101+ Fun Things to do this Summer – Kalamazoo Activities for Families

Summer Fun Guide

Welcoming Summer in Kalamazoo in 2020

Well 2020 is not panning out as expected. With kids and parents home and many of our favorite places closed due to COVID-19, schedules and activities are a big question mark.  And as our school year (at home) draws to a close, it leaves summer plans up in the air.

While our plans may be uncertain, what is guaranteed is that summer in Southwest Michigan is pretty amazing. Whether it’s hitting the sandy beaches, hiking the trails or eating ice cream from your favorite spot, there is no shortage of fun things to do in the summer.

We’ve put together a list of Kalamazoo activities 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.

FEATURED PARTNER

Portage Pediatric Dentistry PLC

Fun and kindness are our main focuses at Portage Pediatric Dentistry. We work hard to tailor appointments to fit everyone’s needs, creating an environment where all are welcome. We have two play rooms, one with a huge light bright and one with a large magnetic wall. You may even find where the tooth fairy lives!

3020 Old Centre Rd
Portage, Michigan
49024
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(269) 323-8016

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Important Message: Area businesses are working to implement procedures based on the new safety guidelines. For each of the attractions and events we mention, we include a link to the business website. Please use this link to confirm the details, hours of operation and any requirements guests must follow before visiting. Thank You!

KALAMAZOO ACTIVITIES 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 activities for all ages to enjoy. Grab your sunglasses, lemonade, and sunscreen and embark on your outside adventures.

Parks, Playgrounds & Lakes

Kids playgrounds kalamazoo

If your little one is a climber, take her to one of the toddler-friendly parks in Southwest Michigan.

Go for a hike in one of our favorite (but lesser-known) Kalamazoo-area trails.

Explore the trails at the Kalamazoo Nature Center

Feed the fish at Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery.

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

Grab the sunblock and towels and head to Ramona Park Beach.

Play a round of mini-golf at Jungle Joe’s Family Fun Center.

Not a fan of sand in your car? Enjoy some sand-free water play at a splash pad.

Grass still wet after a rainstorm? Try a mess-free playground.

Outdoor Amusement Centers, Zoos & Attractions

Camels Zoo Kalamazoo

Visit the alligators, camels and goats at Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park.

Play mini-golf, brave the ropes course or zoom around the track on go-karts at Airway Fun Center.

Walk the trails and visit the waterfowl at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary.

Bring the marshmallows and go camping.

Hold and feed gators at Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary in Athens.

Feed the giraffes and visit Raj the snow leopard at Binder Park Zoo.

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

Visit Reindeer Ranch and play with the fluffy, baby reindeer (online reservations are required).

Other Fun Outdoor Activities

kayaking kids

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

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

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

Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt.

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

Take in a concert from your car with the Drive-In Summer Concert Series.

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

Catch a drive-in movie with Portage’s Movies in the Park. Frozen 2 is up first on June 12.

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

INDOOR ACTIVITIES IN KALAMAZOO

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

Bounce, Jump & Play

Strike! Go bowling with the family at Airway Fun Center.

Bowling Lanes Portage

Bounce your way over to Airborne Adventure‘s trampoline park and try the ninja warrior course, x-swing or zip line. 

Suit up the family for laser tag at Revel & Roll West.

Comb our list of Indoor Play Areas, to discover somewhere new to beat the summer heat.

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

Take a leap of faith, literally, at Allegan Event. Climb on and over 85 rope elements as you maneuver your way around the course.

Have big kids? Take them to Climb Kalamazoo (more ideas for teens and tweens here).

Museums & Libraries

Kids Museum Kalamazoo

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

Be an astronaut for a day and learn about the moon landing at the Air Zoo.

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

Explore the latest masterpieces at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

Other Things to Try

Things to Do with Kids

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

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

Go swim at an indoor pool.

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

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

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

Grab your telescope and do late-night stargazing.

Virtual/Online Activities

Experiment with the Air Zoo’s Launchpad to Learning. This site features fun, educational STEAM activities.

Kalamazoo’s Art Hop has gone virtual. Enjoy photos, videos and live-streams of artwork.

Play soccer with Soccer Shots On the Go; this weekly program offers video instruction at home.

Play at Home with activities from the Grand Rapids Children Museum.

Get artsy with the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts’ Family Fun Activities.

Air Zoo
Things to Do in the Summer Partner Idea

Summer Activities Launch into Learning at Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Experience

Air Zoo Launchpad to Learning

The Air Zoo is a highly charged, multi-sensory atmosphere that goes beyond anything you’ve ever seen!

As we are currently unable to provide our community the on-site immersive experiences we love, we have developed an interactive and exciting online experience that brings the Air Zoo home to you.

Please visit our new Launchpad to Learning page daily. You will find do-it-at-home educational STEAM projects and experiments, artifact tutorials, games, storytelling from open cockpits and so much more.

New content will be shared through our social media channels and visitors can find educational products in our online store!

CONTACT INFORMATION:

6151 Portage Rd Portage, MI 49002
269-382-6555 | WEBSITE | FACEBOOK

Air Zoo

KALAMAZOO RESTAURANTS & FOOD

Kalamazoo has a fantastically diverse set of 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 & Farmers Markets

kids eating ice cream

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

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

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

Eat local. Pick up some dinner from our list of over 100 locally-owned restaurants in Kalamazoo.

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

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

Have a summer cookout with Portage’s Pig Out in the Park with Public Safety. This annual event in August includes free backpacks and school supplies.

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

Celebrate a summer birthday with cake from a favorite bakery.

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

Visit a farmer’s market and stock up on locally grown goodies. 

Pick up a grilled cheese kit from The Cheese Lady in Texas Corners.

Cook at Home

Strawberry Picking

Bake a strawberry cake after fruit picking with the family.

Make your own healthy and delicious popsicles or fruit slushies.

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

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

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.

Festivals Look Different This Year

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our festivals have been canceled. We are updating our list as we receive information, but recommend checking with venues before you head out.

May

See millions of tulips in Holland for Tulip Time in May. (Canceled for 2020)

June

Take the whole family to the Plainwell Days Festival Family Fun Day and enjoy games, food, a petting zoo and a touch-a-truck event. (Canceled for 2020)

Join Maranda at Bronson Park for the annual Maranda Park Party Kalamazoo. Inflatables, obstacle courses, prizes, free ice cream, and lunch. (Canceled for 2020)

July

You won’t want to miss the Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow and Balloon Festival in the first week of July. This event features balloon launches, a thrilling air show and carnival rides. (Canceled for 2020)

Watch fireworks dazzle the sky over Lake Michigan at South Haven’s music-coordinated Light up the Lake. (Canceled for 2020)

Need a night out? Corks for Conservation at Binder Park Zoo includes beverages, food, music, auctions, and animals.

The Kindleberger Festival is a great place to relax and watch a fun play in the outdoor theater. (Canceled for 2020)

August

Plan to attend the Kalamazoo County Youth Fair and see 4-H animals, daily entertainment and carnival rides. (Canceled for 2020)

Get scaly at Binder Park Zoo’s Reptile Weekend on August 1 – 2. Kids can interact with over one hundred reptiles and amphibians

Since 1984, the Do-Dah Parade has been a Kalamazoo favorite. Be sure to get there early on August 15 to watch!

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.

Registering for Summer Camps during Uncertain Times

Due to COVID-19, the statuses of many summer camps remain undetermined. Some may cancel, some may go virtual, and others are waiting to make a decision. We’ve listed some great options below; we recommend you contact potential camps to confirm their plans.

As we gain more information about local offerings, we will continue to update their statuses.

Summer Camps

Is your kiddo the next YouTube star? With Youth Media Camps, campers create their own television show, newscast or stop-motion animation.

Girl Scouts have reimagined summer camp virtually this year. Campers will have daily Zoom calls and a subscription box full of interactive activities.

Teens and Tweens will travel into the disco era with Crescendo Academy of Music‘s 1970’s musical theater camp. Campers can become a triple threat on the stage, as they teach voice lessons, dance and acting.

The Air Zoo is inspiring future engineers and scientists from home this year with virtual summer camps.

Summer Classes

Is your child ready to learn a musical instrument? Crescendo Academy of Music teaches lessons in guitar, ukulele, and chamber music.

Kingdom Soccer offers youth soccer classes starting at age 2. Sessions start the first week of August.

The KIA is teaching courses in clay, photography, drawing and art expression. Classes are taught for grades 1 – 12.

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

Kids visit parks Leila Arboretum

Watch the trees come to life in the Fantasy Forest at Leila Arboretum

Plan a shopping day at the Tanger Outlet Mall in Byron Center.

Say hello to the tigers and penguins at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids.

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

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

Immerse yourself in art and flowers at Fred Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

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

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

Barrel down the dunes in a schooner by booking a ride with Saugatuck Dune Rides.

Raining? Get in the car and visit our favorite out of town indoor play places.

Explore the Curious Kids Museum in St. Joseph, ride the Silver Beach Carousel and play in the splash pad.

Visit Moo-ville and learn how milk and ice cream are made. Stay and see the animals in the FREE petting farm.

Get Away for a Weekend

Fun things to do in summer coaster

If your family likes thrill rides, check out Michigan’s Adventure. Don’t forget the swimsuits for their outdoor waterpark

Take a road trip to Detroit and visit Belle Isle.

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

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

Cross one place off your bucket ‘visit’ list from our 15 places to take your kids in Michigan before they grow up.

Pictured Rocks

Need more ideas? Here are our picks for family-friendly destinations within a 2-5 hour drive.

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1 thought on “101+ Fun Things to do this Summer – Kalamazoo Activities for Families”

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