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Awesome Mitten’s Guide to Kalamazoo Michigan | Things to Do, See, & Experience

Yes, there really IS a Kalamazoo Michigan!

Kalamazoo may be the city’s official, designated name, but everyone in Michigan knows this town as Kzoo. No matter the time of year you plan to visit, you will always find interesting and inviting things to do in Kalamazoo.

With its urban flair and college-town feel, the city offers a vibe that is unlike any other in the state. Offering a heavy dose of youthful vitality and a charming touch of history, Kalamazoo is the kind of place that needs to be experienced by everyone.

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Kalamazoo

Outdoor Things to Do in Kalamazoo Michigan

If you are looking for a way to soak up the fresh air that swarms in off the waters of Lake Michigan, you will be pleased to know that there are many fun-filled outdoor attractions in Kalamazoo. These are some of the best things options.

Bike the Trails in Kalamazoo

K-Zoo is quickly becoming known as one of the best biking cities in Michigan. With half a dozen bike trails within the city’s limits, cyclists are finding endless experiences to enjoy throughout the year.

If you are considering your first ride in Kalamazoo, the best trail to hit is the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. This is a relatively new addition to the city and currently consists of 35 miles of pathway through the county.

This 10-foot-wide, paved trail is a work in progress with more miles to be added in future years. It’s one of the best in the area, particularly for families and those who are beginning to try out the cycling lifestyle.

For a scenic trip, consider a bike ride along the 34-mile Kal-Haven Trail, which will take you over covered bridges and into some of the most picturesque wooded areas that the county has to offer.

Explore the Beautiful Western Michigan University Campus

Western Michigan University has long played a powerful role in the culture and development of Kalamazoo. Many locals and visitors enjoy spending time on the university’s pristine campus, which is known for its splashing fountains and lush green spaces.

Play a Round of Golf

Featuring nearly a dozen courses in the city and throughout Kalamazoo County, Kalamazoo Michigan is affectionately known as a golf town.

Perhaps what is most notable about the golf scene in K-Zoo is that it’s open to anyone. Golf can feel like an exclusive and intimidating sport, but the Kalamazoo courses are welcoming and inviting for players of all skill levels.

Milham Park Golf Club is known as one of the most stunning municipal golf courses in the state and provides challenging and exciting opportunities for golfers.

The Red Arrow Golf Course, on the other hand, is a valuable course ideal for beginners and families who want to enjoy a round together.

Kalamazoo Nature Center
Kalamazoo Nature Center | photo via ditterdoo

Soak Up the Serenity of the Kalamazoo Nature Center

West Michigan has long been known for its stunning natural beauty, and the Kalamazoo Nature Center has perfectly preserved the wilds of this region.

This nature center is home to more than 15 miles of trails and a handful of interactive exhibits, so all ages can connect with the surrounding natural world.

The winding trails pass through some of West Michigan’s most unique habitats, and there are art sculptures and informational exhibits along the way.

Young visitors will find hands-on activities to enjoy at the nature center, and people of all ages can experience how this facility effortlessly combines the beauty of art with the intrigue of nature.

Kalamazoo Farmers Market
Kalamazoo Farmers Market | photo via tinygiantfarm

Spend the Day at a Local Kalamazoo Park

Most people are surprised to find out that, within the city of Kalamazoo, there are more than 30 parks to explore. From large parks with plenty of natural areas to pocket parks with interactive playgrounds, the city is committed to providing outdoor spaces to enjoy.

The oldest park in the city is Bronson Park, which is a small park in the heart of the city’s downtown area. It’s a favorite among local residents who want to enjoy a quick picnic lunch.

Another treasured park in the city is the Fairmount Dog Park, the only park in the city designed with beloved four-legged visitors in mind.

Visit the Kalamazoo Farmers Market

The Kalamazoo Farmers Market opens in the early days of May and closes by the end of November. Shoppers can always count on there being more than 100 vendors on Saturday mornings. And during the peak farming season, the market opens a couple of days during the week as well.

If you love the culture and atmosphere at the local farmers market, check out the Night Market, which occurs about four times each year during the summer and early fall. At the night market, you can enjoy live music and more food vendors, adding some ambiance to your shopping experience.

RELATED: Michigan Farmers Markets That You Must Visit

Air Zoo-Kalamazoo
Air Zoo | photo via mrszablowsellshomes

Indoor Things to Do in Kalamazoo Michigan

Whether you need an escape on a rainy day or you simply want to enjoy the comfort of an indoor environment, you will find that these are some of the top indoor attractions in Kalamazoo Michigan.

Take to the Skies at the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum

Considered one of the best places to spend time with your family in Kalamazoo, the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum is a massive indoor attraction with experiences that appeal to people of all ages.

The museum itself focuses on aviation, flight, space, and science. And, it is most well-known for having more than 100 airplanes and space artifacts on display. Often described as a multi-sensory experience, the museum has a variety of engaging and interactive exhibits for visitors to explore.

In addition, it is home to a handful of amusement park rides and flight motion simulators, giving guests the ability to enjoy the thrill of taking to the skies.

Delight in the Exhibits at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

It doesn’t matter if you are an art history expert with a vast collection of fine art in your home, or if you have never been to an art museum before, you will find the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts to be one of the most incredible places in the city.

This art museum is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, largely because it has so many different types of cultural experiences for guests to enjoy.

Its permanent collections are situated in a way that allows people to ponder the art that they are looking at, and its rotating exhibitions give visitors an opportunity to experience art in brand-new ways.

For a personalized experience, consider booking a museum tour, which can be adjusted based on the age, interest, and size of your group.

Kalamazoo Institute Of Arts
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts | photo via eletha.victoria13

Treat Yourself to a Spa-Like Experience at the Oasis Hot Tub Gardens

The Oasis Hot Tub Gardens are one of the most unique indoor attractions in the area. Adults who are searching for a way to discover peace, privacy, and solace in the heart of Kalamazoo Michigan will love this location, which features a collection of indoor and outdoor hot tub gardens.

Reservations are highly recommended, and visitors can select between a variety of garden types. There are lodge-like settings, Japanese-influenced gardens, Egyptian-themed gardens, and even an outdoor tub designed to feel as if you are in the heart of Isle Royale in the Upper Peninsula.

Each garden offers access to a private dressing room and shower, allowing you to take a break from it all in a safe and comfortable setting.

Watch a Live Show at the Kalamazoo State Theatre

There is something exciting about seeing a performance at a historic theater, but there’s nothing quite like the Kalamazoo State Theatre anywhere else in Michigan.

Built in 1927, this theater has long been a mainstay in the Kalamazoo community. For a time, it was closed but ultimately renovated. Now, it maintains the historic charm that it has always been known for.

Whether you are seeing a concert or a theater performance, you will be captivated by the setting that surrounds you. The ornate decor and design create the impression that you are sitting under the stars amid historic buildings, and the experience will simply take your breath away.

Kalamazoo State Theatre
Kalamazoo State Theatre | photo via chocolatecrepes

Explore the Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Self-described as an interactive museum in which visitors can discover the stories of others while seeing their own experiences within the exhibits, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum is a true gem in the local community.

The museum was established as a small collection in 1881 and has grown to become one of the most comprehensive museums in the area. From exhibits designed specifically for children to an outdoor rainwater garden, this museum has a little bit of everything.

It features both permanent and rotating exhibits, as well as a collection of virtual material, allowing people to experience and enjoy the museum in a way that is best for them.

RELATED: Best Museums In Michigan

More Attractions Near Kalamazoo Michigan

Within an hour of Kalamazoo, you will find other local attractions that are worth a visit. Here are two favorites.

Visit the Binder Park Zoo Near Battle Creek

If you hope to spend a day at the zoo, you don’t have to stray far from Kalamazoo. The Binder Park Zoo is an intimate local zoo about a 30-minute drive from the heart of Kalamazoo, just outside of Battle Creek.

This seasonal attraction is typically open during the summer and is home to nearly 50 animal species. Visitors spend hours going from exhibit to exhibit, watching the snow leopard, wallaroo, Mexican gray wolf, and more enjoy their environments.

Additional attractions at the zoo include the SkyLark Ridge ropes course and the Zoorasic Park fossil-digging station.

Spend a Day in Holland Michigan

Those who are hoping to see the shoreline of Lake Michigan can drive about an hour from Kalamazoo to Holland Michigan. This quaint town is known for its Dutch heritage, and you will see touches of Dutch culture wherever you go.

From Windmill Island Gardens to Nelis’ Dutch Village theme park, there are many places where you can experience the authentic beauty of the Dutch culture. Additionally, you can spend the day climbing the dunes or shopping in the city’s historic downtown area.

Crow's Nest-Kalamazoo
Crow’s Nest | photo via instabodhi_

Local Restaurants in Kalamazoo Michigan

Kalamazoo has long been known for its commitment to local flavor. These are the best Kalamazoo restaurants to check out.

Casual Restaurants in Kalamazoo

Throughout Kalamazoo Michigan, you will find a selection of casual, family-friendly restaurants that offer extensive menus and affordable meals.

Zooroona Mediterranean Grill

Zooroona Mediterranean Grill is a local restaurant that has been serving customers in Kalamazoo for more than 10 years.

Known as one of the best spots for Arabic cuisine in the city, this restaurant is known for not only its delicious food but also its inviting dining space, which has glittering lights draped overhead.

Crow’s Nest

Another local eatery to try is Crow’s Nest, which is known for its second-story setting and savory breakfast and lunch menus.

Rustica-Kalamazoo
Rustica | photo via chubby.hubby.cooks

Kalamazoo Fine Dining Experiences

For a touch of luxury in Kalamazoo, consider dining at one of the locally-owned fine dining establishments in the city.

Rustica

Rustica offers an immersive, European dining experience, and is known for its commitment to using locally-sourced ingredients.

Principle Food & Drink

With its exposed brick walls and ship-lapped accents, Principle Food & Drink provides a warm and inviting atmosphere where you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind meal in Kalamazoo. From special occasions to memorable moments, there’s always a good reason to opt for fine dining in this city.

Factory Coffee-Kalamazoo
Factory Coffee | photo via yuuuuta.0420

Ice Cream & Coffee Shops in Kalamazoo

You can always find a good excuse to stop for a sweet treat when you are exploring Kalamazoo.

Frosty Boy Kalamazoo

During the summer, Frosty Boy Kalamazoo is the local ice cream spot to go to for your favorite frozen concoction. For decades, it has been serving scoops of favorite flavors in its iconic, parlor-style space.

Factory Coffee

If you need a caffeinated pick-me-up, head to Factory Coffee in Kalamazoo, which is known for its fresh-roasted coffee beans and pour-over bar.

Bell's Brewery
Bell’s Brewery | photo via jamiejae12

Breweries in Kalamazoo

Many people claim that the entire craft beer scene in Michigan started in Kalamazoo, and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. The city has long been known as the beer capital of the state, and as a result, there are many different breweries to tour.

However, the most famous Kalamazoo brewery is Bell’s Brewery. It produces some of Michigan’s most well-known craft beers, including summertime favorite Oberon and year-round staple Two Hearted.

Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo is the original location of the brewery, and it serves more than 20 Bell’s beers on any given day. To pay homage to this Michigan treasure, consider visiting during your next trip to Kalamazoo.

Henderson Castle-Kalamazoo
Henderson Castle | photo via ty_crosthwaite

Hotels in Kalamazoo Michigan & Other Lodging

There are so many places to stay in Kalamazoo Michigan, it can be difficult to decide where you should call home for your next visit to the city.

Henderson Castle

For a hotel-like experience, you might consider staying in the city’s infamous castle. Henderson Castle is a bed and breakfast in Kalamazoo that offers a regal yet relaxed experience.

Each room is decorated in its own style, allowing you to select the atmosphere that you crave. No matter which room you stay in, you can enjoy the new swimming spa on the castle’s property.

RELATED: Castles in Michigan to Visit

Everyman’s House

If you’d rather have a bit more space and privacy, consider booking one of the many vacation rentals in Kalamazoo Michigan.

Everyman’s House in the Westnedge Hill neighborhood is a favorite among travelers, largely because it allows them to enjoy a historic home with modern amenities during their time in the city.

Markin Glen Park Campsites

Campers who want to spend time in the city will be pleased to know that they can book one of the 38 campsites at Markin Glen Park. This campground features a swimming beach, fishing lake, mountain bike trail, playground, and more, making it an amazing, family-friendly destination.

Everything You Need to Know About Kalamazoo Michigan

Home to just more than 73,000 people, Kalamazoo perfectly mixes the welcoming nature of a small town with the progressive promise of an urban community. Situated in the southwest corner of Michigan, it is a convenient and accessible destination.

Kalamazoo Michigan is most famous for being the home of Western Michigan University, earning it a reputation as a college town. But, it is known for its commitment to cultural appreciation and industrial development too.

Kalamazoo History

Kalamazoo was founded as a city in 1831, but the history of this community dates back thousands of years.

Native Inhabitants

This region was long known as the land of the Council of the Three Fires, which included the Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Odawa Tribes. These native tribes occupied the region for centuries until European settlers began taking the land in the early 19th century.

European Settlements

Originally, a settler named Titus Bronson established the community as the Village of Bronson. The village grew quickly and was eventually named the county seat.

By 1836, a series of dramatic events between Bronson and the enemies he had made resulted in the community changing its name to Kalamazoo.

Growth & Success

Over the 19th century, Kalamazoo Michigan continued to grow and prosper. During the 20th century, it truly came into its own. Kalamazoo became the home of several colleges and universities, and its economy was diverse and vibrant.

Today, Kalamazoo is still considered a place full of potential, which is why it attracts so many new residents and visitors each year.

Kalamazoo Weather

Located in the southwest corner of Michigan, Kalamazoo is susceptible to the powerful weather that comes off of Lake Michigan. The spring season can be wet and windy, but the beautiful blooms that arrive make this one of the best Michigan places to visit in spring.

During the summer, you will enjoy ample sunshine, warm temperatures, and comfortable weather conditions. The fall is particularly spectacular, largely because the weather stays favorable for most of September and October. Plus, the colorful leaves make for amazing fall scenic drives.

Winter typically spans from late November until mid-March and is often defined by lake-effect snowfall. If you are searching for a winter wonderland destination in Michigan, then Kalamazoo is a great place to check out.

Red Arrow Golf Course-Kalamazoo
Red Arrow Golf Course | photo via dunncory

FAQs About Kalamazoo Michigan

What is Kalamazoo Michigan best known for?

Kalamazoo is best known for being the home of Western Michigan University and the Kalamazoo Promise.

What is the Kalamazoo Promise?

The Kalamazoo Promise is a full-ride tuition scholarship for all Kalamazoo Public Schools students who meet specific requirements at the time of graduation.

This scholarship will cover 100% of tuition costs and mandatory fees for any Michigan public university or public community college.

The Kalamazoo Promise has been available for 17 years and has long appealed to new residents who want to raise their families in a community committed to education.

When is the best time of year to visit Kalamazoo Michigan?

There is always something to experience and enjoy in Kalamazoo Michigan, no matter the time of year. However, the warm summer months are often considered the peak travel season.

Is Kalamazoo Michigan a family-friendly destination?

Yes, Kalamazoo Michigan has many enjoyable attractions for families of all sizes and ages. Some of the top attractions are the Air Zoo, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, and the Kalamazoo Nature Center.

Find More Things to Do in Kalamazoo Michigan

Kalamazoo is quickly becoming an up-and-coming destination in Michigan. The vast amount of things to do in Kalamazoo for people of all ages is appealing to travelers from across the state and the country.

People love that they can build a custom itinerary and experience all that this city has to offer in a way that is appealing to them. Begin planning your visit to Kalamazoo Michigan today, and explore even more of what the city has to offer.

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