By: Kayla Kiley
Digital & Communications Manager, Discover Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo, Mich. — We recently had a young family ask us for recommendations for their visit to Kalamazoo in October.
So, we turned to our Facebook fans to help recommend their favorite Kalamazoo-area gems! The family was looking for kid-friendly entertainment, local restaurants (not chains) and a cupcake spot to celebrate mom’s birthday. Here’s what we got:
• Kalamazoo Valley Museum — Fun for everyone and located in downtown Kalamazoo. Lots of hands-on activities, more than 50,000 artifacts, including many made-in-Kalamazoo items, such as Gibson guitars, corsets, Stryker & Upjohn medical supplies and more. There’s even a 2,300-year-old mummy! Located in downtown Kalamazoo. FREE!
• Air Zoo — This is the world’s first aviation-theme attraction of its kind. It features more than 50 rare and historic aircraft, and one of the world’s largest hand-painted murals. From WWII fighter jets and the space section to the 4-D movie theatre and theme-park-style rides, you will be flying high! Located about 10 minutes from downtown Kalamazoo. $10 general admission; $16.50 unlimited pass. FREE for kids 4 and younger.
• Climb Kalamazoo — Multi-level indoor climbing facility located in downtown Kalamazoo. Even if you don’t climb, it’s cool to take a peek and see other climbers in action!
Prices vary (see listing on its website).
• Kalamazoo Nature Center — Voted the No. 1 nature center in the U.S. by other nature centers! Three-story tropical rainforest room, award-winning “Nature Up Close” hall, state-of-the-art interactive exhibits, Bug House and seasonal butterfly and hummingbird garden. Both indoor and outdoor fun (14 trails). Located about 10 minutes from downtown Kalamazoo. $4 kids; $7 adults.
• Kalamazoo River Valley Trail — The 12-foot-wide paved hiking/biking/walking trail will be beautiful this time of year! You can bring bikes or rent from Alfred E. Bike or walk with a stroller. Various entry points throughout Kalamazoo.
• Gull Meadow Farms — Apple cider, doughnuts, wagon rides, you-pick apples & pumpkins, corn maze, blow-up jumps for kids, mini zipline, store and more! Located about 15 minutes from downtown Kalamazoo in Richland, MI.
• Binder Park Zoo‘s “Zoo Boo” — This is an evening event with a trick-or-treat trail (costumes optional). Bring your own bag. The African animals won’t be out, but others (wolves, pandas, etc.) will be! (*Note: If you come back in the warm months, you can feed the giraffes!) Located in Battle Creek (about 30 minutes from Kalamazoo). General admission $6 for nonmembers. Hay ride, train and carousel cost an extra $2 each.
• Leila Arboretum — A 72-acre park open from sunrise to sunset. The site features a Children’s Garden, Natural History Museum, Perennial Gardens, A Native Flower Garden, Peace Labyrinth. Located about 30 minutes from downtown Kalamazoo. From a fan: “They have a children’s garden that my 6 and 10 year old loved.” FREE (except Kingman Museum)
• Kellogg Bird Sanctuary — Hundreds of waterfowl in their natural habitat, including Trumpeter & Australian Swans, Canada Geese and a variety of duck species; Birds of prey enclosures feature both rare and common raptors, including a Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawks, Eastern Screech Owl and more. You can even feed the birds! Located about 20 minutes from downtown Kalamazoo. $2-$4/person for your family. Open year round. Also, this person recommends the Kellogg Biological Forest, which his kids love.
• Chipman Preserve — The rolling meadows and woodlands of the preserve offer a variety of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts. 5+ miles of easy-to-moderate mowed trails lead visitors through pine forests, oak-hickory woodlands, and old fields as well as oak savanna and prairie restoration sites. Located about 15 minutes from downtown Kalamazoo.
• Martini’s — For pizza! Great atmosphere and a number of fantastic other options (if you’re not feeling pizza). Serves lunch & dinner. Located about 5 minutes from downtown Kalamazoo.
• Erbelli’s — Another Kalamazoo favorite for pizza! They were voted the area’s No. 1 pizza place in 2010. If you’re looking for good/creative pizzas, this is a great spot. There are two local locations, each about a 10-minute drive from downtown Kalamazoo (Facebook fan recommended the Stadium Drive location).
• Food Dance — It’s a farm-to-fork dining experience, and a restaurant that’s had many write-ups in magazines/blogs/etc. Cool atmosphere with giant asparagus stalks and vegetable murals! It also has a bakery, which makes cupcakes! Serves breakfast, lunch & dinner. Located in downtown Kalamazoo.
• Crow’s Nest — Nestled in the historic Vine neighborhood, this is one Kalamazoo gem not to miss. It was recently rated the No. 2 breakfast joint in Michigan by MLive. Recommendation: Get there early to escape the line. Serves breakfast, lunch & dinner (open 24-hours on weekends). Located about 5 minutes from downtown Kalamazoo.
• Sophia’s House of Pancakes — For breakfast. American-style dining with what some locals say are “the best pancakes.” Located about 10 minutes from downtown Kalamazoo.
• Rykese’s — For lunch. They bake the old fashioned way — by hand and from scratch. Voted “Best Family Restaurant” & “Best Dessert” in 2010.
• Water Street Coffee Joint — Great gourmet-deli-style food, excellent homemade desserts and fabulous local coffee and teas. Two locations — One in downtown Kalamazoo; one about 10 minutes from downtown on Oakland Drive.
• Mackenzie’s Bakery — Sandwiches, cookies, breads and beyond! May have to call ahead for cupcakes. Located a few minutes from downtown Kalamazoo.
• Garden Gate Cafe — Adorable restaurant/bakery that makes you feel like you’re inside of a cupcake! They serve both lunch and creative cupcakes. Located in downtown Kalamazoo.
• Bert’s Bakery — From a fan: “Best baked good in the area by far. Plus they have a little shop and may find an extra special birthday present!” Located in about 7 minutes from downtown.
• Ice cream places: Treat Street (about 10 minutes from downtown Kalamazoo on Oakland Drive) & The Spirit of Kalamazoo (located downtown Kalamazoo; serving local Plainwell ice cream & Kalamazoo wear).
What else would you add to this list?
For more things to do in Kalamazoo, follow the link!