Are you ready to kick off your shoes, grab a cold drink, and soak up the sun this summer in Michigan? If not, you're seriously missing out if your plans don't include visiting Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo is a vibrant city just waiting to be discovered, offering a perfect mix of craft brews, natural beauty, quirky festivals, and mouth-watering culinary delights. So why settle for a mundane summer when you could explore all that Kalamazoo offers?


Let's Talk About Those Kalamazoo Brews, Shall We?


Man drinking beer outside

Oh, you thought your backyard BBQ was the height of summer drinking? Think again. Kalamazoo is where the real brew enthusiasts play, transforming even the most skeptical into craft beer aficionados. And let’s be real, nothing says “summer in Kalamazoo” quite like holding a locally crafted beer that’s as quirky and unique as the city itself. Who needs a generic, mass-produced drink when Kalamazoo’s brews are practically a love letter to your taste buds?

The first stop on your list should be Bell's Brewery and Eccentric Cafe, arguably Kalamazoo's most iconic (and eccentric) brewery. With ample indoor and outdoor seating, an extensive tap beer and food menu, and a welcoming staff, it’s easy to see why Bell’s is so popular. You might even catch some live music playing in their beer garden if you're lucky! Check out the Give a Craft Beer Trail and free passport program if a brewery crawl is on your itinerary. You'll earn points for checking in to each location and be able to redeem them for merch!

One Well Brewing will blow your socks off for the kid-friendly and the kid at heart! At One Well Brewing, both adults and kids can enjoy the experience, as they serve fantastic local beers and even offer ice cream floats for just a dollar. They also have a unique beer made with coffee and donuts and a spacious outdoor area featuring wooden picnic tables and fun pinball and arcade games in the Wizard's Pinball Palace.



If you're in Portage, relax and unwind at the expansive beer gardens at either Latitude 42 or Presidential Brewing. Honorable mention has to go to Steinspark Biergarten and Food Court. This spot is seasonal, but during the summer and fall months, you must make it a pit stop while on your trip! This enchanting locale offers an outdoor haven for all to congregate, relish in a variety of delightful drinks and scrumptious German food court fare, and bask in the company of their community. Under a canopy of aged trees and glittering lights during the balmy summer, patrons can revel in a unique experience.

We also have to mention Texas Corners Brewing Co., which lies on the outskirts of Kalamazoo, offering a reprieve from the bustling city. It's situated within a converted chapel, attracting crowds seeking to indulge in expertly crafted beers and ciders. 

So, put down that can of who-knows-what and come to taste the difference in Kalamazoo. After all, life’s too short for boring beer.




Nature, But Make It Extra


kid on the end of a boat about to jump into the water

Just when you thought you'd seen all the greens and blues that nature offers, stepping into Kalamazoo’s outdoors is like walking into an HD version of nature - everything’s just a bit more vibrant and exhilarating. Consider a day boating on the pristine and crystal clear waters of Gull Lake or a lazy afternoon at one of our public beaches.

This isn’t your grandma’s garden party; it’s where Mother Nature herself goes to let her hair down. Picture it: biking trails where each turn brings a new surprise, waterways that beg for a lazy kayak day, and parks where the wildlife practically poses for your Instagram.

The air’s fresher, the sun’s sunnier, and even the birds seem to sing in a happier tune. Speaking of birds, check out the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary! It's the perfect laid-back but still unique outdoor activity.

Kalamazoo’s nature isn’t just extra; it’s extraordinary. In fact, the Kalamazoo Nature Center was voted one of the Best Nature Centers in the US! Why spend your summer sweating it out in line for a rollercoaster when you can be zipping down a real-life greenway, the wind in your hair, and not a care in the world? So, pack your adventurous spirit (and maybe some sunscreen) and see why the great outdoors here is anything but ordinary.




Festivals That Make You Go, "Wait, What?"


Vicksburg Event

In Kalamazoo, summer isn’t just a season; it’s a full-blown, all-out extravaganza of the bizarre and the beautiful, stitched together with a lineup of festivals that’ll have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief. Ever found yourself shoulder-to-shoulder with a troupe of kazoo-playing marchers? Welcome to Kalamazoo, where the Do-Dah Parade is just the appetizers on a smorgasbord of "did I really just see that?" moments.

Forget those cookie-cutter generic summer gatherings. Kalamazoo’s festivals are like diving headfirst into a pool of glitter and confetti. From the Caribbean's vibrant culture, music, and flavors at the Kalamazoo Caribbean Festival to the robust art and music at the Black Arts Festival. You also won't want to miss the art-filled streets of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Fair and Art on the Mall or the Latin traditions at Latinx Fest

We can't forget some of the other beloved annual events like Kalamazoo PRIDEDokidokonKalamazoo Balloon Fest and Gull Meadow Farms Sunflower Festival. Kalamazoo doesn’t just host festivals; it turns the mundane into the extraordinary, making every attendee a believer in the magic of summer. So, mark your calendars because these are the stories you'll be dining out on for years.




The Food Scene: A Gastronomical Wonderland


Village Hideaway

Alright, food enthusiasts and culinary adventurers, buckle up because Kalamazoo’s food scene will take you on a taste bud-tingling rollercoaster ride. Imagine a place where every meal is an Instagram-worthy masterpiece, and the phrase “I’m full” simply doesn’t exist. We're not talking about your run-of-the-mill dinner spots; Kalamazoo is a smorgasbord of culinary creativity. Here, you can start your morning with a gourmet brunch at 600 Kitchen that makes you question everything you thought you knew about pancakes, spend your afternoon snacking on fusion tacos at Holy Taco that are a flavor bomb in every bite, and end your day with artisanal dishes at Brick and Brine or Rustica that look like they belong in a food museum. And let’s not even get started on the desserts - because, frankly, your sweet tooth might be unable to handle the excitement. We recommend Cherri's ChocolArt or Confections With Conovictions.

Our unique summer foodie experiences are worth the trip alone! Add Lunchtime Live, Friday at the Flats, and Festival Fridays to your bucket list. These events are centered around food trucks, but the live entertainment and other local merchants are a nice bonus!

This city turns eating into an extreme sport, and honestly, if you’re trying to diet this summer in Kalamazoo, you might as well wave that white flag now. Come with an appetite, and leave planning your next visit. The culinary wonders of Kalamazoo await!




Why Kalamazoo Is the Quirky Cousin of Michigan Cities


Vintage in the Zoo

In the family portrait of Michigan cities, Kalamazoo is that eclectic cousin who probably shows up wearing tie-dye and vintage Levi's, charming everyone with tales of thrifting escapades at Vintage in the Zoo or how they spend Saturday mornings at the Kalamazoo Farmer's Market. While other cities are busy playing it safe with their predictable attractions and neatly lined streets, Kalamazoo dances to the beat of its own drum, sprawled out with a kaleidoscope of arts, oddities, and a community spirit that’s as infectious as it is endearing. If you're one to head off the beaten path, you'll fit right in. Check out these itineraries and other cool places to hang out in Kalamazoo.

Here, every street corner has a story, every building a personality, and every local has a friendly nod or a witty retort ready for you. Have you ever heard of a zoo full of airplanes? You'll find that here at the Air Zoo. Or maybe the largest car museum in the country? Experience that at the Gilmore Car Museum. It's like stepping into a scene where the ordinary is celebrated for its uniqueness, and the mundane is nowhere to be found. Try one of our DIY and maker activities at our unique local shops. If Michigan cities were a potluck, Kalamazoo would be the dish everyone can't stop talking about – a little bit spicy, sweet, and utterly unforgettable. So, lace up your most comfortable walking shoes, and let’s uncover the magic that makes Kalamazoo the lovable oddball of the Michigan family.