20 Fantastic Family Things to Do in Portage MI

Celery Flats Grain Elevator

What to do in Portage with Kids

Got celery, Portage?

In the 1880s, Portage, Michigan was deemed the “Celery City” of the nation, keeping that title through the mid-twentieth century. While no longer a stalky vegetable powerhouse, this Kalamazoo suburb has grown into a phenomenal city for families to call home.

Portage provides some great SWMI neighborhoods for families, full of activities to do both inside and out.

Portage City Hall

Portage MI Snapshot

HISTORY: Celery Flats includes multiple historical buildings, including Stuart Manor. Constructed in 1846 by William Welch, this house was the summer home of the second Michigan U.S. Senator, Charles Stuart.

FUN: Try ice skating outdoors at Millennium Park. This seasonal favorite is the only outdoor rink in the area.

FOOD: Stop by the Portage Farmers Market on Sundays to stock up on food from local vendors and farms.

OUTDOORS: Portage has 19 individual parks and multiple lakes for swimming and fishing. Ramona Park is a local favorite, offering kayak rentals and a lifeguarded beach.

Why people love to live in Portage

Portage is a fantastic city for families offering parks, lakes, shopping, restaurants, and an engaging, aerospace museum.

The Portage Bikeway connects over 50 miles of bike paths throughout the city. Some sections are cleared in winter, allowing biking year-round.

The Air Zoo is a Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum. In addition to displaying over 100 aircraft, it is also world-renowned for its aircraft restoration skills.

Fortune 500 company Stryker has its world headquarters in Portage.

Portage Public Schools are the only schools in the area to offer the International Baccalaureate program for juniors and seniors.

Things to Do in Portage MI

As a suburb of Kalamazoo, Portage is the second largest city in SW Michigan, with nearly 50,000 residents.

Find green spaces, food, museums and more in Portage:

Schrier Park
Schrier Park in Portage MI

1 – Fly High with the Air Zoo

Air Zoo
6151 Portage Rd, Portage, MI 49002

The Air Zoo is a world-class, Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum. With over 100 aircraft, full-motion flight simulators and exhibits updated regularly, the kids won’t be bored.

Families will enjoy an abundance of hands-on exhibits and the indoor amusement-park style rides.

The Air Zoo also offers summer camps, classes for homeschoolers, and free tours.

Air Zoo
Main exhibit floor of the Air Zoo in Portage MI
Air Zoo Ferris Wheel

2 – Try an Escape Room with Escapology

Escapology
5600 Portage Rd, Portage, MI 49002

Join up with friends and get locked into a room full of riddles at Escapology. Solve the puzzles, crack the codes, and see if you can escape your room in 60 minutes! This venue offers 7 different themed rooms with varying difficulties.

3 – Go Bowling at Airway Fun Center

Airway Fun Center
5626 Portage Rd, Portage, MI 49002

For those looking to up their bowling game, they offer cosmic bowling and Spark- a specialized bowling experience where an interactive game is projected on the lanes for added excitement.

Airway is currently the only location in Michigan to offer the Spark experience.

Bowling Lanes Portage

4 – See the Twinkling Lights at the Portage Library

Portage Library
300 Library Ln, Portage, MI 49002

Following an annual tree lighting ceremony in early December, Portage City Hall and the Portage Library twinkle each night with light-up characters and decorated trees.

This is an easy one to walk with little legs or take a drive in their pajamas before bedtime.

5 – Go Ice Skating at Millennium Park

Millennium Park
280 Romence Rd, Portage, MI 49024

Portage’s outdoor ice rink, Millennium Park, features skate rental, skate sharpening, snack concessions, restrooms, warming house, and lockers.

This rink is typically open from early December through early March and has hosted themed events including skating with Santa and a New Year’s Eve skate.

Portage Ice Rink

6 – Hit the Beach at Ramona Park

Ramona Park
8600 S Sprinkle Rd, Portage, MI 49002

Ramona Park is a local favorite and one of the best beaches for kids. You can rent out kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards. The beach area is fully staffed with lifeguards and concessions, and the park has plenty of room for picnicking. Free admission to Portage residents.

If the weather isn’t beach-friendly, try out their large, shaded playground with rubber turfed surface and ADA-accessible swings.

families at the beach - Ramona Park Beach

Portage Park, Playground

~ MI Beaches

7 – Go Fishing at Lakeview Park

Lakeview Park
9345 Portage Rd, Portage, MI 49002

Take in the scenic views of Austin Lake while casting off from one of the docks at Lakeview Park. Kids will love the two sets of play structures; the one nearest the entrance is best for toddlers.

Lakeview also offers paved trails for easy biking or stroller walks.

Portage Fishing

8 – Listen to a Story at the Portage Library

Portage District Library
300 Library Ln, Portage, MI 49002

Portage’s library hosts several story times for different ages and interests, even combining some with fitness or music.

Be sure to stop by the preschool room afterward for books and engaging toys.

Portage Library Building

Preschool room at the Portage District Library

9 – Go Biking on the Portage Bikeway

Portage Bikeway
Portage, MI

The Portage Bikeway connects over 55 miles of off-road trails and bikeways throughout the city of Portage. Use the full Bikeway Brochure to plan your next pedaled adventure.

If you’re a year-long bike rider, try the Portage Creek Bicentennial Trail — it’s kept clear in the winter months.

Need a bike? Bike Portage has a bike share rental program. Bikes are available to rent seasonally, from April 1 – October 31, by downloading the Movatic app.

Biking in Portage

~ Bike & Hiking Trails

10 – Travel Back in Time at Celery Flats

Celery Flats
7335 Garden Ln, Portage, MI 49002

This “Celery City” preserved multiple historical buildings and located them all within Celery Flats in Portage. Here you will find an original one-room schoolhouse from 1856 and 1931 grain elevator among its collection. These buildings and others are restored and available for tours and private events.

The area features paved paths that are perfect for walking, biking, or strollers.

Portage Celery Flats

11 – Grab a Scoop (or two!) at Bella Creamery

Bella Creamery
10098 Shaver Rd, Portage, MI 49024

This locally owned shop serves up some amazing ice cream (made in-house) and ice cream cakes for special occasions.

Portage Ice Cream Shop

12 – Enjoy Eclectic, Scratch Cooking at Full City Café

Full City Café
7878 Oakland Dr, Portage, MI 49024

Open since 1993, Full City Café is known for its unique meals made with fresh, local ingredients. While dishes rotate, you can always count on some delicious breakfast entrees, including omelets, pancakes and breakfast bowls.

Full City Cafe Brunch

~ Breakfast Restaurants

13 – Grab Fresh Produce at the Portage Farmers Market

Portage Farmers Market
7900 S Westnedge Ave, Portage, MI 49002

Saturday is not the only day to enjoy fresh produce, flowers, live music and baked goods from farms and local vendors. 

The Portage Farmers Market is held on Sundays at City Hall from June through October.

📷: Portage Farmers Market
📷: Portage Farmers Market

14 – Have Tea and Treats at Chocolatea

Chocolatea
7642 S Westnedge Ave, Portage, MI 49002

Open since 2008, this local gem knows their tea: they have over 200 loose leaf tea blends, Boba tea and 16 tea lattes on their menu (try the Cloud 9). If tea isn’t your thing, they also serve coffee and sandwiches and offer a massive selection of desserts.

From macarons and chocolates to pies and brownies, this shop covers any sweet tooth’s craving. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available.

Tea Shop Portage
📷: Chocolatea

15 – Visit the Giant Christmas Cards and Decorated Trees at Celery Flats

Celery Flats
7335 Garden Ln, Portage, MI 49002

Starting in late November, take a stroll along Celery Flats Historical Area in Portage to see the oversized holiday greeting cards, lights, and decorations. These cards are painted by local artists and feature animals, holiday favorites and cartoon characters.

Celery Flats serves as a favorite spot for photos with twinkly lights; be sure to stop by the giant sleigh and reindeer. You can also mail a letter to Santa!

Celery-Flats-trees-2022

Celery Flats Christmas

16 – Take a Hike at West Lake Nature Preserve

West Lake Nature Preserve
9001 S Westnedge, Portage, MI 49002

Grab your rain boots and take a stroll through paths that lead to a scenic view of West Lake. Portions of the bog trail are floating on water, and kids love the water that squirts up through the planks.

There is a nature-themed playground at the trailhead and a pavilion with restrooms.

Portage Hiking Trail

Portage Playground

~ Parks & Playgrounds

17 – Dine and Play Mini Golf at Presidential Brewing Co

Presidential Brewing Co
8302 Portage Rd, Portage, MI 49002

Find fun, presidential-themed food and beverages at this family-friendly brewery in Portage. As a bonus, you can add a round of miniature golf (nine holes) during your visit! Mini golf is a steal at $5/person, and you can play as many rounds as you like.

For date nights, try their Beer Garden Live Summer Concert series, featuring an outdoor stage.

Restaurants with Outdoor Dining Presidential Brewing Co
📷: Presidential Brewing Co

~ SWMI Outdoor Patio Dining

18 – Attend An Event At Ripple Effects

Ripple Effects Community Inclusion Center
2255 W Centre Ave, Portage MI 49024

Ripple Effects is a place where everyone belongs, and Community is literally their middle name! From summer and winter camps, free playgroups, and a ton of kid and family-friendly events, Ripple Effects has a lot to offer the community all year round.

View and register for an event on their website or through their Facebook page.

Ripple Effects Community Inclusion Center
📷: Ripple Effects Facebook

19 – Play Inside at HTN Playcenter (and Eat At Paris BáNH Mì)

HTN Play Center
Paris BáNH Mì Portage
653 Romence Rd, Portage MI 49024

Sometimes you just need to jump into a ball pit. Sometimes you just need to ride a banana swing. And other times, you just want to play arcade games and chill in a ‘sand’ pit. At HTN Play Center you can do it all — and then some! This indoor play center located in Romence Plaza is a kid’s paradise where they can climb, dig, and bounce their heart out.

And when you start to get hangry or thirsty, you don’t have to go far. They are connected to Paris BáNH Mì, a French bakery that serves pastries, snacks, boba, and coffee. For heartier fare, they offer Vietnamese sandwiches, noodle and rice bowls, and rolls.

While you need a day pass or membership to access the play center, you do not need one to enjoy the restaurant.

htn play center sand pit

📷: HTN Play Center Facebook

20 – Visit the Jungle…Jungle Joe’s

Jungle Joe’s Family Fun Center
7255 S Sprinkle Rd, Portage, MI 49002

Jungle Joe’s is a family favorite, and our tweens still enjoy going there (don’t tell them I told you, though). And between you and me, some of those inflatable slides have serious speed! Rest assured there are inflatables for all ages to climb, bounce, and slide on.

There is also an arcade, snack shack, and outdoor 18-hole jungle-themed mini golf course.

📷: Jungle Joe’s

Map

FAQs

What is Portage MI known for?

• Celery City
• Air Zoo
• The Stryker Company
• Ramona Beach
• Portage Bike Trail

How many people live in Portage MI?

48,978 (2022 estimate)

Which schools are in Portage MI?