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 is a great place to live for families, full of activities both inside and out:
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. The jolly man in the red suit is known to join skaters near Christmastime.
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.
The Habitat Performing Arts Center
Dance + Acro classes in Kalamazoo for ages 2 and up as well as our Adaptive Dance Program for dancers who are differently abled.
GROW with us! Be you. Be us. BELONG!
Portage is a fantastic city for families offering parks, lakes, shopping, restaurants, and an engaging aerospace museum.
Life in Portage
Why people love to live here:
The Portage Bikeway connects over 50 miles of bike paths throughout the city. There are even sections that 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, they are also world-renowned for their aircraft restoration skills.
You should know:
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.
Portage Public Schools
» Celery City
» Air Zoo
» The Stryker Company
» Ramona Beach
» Portage Bike Trail
Things to Do in Portage
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 the oversized building blocks, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 offers themed events including skating with Santa and a New Year’s Eve skate.
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.
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’s library hosts several storytimes 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; kids will like the seat inside the tree trunk.
NOTE: The library is currently undergoing renovations and will reopen in 2022.
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.
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.
This locally owned shop serves up some amazing ice cream and ice cream cakes for special occasions.
Enjoy Eclectic, Scratch Cooking at Full City Cafe
Full City Cafe
7878 Oakland Dr, Portage, MI 49024
Open since 1993, Full City Cafe is known for its unique meals made with fresh, local ingredients. Previous dishes include red pepper and prosciutto stuffed omelets with pesto or burgers smothered in Wisconsin cheese curds and bacon.
Breakfast is especially good here, including the salmon hash with eggs and capers. Be sure to save the date for their annual Easter Brunch.
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 and baked goods from farms and local vendors. Portage’s Farmers Market is held on Sundays at City Hall from June through October.
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.
Visit the Giant Christmas Cards and Decorated Trees at 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!
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.