My kids love hunting for treasures. Guided by a “map” (brochure collected from a nearby restaurant or gas station), they will search our home in the hopes of unearthing a hidden prize.
As adults, our treasure hunts evolve but the reward is the same: we love uncovering somewhere new to explore. Our updated list of hidden gems includes places a family generally may not find in a quick online search or a local guidebook. Rather these local favorites are discovered once a friend or neighbor suggests them or perhaps you’ve stumbled upon the spot by lucky accident.
Tell us, have you been to all of these hidden gems around Kalamazoo?
Kalamazoo’s Top 15 Hidden Spots
We want to spread the word on some of our favorite “hidden” stores, restaurants and parks in the Kalamazoo area. Read on to learn about these spots that are all well worth unearthing.
Bookbug | 3019 Oakland Dr., Kalamazoo | 269-385-2847
This independently owned bookstore is for kids only. It features story times on Thursdays at 10:00 AM, a massive selection of books for all ages (through teens), and fun toys/educational games. On the lookout for adult books? This is a Bookstore is located in the same shopping plaza.
Husted’s Market | 9191 W. Main, Kalamazoo | 269-372-1237
This gem is not “hidden” from West Main in Kalamazoo- you’ve probably driven by it numerous times. However, one step inside and you’ll discover why it made our list with a huge variety of locally grown produce, seasonal beverages like lemonade slushies and ciders, and delicious desserts made on site. Try their pies and freshly made doughnuts. Husted’s Market is open year-round, hours vary.
Little Chick Shoe Shop | 1924 Whites Road, Kalamazoo| 269-342-2024
Open since 1938, this gem sells kids shoes with a fit guarantee. If your child outgrows their shoes within a specified time frame, the replacement is prorated. The staff is known for being extremely attentive and handing out balloons when you leave.
Big Apple Bagel | 3811 S. Westnedge Avenue, Kalamazoo | 269-775-1555
How can a chain restaurant be a “hidden gem?” This Big Apple Bagel makes our list due to its unique outdoor space: this restaurant features a fenced play space so your kids can play while you enjoy your meal. Too cold outside? Sit by the cozy fireplace inside with a toasted bagel and freshly brewed coffee.
D’Nicio’s Parlour | 6880 West Main, Kalamazoo| 269-353-8600
D’Nicio’s Parlour will take you back in time to the 1950s. Known for coney dogs, gyros, and enormous portions of ice cream, this restaurant is a family favorite.
Nonla Burger | 2103 S. Burdick Street, Kalamazoo | 269-443-2270
This local burger joint may be small, but they are big on flavor and customer service. Known for their handcrafted burgers and friendly staff, Nonla also features a daily milkshake and hand cut fries that took two years to perfect! Vegan and vegetarian options are also available.
Red’s Root Beer | 813 S. Kalamazoo Street, Paw Paw | 269-657-8725
Red’s Root Beer is a drive-in that features hot dogs, burgers, chicken, fried pickles, and of course root beer in a frosty mug. If you don’t want to dine in your car, the lot offers covered picnic tables with waitstaff. The true gem here is the owner Red himself; he regularly visits customers to ensure their food and service are satisfactory.
The Bagel Beanery | 812 S. Westnedge Avenue, Kalamazoo | 269-385-4400
This Vine District gem features delicious bagels and locally sourced coffee. Need lunch or dinner? Enjoy their full menu including sandwiches and soups. Be sure to grab delicious macarons on your way out.
Parks & Outdoor Fun
DeLano Farms | 555 W E Ave., Kalamazoo | 269-381-1574
Located in the western portion of the Kalamazoo Nature Center’s 1100 acres, DeLano Farms is home to a working educational farm with learning gardens. In the summertime, make sure to visit the farmyard animals.
Kellogg Bird Sanctuary | 12685 E C Ave., Augusta | 269-671-2510
The sanctuary features walking paths, waterfowl to feed (geese, ducks, and swans) as well as rescued birds of prey such as eagles, hawks and owls. Paths are stroller-friendly. Stop in the visitor’s center to grab a map and a bucket of corn for $1.
Reindeer Ranch | 2921 N 6th St, Kalamazoo | 269-491-8507
Did you know we have reindeer right in our Kalamazoo backyard? Reindeer Ranch is home to over a dozen reindeer and they offer tours twice a year. Visit in the winter to feed them, make crafts and perhaps sneak in a visit with Santa. In the summertime, you’ll want to see their newest furry family members: reindeer calves. Tours can be booked online and last about an hour.
River Oaks County Park | 9202 East Michigan Ave. (M-96), Galesburg | 269-383-8778
On a warm summer day, head to the county park in Galesburg to play in the splash pad. Pack a picnic lunch, spend an afternoon at the park (splash pad geared for children ages 2-12). See other Water Fun in Southwest Michigan.
Texas Corners Farmers’ Market Playground | 7110 W Q Ave., Kalamazoo
This fenced playground features a shaded canopy over the playset, wood chips in the playground area and a small play structure, ideal for younger kids. You are also a short walking distance from the Texas Corners Farmers Market and local restaurants (Zebs, Rykse & Co Market and Eatery, Lafayette Creamery, Texas Corners Brewing Company).
West Lake Nature Preserve Park | 420 South Shore Drive, Portage
West Lake Nature Preserve Park includes a playground, picnic tables, over 100 acres of wetland and walking trails. Your visit will likely include butterflies, birds, deer and beautiful wetland vegetation.
Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery | 34270 County Road 652, Mattawan| 269-668-2876
Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery has it all when it comes to nature and of course fish. With FREE admission you’ll have nature trails, bird watching, and fish feeding. Keep a lookout for fun events such as fishing lessons, family scavenger hunts, and hatchery tours.
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