If you are from Kalamazoo, you know what a wonderful and exciting time of year we are moving into. If you are not familiar with the area, I would highly recommend making a visit during the warm summer months to come. Not only are there dozens of parks and trails to explore by day, but culture and night life come alive when the temperature heats up.
The Kalamazoo Art Hop takes place the first Friday of every month. Local businesses keep their doors open well past traditional closing time and allow local artists to set up shop in their stores and display some of their artwork. Some stores, such as Retro, offer free wine or appetizers. Visitors can have a small glass of white or red and chat with fellow art hoppers while exploring store merchandise and checking out beautiful paintings, photographs, and sculptures. The heart of the Art Hop is definitely the Kalamazoo Mall, a charming street in downtown, but if you decide to partake in the festivities you should also make an effort to stop into the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts or the West Michigan Glass Art Center, both are not far off the beaten path.
The Arcadia Festival Place is another happening location during the summer in Kalamazoo. The large, multipurpose area serves as venue for dozens of festivals; Irish Fest, Greek Fest, Island Fest, Blues Fest, and Rib Fest, to name a few. It is also the center of the local Heart Walk (April, 2013), Kalamazoo Pride (June 2013), as well as the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event (October, 2013). During the day you are able to enjoy the park and playground or have lunch on a bench by the river.
The Kalamazoo State Theatre has also been known to draw a large crowd. Many talented artists, musicians and comedians have embraced the stage to entertain local Michigan audiences. Willie Nelson and Family, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and The Moth are all on the docket for this summer. Umphrey’s McGee, The Red Sea Pedestrians, Grace Potter, Ani DiFranco, and Aziz Ansari have all made appearances in the past.
Furthermore, check out the Family Bike Festival this weekend! Cruise down to the Historic Stuart neighborhood to complete an obstacle course, go on a 2.5 mile family ride and get your face painted. Also, head out to the Gilmore Car Museum’s Historic Campus to check out one of the finest automobile collections in the country (open April 1- November 20, 2013), you will find over 150 cars displayed across a 90-acre historic park.
For additional events, check out the action-packed Kalamazoo Event Calendar. Also, come back and visit us at the Awesome Mitten, because I will be providing a more detailed breakdown of some of these fun happenings in months to come!
–Lindsey Hinkel, Contributing Writer