!