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A young family’s trip to Kalamazoo

Posted on October 7th, 2013
Kayla Kiley

Kayla Kiley loves wrapping up in the unparalleled beauty of Michigan summers. You can find her grooving to local live music, sipping on the inventive craft-beer scene, joining foodie tours, oil painting, ballroom dancing, and simply exploring the world around her.

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!

Kalamazoo museum

Check out the Science In Motion section of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. This hands-on area of the museum will teach you everything from the fun force of magnets to how your lungs work!

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.

Air Zoo

The Air Zoo offers theme-park-style rides, more than 50 rare and historic aircraft, a 4-D movie theatre, space section and more! It’s back-dropped by one of the world’s largest indoor hand-painted murals.

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.

Kalamazoo biking trail

The Kalamazoo River Valley Trail is free to use and has a paved-asphalt surface that is 12-feet wide. It’s a multipurpose trail for non-motorized transportation and recreation.

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.

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

Walk among many species birds at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. You can feed the birds or just simply enjoy them in their natural habitat. The W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary conserves native habitat for migratory and resident birds and through research, education and outreach helps people gain environmental awareness about our past, present and future.

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.

Food Dance

Food Dance in downtown Kalamazoo offers a number of fresh, farm-to-fork, creative dishes and drinks that will leave you raving and coming back for more!

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!

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