35 Amazing Things to Do in the City of Kalamazoo

city of Kalamazoo things to do in Kalamazoo MI

What to do in Kalamazoo MI

Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo.

While catchy for song lyrics (ask Bob Seger), Kalamazoo is also a real place with a vibrant, diverse community. Whether looking to get outside, visit a museum or find a new place to eat or play, this college town offers a welcoming place for families to live.

The neighborhood of Kalamazoo is bursting with fun activities across a wide variety of experiences.

Whether you live in this awesome city or are just visiting, this article features the best of the best in the city of Kalamazoo.

City of Kalamazoo

City of Kalamazoo Snapshot

HISTORY: Bronson Park (named after founder Titus Bronson) is a favorite stop among families. Abraham Lincoln gave a speech in Bronson Park in 1856.

FUN: Downtown Kalamazoo is a special place at Christmas time. Visit Santa for photos and take a stroll down Candy Cane Lane.

FOOD: The city of Kalamazoo is a foodie haven, featuring cuisine from all over the world. Locals love the Kalamazoo Farmers Market, annual downtown festivals, and food truck rallies.

OUTDOORS: Kalamazoo offers an outdoor pool, splash pad, and plenty of parks to play outside.

Life in Kalamazoo

Why people love to live here:

Downtown Kalamazoo features museums, diverse cuisine and plenty of shopping. Add live music, parades and art hopping events, and you can see why many visit this dynamic city.

Kalamazoo Valley Museum is a family favorite: it’s big on history and science through hands-on learning, and easy on wallets (admission is free).

Holiday shopping is made easier with the Holly Jolly Trolley. This festive ride dresses up for the holidays and makes winter extra special.

Population: 76,497

Education in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo is a college town, offering a private university (Kalamazoo College), a public university (Western Michigan University) and a community college (Kalamazoo Valley Community College).

Graduates from Kalamazoo Public Schools are eligible for The Kalamazoo Promise, an anonymously funded scholarship program providing up to 100 percent of tuition for college or other in-state post-secondary educational institutions.

Kalamazoo Public Schools

KPS is deeply committed to the principles of excellence, innovation, and compassion. We foster a student-centered environment that values inclusivity, collaboration, and open-mindedness. We firmly believe in achieving academic excellence while nurturing the diverse needs of our students.

4 high schools – 4 middle schools – 17 elementary schools – 1 virtual program (3-12)
Website button for Guides

Kalamazoo Public Schools

Things to Do in the City of Kalamazoo

The city of Kalamazoo offers something for everyone: shopping, food, parks, museums, and a local college town all provide activities for both locals and visitors to enjoy.

Downtown-Kalamazoo-Christmas

1 – Shop and Dine on the Kalamazoo Mall

Kalamazoo Mall
N Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007


Opened in 1957, the Kalamazoo Mall was the first outdoor pedestrian mall in the United States. Take a leisurely stroll downtown and stop for a coffee, dine outdoors for lunch, or shop the many locally-owned boutiques.

The Kalamazoo Mall hosts Art on the Mall each summer, where pottery, painting, sculptures, and other media are on display from local and regional artists.

Downtown Kalamazoo Mall
📷: Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership

2 – Splash and Swim in the Kik Pool

Kik Pool
1018 Walter St, Kalamazoo, MI 49008


Cool off in the only 50-meter outdoor swimming pool in the Kalamazoo area, offering water play, aqua fitness, swimming lessons and birthday parties. The Kik Pool is named after the former head of the Kalamazoo Parks Department, Nicholas Kik Jr.

After you’ve dried off, head over to Upjohn Park’s boundless playground, where all ages and abilities are welcome to play on their rubber-turfed surfaces. Upjohn Park also includes a skatepark, basketball courts, tennis courts and covered picnic tables.

Kik-pool-Kalamazoo-kids-swimming
Kalamazoo Park
UpJohn Park is a favorite playground in the City of Kalamazoo.

3 – Explore your Creative Side at Art Hop

Art Hop
359 S Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 203, Kalamazoo, MI 49007


Immerse yourself in the local arts on the first Friday of every month with Art Hop downtown.

The Kalamazoo Arts Council organizes this free, public event. Local artists display their work, and patrons can “hop” from booth to booth to enjoy live music, vendors, and interaction with many creative minds.

4 – Learn Hands-On at Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Kalamazoo Valley Museum
230 N Rose St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007


The KVM is a local favorite for so many reasons: free admission, children’s area, regularly rotating exhibits, and a planetarium all in one, multi-level, magnificent museum. Families will move from one hands-on station to the next, learning geography, mathematics, history and other disciplines.

The planetarium features more than just stars: a variety of educational and seasonal shows play regularly on their domed ceiling.

5 – Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Sweetwater’s Donut Mill

Sweetwater’s Donut Mill
3333 Stadium Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
2138 Sprinkle Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Stop into Sweetwater’s Donut Mill for a yummy, frosting-laden treat! Home to some of the most amazing donuts in Michigan, with original flavors like the grasshopper and classics from plain glazed to Bavarian crème, we guarantee you’ll have a difficult time choosing just one.

Kalamazoo Donuts

6 – Let Your Child’s Love For Reading Flourish at Bookbug

Bookbug
3019 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008

This independently-owned bookstore is for kids only. Find all of your favorite titles here, and be sure to stay for their weekly morning story times. Kids will also love exploring the little house in the back of the store.

If you need books for grown-ups too, stop by This is a Bookstore next door and grab food from their Table of Contents Café too.

Kalamazoo Bookstore

7 – Beat the Heat at the Florence Street Splash Pad

Florence Street Splash Pad
534 Florence St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007


Splash the summer days away at the free splash pad on Florence Street, featuring squirting frogs and rubberized surface.

Florence-street-splash-pad-park
📷: City of Kalamazoo

~ SWMI Splash Pads

8 – Make Your Own Candle at Kalamazoo Candle Company

Kalamazoo Candle Company
166 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007


The Kalamazoo Candle Company offers drop-in times at their marketplace to pour your own candle. Your personal wax creation includes scent selection and a custom label. Kids will love making sand candles, which do not have any drying time.

The popular shop also offers convenient locations in Portage and Byron Center.

Kids Day Out Candle
Kalamazoo Candle Company
Sand candles = no drying time!

9 – Experience a Nostalgic Sweet Shop at Rocket Fizz

Rocket Fizz Kalamazoo
125 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007


Transport yourself into a Willa Wonka-inspired daydream at Rocket Fizz Kalamazoo, where sugary sweets, sodas, puzzles, and toys create an atmosphere sure to entertain kids of all ages. 

For social media fans, their Facebook page is one to follow on their latest products and silly shenanigans.

Kalamazoo Candy Shop
📷: Rocket Fizz

10 – Go Apple Picking at VerHage Fruit Farm and Cider Mill

VerHage Fruit Farm and Cider Mill
8619 West ML Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009


VerHage provides everything you need to experience a quintessential Michigan autumn day: apple cider, fresh donuts, u-pick apples, pumpkins, and from-scratch pies.

VerHage pies
📷: VerHage

11 – Get your Giggles at the Do-Dah Parade

Do-Dah Parade
Downtown Kalamazoo

Since 1984, the annual Do-Dah Parade is a Kalamazoo tradition built around satire and entertainment. Every June, head downtown and collect candy as local businesses show off their funny bones and dance through the streets.

Kalamazoo Do-Dah Parade

~ Do-Dah Parade Event

12 – Paint Pottery at Art Bayou

Art Bayou
3306 Stadium Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008


Art Bayou offers a drop-in style studio for painting pottery on Stadium Drive, featuring over 400 pottery pieces. Whether it’s a gift for a special family member or a personal keepsake, this studio is open six days a week to stop by and create your next masterpiece on a flexible schedule.

Kalamazoo Pottery Painting
📷: Art Bayou

13 – Listen to Some Beats on Bates Alley

Beats on Bates
Bates Alley, Kalamazoo, MI 49007


Grab dinner downtown and settle in for some live music every Wednesday evening with Beats on Bates. This event features new artists weekly, from June through September.

Music is not the only form of art on Bates Alley; in 2018, local artist Patrick Hershberger designed the Bates Alley Street Mural, which covers the street in beautiful, watery waves.

Downtown Kalamazoo Events Summer

14 – Tour the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
314 S Park St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 


Visit the KIA and browse their vast collection; over 4700 pieces of art are included in their permanent collection. The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts also teaches classes and camps for all ages in a variety of media.

Kids will want to head downstairs to the Upjohn Mason Grandchildren Interactive Gallery, where hands-on activities with pegboards, magnets and books encourage learning through play.

📷: KIA

15 – Play in Bronson Park

Bronson Park
200 W South St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007



Bronson Park holds four seasons of activities for local families. From live concerts and food truck rallies to winter strolls through Candy Cane Lane, this park merits visits all year long.  

Bronson Park Tree Lighting
Be sure to catch the annual tree lighting ceremony in Bronson Park
Candy Cane Lane

16 – Cheer for the Broncos at Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University Athletics
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Living in a college town has its benefits. Whether it’s football, hockey or another sport, Western Michigan University offers a number of fun opportunities to watch sporting events together as a family. Be sure to snag a photo with Buster Bronco if you see him!

Western Michigan Football

17 – Hike the Trails at the Kalamazoo Nature Center

Kalamazoo Nature Center
7000 N Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

The Kalamazoo Nature Center offers 14 miles of trails for families to explore. Trails are labeled for ease of use with both distances and difficulty levels. In the warmer weather, stop by Nature’s Playground after your hike to cool off with some water play.

The KNC is also a fantastic source for nature education; check their schedule for children’s story times and programs.

KNC Trails
Visitors will find beautiful wooded trails throughout KNC.

18 – Conquer Your Fear of Heights at Climb Kalamazoo

Climb Kalamazoo
136 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo MI 49007


Test your rock climbing skills at the indoor mountain climbing gym in the city of Kalamazoo.

Climbers of all aptitudes and ages are welcome, starting at just three years old.

📷: Climb Kalamazoo

19 – Tantalize your Barbecued Taste Buds with Ribfest

Kalamazoo Ribfest
145 E Water St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

**On hiatus for 2024** For over 30 years, Kalamazoo Ribfest pairs great food with live music downtown at Arcadia Creek Festival Place. Local and national vendors provide ribs and sides to fill your belly, while live bands perform on stage.

This three-day event is a city of Kalamazoo tradition since 1985.

20 – Check out a Favorite Book or Visit Story Time at the Library

Kalamazoo Public Library
Central: 315 Rose St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Eastwood: 1112 Gayle Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49048
Edison: 1244 Portage St, Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Your local library is a fantastic spot for story times; many have ones geared to toddlers or preschoolers to foster a love of reading for all ages.

After story time finishes, be sure to visit each branch’s unique play area.

Kalamazoo Public Library
📷 KPL

21 – Snag Fresh Foods at the Farmers Market

Kalamazoo Farmers Market
1204 Bank St, Kalamazoo, MI 49001


Kalamazoo Farmers Market features over 100 vendors offering fresh produce, plants, flowers and local goods. The market runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from June through November.

Kalamazoo Farmers Market

22 – Play Ping Pong at Henderson Tot Lot

Henderson Tot Lot
1601 Henderson Ct, Kalamazoo, MI 49006


Ever play ping pong outside? Kzoo Parks’ Henderson Tot Lot received a major upgrade in 2018, with resurfaced basketball courts, a pickleball court, new playground structures and an outdoor ping pong table.

Henderson Tot Lot Kzoo Parks

23 – Take a Photo with the Jolly Man in the Red Suit

Downtown Kalamazoo

Santa and Mrs. Claus make an annual trip to visit local families in Downtown Kalamazoo.
This free visit includes writing Santa letters, cookie decorating, craft making and taking photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Downtown Kalamazoo Santa
📷: Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership

24 – Take a #Skelfie during SkeleTour

SkeleTour
Downtown Kalamazoo

The Metro Toyota SkeleTour is an autumn spectacular throughout the entire month of October.

Walk around downtown and discover one-of-a-kind, life-size skeletons that reflect local businesses and organizations throughout the city of Kalamazoo.

📷: Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership
SkeleTour Downtown Kalamazoo

25 – Watch a Broadway Show at Miller Auditorium

Miller Auditorium
1341 Theatre Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008


Located on Western Michigan University’s campus, Miller Auditorium features shows for families or a date night away: Broadway productions, comedy events, family shows, and live concerts are on the schedule at this performing arts venue.

Miller Auditorium City of Kalamazoo
Miller welcomes 3,497 guests to its performances

26 – Buy Some Peanuts & Cracker Jack at a Growlers Game

Kalamazoo Growlers
251 Mills St, Kalamazoo, MI 49048


The Kalamazoo Growlers baseball team offers fun and excitement from the Northwoods League, a premier summer collegiate baseball league.

Fans can expect a lot of games in a short season: the Growlers play 72 games in 77 days, giving many opportunities to catch a game at Homer Stryker Field.

Kalamazoo Growlers Baseball
📷: Kalamazoo Growlers

27 – Ride the Holly Jolly Trolley

Holly Jolly Trolley
Downtown Kalamazoo

Visitors enjoy FREE rides downtown on this old-fashioned trolley, decked out for the Christmas season in the city of Kalamazoo.

Holly Jolly Trolley Downtown Kalamazoo
📷: Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership
Downtown Kalamazoo Holly Jolly Trolley

28 – Stock up on Kalamazoo Gear at The Spirit of Kalamazoo

The Spirit of Kalamazoo
154 S Kalamazoo Mall Kalamazoo, MI 49007


In addition to selling 24 flavors of Plainwell ice cream, The Spirit of Kalamazoo is a must-stop for Kalamazoo attire.

Whether celebrating a new baby with a Kalamazoo onesie or picking up a Western hoodie for your college student, this shop has all of the local gear.

Kalamazoo Onesies
📷: Spirit of Kalamazoo

29 – Buy New Shoes with a Guaranteed Fit at Little Chick

Little Chick Shoe Shop
1924 Whites Rd Kalamazoo, MI 49008


Open since 1938, Little Chick Shoe Shop is a shoe store for kids only that will transport you back in time with handwritten receipts and shopping history on index cards.

All of this history comes with a long-standing policy: all shoes are guaranteed to fit. If a child outgrows his shoes within their policy’s time frame, the replacement pair is pro-rated.

Kalamazoo Kids Shoe Store

30 – Strike up Some Fun at Revel and Roll West

Revel and Roll West
4500 Stadium Dr Kalamazoo, MI 49008


Revel and Roll West is a one-stop shop for arcade games, bowling, ax throwing and laser tag.

Families will also enjoy their lane-side service, featuring scratch dishes (including specialty Detroit-style pizzas) and a full bar. When the weather permits, try out their patio dining outside.

📷: Revel & Roll West

31 – Buy, Sell and Trade LEGO® Bricks at Bricks & Minifigs

Bricks & Minifigs Kalamazoo
1926 Whites Rd Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Open since June 2022, this Oakwood Plaza newbie invites visitors to buy new, sell and trade their favorite brick-shaped toys- including rare or retired sets! For true LEGO® enthusiasts, be sure to celebrate here for your next birthday party.

Bricks & Minifigs Kalamazoo
Find Bricks & Minifigs in Oakwood Plaza, next door to Little Chick.
Bricks & Minifigs
Visitors will find cases of LEGO® Minifigs or they can build their own.

32 – Travel Back in Time at Dinosaur Park

Dinosaur Park
2101 Wilbur Ave Kalamazoo, MI 49006 (Rood Hall)


Open in 2021, Dinosaur Park is FREE to visit on Western’s Campus and features some massive prehistoric friends, including a 15-foot Brachiosaurus.

Dinosaur Park Credit: Western Mich Facilities Mgmt
📷: Western Michigan University Facilities Management
Dinosaur Park Western Michigan University

33 – Create Your Own Custom Fragrance at The Aroma Labs

The Aroma Labs
352 S Kalamazoo Mall Kalamazoo, MI 49007


At The Aroma Labs, visitors can craft their own personalized scent into a fun product to take home: perfume, bath salts and beard oil are all options for showcasing your new creation.

The Aroma Labs is located on the mall, in Downtown Kalamazoo. Grand Rapids shoppers will find a second location on Monroe Center Street.

Aroma Labs

34 – Play Inside at Kids Empire

Kids Empire
5130 W Main St Kalamazoo, MI 49009



When outdoor play just isn’t in the cards but your kids need to burn off boundless energy, head to Kalamazoo’s huge indoor playground! There’s plenty to do for kids 12 and younger, like super-fast slides, a soccer area, imaginative building with giant blocks, exciting spinning, dancing, challenging obstacle courses, and more. Plus, snacks and drinks are available too.

~ Kids Empire

35 – Stock Up on Loose Leaf Tea at Kalamazoo Spice & Tea Merchants

Kalamazoo Spice & Tea Merchants
245 S Kalamazoo Mall Kalamazoo, MI 49007



Opened in 2023, this shop offers hand-blended spices, loose-leaf teas, and gourmet delights.

📷: Kalamazoo Spice & Tea Merchants

Dining in the City of Kalamazoo

The City of Kalamazoo is a foodie town that prides itself on a diverse set of locally-owned restaurants. While it’s impossible to name them all, we’ve highlighted five must-tries while in the city:

Louie’s Trophy House
629 Walbridge St Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Louie’s is the oldest bar in Kalamazoo, open since 1918.

In addition to the “trophies” around the restaurant, they are known for their weekend brunches, complete with Bloody Mary bar and mimosa flights. If you’re a St. Patrick’s Day celebrant, Louie’s is one of the top spots to have on your list.

Louie’s also offers a second location in Texas Corners, Louie’s Corner Bar.

Cairo’s Kitchen
155 W Michigan Ave Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Starting as a food truck, Cairo’s opened a brick and mortar restaurant in Kalamazoo, serving up Egyptian food including shawarma and falafel wraps.

city of Kalamazoo
Falafel wrap at Cairo’s Kitchen

Cherri’s Chocol’art
101 S Kalamazoo Mall Kalamazoo, MI 49007

For all things chocolate, Cherri’s needs to be on your list.

Sweets here (including marshmallows!) are made from scratch. Try the Monster Shakes: decadent, over-the-top ice cream shakes that rotate seasonally.

We also recommend grabbing a s’mores kit to roast over the fire, or a hand painted chocolate bunny at Easter.

Cherri's Chocol'art Milkshake

Shakepeare’s Pub
241 E Kalamazoo Ave Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Open since 2013, “Shake’s” is known for its beer selection and amazing nachos and pizza. You should also add them to your must-visit list on St. Patrick’s Day.

Best Nachos- Shakespeare's Pub

Water Street Coffee
Multiple locations in Kalamazoo

Locals love Water Street Coffee, who operates six locations in the Kalamazoo area. While their coffee and tea selections are excellent, their food is also spectacular.

If you stop by the Harrison location, they also offer ice cream- made in-house!

ice cream shop Water Street Coffee

Map

find things to do in the City of Kalamazoo MI

Where to Stay in Kalamazoo MI

Radisson Hotel Plaza at Kalamazoo Center
100 W Michigan Ave Kalamazoo, MI 49007
The Kalamazoo House
447 W South St Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Kalamazoo
303 N Rose St Kalamazoo, MI 49007
The Henderson Castle
100 Monroe St Kalamazoo, MI 49006

FAQs

Where is Kalamazoo MI located?

Kalamazoo MI is located in southwest Michigan, almost equidistant (approx 140 miles) between Detroit MI and Chicago IL and about 70 miles southwest of Lansing, Michigan’s capital.

When was Kalamazoo founded?

Kalamazoo was founded in 1831 by Titus Bronson.

Where can I find Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo swag?

The Spirit of Kalamazoo downtown is your best bet for city-branded merchandise. Grab some Plainwell ice cream while you’re in the shop too.

What is The Kalamazoo Promise?

The Kalamazoo Promise is an anonymously funded scholarship program providing up to 100 percent of tuition and mandatory fees paid for at in-state post-secondary educational institutions.

The Promise scholarship can be applied to over 60 Michigan institutions, trade programs, community colleges and universities.

Since it began in 2005, The Promise has awarded more than 7,000 KPS graduates with more than $180 million in scholarships. 

What are your favorite things to do in the City of Kalamazoo?

Albeit biased, we think Kalamazoo MI is one of the best cities to live or visit. What are your favorite things to do here?