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Local Spotlight: Maria Suszynski favorite things to do in Kalamazoo

Posted on June 26th, 2014
crows nest

Crow’s Nest was named the No. 2 best breakfast by MLive.com in 2013. This fabulous restaurant is located in the ecclectic Vine neighborhood near downtown Kalamazoo and is open 24 hours on the weekends! Photo credit: Crow’s Nest

things to do kalamazoo

Maria Suszynski is the Director of Advancement and Executive Director of  Legacy Foundation at the Air Zoo. She loves to volunteer and has most enjoyed serving as a coach for Girls on the Run and Kalamazoo Soccer Club Board Member.
Maria is the proud mother of a Kalamazoo Promise scholar and student and spends many weekends cheering for her daughter Kaila, who plays soccer, fiddles and dances.

• Best Breakfast?
I love breakfast. Any time of the day. Anywhere. Have I told you I love breakfast? If I have to choose a favorite breakfast location, I choose Crow’s Nest. I very much enjoy the excellent service, wide variety of choices, high-quality ingredients, and the delicious flavors. It’s just good food.

• Favorite Restaurant?
I absolutely love Saffron Indian Cuisine. When I am craving Indian food, my taste buds are very specifically requesting Saffron’s amazing lunch buffet and “sensational salad.” Though, no meal is complete without a cup of Saffron’s rice pudding.

• Hidden gem in greater Kalamazoo?
If I tell you where they are, they won’t be hidden. I recommend the Ghosts of Kalamazoo Historic Tours or the Hidden Kalamazoo Tours. They are a lot of fun and always well done.

• Top hangout?
On a warm sunny day or a clear starry night, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe‘s Beer Garden is a great place to hang out with your peeps. Live music, movies, dancing, Bell’s beer… what’s not to love?!

Bell's Beer Garden

Bell’s Eccentric Cafe’s Beer Garden is the place to be in the summertime. Come on down for a show or to simply enjoy the ambiance. Photo credit: @byrnesho

• Favorite attraction?
The Air Zoo is Kalamazoo’s crown jewel. There isn’t a cooler place to learn the history of aviation and space flight while engaging in the science behind it. Whether you are practicing your skills in a flight simulator, taking a flight in a WWII Stearman bi-plane, or creating/launching your own rocket, the Air Zoo is fun for everyone. (Disclaimer: I recently became an employee of the Air Zoo. No one will or has paid me to say this. Pinky swear.)

Air Zoo

The Air Zoo is home to more than 50 rare and historic aircraft. A first-of-its kind museum, it features theme-park-style rides, a flight-motion simulator, 4-D movie theatre, space section and more!

• Favorite Kalamazoo festival/event?
New Year’s Fest has got to be my most favorite festival of the year. Don’t get me wrong – I hate Michigan winters as much as the next Michganian. There’s just something special about one night that can bring you puppets, horse-drawn hay wagon rides, yo-yo masters, jazz performances, improv comedy, tubas, Elvis and fireworks. NYF is the most wonderful event to be in the middle of. And it is STILL only $5 to attend. (Don’t forget the One One Run with Gazelle Sports the next morning! Also a whole lot of fun and a great way to kick-start that New Year’s resolution.)

• Best late-night spot?
It’s not often that I find myself out late, but when I’m breaking curfew, I’m at the Union Cabaret & Grille for music and martinis. It’s the best after-dinner meet-up spot. Good food; good friends; good time. And if you’re the type that’s not done hanging out when everything else has shut down, Sweetwater’s Donut Mill is the place to be. Mmmmmm… donuts.

• Favorite thing about Kalamazoo?
My favorite thing about this city is Kalamazoo’s people and leaders. We make up this uniquely amazing community with a collective spirit that cannot be matched ANYWHERE. Not anywhere. Try to prove me wrong.


• Favorite thing to do in each season?
Fall: Cooler weather means WMU football games & the Holly Jolly Trolley(!!).
Winter: I stay warm during the cold months with Erin Fouch’s Zumba! classes at Wayside West. Wellspring/Cori Terry & DancersMidwest RAD Fest wraps up the chilly season with the hottest dance festival around.
Spring: When things warm up, I lace up my sneaks and hit the pavement. The Borgess Run for the Health of It & the Girls on the Run 5K are my favorite spring activities. Oh… and “Oberon Day” – also a spring favorite (runners need to hydrate).
Summer: Forget April in Paris. Bronson Park in June (and July and August) is where it’s at! Events like the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Art Fair, Sunday Concerts in the Park, Third Thursday Jazz, and Lunchtime Live are worth waiting 9 months for. (Sydney’s Summer Sidewalk Sale…worth waiting ALL YEAR for.)

• Coolest Kalamazoo-history fact?
Kalamazoo is home to the very first U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship (1963). I do love hot air balloons. And fireworks. I digress.

• Favorite place to grab a drink?
This is a tough question to answer these days. There are so many choices in the runner up for BeerCity USA! Tibb’s Brewing Company has become one of my favorite places to meet-up with friends on Art Hop Fridays. This cozy corner of Kalamazoo is a great gathering place for celebrating the end of your work week or simply celebrating. Tibbs’ Belgian Golden Strong is truly exceptional. So exceptional, that it has inspired an equally delicious dessert at the Cupcake Zoo just around the corner.

• Perfect day trip?
One of my favorite family day trips takes me to Fennville, MI for apple picking and corn mazes at Crane Orchards and dining at Su Casa. Every fall, I look forward to those warm October afternoons filled with Honeycrips and enchiladas. It’s pure Michigan.

• Fun place(s) for kids/families?
There is lots of fun to be had by families in Kalamazoo. Some of my top recommendations include: Kalamazoo Valley Museum; Kalamazoo Nature Center; Echo Valley Winter Sports Park; and Airway Lanes. Indoors or outdoors, there is plenty to do in the ‘Zoo.

• Fun date?
Date night is always fun at the Alamo Drafthouse. I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun. You have to experience it yourself, and it IS an experience. Grab your lover, your bestie or your peeps… bottomless bowls of popcorn and sing-a-long movies guarantee a very good time.

Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo

Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo features a full bar with 32 draft taps, wine, mixed drinks, coffee, tea, soda, shakes and more. Get there 30 minutes before your movie to browse the menu and enjoy the custom pre-show! The theatre validates parking in the adjacent garages — just bring in your parking ticket to the front counter after the movie.

• Best pizza?
Honestly, I don’t have a favorite. The best pizza is the one you can share. Or the one with mushrooms.

• Favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon?
Saturdays are for spending outdoors: farmers markets; U-pick farms; festivals; beaches; running; reading; performances; soccer games… If the weather is agreeable, I’m outside enjoying it.

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