12 Parks in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Last Updated on March 5, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Kalamazoo, Michigan is home to numerous beautiful parks that offer a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities and serene natural spaces within the city limits. From large community parks to small neighbourhood green spaces, Kalamazoo’s parks system has something to offer residents and visitors of all ages.

Park NameMain Features
Upjohn ParkSports fields, playground, picnic pavilions, events like Kalamazoo Ribfest.
Milham ParkGolf course, trails, tennis courts, winter sports, disc golf course.
Coldbrook ParkHistorical features, multi-use fields, playground, trails, pavilion.
Lake Street ParkCompact, vibrant playground, basketball court, picnic tables.
Cooper ParkBaseball diamond, tennis courts, playground, picnic areas.
Candy Lane ParkPlaygrounds, ballfields, picnic areas, basketball court.
Verburg ParkBaseball diamond, basketball court, playground, picnic tables.
Asylum Lake PreserveNature trails, lake activities, wildlife habitat, scenic views.
Woods Lake ParkBeach, walking path, picnic areas, boat launch.
River Oaks County ParkTrails, river access, nature and educational signage, fishing spots.

This article will highlight 12 of the best parks found in Kalamazoo, outlining key features, amenities, and reasons to visit each one. Parks will be divided based on size and purpose into three categories: major community parks, small neighbourhood parks, and natural area parks.

Detailed descriptions of facilities, recreational offerings, scenic views, historical significance and more will showcase why these 12 parks stand out within Kalamazoo’s impressive collection of outdoor spaces.

1.Upjohn Park

Name and Location: Upjohn Park is located at 1018 Walter Street in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The park is situated in the city’s Northside neighborhood and is easily accessible from downtown Kalamazoo.

History and Significance: Upjohn Park was established in the early 1900s and was named after the Upjohn Company, a prominent pharmaceutical manufacturer in Kalamazoo. The park has been a beloved community gathering place for generations, offering a variety of recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike.

What to Expect: Upjohn Park features a large playground area, picnic shelters, and open green spaces perfect for outdoor activities. The park also has a basketball court, tennis courts, and a baseball diamond, making it a popular spot for sports enthusiasts. During the summer months, the park hosts various community events, including concerts and festivals.

Visitor Information: Upjohn Park is open year-round from dawn until dusk. Admission to the park is free, and ample parking is available on the surrounding streets. Restroom facilities are available on-site, and the park is wheelchair accessible. Visitors are encouraged to pack a picnic and enjoy the beautiful outdoor setting.

Upjohn Park is one of Kalamazoo’s flagship parks and serves as a hub for sports, events, and community gathering. Encompassing 48 acres just northwest of downtown Kalamazoo, Upjohn Park features athletic fields and courts for baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, basketball, and more.

The park’s large open meadows provide space for community events like concerts, festivals, and runs throughout the summer. Upjohn Park hosts the annual Kalamazoo Ribfest, which features barbeque rib cookoffs, live music, and family activities. Visitors also enjoy picnics in the pavilions and kids love the large playground next to the baseball diamonds.

Additional highlights include:

  • Lighted tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, and open fields for soccer/football
  • Playground with slides and climbing equipment
  • Paved walking paths and trails
  • Picnic pavilions and grills
  • Concessions building

2.Milham Park

Name and Location: Milham Park is located at 607 E Kilgore Road in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The park is situated on the city’s southeast side and is easily accessible from I-94.

History and Significance: Milham Park was established in 1911 and was named after local businessman and philanthropist Albert M. Milham. The park has been a popular destination for over a century, offering a variety of recreational activities and natural beauty for visitors to enjoy.

What to Expect: Milham Park is a sprawling 49-acre park that features a wide range of amenities. Visitors can enjoy a large playground area, picnic shelters, and several sports fields, including baseball diamonds and soccer fields. The park also has a swimming pool, which is open during the summer months, and a small lake for fishing and paddling. Milham Park is known for its beautiful natural setting, with mature trees and walking trails throughout the property.

Visitor Information: Milham Park is open year-round from 7:00 am until sunset. Admission to the park is free, and parking is available on-site. Restroom facilities and drinking fountains are located throughout the park, and the park is wheelchair accessible. Visitors can rent picnic shelters for special events, and the swimming pool requires a small fee for entry. Fishing in the park’s lake requires a valid Michigan fishing license.

Situated on 94 acres of rolling hills and open space in northeast Kalamazoo, Milham Park contains diverse recreational facilities with the historic and scenic Milham Park Golf Club at its heart. Golfers enjoy the park’s 18-hole course surrounded by mature trees, while walkers and runners utilize the paved 1.2 mile trail encircling the park.

Visitors flock to Milham Park to enjoy amenities like:

  • 18-hole golf course with pro shop and clubhouse restaurant
  • Lighted tennis courts
  • Playground and splash pad area
  • Picnic pavilions
  • Wooded nature trails for hiking
  • Sledding hills
  • Open fields and an outdoor ice rink for winter sports

The park also frequently hosts disc golf tournaments on its challenging 18-hole championship disc golf course. Milham Park has something for all ages and interests year-round right within the city.

3.Coldbrook Park

Name and Location: Coldbrook Park is located at 200 E Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The park is situated in the heart of downtown Kalamazoo, adjacent to the Kalamazoo Mall.

History and Significance: Coldbrook Park was established in the late 1800s and was one of the first public parks in Kalamazoo. The park was named after the cold water brook that once flowed through the area. Today, Coldbrook Park is a beloved urban oasis, offering a peaceful retreat from the bustle of downtown Kalamazoo.

What to Expect: Coldbrook Park is a small but charming park that features a fountain, benches, and a gazebo. The park is a popular spot for outdoor lunches, picnics, and small gatherings. During the summer months, the park hosts a variety of community events, including live music performances and art fairs. Coldbrook Park is also home to several pieces of public art, including a sculpture by local artist Kirk Newman.

Visitor Information: Coldbrook Park is open year-round from dawn until dusk. Admission to the park is free, and metered parking is available on the surrounding streets. Restroom facilities are not available on-site, but can be found in nearby buildings. The park is wheelchair accessible and is a popular spot for people-watching and enjoying the downtown atmosphere.

As one of Kalamazoo’s oldest parks, the 22-acre Coldbrook Park boasts historical landmarks and architecture within its rolling hills, open meadows, and woodland walks. Established in 1858, the park’s standout feature is the Coldbrook Pavilion, an open-air stone pavilion built by the Works Progress Administration in 1936.

Coldbrook Park provides community recreation amenities including:

  • Lighted baseball diamonds and multi-use fields
  • Playground area with slides and swings
  • Basketball court
  • Picnic areas with grills
  • Restored rose garden with over 200 roses
  • Paved walking trails connecting to the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail
  • Sledding hills for winter fun

Visitors also enjoy touring the historic 1936 Coldbrook Pavilion with its loggia-style architecture, attending summer concerts at the pavilion, and even reserving it for special events. Coldbrook Park balances recreation, rich history, and natural scenery.

4.Lake Street Park

Name and Location: Lake Street Park is located at 519 Lake Street in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The park is situated in the city’s Edison neighborhood, just south of downtown Kalamazoo.

History and Significance: Lake Street Park was established in the early 1900s and has been a popular community gathering place for over a century. The park was once home to a large lake, which was used for swimming and boating in the summer months. Today, the lake has been filled in, but the park remains a beloved neighborhood destination.

What to Expect: Lake Street Park features a large playground area, picnic shelters, and open green spaces perfect for outdoor activities. The park also has a basketball court and a small stage for community events and performances. During the summer months, the park hosts a variety of programs for children and families, including arts and crafts workshops and movie nights.

Visitor Information: Lake Street Park is open year-round from dawn until dusk. Admission to the park is free, and street parking is available on the surrounding streets. Restroom facilities are available on-site, and the park is wheelchair accessible. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful outdoor setting. The park is also a popular spot for community events and gatherings, so be sure to check the city’s website for upcoming activities.

Tucked within the Vine neighborhood along Lake Street, this 1.5-acre neighborhood park packs numerous play opportunities into a small space. Its amenities include:

  • Colorful, innovative playground equipment like sideways slides, rock walls, and stepping stones
  • Open field with baseball backstop
  • Basketball half-court
  • Picnic tables
  • Grassy areas and shade trees

Parents appreciate Lake Street Park for keeping kids engaged with its creative playground, while the field and courts provide open areas for youth sports among neighborhood friends. The picnic tables and shade make it ideal for meets ups or enjoying takeout food from nearby restaurants. Though small, smart layout and lively playground make this park a go-to gathering spot for Vine residents.

5.Cooper Park

Name and Location: Cooper Park is located at 900 W Lovell Street in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The park is situated in the city’s West Douglas neighborhood, just west of downtown Kalamazoo.

History and Significance: Cooper Park was established in the mid-1900s and was named after local businessman and philanthropist Peter Cooper. The park has been a popular community gathering place for generations, offering a variety of recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike.

What to Expect: Cooper Park features a large playground area, picnic shelters, and open green spaces perfect for outdoor activities. The park also has a basketball court, tennis courts, and a small walking trail that winds through the property. During the summer months, the park hosts a variety of community events, including concerts and movie nights.

Visitor Information: Cooper Park is open year-round from dawn until dusk. Admission to the park is free, and street parking is available on the surrounding streets. Restroom facilities are available on-site, and the park is wheelchair accessible. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful outdoor setting. The park is also a popular spot for community events and gatherings, so be sure to check the city’s website for upcoming activities.

Situated just northeast of downtown Kalamazoo, the nearly 2-acre Cooper Park serves its Winchester neighborhood with recreational facilities and green space. Features include:

  • Little League baseball diamond and backstop
  • Two tennis courts
  • Half basketball court
  • Playground with slides and swings
  • Picnic tables
  • Grills
  • Open grassy areas with trees

Local youth sports teams practice baseball and tennis at Cooper Park, while families gather for impromptu picnics and kids play on the equipment. The mix of facilities and open space make Cooper Park ideal for neighborhood activity within walking distance for area residents.

6.Candy Lane Park

Name and Location: Candy Lane Park is located at 2021 Candy Lane in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The park is situated in the city’s Westnedge Hill neighborhood, just south of downtown Kalamazoo.

History and Significance: Candy Lane Park was established in the mid-1900s and was named after the street on which it is located. The park has been a popular destination for families and children for generations, offering a variety of play equipment and open green spaces.

What to Expect: Candy Lane Park features a large playground area with swings, slides, and climbing structures. The park also has a small picnic shelter and open green spaces perfect for outdoor games and activities. During the summer months, the park is a popular spot for neighborhood gatherings and picnics.

Visitor Information: Candy Lane Park is open year-round from dawn until dusk. Admission to the park is free, and street parking is available on Candy Lane. Restroom facilities are not available on-site, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own water and snacks. The park is wheelchair accessible and is a great spot for families with young children to spend an afternoon outdoors.

Bordering Candy Lane in central Kalamazoo, this quaint neighborhood park encompasses 1.3 acres of playgrounds and ballfields perfect for families. Amenities include:

  • Two youth baseball/softball diamonds
  • Small soccer field
  • Basketball court
  • Colorful playground equipment including slides, monkey bars, and climbing elements
  • Swing sets and spring rocking rides
  • Picnic tables and grilling areas

Candy Lane Park packs facilities into a small area resulting in a lively atmosphere filled with children playing ball, swinging and sliding, and families grilling out and gathering at the picnic tables. Mature trees dot the landscape providing afternoon shade. Though a small neighborhood park, Candy Lane contains amenities to keep families actively entertained for hours.

7.Verburg Park

Name and Location: Verburg Park is located at 1415 Verburg Drive in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The park is situated in the city’s Winchell neighborhood, just southeast of downtown Kalamazoo.

History and Significance: Verburg Park was established in the late 1900s and was named after local developer and philanthropist John Verburg. The park was designed to be a neighborhood gathering place, offering a variety of recreational opportunities for residents of all ages.

What to Expect: Verburg Park features a playground area, a small picnic shelter, and open green spaces perfect for outdoor activities. The park also has a paved walking path that winds through the property, making it a popular spot for jogging and dog-walking. During the summer months, the park hosts a variety of community events, including outdoor movie nights and ice cream socials.

Visitor Information: Verburg Park is open year-round from dawn until dusk. Admission to the park is free, and parking is available on Verburg Drive. Restroom facilities are not available on-site, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own water and snacks. The park is wheelchair accessible and is a great spot for families and residents to enjoy the outdoors and connect with their neighbors.

Situated along Verburg Place south of downtown Kalamazoo’s Edison neighborhood, this 1-acre park delivers recreation opportunities to area families and youth. Verburg Park contains:

  • Lighted Little League baseball diamond
  • Basketball court
  • Playground with slides and climbing equipment
  • Grassy areas for games
  • Picnic tables

Verburg Park sees constant use from youth baseball and basketball players while families with small children flock to the playground. Visitors appreciate the proximity to surrounding neighborhoods, walkable location, safety lighting around the ball diamond allowing for evening games. The assortment of amenities at Verburg Park encourage recreation and connections among residents living nearby.

8.Asylum Lake Preserve

Name and Location: Asylum Lake Preserve is located at 2805 S Drake Road in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The preserve is situated on the western edge of the city, adjacent to the campus of Western Michigan University.

History and Significance: Asylum Lake Preserve was established in the early 2000s as a collaborative effort between the city of Kalamazoo and Western Michigan University. The preserve was created to protect the natural habitat surrounding Asylum Lake and to provide recreational opportunities for the community.

What to Expect: Asylum Lake Preserve is a 274-acre natural area that features a variety of habitats, including wetlands, forests, and prairies. The preserve is home to a wide range of plant and animal species, making it a popular spot for birdwatching and nature study. Visitors can explore the preserve on several miles of hiking trails, which wind through the various habitats and offer scenic views of Asylum Lake.

Visitor Information: Asylum Lake Preserve is open year-round from dawn until dusk. Admission to the preserve is free, and parking is available at the Drake Road entrance. Restroom facilities are not available on-site, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own water and snacks. The preserve is a carry-in, carry-out facility, and visitors are asked to practice Leave No Trace principles to help protect the natural environment. The trails are not wheelchair accessible, and some areas of the preserve may be closed during certain times of the year to protect sensitive habitats.

Encompassing over 700 acres in western Kalamazoo, Asylum Lake Preserve provides visitors a retreat into nature while still residing within city limits. As Kalamazoo’s largest park at over 700 acres, the property is primarily undeveloped and home to diverse wildlife habitats, wetlands, and waterways surrounding Asylum Lake.

Recreational activities within the preserve include:

  • 11 miles of multiuse trails for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing
  • Canoe and kayaks rentals available on Asylum Lake
  • Interpretive signage detailing natural features and biology
  • Birding habitat for viewing songbirds and waterfowl
  • Fishing access along lake shoreline
  • Designated hunting areas in season

Visitors appreciate Asylum Lake Preserve for its peaceful atmosphere watching wildlife and views from the water as well as trail recreation opportunities through woodlands and meadows. As Kalamazoo’s largest park focused on nature recreation, people looking to escape into the natural world have an outpost minutes from downtown right within the city limits at Asylum Lake Preserve.

9.Woods Lake Park

Name and Location: Woods Lake Park is located at 2900 Oakland Drive in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The park is situated on the city’s southeast side, just north of I-94.

History and Significance: Woods Lake Park was established in the mid-1900s and has been a popular destination for swimming, boating, and fishing for generations. The park is named after the small lake that is the centerpiece of the property, which was once surrounded by dense woods.

What to Expect: Woods Lake Park is a 17-acre park that features a variety of recreational opportunities. Visitors can swim in the lake during the summer months, or fish from the shore or from small boats. The park also has a playground area, picnic shelters, and open green spaces perfect for outdoor games and activities. During the winter months, the park is a popular spot for ice skating and ice fishing.

Visitor Information: Woods Lake Park is open year-round from 7:00 am until sunset. Admission to the park is free, and parking is available on-site. Restroom facilities and drinking fountains are available during the summer months, and the park is wheelchair accessible. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own beach towels and chairs for swimming, and to practice safe boating and fishing techniques. Fishing in the park’s lake requires a valid Michigan fishing license. The park also offers boat rentals during the summer months for a small fee.

A serene 14-acre natural area park northeast of downtown Kalamazoo, Woods Lake Park offers visitors beach access, peaceful water views, and natural scenery within the city. Park features include:

  • Sandy beach area on Woods Lake
  • Fishing access to lake along shoreline
  • One mile paved walking path around the lake
  • Open grassy areas and scattered shade trees
  • Picnic tables
  • Boat launch for small watercraft like kayaks and canoes

Families enjoy the beach where children play in the sand and wade into Woods Lake, while visitors walk or jog the scenic path surrounding the water. The grassy areas set up opportunities for picnics and leisurely afternoons lakeside watching boaters pass by and attempting to catch a few fish from shore. Woods Lake Park provides access to waterfront recreation and relaxation with a serene, natural backdrop.

10.River Oaks County Park

Name and Location: River Oaks County Park is located at 9202 E Michigan Avenue in Galesburg, Michigan. The park is situated just east of Kalamazoo, in the heart of Kalamazoo County.

History and Significance: River Oaks County Park was established in the 1970s as part of the Kalamazoo County Parks system. The park was designed to provide recreational opportunities for residents of the surrounding communities, while also preserving the natural beauty of the Kalamazoo River Valley.

What to Expect: River Oaks County Park is a sprawling 142-acre park that features a wide range of amenities and activities. Visitors can hike or bike on several miles of trails that wind through the park’s forests and wetlands, or fish along the banks of the Kalamazoo River. The park also has a large playground area, picnic shelters, and sports fields for baseball, soccer, and disc golf. During the winter months, the park offers sledding hills and cross-country skiing trails.

Visitor Information: River Oaks County Park is open year-round from 7:00 am until sunset. Admission to the park is free, and parking is available on-site. Restroom facilities and drinking fountains are available throughout the park, and the park is wheelchair accessible. Visitors can rent picnic shelters for special events, and the park also offers a variety of educational programs and guided hikes throughout the year. Fishing along the Kalamazoo River requires a valid Michigan fishing license, and hunting is not permitted within the park boundaries.

Situated along the Kalamazoo River, this 92-acre county park managed by the city of Kalamazoo contains peaceful pathways with river vistas, interpretive nature signage and access to the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail system. Park features include:

  • 1.5 miles of scenic, paved trails following the Kalamazoo River
  • Restoration and interpretive signage explaining wetland rehabilitation along the trails
  • Fishing access at various points
  • Connection trailhead to larger regional trail network
  • Benches scattered along trail route

River Oaks County Park caters to nature enthusiasts, trail runners, bicyclists, anglers and those seeking a beautiful riverside stroll minutes from Kalamazoo. Interpretive exhibits lining the trails detailing the ambitious wetland rehabilitation efforts underway at River Oaks enhance the educational opportunities. Visitors also appreciate the park’s role as a gateway providing direct trail access to the miles of trails spanning Kalamazoo County.

Conclusion

From large community parks boasting sports fields, golf courses and event spaces to smaller neighborhood playgrounds and ball fields catered to families, Kalamazoo’s parks offer year-round opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Unique natural spaces provide access to lakes, rivers, and woodland trails as well, all within the city limits.

The parks highlighted in this article represent only a sample of over 50 public parks spanning Kalamazoo, yet showcase the diversity of recreational amenities, facilities, and landscapes accessible around the city.

Whether aiming to play organized sports, enjoy an afternoon picnic, take kids to the playground, walk scenic trails, or relax lakeside, Kalamazoo residents and visitors have no shortage of beautiful, well-designed parks waiting to be explored.

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