by Jill Piwko
[note] Thanks to Discover Kalamazoo for their help with some of the ideas on our local tour list. [/note]
One of the things that we had one our summer bucket list as a family was to learn about some of the things in our community and around Michigan. While summer is winding down, we’re trying to squeeze some more tours into our schedule. What a great way to learn about a business or organization!
Here’s a listing of some of the tours:
Within An Hour Of Kalamazoo
- Moo-ville in Nashville-See our KZOOkids.com review for more information on this fun, family farm tour.
- Wolf Lake Hatchery in Mattawan-Take this tour to learn on how the fish population is managed for our Michigan lakes and streams.
- Marshall Historic Home Tour in Marshall-Self-guided historic home tours available year-round. Stop by the Marshall Visitor’s Center to get more information.
- Air Zoo in Portage-Tours are available from one of the volunteers (most are World War II veterans) at the entrance to the main exhibition room or group tours can be scheduled.
- Kellogg Farm and Dairy in Augusta-Check out one of the scheduled Open Houses to learn how cows are milked using the robotic milker. The robotic milking viewing area is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. (Closing at 5:00 p.m. in the winter.)
- W.K. Kellogg Manor House-Take a self-guided tour and learn the history of this great estate. Pick up one of two brochures for the self-guided tour. The first is a Historical Walking Tour that provides historical information about the estate buildings. The second is a Botanical Guide that maps literally hundreds of plants on our grounds so that even a pleasant stroll can be an educational experience.
- Kellogg Bird Sanctuary-Take one of the several self-guided tours of the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. Information regarding the self-guided tours can be found at their website and you borrow a copy of the tour brochures or purchase a souvenir copy from the Sanctuary’s Resource Center.
- Binder Zoo-Breakfast With The Animals in Battle Creek-This tour gives you a behind the scenes look at what the animals at the zoo eat and gives you a chance to feed the animals, too.
- Vicksburg Historical Museum in Vicksburg-Self-guided tour of historic Vicksburg village including train station, newspaper print shop, railway express, and more.
(Gilmore Car Museum)
- Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners-Self-guided tour of one of the top car museum in the country! Browse historic, restored barns filled with incredible automobile collections, visit the vintage Franklin and Model A dealerships, and the 1930s Shell gas station, or enjoy lunch at our historic Blue Moon Diner. Group tours can also be scheduled. School groups can visit the Gilmore Car Museum for Free!
- Dr. Nathan Thomas House in Schoolcraft-Take a self-guided tour of one of Michigan’s most active Underground Railroad participants, a founding member of the state’s Republican Party and Kalamazoo County’s first physician.
- Kalamazoo Nature Center and Delano Farms in Kalamazoo-Golf cart tours, trail tours, and DeLano Farm Tours are some of the ways to see the Kalamazoo Nature Center. These tours change seasonally. Check the KNC Event Calendar or KZOOkids.com Event Calendar for dates of tours in August.
- Kalamazoo Valley Museum in Kalamazoo-Self-guided tours are available to print out and help kids focus on the important aspects of history and science exhibits. We love the learning aspect of this tour! Plus, we love that this museum is always free.
- Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary in Athens-Tours are offered at this home to about 50 American alligators and a handful of tortoises and snakes. We have a KZOOkids.com review coming shortly to share the details of our tour.
- Meijer Garden -Kids Tram in Grand Rapids-A special look at Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park just for the kids and their parents or caregivers. Riders will have the opportunity to participate in rhythms and songs as they learn about the sculptures through fun and familiar songs like The Wheels on the Tram and Did you Ever See a Spider?
(Historic Charlton Park)
- Historic Charlton Park-Self-guided tour brochures can be picked up at the Upjohn House Visitor’s Center. Historic Charlton Park includes 25 historic residences, businesses and community buildings were moved from throughout Barry County to create the village. Watch the KZOOkids.com Event Calendar for fun events scheduled here throughout the year. Just an hour drive from Kalamazoo!
Locally, these businesses offer tours as well. Check with them to see to schedule:
- Confections w/Convictions in Kalamazoo–Who doesn’t love chocolate? Group tours may be scheduled by calling the store. Tours types vary based upon production cycle, time of day, etc. Tours must be scheduled in advance.
- Great Harvest Bread in Portage-Group tours can be arranged to learn how bread is made, knead your own loaf of bread, and much more. Tours typically take place after 1:00 pm after the morning baking is done.
- Cheese Lady in Kalamazoo-While not offering specific tours, the Cheese Lady is the place to visit if you want to learn more about cheese. They offer free tastings/samplings and one on one interaction with customers to provide detailed history and information of all the cheeses.
Tours Around Michigan That Are Worth The Drive
Here are some more ideas for tours to take when you’re out and about. We’ve done these tours and recommend them to our KZOOkids.com readers.
- Trolly tours offered in Grand Haven, Muskegon, and Manistee. Tour one of these Lakeshore communities in an open air trolley.
- USS Silversides in Muskegon–Explore a real World War II submarine through this self-guided or directed tour.
- Country Dairy in New Era-Learn through “Moo School” on how the farm operates, how milk is bottled, and more. Tour ends with a sample of chocolate milk and fresh cheese. Yum!
- Little Sable Point Lighthouse near Silver Lake-Tour a historic lighthouse through this self-guided tour as you navigate your way to the top of a 92 foot lighthouse.
Other Tours Around Michigan
There are some factory tours that we’ve been wanting to try. Here are the listings of some that have been recommended by our KZOOkids.com readers and other moms in the area.
- Chelsea Teddy Bear Factory Tour in Chelsea.
- Ford Rouge Factory Tour in Detroit
- JIFFY Mix Plant Tour in Chelsea
Seasonal Tours Offered Later In The Year
There are a few special events and tours that we mark our calendars for each year. These are some of our favorite holiday or seasonal tours:
- W.K. Kellogg Manor House–Holiday walks-See our KZOOkids.com calendar for these fun holiday tours of the W.K. Kellogg Manor in December.
- W.K.Kellogg Experimental Forest–Maple Syrup Day in March-This is another local favorite to learn about the maple syrup process.
(picture courtesy of the Kalamazoo Nature Center)
- Kalamazoo Nature Center–Maple Sugar Festival in March-See our review from this past Spring on one of our favorite tours offered at the KNC in March.
- Marshall Historic Home Tour–Marshall has some scheduled tours for September and December.
Any other ideas that we may have missed? Please share your ideas in the comment section below. Thanks!