Discover – or Rediscover – the Best of Kalamazoo in Two Days

If your next vacation or family visit brings you into Kalamazoo, you may be wondering what to see, and what to do. Or, if you are local and have family visiting, let this guide be the perfect roadmap for your family or friends to explore Kalamazoo.

Smack in the middle of Chicago and Detroit, Kalamazoo offers a vibrant arts and museum scene, an array of the best tasting craft beer, award-winning donuts, and beautiful nature trails.

Southwest Michigan offers near limitless things for kids to do – with suggestions designed to be fun for kids of pretty much any age. Your itinerary offers park and food breaks along the way, and could easily be stretched over a weekend.

Guide in hand, your family is destined to enjoy the best of this unique and family-friendly destination. Because yes, there really is a Kalamazoo.

Visiting downtown Kalamazoo

DAY 1: Coffee, Airplanes, Hiking, and a Relaxing Dinner

MORNING: Waterstreet Coffee and the Air Zoo

Grab local java and a breakfast burrito at Water Street Coffee in Portage to start your day. Head through their drive-thru, or step inside and choose from their extensive coffee menu and their unique breakfast offerings.

With coffee under your belt, head to the nearby Air Zoo, which is a history lovers paradise. Marvel up close at the planes and space artifacts. Docents are readily available to share a story or two.

family visiting Kalamazoo

Kids especially love the amusement park rides, as well as the hands-on science stations interspersed throughout the building.

Spend the morning exploring and riding on their full-motion simulators. Fuel up with lunch in the Kitty Hawk Cafe overlooking the historic aircraft and rides.

Or, bring a picnic and eat in the Observation Lounge of the Flight Discovery Center and watch planes arrive and depart from the nearby airport.

AFTERNOON: Kalamazoo Nature Center

After a morning inside, the afternoon is an ideal time to head outside and stretch your legs at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Get started at their interpretive center where you can explore the flora and fauna native to Kalamazoo.

Next up, grab a map and make your way outside.

The Kalamazoo Nature Center has miles of trails through wetlands, woods, or prairies. You can take a shorter one for the fresh air, or try Beech-Maple that leads to River Walk. Kids will love going through the tunnel and the scenic overlook of the Kalamazoo River.

Insider Tip: Allow time to visit nearby Delano Homestead to see the animals in the summer and hike out to the Source Pond and through a tunnel on Trout Run.

EVENING: One Well Brewing Company

After a full day, grab a board game, and kick back with the family on the patio at One Well Brewing Company. Or, dine inside and the kids will have plenty of entertainment in the play area – with arcade games, including pinball.

Boy and Dad playing pinball at restaurant Kalamazoo

No one will leave hungry. Weekly specials, vegetarian/vegan, and gluten-free options are available, and they even have a kids menu. And don’t forget the rotating beer taps.

DAY 2: Donuts, Downtown, and the Iconic Bell’s

MORNING: Sweetwater’s Donut Mill & the Kalamazoo Valley Museum

No trip to Kalamazoo is complete without visiting Sweetwater’s Donut Mill. This local, and award-winning donut shop has 40 varieties of donuts, including seasonal and donut of the week specialties like Gingerbread, Apple Cider, and Red Velvet Cheesecake.

Now that you are refueled and ready for more action on day two, make your way to the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. Not only do you save a bit of cash, the museum boasts rotating exhibits on a variety of topics such as micro-sculpting, bees, toys, math, and puzzle-solving.

Kids won’t want to leave the Innovation Gallery. Learn about the body, the land, and music, and about the history of Kalamazoo. Try your hand at serving up ice cream at the hands-on diner or forecasting the weather at the news station area. Don’t forget to visit Kalamazoo’s mummy.

Insider Tip: Tired feet need a break? Get tickets (nominal fee) for a Planetarium show.

AFTERNOON: The Kalamazoo Mall and Upjohn Park

The Kalamazoo Mall is officially the first pedestrian mall in the United States. Even though cars are now allowed, it’s a fun way to walk, explore downtown and support local businesses. Tweens and teens might dig checking out the shops along the mall.

Design your own sandwich or panini at the Artisan Sandwich Co. for a quick meal, or grab the best tacos on the Mall at Taco Bob’s, a local fast-food Mexican favorite.

Delight in the scents of candles at the Kalamazoo Candle Company. Design your own candle, start to finish, kids can do it too. Or, choose one to take a little piece of Kalamazoo home  with the I’ve Got a Gal candle – scents of juicy berries.

Have more time?

Visit Climb Kalamazoo where families can climb plenty of vertical terrain. Kids, ages three and up, can even take part, after learning how to belay.

When you’re ready to sit for a spell, head to nearby Upjohn Park and let the kids enjoy the accessible playground. If you go in the summer, make sure to pack that swimsuit and enjoy the Kik Pool.

EVENING: Bell’s Brewery

Iconic Kalamazoo’s Bell’s Brewery is so important to Kalamazoo that Oberon beer is celebrated in style every March.

Bell’s Eccentric Cafe is also a hopping place for dinner. They have 20+ beers on tap for adults, and local, sustainable food, including a wide variety for vegetarians and other special dietary needs. It also has an outside beer garden and patio, perfect for kids who need to stretch their legs.

If you time it right, you can get tickets to one of the many local musicians that play in their Back Room.

 

Extra Tips to Make the Most of Your Visit

Two Days is Enough to Bring You Back

Whew, that’s likely enough for a weekend visit. This guide offers only a smidge of what Kalamazoo has to offer. In fact, SouthWest Michigan recently made Conde Nast Traveler’s top places to go in 2020.

We know that once you’ve tasted Kalamazoo, you’ll be back for more. And we’ll be here waiting.

Do you have a favorite place in Kalamazoo you’d love for a visitor to know about? Let us know in the comments below.

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