The Ultimate Summer Fun Guide For Kalamazoo Area Families -2015 2015-06-04T06:02:27+00:00

Ultimate Summer Fun Guide

by Jill P



Yes, summer will soon be here! What a fun season for us here in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  It is a great time to get outdoors and explore all of the great things that Kalamazoo (and Michigan) has to offer!

If you’re a “list-maker” like me, you’ll love our Summer Bucket List of fun ideas to do this summer. We’ve included things from not only the Kalamazoo area, but from some of our favorite areas in Michigan.

Plus, we added a number of recommendations from our KZOOkids readers. We love that Kalamazoo is centrally located and that there are so many great options within a few hours drive. So, check out this list and start making some plans for the Best Summer Ever.


101 Things to Do with Your Kids This Summer


  1. Attend a Summer Camp… or two or three! See our 2015 Summer Camp Guide for a HUGE variety of summer camps. Once the camps are set, time to plan the rest of the summer.
  2. Have a “make your own banana split” night. Invite your neighbors or friends over for a good old fashioned ice cream social.
  3. Mark your calendar for the August 20 for the Tour de Zoo at Binder Park Zoo. Or check out one of the Binder Zoo’s special events during the summer.
  4. On a rainy day, go to a movie. The Alamo Drafthouse or Celebration Cinema both offer great movies and a chance to grab a bite to eat. Check the Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp line-up for $1-3 movies. Proceeds benefit local charities. Note: The Alamo Drafthouse does have an age policy of 6 and up, but on all G-rated and many PG-rated movies (for kid-oriented titles) they will allow 3 and up before 6 p.m.).
  5. Go for a hike at the Kalamazoo Nature Center or at Fort Custer. Or see our listing for our favorite places to Walk, Hike, or  Bike!
  6. Attend one of the Children’s program at Leila Arboretum in Battle Creek.There are 9 different summer events happening June -August. Find fun programs such as Pets in the Garden, The Enchanted Garden, and more! $2 donation /person is requested.
  7. Schedule the kiddos for a vacation bible school in your area. Check out our VBS Round-up for a HUGE listing of vacation bible schools. 15
  8. Plan to attend the Civil War Muster at Historic Charlton Park in Hastings on July 18 & 19. See history come alive with hundreds of re-enactors depicting Confederate and Union Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery units. Watch for our review coming out in early July.
  9. Make the road trip to Chicago to check out Shedd Aquarium and make a day out of the great museums there. Or take a road trip to one of our Favorite Mini-Road Trips within 2.5-4 hours of Kalamazoo.
  10. Make build-your-own grilled pizzas.
  11. Take a road trip to check out the Ford Rouge Factory Tour in Dearborn. Perfect option for the car buff in your family. Plus, check out the Henry Ford Museum or Greenfield Village while you are there.
  12. See some alligators at the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary or birds at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. Or head to Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto just an hour north of Kalamazoo.
  13. Eat at either the Root Beer Stand in Kalamazoo or West Lake Drive-In in Portage for some old-fashioned drive-in fun. Or check out our Unique Restaurant Dining Guide for more fun family options!
  14. Check out the Splash Pad at River Oaks Park. The splash pad features fun in-ground and above-ground water spray elements and they also have new playground has also been added near the splash pad. Day passes are just $5.
  15. Plan a “Date Night” with your significant other and check out the Summer Concerts at Meijer Gardens. Or check out our 33 Inexpensive Date Night Ideas for this summer.
  16. Ride the Trolley in Grand Haven and get a tour of the town. Take in the sights and  of the World’s Largest Musical Fountain in Grand Haven.
  17. Get ice cream at  a place that you’ve never tried before. See our KZOOkids Favorite Ice Cream Places.
  18. Catch a Kalamazoo Growlers baseball game at Striker Field. Check out their 2015 Promotion Schedule. Sign the kiddos up for the free Growlers Cub Club which includes a ticket to the Sunday game of your choice and some other goodies.
  19. Head to Amish Country in Shipshawnee and take a buggy ride.USS Silversides-shipfull
  20. Did you know that we have a real submarine in Michigan that you can tour? Make a day out of visiting the U.S.S. Silversides Submarine Museum and spend the rest of the day at the Pere Marquette Park.
  21. Attend the Kalamazoo County Fair from August 10-15. Find such fun activities as: Kids Zone entertainment, over 400 farm animals, carnival rides, food, and games. You’ll love the different themed days scheduled for this year!
  22. Join one or two of the summer reading programs offered by the area libraries. Or join a national reading program.
  23. Attend an area Arts & Crafts Fair or Art Hop in Kalamazoo on the first Friday of each month.
  24. Try letter boxing or geocaching! We’re hooked. “Letterboxing Kids!” is a great place to learn how to go on a real-life treasure hunt with your friends and family.
  25. Garden – allow the kids to have a designated area of the yard and plant/maintain their seeds throughout the summer.
  26. Watch a movie at Movies in the Park by the Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Department.
  27. Find a new children’s museum to spend the day at. The Grand Rapids Childrens’ Museum and Impression 5 Museum are favorite out of town spots. Further away, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and Sandcastles Children’s Museums are good choices for the younger kiddos.
  28. Go fruit picking – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and peaches are grown locally and there’s plenty of options around SW Michigan. Watch out for our U-Pick Berry Guide coming soon!
  29. Take a train ride on the Coopersville & Marne Railway Train or the Little River Railroad in Coldwater.
  30. Visit Mooville and learn about how milk and ice cream is made!
  31. Check out the 20 ducks, whales, and froggies that will be located through downtown St. Joseph this summer. While you’re there visit the splash pad at Silver Beach in St. Joseph. Make a day of it and visit the Curious Kids’ Museum and get pizza at Silver Beach Pizza.
  32. Take a road trip to Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids. Did you know that they will be opening their new Japanese Garden in early June? Plus, they have a number of awesome children’s programs planned throughout the summer.
  33. Go camping with the family. Or check out the Family Campout at the Kalamazoo Nature Center on August 29 & 30. Or join the Family Movie Camp Out! on August 15 at Mayors’ Riverfront Park. There will be family-friendly activities; a cook-out, campfire and the movie The Sandlot.
  34. Catch one of the 4th of July Fireworks displays. Last year they had the USS LST 393 in Muskegon opened to view fireworks from the deck for just $5.
  35. Have a pirate lover in you family? Check out the Pirate Chaser Adventure Cruise in South Haven for a high seas adventure.
  36. Plan a day to go river tubing or kayaking! Make sure that you pack the sunscreen, too.
  37. Explore the MSU Children’s Garden.
  38. Set up and run through the sprinkler or have a water fight with hoses around your house.
  39. Take a family bike ride at a the Portage Pathway or the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail.
  40. Attend a Wednesday Night Cruise-In at the Gilmore Car Museum for free!
  41. Sign up your kiddos for two free games of bowling a day at Airway Lanes during the summer. (Shoes not included). Check out the new high ropes course while you’re there.
  42. Make use of your zoo membership reciprocity and check out a new zoo. Potter Park Zoo and Detroit Zoo are two zoos that are on our list for the summer.
  43. Have a family game night. Pull out your family favorite board market-3
  44. Visit Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market or one of the other local Farmers’ Markets to check out all of the great local produce. Check out at least 2 new markets this year.
  45. Visit the robotic milking viewing area at the Dairy Center Kellogg Biological Station or take in one of the Wild Wednesday programs at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary.
  46. Take a swim at Ramona ParkFort Custer of the Kik Pool.
  47. Have a backyard campfire and roast s’mores.
  48. Visit to the Air Zoo on a day when it’s too hot to be outside or on a rainy day. Check out the new DaVinci Exhibition on display.
  49. Make your own music video. Post to YouTube or share with family.
  50. Go up North. Way up to Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise. A great place to see waterfalls and do hiking with the family.
  51. Go fishing at the Wolf Lake HatcheryFamily fishing days are offered starting mid-June on Fridays and Saturday and are free.
  52. Paint rocks for your very own “rock pet”.
  53. Find a local food truck and have lunch there. Check out Lunchtime Live! at Bronson Park on Fridays.
  54. Head over to Battle Creek to see the “World’s Longest Breakfast Table”.
  55. Visit the Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s new traveling exhibition Tinkertoy: Build Your Imagination. Then attend one of the Hands-On Happenings Tinkering with Toys with seven weeks of hands-on crafts focused on toys from the past.
  56. Summer is not complete without some day trips to the beach….both South Haven or Saugatuck are all beautiful. Our Southwest Michigan Beach Guide has a great listing of beaches within a reasonable driving distance.
  57. Pick your favorite park and perform a mini-service project by cleaning up any trash you see on the ground.
  58. Find a park you haven’t been to and visit it. See our listing of Kalamazoo Park Guide for our favorite parks in the area.
  59. Take a tour public areas of the State Capitol Building.BattleCreekBalloons
  60. Attend the Battle Creek Air Show and Hot Air Balloon Festival in July. Plan to attend one of the night illuminations, too. Pretty cool!
  61. Check out the new SEA LIFE Aquarium in Auburn Hills. While there, do some shopping in the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets.
  62. Do a fun run with the kiddos from our Spring Fun Run Guide.
  63. Have a kid friendly lunch at Earth Fare in Portage. Kids Meal Deals are just $3 every day!
  64. Pack a picnic and take it to the Air Zoo picnic area. Watch the airplanes take off and land.
  65. Go to a parade around the area.
  66. The summer concerts series offered in Bronson Park and Kindleberger Park are wonderful! Pack a blanket, a picnic, and enjoy
  67. Plant flowers or plan a fairy garden with your kids this year. River Street Flowerland has an awesome fairy garden selection.
  68. Mark August 25 as Free Entrance Day to National Parks. Sleeping Bear Dunes  is the only participating National Park in MI.
  69. Go out for donuts for breakfast to Sweetwater Donuts of grab a cup of tea at your favorite tea shop.
  70. Block out a morning to head to Bookbug and find a new book.Explore the MSU Children’s Garden.
  71. Go horseback riding.
  72. Climb the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Warren Dunes State Park, or Silver Lake State Park.
  73. June 25 is the Family Fit Festival which is a free community event featuring mini-farmers’ market, youth games, family fitness classes, community resources, obstacle course and more. Ideas to keep your family healthy all summer long.
  74. Go to Michigan’s Adventure for the day. Check out Cedar Point or Six Flags if you’re up for an overnight road trip. Closer to home, check out Flash Flood Water Park in Battle Creek for the day.
  75. Camp out in the backyard (or in your living room).
  76. Experience June Jubilee in downtown Kalamazoo…Art on the Mall, KIA Art Fair, Dionysis Greek Festival, and the Do-Dah Parade.
  77. Looking for something to do with the older kiddos (ages 8 years old and older)? Check out Hidden Kalamazoo on June 20 & 21 to learn more about the uniqueness of Kalamazoo. Also, there are volunteer tour guide positions available for older teens.
  78. Visit the barn animals at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. If you’ve got younger kiddos, check out their great Wednesday Summer programming.
  79. Stay up late while catching (and releasing) fireflies.
  80. Ramona Park is a great place to meet up with friends for a picnic and then some beach and playground fun.
  81. With your library card, you can also check out a Michigan Activity Pass, good for discounts and FREE passes to cultural attractions across the state!
  82. Visit either Binder Park Zoo to feed the giraffes or John Ball Zoo take a camel ride. Extra charges do apply, but they are worth it!
  83. Visit as many playgrounds as you can, have your kids keep a journal or take photos to log your adventures.dutch village
  84. Pretend your traveling abroad with a visit to Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland. Enjoy the Dutch dancers, rides, and Dutch food.
  85. There are so many festivals during the summer…RibFest, Taste of Kalamazoo, etc. Make sure to attend at least one.
  86. Do a Self-Guided Family Scavenger Hunts at the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. How fun!
  87. Have a rainy day? Why not have an indoor waterpark day? Double JJ Resort in Rothbury or Surfuri Joe’s both offer day passes. Double JJ Resort also has options to horseback ride or catch a rodeo and pig roast on the weekends.
  88. Take a day with nothing planned, head outside and just enjoy!
  89. Plan to attend the Enchanted Summer Celebration at Fat Blossom Farms in June.
  90. Get involved in a Free Fishing Weekend on June 13 & 14. See Summer Free Fishing Weekend registration form for more info.
  91. Check out some of the historic homes in Marshall’s free walking tours.
  92. Go to a Tigers Baseball game.
  93. Have Breakfast on the Farm in Paw Paw.
  94. On a rainy day, load the kids up and head to once of our favorite Out of Town Indoor Play Places. Dave & Buster’s is another fun option now open in Grand Rapids.
  95. Try Kids Skate Free this summer. Sign up your kiddos up for some old-fashioned rollerskating fun.
  96. Attend an Out in the Park Discover Program put on by the Portage Parks and Recreation Department.
  97. Do some shopping! Tanger Outlet Mall near Grand Rapids opens on July 31.
  98. Love cars? Mark your calendar for the Vicksburg Old Car Festival for some old-fashioned fun.
  99. On a rainy day, do some picture book crafts.
  100. Hike to a Concert with Blake Whyte Music on July 25.
  101. Hang out and play your favorite board games.

Hope You Have The Best Summer!



Think Summer