Weekend Getaway From Chicago

Your Complete, Two-Day Itinerary for a Michigan Weekend Getaway From Chicago

Kalamazoo, Michigan is just over two hours from Chicago, making it the perfect weekend getaway. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a smaller town experience with big town vibes. From local eats and craft brews, to hiking and biking trails for every skill level, you can rest assured that you will be discovering new adventures and hidden gems all weekend long.


Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, exciting attractions, or relaxation and retail therapy, Kalamazoo has something for everyone. Bring your family, a special someone, or even just yourself, and see what a Michigan weekend getaway from Chicago looks like in Kalamazoo.

Day 1: Get Outside & Explore

The perfect kickoff to your weekend getaway from Chicago is sipping some locally-brewed specialty coffee and filling up on both savory and sweet treats at Factory Coffee. This family-owned roastery features ethically roasted coffee in two convenient locations, one of them being in the heart of downtown. Their limited-edition food items and coffee and tea options are sure to get your day–and weekend–off to a great start.


From there, head about five miles north to the Kalamazoo Nature Center and enjoy more than 14 miles of hiking trails winding through various landscapes. These trails range from easy to difficult, with all sorts of adventures along the way including wildlife, scenic views, and animal ambassadors that are being rehabilitated. The center also features rotating educational exhibits and activities, local arts, and featured programs for kids and adults. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for kids ages 4+.

Exterior view of the nature center in fall

To conclude your day of exploring some of the most special habitats in Michigan, grab some farm-to-table eats at 600 Kitchen + Bar, which is a quick 12-minute drive from the Kalamazoo Nature Center. 600 Kitchen + Bar honors both people and tradition through its craft cocktails, locally sourced eats, and vibrant staff. There is something for everyone, including rotating featured dishes based on the season!  For the best experience, call ahead to make a reservation. After all, it isn’t a weekend getaway from Chicago without enjoying some cuisine from Michigan’s own growers and artisans.

Day 2: Unwind & Create

Since day one of your Michigan weekend getaway from Chicago focused on getting outside and exploring the Southwest Michigan scenery, day two is all about unwinding and creating. Start this artsy day off with one of Kalamazoo’s famous breakfast favorites, the Crow’s Nest. Between their monthly specialties, breakfast staples, and vegan options, there is something for everyone!


Just five minutes up the street is Kalamazoo Candle Company, where you can hand craft your own candle in the heart of Kalamazoo! With 100% natural soy wax, paper-core cotton wicks, and ZERO added dyes, they're about as natural as it gets. Mix your own scents to concoct the perfect candle for your home or a friend! Each candle burns cleanly and evenly, releasing fragrance throughout the entire burn. For the kids, consider trying sand candle making – a fun, fast, and family friendly activity. Layer your choice of colors and fragrances to create a beautiful and functional scented candle. Just add a lid and you're ready to go. We recommend you make an appointment, as they can get busy and host many events throughout the week.

Kalamazoo Candle Company

After you’re done creating your signature scent, continue walking around Downtown to find more of Kalamazoo’s staple shops in the Downtown Kalamazoo Mall. Next door, you’ll find Spirit of Kalamazoo, where you can find local Kalamazoo memorabilia and sportswear. Pick up a Kalamazoo sweatshirt, mug, or sticker to commemorate your trip! Down the street is a chocolate lover’s paradise, Cherri's Chocol'art. This unique store features a full coffee bar, ice cream bar, and handmade chocolate treats. It is also home to the Monster Shake, a milkshake with custom flavors and toppings! Stop in and taste their high quality chocolate art! One of Kalamazoo’s newest sustainable shops, and Michigan’s first Zero Waste shop, Bee Joyful, is also located along this mall. Sustainability, being Earth-friendly and leaving things better than how you found them, are the heart and soul of Bee Joyful, where you can find self-care products, home goods, and cleaning supplies. The Downtown Kalamazoo Mall is filled with all sorts of local shops and hidden gems you won’t want to miss during your weekend getaway from Chicago.


After you’ve shopped till you drop, it's time to unwind with some local brews at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe! Located in the heart of downtown Kalamazoo and a hot spot for tasting Bell’s Brewery craft beer, the Eccentric Cafe is a must-stop on your weekend getaway from Chicago. With 20+ draught options, a full-service restaurant, a luscious Beer Garden, comfortable patio, and a state-of-the-art music venue, Bell’s Eccentric Café is the premier craft beer destination in Michigan.


Looking for a crafted cocktail instead? Check out one of Kalamazoo’s newest lounges, Dabney & Co. and try their signature Mint Julep, an homage to the first renowned Black bartender, John Dabney. Black-owned and operated, Dabney & Co. is an elegant, moody space where patrons will indulge in fresh, hand-crafted beverages and savor classic soul food with a unique spin, served á la carte.


Dabney & Co. drink service

Photo credit: Brian McIntosh

We can’t wait to host you on your next weekend getaway from Chicago! The hustle and bustle of city life sometimes calls for an escape– Kalamazoo is the perfect spot being just a short two hour drive away. Plan your trip and get exploring (or relaxing). After spending your day exactly how you need to, catch some rest at one of the places to stay in Kalamazoo or book one of our specialty hotel packages.

For more information to aid your trip planning, be sure to request a visitor’s guide and subscribe to our e-newsletter to get the latest and greatest Kalamazoo. And, don’t forget to check out our calendar of upcoming events to see what’s going on in the area during your visit!

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

Experience exciting new flavors at distilleries and cocktail bars throughout Kalamazoo, discover the popular Downtown Social District, or attend one of the many tastings, happy…

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