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Local Spotlight: Janis Clark’s Favorite things to do in Kalamazoo

Posted on July 24th, 2014
kalamazoo art fair

The annual Kalamazoo Art Fair happens every spring in Bronson Park in downtown Kalamazoo.

things to do kalamazoo

Janis Clark is Director of Business Engagement at Western Michigan University, and her passion is people. She loves making new friends and connecting them with the old. She has never met a stranger. You can find Janis laughing and chatting at venues all over town – unless it is summer – then head for the beach!

Favorite Kalamazoo festival/event?
I like Kalamazoo’s Art Hop anytime of the year, but the first Friday in June is the one event I look forward to the most. That is also the Kalamazoo Institute Arts – Art Fair in the park and on Art on the Mall, and it kicks off the summer festival season of fun-filled outdoor activities. From the Mixers on the Mall to Ribfest to Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra Sundays in the park, every week has at least one reason to grab a friend and celebrate the summer downtown Kalamazoo style; and you are sure to meet hundreds of others having the same idea.

Favorite thing about Kalamazoo?
My favorite thing about Kalamazoo is the altruistic spirit of our citizens and our commitment to make Kalamazoo a better place to live, work and visit for everyone from every walk of life. What other community would initiate a program like the Kalamazoo Promise, which gives every child who goes through and graduates from our public schools the knowledge and certainty that they will be able to attend college without having to worry about the cost of that invaluable education?

Favorite restaurant?
I love the lunch buffet at Saffron, because one bite is better than the next! Plus, I don’t have to choose what to order (because I can never remember the names of the dishes I like). Saffron’s salad is amazing, and the naan just soaks up every yummy bite.  It also has the only rice pudding I’ve ever liked. I also go to Martell’s a lot, since it has always been my neighborhood place; Martell’s outside patio overlooking the lake is a true escape from your day and in the winter the bar has always been a comfortable meeting spot.

kalamazoo restaurants

Martell’s is one of Janis Clark’s favorite restaurants in the greater Kalamazoo area. Enjoy the outdoor patio or cozy up to the indoor fireplace at this popular restaurant.

best breakfast kalamazoo

The simple glazed donut from Sweetwater’s Donut Mill is one of Janis Clark’s favorite places for breakfast. Sweetwater’s Donut Mill was named as one of the top dozen “Best Donuts Ever” across America by AOL!

Best breakfast?
I am not a morning eater (coffee and more coffee), but the cherry pecan muffin at Grand Traverse Pie and the simple glazed donut from Sweetwater’s Donut Mill are two places I go to for a breakfast-like, carb-happy treat later in the day. For a brunch, however, I love the eggs benedict at Cosmo’s and Bravo’s Sunday buffet (the bacon and the seafood salad alone make this girl quite happy).

kalamazoo theatre

Janis loves seeing the stars at the Kalamazoo State Theatre. Check out a show at this beautiful building in downtown Kalamazoo.

Favorite attraction?
I love going to performances at the State Theatre. I went there when I first visited Kalamazoo in 1986 and sitting beneath the stars is and always will be magical. The Gilmore Car Museum is another “history comes alive” kind of place. Seeing a ’57 Chevy or a NYC taxi bring back my childhood, and all cars you only see in the movies or in books are right before your eyes.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Janis Clark loves to head to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Art & All That Jazz.

Favorite thing to do in each season?
– In the summer, I want to be at the big lake (Lake Michigan) any and every chance I get. I hate to make plans with anyone, unless it involves the beach! On weekends, if it is sunny, I will go to South Haven, Saugatuck or St. Joe’s with a book and many beverages from sun up to sun down. I love how many of my friends also live on the many lakes that we have in greater Kalamazoo and being invited to tool around on party boats is a personal fave.
– In the spring I like going to the Binder Park Zoo and feeding the giraffes in Wild Africa or visiting the new black bear cubs.
– In the fall I like driving around and seeing the cacophony of color as the leaves change and stopping for cider (and a donut) at some farm.
– In winter, I like having my fireplace going and friends coming over and seeing the winter wonderland view of Woods Lake from my window. Besides counting down the days until summer, I like going to the venues like the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts for Art and All that Jazz or Miller Auditorium for the Broadway series and spotlight performers and Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra for classical concerts and the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre and Farmer’s Alley for quality theatre. All of the above capture my imagination and take me away from the wintertime blues.

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo is a top 100 national university!

Coolest Kalamazoo-history fact?
In 1903, the state awarded Kalamazoo the right to build the Normal School, and a group of businessmen worked together to raise the $75,000 to build East Hall. That group of businessmen became the Chamber of Commerce, the Normal School became Western Michigan University and East Hall is becoming the Western Michigan University Alumni Center. The Alumni Center will be a venue open to the public and will feature a ballroom overlooking downtown Kalamazoo for your events and meetings. This is exceptionally cool for me because it embraces all my worlds — working at WMU and volunteering for the Chamber and Discover Kalamazoo as a Kalamazoo Certified Tourism Ambassador.

Favorite place to grab a drink?
The Beacon Club has the BEST drink in town. Reza has been there for more than 30 years and truly nobody does it better. I love my Cosmos and the remainder is in the shaker, so there is always room for more! 🙂 [Editor’s note: The Beacon Club is a private-dining club.]

Perfect day trip?
In the summer it is always the beach (see above), but during those non-summer months, I love going to Grand Rapids several times while Art Prize is here and to the Frederik Meijer Gardens and downtown museums. It’s only 45 minutes away and is a real sister city to Kalamazoo. Another nice day trip is to Chelsea, Michigan. Chelsea has a fabulous old theatre, great shops and dining at the Common Grill is worth the trip alone. Also, if you have never been to Greenfield Village, it is an amazing place. You can actually step back in time to castles or Edison’s workshop or the Wright Brother’s bicycle shoppe and see working tradesmen make candles and pottery, blow glass and spin silk.

kalamazoo growlers

At center, Janis Clark, enjoys a Kalamazoo Growlers baseball game with fellow Kalamazoo Certified Tourism Ambassadors (CTAs) in the Bell’s Bear Cave section.

Fun place(s) for kids/families?
Take me out to the ballgame! The Growler’s brought minor league baseball back to Kalamazoo and is a perfect outing for the whole family; a place to root, root, root for the home team with the home crowd. The Binder Park Zoo, I already mentioned, is perfect for children of all ages, as is the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. The Air Zoo not only has rides and attractions but is a living history staffed with volunteers who give you personal insight to the changing and permanent exhibits.

Best pizza?
Martini’s margharita or spinach and artichoke pizza with a side chopped salad gets my vote, but I also like Oakwood Bistro’s mushroom pizza and for a to-go option, I like Papa Murphy’s vegetarian gourmet.

Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo

Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo features a full bar with 32 draft taps, wine, mixed drinks, coffee, tea, soda, shakes and more. It’s extensive food menu is made from local ingredients.

Favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon?
Saturday is domestic goddess day of cleaning, laundry and bills then go to Family Fitness for body pump, the tanner (as my reward) and errands like the cleaners and library, then shopping for necessities and perhaps something nice for me at Steinmart or TJ Maxx and of course, DSW.  I loves the movies and going to the show at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema or Celebration Cinema or the Kalamazoo 10 is my reward for jobs well done.

• Hidden gem in greater Kalamazoo?
The hidden gem in Kalamazoo is Discover Kalamazoo’s CTA program itself! It has opened the door to me on so many previously hidden gems. On field trips, I explored the Kellogg Manor House when it was festooned with Christmas decorations, been to historic Vicksburg’s Historical Village, the Gilmore Car Museum, the Kalamazoo Nature Center, a Pink Floyd laser light show at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, a Wellspring/Cory Terry & Dancers performance and inside the control tower at the airport, just to name a few fun things we have done!

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