101+ Summer Activities for Kids in SWMI for Warm Weather Fun

summer activities for kids

Your Summer Bucket List for Kalamazoo

While winter has not gone away quietly (snow in April, anyone?), we are still making big plans for warm weather in Southwest Michigan.

Although spring may have started slowly and quietly, we are confident that sunny, beach-filled days are ahead for our summer in Kalamazoo.

We’ve put together a list of summer activities for kids to serve all families’ needs: places to play inside or out, camps and classes to learn, and local restaurants to try.

And when you’re ready to venture, we have you covered with day trips and weekend getaways.

Here are 101+ ideas for families to have a totally awesome summer.

Summer Activities for Kids

Featured Summer Activities for Kids

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Summer Activities for Kids in Portage

7255 S Sprinkle Rd Portage, MI 49002 - (269) 324-1992

Jungle Joe's challenges you to see how many hole-in-ones you can get on our 18-hole adventure golf course. As you walk along the rolling greens, be sure to take a selfie with Georgina, our 17-foot-tall giraffe.

The course is open 7 days a week, weather permitting.

Inflatables and arcade will be open as well inside if you need to escape the summer sun!

Summer Activities for Kids in Auburn HIlls

4240 Baldwin Rd Auburn HIlls, MI 48326 -

With summer just around the corner, the time has come for you to bring your family to LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, Michigan's ultimate LEGO®-themed playground!

You can inspire their imaginations with educational play here.

With two rides, a 4D theater, and ten different play zones, LEGOLAND Discovery Center is the perfect place to visit when you and your family need a quick escape or want to get away on a rainy day.

Summer Activities for Kids in Auburn HIlls

4316 Baldwin Rd Auburn HIlls, MI 48326 -

Visit SEA LIFE, Michigan's largest aquarium for a summer getaway.

Get up close and personal with some of your favorite deep-sea creatures including sharks, stingrays and sea turtles!

Experience what it's like to touch a sea star or anemone at the Touchpool, then walk through Michigan's only 180-degree ocean tunnel!

Get ready to be amazed this summer as you discover the stories of the oceans' most fascinating creatures at SEA LIFE!

Summer Activities for Kids in Auburn HIlls

4362 Baldwin Rd Auburn HIlls, MI 48326 -

Peppa Pig World of Play is the perfect summer destination for families with young children!

You and your little piggies will enjoy exploring more than a dozen free-roaming play areas, all lovingly inspired by the cherished TV series. This indoor attraction is perfect for children ages 1-year-old to 8-years-old.

You'll explore 14 oink-tastic play areas: Peppa's Treehouse, Rebecca Rabbit's Underground Adventure, George's Fort, Granddad Dog's Garage, Madame Gazelle's School, and more!

Summer Activities for Kids in Allegan

439 River Street Allegan, MI 49010 - (269) 430-3961
📧 info@alleganevent.com

Conveniently located 30-minutes from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Holland, Allegan Event is Michigan’s largest indoor ropes course and offers endless adventurous activities for families and guests of all ages to explore.

Attractions include the heart-pumping Sky Trail® ropes course with Sky Rail® zip rails, the Sky Tykes® course for little children, Clip ‘n Climb® walls, and outdoor Maze.

Stop by the arcade for more fun and games, then refuel in the food and beverage area.

Summer Activities for Kids in Portage

6151 Portage Rd Portage, MI 49002 - (269) 382-6555
📧 info@airzoo.org

Come explore Michigan’s premiere aerospace and science center this summer!

With more than 200,000 square-feet, this Smithsonian-affiliated center features hundreds of air and spacecraft, full-motion flight simulators, hands-on learning stations, rides, theater, and active restoration center – there’s something for everyone to explore.

Summer highlights: Visiting Historic Aircraft, FREE Summer STEAM Days & National Aviation Day (Aug 19)

Admission: Ages 4 and under FREE; Ages 5-18 $14.95; Adults $15.95; Seniors $12.95
- Discounts for Military, Fire & Police, and families receiving SNAP benefits -

Summer Activities for Kids in Grand Rapids

1300 W Fulton St Grand Rapids, MI 49504 - (616) 336-4300

Join us this summer at John Ball Zoo and meet our new pygmy hippos, Jahari and Penelope.

Get ready for a season loaded with close encounters, special experiences, hands-on fun and of course, lots of animal friends who are eager for you to visit.

Stay tuned to our website for the latest exciting events happening this summer such as Summer Spectacular, the Lantern Festival, Breakfast with the Animals and more.

Summer Activities for Kids in Mattawan

60139 CR 652 Mattawan, MI 49071 - (269) 668-3724
📧 schultzfruitfarms@gmail.com

Our peaceful and authentic farm is the place for your family to take a step back and keep things simple.

We are a 3rd generation family farm that features seasonal fruits and veggies including asparagus, strawberries, sweet & tart cherries, blueberries, sweet corn, peaches, apples, grapes, pumpkins and squash. Donuts and apple cider in the fall.

U-Pick options available: tart cherries, blueberries, peaches, apples & concord grapes.

Please check our website, Facebook or call to confirm current availability

Summer Activities for Kids Outside

As the days grow longer and the sun shines brighter, we recommend maximizing your family time outdoors.

Whether it’s a lazy day at the beach to build sandcastles or a full day of visiting furry and scaly friends at the zoo, there are summer activities for all ages to enjoy.

Grab your sunglasses, lemonade, and sunscreen and embark on your outside adventures.

Parks and Playgrounds

SWMI is packed with parks and playgrounds for all ages and interests.

From traditional slides and swings to pickleball courts, sand volleyball and disc golf, our green spaces are fantastic gathering spots for families.

 Explore the natural playground at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. – 7000 N Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo MI 49009


9 For less steady walkers, we recommend rubber-turfed playgrounds. This one at Texas Drive Park was added in 2021. They are also working on a splash pad here! – 6630 Texas Drive Park Trl, Kalamazoo MI 49009

Kalamazoo Park

10 Join the pickleball craze at Kindleberger Park, Frays Park or 6th Street Park.

11 Ramona Park in Portage offers double your fun with both a beach AND play structures. This playground also offers a rare feature: SHADE. – 8600 S Sprinkle Rd, Portage MI 49002

Portage Park, Playground

~ SWMI Parks & Playgrounds

Nature Hikes & Bike Trails

Ready to venture off the beaten bath? Find hiking and bike trails for every skill level and interest.

12 Explore one of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy‘s ten public nature preserves.

13 Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery is FREE to visit, and offers nature trails, kids activities and you can feed the fish! – 34270 County Rd 652, Mattawan MI 49071

Fish Hatchery

14 Grab your helmet and bike the Portage Bikeway. With over 55 miles of trails, your adventures can span a larger portion of the city.

15 Bike to South Haven with the Kal-Haven Trail. This trail covers farmland, wooded areas, and over rivers and streams.

~ More Hiking and Bike Trails

Water Play: Splash Pads & Beaches

Hit the beach or a local splash pad to beat the heat this summer. Many of these attractions offer FREE water play on the hottest summer days.

16 Visit Silver Beach and the Whirlpool Fountain in St. Joe.


17 Swim at Ramona Park on its lifeguarded beach (fee for non-Portage residents applies). – 8600 S Sprinkle Rd, Portage MI 49002

181 Visit the new splash pad at LaCrone Park in Kalamazoo, opened in 2022. – 535 W Paterson St, Kalamazoo MI 49007

LaCrone Park Kzoo Parks
photo: Kzoo Parks

~ SWMI Splash Pads + Beaches

Zoos, Sanctuaries & More Animal Attractions

Whether you prefer furry, scaly or feathered, you can find zoos and petting zoos in SWMI for a large variety of animals.

19 Visit the alligators, camels and goats at Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park. – 8313 Pratt Lake Ave SE, Alto MI 49302

20 Walk the trails and visit the waterfowl at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. – 12685 C Ave E, Augusta MI 49012

21 Hold and feed gators at Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary in Athens. – 1698 M 66, Athens MI 49011

Families visit alligator sanctuary

22 Feed the giraffes and visit Raj the snow leopard at Binder Park Zoo. – 7400 Division Dr, Battle Creek MI 49014


23 Say giddyap and get ready to hit the trails while horseback riding.

~ Zoos & Petting Zoos

More Outdoor Summer Activities for Kids

24 Rent a canoe, kayak or SUP for the day and have a family adventure.

teen kayaking
photo: Plainwell Kakak Company

25 Go on a geocaching adventure somewhere new. If you’re new to the geocaching scene, try these tips to get started.

26 Try out an old-fashioned lawn game like badminton, croquet or bocce ball.

27 Play a round of mini-golf at Jungle Joe’s Family Fun Center. – 7255 S Sprinkle Rd, Portage MI 49002

28 Visit the Spinosaurus and other prehistoric friends at Western Michigan University’s Dinosaur Park.

Dinosaur Park is located just east of Rood Hall on WMU’s campus.

29 Visit Kalamazoo’s Art Hop on the first Friday of each month. Browse local talent at this FREE event.

30 Hop aboard a train and watch the world pass by on one of these Train-tastic Adventures.

31 Invite whimsy by planning and planting a Fairy Garden in your yard.

32 Catch a movie in Celery Flats with Portage’s Movies in the Park.

33 Paint rocks and hide them for others to find around town. Share your creations with Kalamazoo Rocks.

34 Enjoy a FREE concert in the park with State on the Street downtown.

Indoor Activities in Kalamazoo

While we love summertime weather in Kalamazoo, sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.

When it’s too hot, too rainy or you just need a change of scenery, there is no shortage of indoor play options to engage the family.

We’ve highlighted high-energy activities where kids can run and play, as well as lower-key projects to do at home.

Family Fun Centers

These one-stop-shops pack a lot of fun into one place for families. Bowling, laser tag, ninja courses, trampolines and more are inside these indoor playgrounds.

35 Strike! Go bowling with the family at Airway Fun Center. Be sure to try the Kids Bowl Free program. – 5626 Portage Rd, Portage MI 49002

36 Bounce your way over to Airborne Adventure‘s trampoline park and try the ninja warrior course, x-swing or zip line. – 5103 Portage Rd, Kalamazoo MI 49002

37 Suit up the family for laser tag at Revel & Roll West. – 4500 Stadium Dr, Kalamazoo MI 49008

38 Visit the new Kids Empire indoor playground in Kalamazoo. – 5130 W Main, Kalamazoo MI 49009

Kids Empire Toddler Area

39 Play some Donkey Kong or Pac-Man at Klassic Arcade.

40 Take a leap of faith, literally, at Allegan Event. Climb on and over 85 rope elements as you maneuver your way around the course. – 439 River St, Allegan MI 49010

41 Have big kids? Take them to Climb Kalamazoo (more ideas for teens and tweens here). – 136 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo MI 49007

~ More Indoor Play

Museums & Libraries

Perfect for a rainy day or to cool off from a ninety-degree summer day, local libraries and museums can provide fun spaces to learn and explore.

42 Broadcast the latest news and weather forecast from Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

43 Take a spin on the balloon Ferris wheel at the Air Zoo.

Air Zoo Ferris Wheel

44 Pick up a new set of bedtime stories from the Portage or Kalamazoo libraries.

Portage Library Building

45 Explore the latest masterpieces at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

~ Children’s Museums in MI

Other Indoor Activities to Try

46 Play Mouse Trap, Sorry, or other favorite board games. 

47 Gather books you no longer read and donate to a Free Little Library.

48 Go swim at an indoor pool.

49 Make a photo journal or scrapbook of all of the memories the family will make this summer.

50 Make a Snuffle Mat for your dog, or donate one the SPCA or Kalamazoo Animal Rescue.

51 Press summer flowers and use them for homemade bookmarks or cards.

52 Restock your art supplies from Colors & Cocktails.

Art Kits Kalamazoo

53 Grab your telescope and do late-night stargazing.

54 Make your own candle or sand candle (no drying time!) at Kalamazoo Candle Company. Visit them downtown or at their new shop in Portage, across the street from Target!

Kalamazoo Candle Company

55 Build your own terrarium at Mason Jar Plant Shop.

56 Go paint pottery at Art Bayou.

Kalamazoo Pottery Painting
photo: Art Bayou

Kalamazoo Restaurants & Food

Kalamazoo has the best restaurants to satisfy every palette. Whether it’s pizza, sushi, grape leaves or Pad Thai, this area can cover your family’s appetite.

And when you’re ready for dessert, make sure you have room for rolled ice cream, decadent cakes, handmade candy and macarons.

Beyond sampling the local favorites, summer also provides a fun time to experiment with cooking at home. This list also includes some fun recipes to try with your family.

Restaurants & Bakeries

57 Grab a scoop of strawberry ice cream at one of Kalamazoo’s best ice cream shops.

Best Ice Cream- Plainwell Ice Cream Co
photo: Plainwell Ice Cream

58 Take the kids on a surprise donut run to Sweetwater’s Donut Mill or Peace, Love, and Little Donuts.

59 Try out a new breakfast restaurant, and get your eggs sunny side up.

60 Dine al fresco with the family on one of Kalamazoo’s outdoor patios.

photo: Revel & Roll West

61 Try a pickle pizza from Jac’s or Louie’s Trophy House.

62 Be brave and order some unique, over-the-top food and food challenges from local restaurants.

Arlene's Truck Stop food challenge
Find this mega burger at Arlene’s Truck Stop on their secret menu in Battle Creek

63 Feel like a kid in a candy shop at Rocket Fizz or Mattawan Candy Company.

64 Celebrate a summer birthday with cake from a favorite bakery.

65 Grab some late-night grub from the Late Night Food Truck Rally.

66 Try a Boston Cooler from the soda bar at Schultz’s Treat Street. – 3023 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo MI 49008

~ Best Restaurants in Kalamazoo

U Pick & Farmers Markets

Warm weather welcomes fresh produce to SWMI, opening farmers markets and upick fruits at local farms.

67 Visit the Kalamazoo Farmers Market and stock up on locally grown goodies. – 1204 Bank St, Kalamazoo MI 49001

Kalamazoo Farmers Market

68 Pick your own fruit at a local farm:

69 Go flower picking at Berry Brothers in Paw Paw. – 37146 30th St, Paw Paw MI 49079

Berry Brothers U Pick Flowers

~ SWMI Farmers Markets

Cook at Home

70 Bake a strawberry cake after fruit picking with the family.

Strawberry Picking

71 Make your own healthy and delicious popsicles or fruit slushies.

72 Make meals together. The kids can help with these recipes.

73 Blend frozen bananas to make a smooth, cool treat. (Daniel Tiger fans will know this as banana swirl).

74 Make your own lemonade and “sell” it to family members from a cardboard stand.

Fairs & Festivals

Festivals and fairs are summertime staples in Southwest Michigan. Live music, games and delicious food (hello, elephant ears!) are all ingredients for a great family experience.

Each summer, these events return to Kalamazoo with a mix of time-honored traditions and new and fun experiences.

Weekend Activities

If you find yourself with free weekends this summer, have no fear- our weekend roundup highlights some of the coolest stuff for families to try.
Things to Do this weekend

Summer Camps & Classes

Camps and classes are a fun way to keep children’s brains energized and learning during the summer break from schoolwork.

Whether your child is interested in creative endeavors like art or music or more physical activities like sports, Kalamazoo offers a diverse set of camps to meet all families’ needs.

There are more summer camps and class offerings for 2023. Make sure to sign up early, as many favorites fill up quickly.

Summer Camps

75 Western Michigan University’s Dollars and Sense Camp will have your big kid budgeting, investing and saving in no time.

Dollars and Sense Summer Camp 2023 Client
Campers learn real-world financial skills at Dollars & Sense

76 Explore your creative side with summer camps at the KIA for grades 1 – 12.

77 The Air Zoo is inspiring future engineers and scientists with summer camps for preschoolers through twelfth grade.

78 Looking for an overnight camp? Since 1950, Van Buren Youth Camp has welcomed kids to Great Bear Lake to swim, kayak, make arts and crafts and play sports.

Van Buren Youth Camp

79 Getting OUTSIDE is a priority with Kalamazoo Nature Center. They even offer a Thursday overnight camp out for the big kids!

80 Camp Kzoo is full of adventure, with daily trips to places like the Kik Pool, Rollerworld, and the movie theater.

~ Summer Camps

Summer Classes

81 Want to bond with some music classes? Crescendo Academy of Music is offering its Music Together classes this summer for caregivers and little ones.

Crescendo Academy of Music Music Together 2022
Music Together classes at Crescendo introduce music to infants and toddlers

82 Kingdom Soccer offers youth soccer classes starting at age 2.

83 Kalamazoo Music School offers the ultimate in flexibility for families; kids interested in learning an instrument or voice lessons can take them 7 days a week!

84 Soccer Shots engages kids aged 2-8 in soccer skills, using parks in multiple cities near Kalamazoo.

Take a Road Trip

While Kalamazoo is pretty amazing, sometimes it’s good to break out of your comfort zone and explore somewhere new.

You can try a new amusement park, museum, zoo or beach and still have enough gas in the tank to return home.

Whether you’re looking for a day trip or are ready to pack the bags for a weekend away, we have you covered with our favorite family road trips.

Day Trips Within 2 Hours

Need a quick getaway? These day trips will still let you sleep in your beds after your fun adventures conclude.

85 Watch the trees come to life in the Fantasy Forest at Leila Arboretum. – 928 Michigan Ave W, Battle Creek MI 49037

Kids visit parks Leila Arboretum

86 Plan a shopping day at the Tanger Outlet Mall in Byron Center. – 350 84th St SW, Byron Center MI 49315

87 Say hello to the tigers and penguins at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids. – 1300 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids MI 49504

John Ball Zoo Tiger

88 Head to Lansing and visit Impression 5 Science Center or Potter Park Zoo.

89 Take a day trip to South Haven: swim, walk the pier and shop during the day. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.

90 Immerse yourself in art and flowers at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. – 1000 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525

91 Go zip lining through the trees at TreeRunner Adventure Park in Grand Rapids.

92 Go grocery shopping or play banker at the Kids ‘N’ Stuff Museum in Albion.

93 Take a dune ride in Saugatuck.

94 Raining? Get in the car and visit our favorite Grand Rapids indoor playgrounds.

95 Explore the Curious Kids Museum in St. Joseph, ride the Silver Beach Carousel and explore a playground on the beach!.

96 Visit Moo-ville and learn how milk and ice cream are made. Stay and see the animals in the FREE petting farm. – 5875 S. M-66, Nashville MI 49073

Boy with cow at Dairy Farm near Battle Creek

Get Away for a Weekend

Pack your bags for a night (or two!) and these drivable destinations can pack a lot of fun into a summer weekend away.

97 If your family likes thrill rides, check out Michigan’s Adventure. Don’t forget the swimsuits for their outdoor waterpark. – 4750 Whitehall Rd, Muskegon MI 49445

Fun things to do in summer coaster

98 Take a road trip to Detroit and visit Belle Isle (don’t forget to visit the aquarium).


99 Beat the traffic and take the train to Chicago and explore the Magnificent Mile.

100 Head east to Auburn Hills and visit Peppa Pig World of Play, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, and SEA LIFE Aquarium.

101 Cross one place off your bucket ‘visit’ list from our 20 places to take your kids in Michigan before they grow up.

Pictured Rocks
Pictured Rocks is one of many bucket list-worthy stops in Michigan.

102 Spend a weekend away at the Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island. – 286 Grand Ave, Mackinac Island MI 49757

103 Spend the weekend in Grand Rapids; there are enough summer things to do to keep you busy from morning to night.

104 Step just inside the Indiana border for a beach getaway to Michigan City IN.

Michigan City IN
You can often see the Chicago skyline across Lake Michigan in Michigan City IN

Free Summer Activities

Summer fun doesn’t have to cost a lot! Enjoy some of our favorite summer activities for kids that are free in SW Michigan:

More Summer Fun

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