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The Perfect Day in Kalamazoo’s Oakwood Neighborhood

Posted on August 19th, 2019

If you’re a sucker for quaint, historic and charming neighborhoods that are chock-full of local flavor, then an itinerary centered around Kalamazoo’s Oakwood Neighborhood is for you! Feel free to leave your watch behind and enjoy a day that plays out at a slower pace.


We’re talking, your favorite cozy coffee shop vibes, only better.


A bookstore that delivers warm fuzzies from the second you walk through the door? Yep!


Not to mention, the chance to meander through the aisles of the oldest family-owned natural foods store in the U.S.


Each of the places below offers something completely unique, with a totally fresh perspective. Just make sure that you bring your appetite (and maybe your stretchy pants)!



Where to get coffee:


Water Street Coffee Joint on Oakland


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Feeling jaunty.

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The Water Street Coffee Oakland Café is nestled into the Oakwood neighborhood, on the corner of Oakland Drive and Whites Road. The Café design inspiration comes from 1940’s architectural drawings and blueprint designs from the Bryant Paper Mill, a staple of Kalamazoo’s industrial history.


The Oakland Café is the perfect place to catch up with friends over coffee or escape into a book you can’t put down. Like their other locations, the Oakland Café offers fresh house roasted coffee, full espresso bar, loose-leaf teas, shakes, smoothies, and more.


Oakland favorites include Coffee with a BANG, Mocha Del Sol, and iced Chai Tea Latte.

While you’re there, visit their retail walls for an ever-changing selection of bagged coffee, teas, home brewing equipment, travel mugs, t-shirts and other coffee goods.





Go-to activity for the day:


This is a Bookstore & Bookbug



This is a Bookstore & Bookbug are a full service independent bookstore featuring the best in new books and book-related events. 

There are two storefronts, dozens of shelves, thousands of books, one quirky playhouse and several spots to sit, read, talk, play, and discover great reads! Bookbug has a special emphasis on and expertise in children’s and young adult literature.  At ‘this is a bookstore’ they offer a curated selection of adult literary fiction, nonfiction, and graphics, as well as a full service cafe/bar.





Best spot for a photo opportunity:


Woods Lake


The recent $363,000 renovation to Woods Lake Park has paid off – its sandy beach, changing area, picnic pavilion (with six picnic tables), restrooms, a playground, and fishing pier are all fresh and modern. Bordered by woods on all sides, it’s truly a serene oasis in middle of bustling city and its warm water is both easy to swim and great for stand-up paddle boarding.






Where to eat:


Cafe 36


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When a restaurant is located inside a health food market, there is an expectation the dishes will be healthy. Yet, will they be tasty?⁣⠀ .⁣⠀ In the case of @cafe36sawalls, located above @sawallhealthfoods in Kalamazoo, the restaurant uses organic, sustainable, and natural foods to serve delicious modern American cuisine such as this mesclun greens salad. ⁣⠀ .⁣⠀ Topped with candied beets, pistachios, goat cheese, grilled wild caught salmon, and a balsamic honey, this salad was a satisfying as it was filling. I'd totally order this again and again.⁣⠀ .⁣⠀ Adding a protein to the lunch salads at Café '36 is optional, and other choices include all-natural chicken breast, char-grilled hanger steak, and smoked tofu. Which protein would you choose to top your salad?⁣⠀ .⁣⠀ .⁣⠀ .⁣⠀ .⁣⠀ .⁣⠀ #Cafe36 #SawallHealthFoods #discoverkzoo #kalamazoo #kalamazoomi #kalamazoomichigan #puremichigan #westmichigan #southwestmichigan #swmichigan #michiganfood #michiganfoodie #michiganeats #travelmichigan #michiganblogger #kalamazooblogger #kalamazoofood #kalamazoofoodie #kzoofood #kzoofoodie #foodieblogger #foodielife #foodieforlife #eatclean #foodtraveler #foodietravel #epicurean #midwesttravelbloggers #mesclun #mesclunsalad

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Cafe 36 is a modern American, seasonal restaurant focusing on all natural, sustainable and organic foods, in a refined warm setting. It’s located on the second story of Sawall Health Foods.

Frank A. Sawall opened Sawall Health Food Products, Inc. in 1936, making it the United States’ oldest family-owned natural foods store still in existence today!





Where to spend happy hour:


Oakwood Bistro


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#fridayfunday #chocolatini # oakwoodbistro

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Oakwood Bistro is the perfect spot to unwind at the end of the day! They offer a full bar featuring microbrews, nightly martini specials and a wine list, which is considered by many to be one of the best around. If you’re still hungry though, they are best known for their use of many fresh, local ingredients, outstanding nightly dinner features and menu favorites; like the blackened salmon with a fresh mango pico, served over a jerked sweet potato and bacon hash!