Visiting Kalamazoo with Teens

Top 5 Things To Do In Kalamazoo 

Great for college visits or when visiting your college student in the area!


By Guest Content Creator: Rachel Teodoro

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As a mom of three young adult children, I've spent a lot of time on college visits. After launching my oldest, I realized just how important creating community is when students are looking at a college. The community outside of the university becomes their home for the next four {or five, no judgement here!} years. Beyond taking a college tour, I always make sure we find time to really dive into what the community has to offer, because sometimes finding the right fit for your student goes beyond a college campus. 


When our college visit took us to Kalamazoo from Seattle, WA, I immediately started doing my research on the town. While it sounds like the name of a Dr. Seuss village, Kalamazoo is constantly ranking at the top of the list for one of the best small metropolitan college towns. It's home to Kalamazoo College, Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. I recently spent a long weekend exploring the town and gathered our top 5 things to do in Kalamazoo on your college visit or if you are visiting your college student in the area, these are all great things to explore when you are in town.

1. Go to a Hockey Game

Michigan is a state that is overflowing with sports lovers. Experiencing a hockey game on your visit during the winter months is a must! Get tickets for the family and head to a K-Wings game at the Wings Event Center (purchase tickets and see the schedule here). You can also immerse yourself in the college culture by taking in a Western Michigan University game at Lawson Arena. I hear the student section is rowdy so bring ear plugs! For tickets and information click here.


Looking for more sports events? The Kalamazoo region hosts more than 40+ sports events each year from baseball to curling, roller derby and more! Find out more here.


K Wings hockey game

2. Visit the Air Zoo

There are several museums in the area, but the Air Zoo is one not to miss! The Air Zoo is a world-class Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum with rare and historic air and space artifacts. You'll find interactive exhibits, full-motion flight simulators and lots of hands on fun. There is something for everyone when you visit the Air Zoo. Don't miss the Flight Discovery Center. It's an easy paved walk from the Flight Innovation Center and on the way, you can take in the Memorial Statue Garden and Cold War & Vietnam Aircraft.


exhibit at the Air Zoo

3. Enjoy some Friendly Competition

There is plenty of fun to be had at Revel & Roll West. Looking for family-friendly activities, look no further! Throw your stress away as your axe hits the target on one of the four axe throwing lanes. Axe throwing reservations are one hour long with a maximum of six participants per lane. Continue the competition in the two-story laser tag arena. The whole family can team up or compete individually for bragging rights. Looking for more fun-friendly competition? Revel & Roll West is home of unlimited bowling 7 days a week! Check their website for hours.


Revel and Roll axe throwing

4. Take in the Downtown Mall

Teens don't flock to the mall the way my generation did, but don't worry, the Downtown Kalamazoo Mall is different! It's a famous city landmark for becoming the first outdoor pedestrian mall in the United States and acted as a model for many others across the nation. 


You can easily spend a few hours experiencing this downtown favorite. Here are a few places to note:

Spend some time getting creative with some hands-on activities. We really enjoyed making our own candles at the Kalamazoo Candle Company, where we got to mix our our scent and hand-craft our own candle. While your candle is hardening (it takes about an hour), you can visit some of the other shops and restaurants in the area. Looking for more creative outlets? You can create a signature perfume scent at The Aroma Labs to be used in a perfume roll, lotion or scrub. You can also build your own terrarium at the Mason Jar Plant Shop. Bring in your own vessel or buy one there and build your low-maintenance creation, perfect for the dorm room!


Enjoy a sugar rush at Rocket Fizz where you can select a few of the more than 500 glass soda bottle flavors and have your own taste test. You also aren't going to want to miss the Monster Shakes at Cherri's Chocol'art. You can split the shake for only a dollar extra and get a separate cup with all the toppings! My mouth still waters when I think about their homemade marshmallows! Want to burn off some energy? Climb Kalamazoo is a great indoor rock-climbing facility with plenty of bouldering (there's even a dedicated bouldering cave) and a max wall height of 30 feet! 


Rocket Fizz soda

Rocket Fizz candy


You can also spend some family time at LFG Gaming Bar. You'll find old school arcade games you can challenge your teens to. I promise it will all come back to you once you put in that token! Speaking of tokens, when you buy food or drinks, you get tokens for the games, or you can purchase 12 tokens for $5. There are lots of two player arcade games, but my favorite part was the bookshelf stocked with some of our family's favorite (and some new ones!) board games. 

5. Feed the Teens

The key to keeping teens happy is to feed them early and often! Kalamazoo has plenty of great food options for you to discover. We loved enjoying brunch at 600 Kitchen and Bar where we ordered a pancake board to share. It gets busy, so call ahead for reservations. Latitude 42 Brewing Company has two locations (one south and one west) with a full menu that's sure to please everyone. Don't miss starting off with the pretzels and beer cheese. You can thank me later! Hopcat is another college-town favorite. Don't miss the OG Cosmik Fries and the Elote Queso. After talking to the college students, Sweetwater Donuts is a university favorite not to be missed. Looking for a good pizza joint? Don't miss Bilbo's. Order the stix and get the creamy dill dip!


It's not hard to fall in love with Kalamazoo! There are plenty of things to do with teens in the area while on your college visit and even more to explore if your student makes a home here! You aren't going to want to miss experiencing Kalamazoo!


Discover Kalamazoo welcome bag

Find unbelievable deals that come with everything you need to enjoy a trip to Kalamazoo, including overnight accommodations, free hotel parking and more.

Downtown Kalamazoo boasts the nation’s first outdoor pedestrian mall, complete with unique restaurants, breweries, shops, DIY experiences, and live entertainment.