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.
The Air Zoo
Science, aviation, history, engineering – we have it ALL! Come imagine, explore and discover with us. Scoring more than 99% on the MIOSHA Covid-19 Workplace Safety Ambassador Program, we are safely open 7 days a week for your family’s enjoyment. Visit us online to plan your visit or discover exciting science experiments, cool arti-facts, aviation stories and more in our Launchpad to Learning. Make sure to check out our out-of-this-world education opportunities and camps as well!
We can’t wait to see you at the Air Zoo!
6151 Portage Rd
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!
DAY 1: Coffee, Airplanes, Hiking, and Fun & Games with 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.
SEE ALSO: Favorite Coffee Shops & Cafes »
With coffee under your belt, head to the nearby Air Zoo, which is a history and science lovers paradise. Marvel up close at the planes and space artifacts. Docents are readily available to share a story or two.
Kids especially love the hands-on science stations interspersed throughout the building; be sure to find R2D2 and Ironman, who have taken up permanent residence in the Flight Innovation Center.
Don’t forget there are two buildings here: you can watch the world-class restoration efforts of aircraft at the Flight Discovery Center. The Observation Lounge also provides a spot to 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.
Summer Tip: Allow time to visit nearby Delano Homestead to see the animals and hike out to the Source Pond and through a tunnel on Trout Run.
SEE ALSO: Bike & Hiking Trails »
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.
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.
More Restaurants with Fun and Games
- Latitude 42: Their outdoor space includes a Hop Garden, complete with play area, bean bag toss and giant Jenga.
- LFG Gaming Bar: LFG is a retro video game and arcade bar, featuring themed foods and beverages
- Presidential Brewing Company: Known for its presidential-themed beverages, this restaurant also includes a patio with firepit and mini-golf.
DAY 2: Donuts, Downtown, and the Iconic Bell’s Brewery
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 (admission is always FREE), but the museum also boasts rotating exhibits on a variety of topics for both kids and adults to enjoy.
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.
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. For dessert, visit Rocket Fizz for a massive candy and pop selection.
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 climb plenty of vertical terrain. Kids, ages three and up, can even take part, after learning how to belay.
More Kalamazoo Mall Shops
- Bee Joyful Shop: Eco-conscious shoppers will love Michigan’s first Zero Waste Shop, featuring locally-made, zero waste products for your home, kitchen, bath, and beauty routine.
- Cherri’s Chocol’art: Stop here for decadent chocolates, monster shakes and homemade hot cocoa and marshmallows.
- Mason Jar Plant Shop: This green shop offers house plants, a terrarium bar, curated gifts and decor.
- PopCity Popcorn: Those microwaveable bags cannot compete here: their savory, sweet and specialty treats set the bar for popcorn perfection.
When you’re ready to sit for a spell, head to nearby Upjohn Park and let the kids enjoy the accessible playground. Summertime? If so, make sure to pack that swimsuit and enjoy the Kik Pool.
SEE ALSO: Parks & Playgrounds Guide »
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.
If the weather is favorable, Bell’s has an outside beer garden and patio, perfect for kids who need to stretch their legs.
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’re pretty sure that once you’ve visited Kalamazoo, you’ll be back for more.
SEE ALSO: Family Things to Do in Kalamazoo »
SEE ALSO: Family Things to Do in Portage »
Do you have another must-see thing to do for visitors to Kalamazoo? Please share them in the comments below.