12 Things to Do with Family in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Last Updated on March 6, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Kalamazoo, Michigan is a vibrant city with plenty to see and do for families. From world-class museums and nature centers to fun parks and kid-friendly restaurants, Kalamazoo offers an array of activities sure to delight visitors of all ages.

Activity NumberActivity DescriptionType of Experience
1Visiting local museumsEducational, interactive
2Exploring nature preservesOutdoor, nature exploration
3Enjoying downtown parks and squaresRecreational, leisure
4Participating in creative workshopsArtistic, hands-on
5Discovering science centersEducational, interactive
6Attending family-friendly eventsEntertainment, social
7Experiencing local zoos and gardensEducational, wildlife interaction
8Engaging in indoor play centersFun, active
9Exploring historical sitesEducational, historical
10Enjoying outdoor recreational areasActive, nature
11Participating in local toursInformative, exploratory
12Exploring local arts and cultureCultural, educational

This article highlights 12 top attractions and things to do in Kalamazoo that are fun for the whole family. From exploring life-size dinosaur skeletons to embarking on outdoor adventures, there is something for every interest and age group. With tasty treats, hands-on science exhibits, and opportunities to learn while having fun, families will make treasured memories during a visit to Kalamazoo.

1.Kalamazoo Valley Museum and Planetarium

Name and Location: Kalamazoo Valley Museum and Planetarium is located at 230 N Rose St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.

History and Significance: The Kalamazoo Valley Museum has been serving the community since 1881, offering a variety of exhibits and programs that focus on science, technology, and history. The planetarium was added in 1961 and has been a popular attraction ever since.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore a wide range of interactive exhibits, including displays on the history of Kalamazoo, the science of sound, and the wonders of the universe. The planetarium offers daily shows that take visitors on a journey through the stars and planets.

Visitor Information: The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Planetarium shows have a separate fee and require advance reservations.

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is one of the top things to do with kids in Kalamazoo. This world-class museum offers interactive science exhibits and displays focused on technology, history and art. Families can walk through a recreated 1913 Main Street with a vintage print shop, soda fountain and general store. The Egypt exhibit allows you to descend into an ancient burial chamber and see 2,500-year-old artifacts.

The museum’s highlight is the Kalamazoo Valley Museum planetarium. The planetarium features films about space, a night sky tour and laser shows with music by popular artists like Queen and Taylor Swift. This hands-on museum offers new exhibits and programs year-round, making it a top indoor place for families near Kalamazoo.

2.Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum

Name and Location: Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum is located at 6151 Portage Rd, Portage, MI 49002.

History and Significance: The Air Zoo was founded in 1977 by Pete and Suzanne Parish, who wanted to share their love of aviation with the community. Over the years, the museum has grown to include a wide variety of aircraft, exhibits, and interactive displays.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore more than 100 rare and historic aircraft, including military fighters, bombers, and spacecraft. The museum also offers hands-on exhibits, flight simulators, and educational programs for all ages.

Visitor Information: The Air Zoo is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission prices vary depending on age and membership status. Guided tours and special events are available throughout the year.

The Air Zoo in Portage allows your family to experience flight through interactive exhibits, rides and attractions. This Smithsonian-affiliated museum has over 50 rare aircraft on display, from single engine planes to retired military jets. You can climb aboard aircraft to see the cockpits and jet engines up-close.

Kids love the motion simulator rides like the Jet Thrill Cockpit where you pilot a fighter jet or Aeronautics Loop which spins you 360 degrees. Air Zoo has science displays where families learn the force of wind tunnels, principles of flight and even land a space shuttle. When you need a break, the cafe has aviation-themed treats and food.

3.Asylum Lake Preserve

Name and Location: Asylum Lake Preserve is located at 2805 S Drake Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49006.

History and Significance: The Asylum Lake Preserve is a 274-acre natural area that was once part of the Kalamazoo State Hospital. The preserve was established in 1998 and is now owned and managed by Western Michigan University.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, and nature photography on the preserve’s five miles of trails. The preserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and more than 200 species of birds.

Visitor Information: The Asylum Lake Preserve is open daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is free, but visitors are asked to follow the preserve’s rules and regulations to protect the natural environment.

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy exploring Asylum Lake Preserve with kids. These 276 acres encompass forests, wetlands, prairie groves and protected watershed areas. Families especially like the network of hiking trails that wind through diverse habitats and terrain. The trails range from easy 1-mile loops to more challenging paths.

This urban wilderness is home to wildlife like great blue heron, painted turtles and migrating songbirds. Interpretive signs showcase native plants and historical features along the trails. Experiencing nature and spotting wildlife make this one of the top free things to do in Kalamazoo with kids.

4.Kalamazoo Nature Center

Name and Location: Kalamazoo Nature Center is located at 7000 N Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009.

History and Significance: The Kalamazoo Nature Center was founded in 1960 and has been a leader in environmental education and conservation ever since. The center’s mission is to inspire people to care for the environment by providing experiences that lead them to understand their connection to the natural world.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore more than 1,100 acres of diverse habitats, including forests, prairies, wetlands, and streams. The center offers a variety of educational programs, exhibits, and events for all ages.

Visitor Information: The Kalamazoo Nature Center is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Admission prices vary depending on age and membership status. Guided hikes and special events are available throughout the year.

The Kalamazoo Nature Center is the perfect introduction to Michigan landscapes and wildlife. This 1,100 acre nature center has wooded hiking trails, interactive exhibits and live-animal displays. Families can explore different ecosystems like forest, wetlands and prairie habitats. The nature center offers naturalist-led animal encounters, hands-on science programs and craft workshops for kids.

Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy trekking over 7 miles of trails. The trails have varying difficulty, from short loops with interpretive signs to more challenging wooded paths. Kids love venturing through “caves” carved out by glaciers and crossing the iconic Bur Oak Tree Root Bridge. With so much to explore outside, Kalamazoo Nature Center is one of the best things to do in Kalamazoo with toddlers and kids.

5.Bindu Glass Studio & Gallery

Name and Location: Bindu Glass Studio & Gallery is located at 519 W Crosstown Pkwy, Kalamazoo, MI 49001.

History and Significance: Bindu Glass Studio & Gallery was founded in 2008 by artist Sushma Yadav. The studio offers classes, workshops, and custom glass art commissions, as well as a gallery featuring work by Yadav and other local artists.

What to Expect: Visitors can browse the gallery’s selection of handmade glass art, including sculptures, vases, and jewelry. The studio also offers hands-on glassblowing experiences for individuals and groups.

Visitor Information: Bindu Glass Studio & Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission to the gallery is free. Glassblowing experiences require advance reservations and have a separate fee.

Finding unique activities for tweens and teenagers isn’t always easy. Bindu Glass Studio offers a creative solution by allowing families to make their own blown glass art. This specialty glass gallery in downtown Kalamazoo offers lessons and workshops in glass blowing led by professional artists.

Through hands-on instruction, kids can learn glass sculpting techniques to create ornaments, blown glass pumpkins and more. The studio has family members team up to shape hot glass into a work of art. Older kids also enjoy watching behind-the-scenes glass blowing demonstrations by the artists. The colorful glass artwork makes for cool souvenirs reflecting their artistic talents.

6.Milham Park Golf Club

Name and Location: Milham Park Golf Club is located at 4200 Lovers Ln, Kalamazoo, MI 49001.

History and Significance: Milham Park Golf Club was established in 1936 and has been a popular destination for golfers in the Kalamazoo area ever since. The course was designed by Robert Foster and features rolling hills, mature trees, and well-maintained greens.

What to Expect: Visitors can play 18 holes of golf on the par-72 course, which measures 6,517 yards from the longest tees. The club also offers a driving range, practice green, and pro shop.

Visitor Information: Milham Park Golf Club is open daily from dawn to dusk, weather permitting. Tee times can be booked online or by phone. Greens fees vary depending on the day and time of play.

No family trip to Kalamazoo is complete without some outdoor recreation. Milham Park Golf Club offers a scenic 18-hole course nestled along Portage Creek. Families with older kids can play a round of golf on the park-style layout accented with mature trees and stone walls.

The club rents out clubs and carts for families wanting to golf together. Beginners can hone their golf game on the spacious driving range and practice greens. The full-service clubhouse has casual dining options when parents and kids need to refuel after all that fresh air.

7.Wings Event Center

Name and Location: Wings Event Center is located at 3600 Vanrick Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49001.

History and Significance: Wings Event Center opened in 1974 and has been a major entertainment venue in the Kalamazoo area ever since. The center hosts a variety of events, including concerts, sports games, and trade shows.

What to Expect: Visitors can attend a wide range of events at Wings Event Center, from hockey games and ice shows to live music and comedy performances. The center also offers food and beverage concessions and merchandise sales.

Visitor Information: Event schedules and ticket information can be found on the Wings Event Center website. Parking is available on-site for a fee. The center is accessible by car, bus, or taxi.

Wings Event Center provides year-round family entertainment in downtown Kalamazoo. The modern arena hosts popular touring concerts, sports events and live performances like Disney on Ice. Event calendars typically include kid-focused shows, monster truck rallies and Harlem Globetrotter games.

Local families often come to Wings Event Center to cheer for the Kalamazoo Wings minor league hockey team and Kalamazoo Growlers baseball games. Convenient parking, family restrooms and an on-site team shop make Wings Event Center an easy choice for family outings.

8.Kalamazoo’s Famous Hamburgers

Name and Location: Kalamazoo’s Famous Hamburgers is located at 1450 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49006.

History and Significance: Kalamazoo’s Famous Hamburgers has been serving up classic American fare since 1984. The restaurant is known for its signature burgers, which are made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy a variety of burgers, sandwiches, sides, and shakes in a casual, nostalgic atmosphere. The restaurant also offers vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Visitor Information: Kalamazoo’s Famous Hamburgers is open daily from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The restaurant also offers takeout and delivery options.

No family visit to Kalamazoo is complete without tasting its famous fast food creation – the hamburger. Kalamazoo stakes its claim as the birthplace of the hamburger, first served at downtown restaurant Henderson Castle in the 1800s. Today two “Original Burger” restaurants in town serve up affordable burgers just as they existed over a century ago.

Both the Famous Hamburgers restaurant downtown and the Rite Bite Famous Hamburgers carry on the time-honored tradition of the flat, simple patties. Made fresh daily, their flavorful burgers cost well under $5, making them one of the best-value family meals in Kalamazoo. Don’t forget to order sides like their classic potato chips or famous onion rings.

9.Park Trades Center Miniature Golf & Games

Name and Location: Park Trades Center Miniature Golf & Games is located at 326 W Kalamazoo Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.

History and Significance: Park Trades Center Miniature Golf & Games is a family-owned business that has been providing entertainment to the Kalamazoo community for over 20 years. The center offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities for all ages.

What to Expect: Visitors can play 18 holes of indoor mini-golf, featuring glow-in-the-dark obstacles and special effects. The center also offers a variety of arcade games, including classics like Skee-Ball and air hockey.

Visitor Information: Park Trades Center Miniature Golf & Games is open Monday through Thursday from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Friday from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm, Saturday from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Admission prices vary depending on the activity and number of players.

When parents need an indoor break from the Michigan weather, Park Trades Center offers family fun and games. This entertainment center in downtown Kalamazoo features an 18-hole miniature golf course accented with splashfalls, rockscapes and waterways. Kids of all ages enjoy navigating through caves, over footbridges and around twists and turns.

The center also has a large arcade with the latest video and interactive redemption games. Parents appreciate the full cafe serving up pizza, wings, nachos and sweet treats. Group party rooms accommodate birthday parties and events at this budget-friendly kid hot spot.

10.Travel Light Refreshments Tasting Room

Name and Location: Travel Light Refreshments Tasting Room is located at 1307 Portage St, Kalamazoo, MI 49001.

History and Significance: Travel Light Refreshments is a local craft brewery that was founded in 2019. The brewery specializes in small-batch, experimental beers that push the boundaries of traditional brewing styles.

What to Expect: Visitors can sample a rotating selection of Travel Light’s beers in the tasting room, which features a cozy, industrial atmosphere. The brewery also offers light snacks and merchandise for sale.

Visitor Information: Travel Light Refreshments Tasting Room is open Wednesday through Friday from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm, Saturday from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Flights and pints are available for purchase, as well as growlers and cans to go.

For families with older kids, a visit to a craft beverage tasting room makes for a memorable outing. Travel Light Refreshments crafts small batch soda pop and fruit sodas influenced by flavors around the world.

During a guided tasting, kids can sample exotic flavors like Thai Coconut Cream Soda, Strawberry Jalapeno Soda and Cheerwine. The tasting room also serves up intriguing mocktail combinations for those not of legal drinking age. Parents can savor a pint from their collection of IPAs, lagers and hard ciders. It’s a sweet Kalamazoo experience.

11.Green Door Distilling

Name and Location: Green Door Distilling is located at 429 E North St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.

History and Significance: Green Door Distilling was founded in 2015 by two friends who shared a passion for craft spirits. The distillery is known for its small-batch, handcrafted whiskeys, gins, and other spirits made with locally sourced ingredients.

What to Expect: Visitors can take a tour of the distillery to learn about the production process and sample some of Green Door’s signature spirits. The distillery also offers cocktail classes and private events.

Visitor Information: Green Door Distilling is open Thursday through Saturday from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Tours are available by appointment only and can be booked online or by phone. The distillery also has a retail shop where visitors can purchase bottles and merchandise to take home.

Green Door Distilling Co. specializes in craft spirits like vodka, gin and bourbon whiskey. Free tours showcase the inner workings of the distillery and end with a guided tasting. Parents can discover new favorite handcrafted liquors and cocktail recipes.

Older kids enjoy sampling non-alcoholic flavored soda waters like Cherry Bourbon, Strawberry Balsamic and Black Walnut. The distillery’s rustic yet chic tasting room often hosts live music and pop-up dining events. It’s a hip spot to experience Kalamazoo’s emerging craft distillery scene.

12.Bronson Park

Name and Location: Bronson Park is located at 200 S Rose St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.

History and Significance: Bronson Park has been a central gathering place in downtown Kalamazoo since the 1800s. The park is named after Titus Bronson, the founder of Kalamazoo, and features a variety of historical monuments and public art installations.

What to Expect: Visitors can stroll through the park’s landscaped gardens, relax on the lawn, or attend one of the many community events held in the park throughout the year, such as concerts, festivals, and holiday celebrations.

Visitor Information: Bronson Park is open daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is free. The park is accessible by foot, bike, or car, with parking available on nearby streets and in public lots. Restrooms and water fountains are available on-site.

Beautiful Bronson Park serves as Kalamazoo’s “town square” within walking distance to top attractions. The lush 20-acre downtown park has manicured lawns, floral gardens and winding pathways perfect for a family stroll. Kids especially love the iconic Pegasus statue squirting water and the interactive sculpture playground.

Seasonal events like summer concerts and holiday light displays make this urban green space popular with local families. When you need a break, kids burn off energy at the playground and splash pad while parents relax at the central fountain and benches. Vibrant Bronson Park reflects the lively community of Kalamazoo.

Conclusion

With vibrant culture, enriching museums and abundant green space, Kalamazoo offers families plenty of things to experience together. From handcrafting blown glass art to navigating aerial adventures, parents and kids create priceless memories. When you need refueling, the city’s famous burgers and craft soda shops deliver tasty fun. With many free and budget-friendly attractions, Kalamazoo makes an accessible, welcoming destination for families.

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