Fact: Things don’t always go as expected when you’re on a road trip.
Mother Nature definitely had other plans for me on a recent day trip to Downtown Kalamazoo when a planned, self-guided, outside tour was for naught because of snow, temperatures gravitating towards zero, and blizzard-like conditions. All that and the snow-covered roads could have derailed me completely, but it was time to adapt. Not being able to be outdoors safely for a long periods of time lends the adventure to a lot more unplanned opportunity and strolling inside.
Coffee & Beer
Arriving in the morning, the perfect early day remedy to warm up and wake up was a hot coffee beverage from the popular, Water Street Coffee Joint. I made the choice of a latte with Water Street’s own homemade hazelnut syrup to enjoy amongst the warmth and coziness of their original location. Besides plenty of coffee, tea, and food options, you will find decorations throughout the space. On the day I was there, there were tons of flowers because it was Valentine’s Day. Their customer service goes above-and-beyond.
Later in the day, I was across the street from the coffee shop experiencing a different kind of brew, beer from the Eccentric Cafe within Bell’s Brewery. You can hang out in the beer garden and enjoy some of the 20+ brews currently in production; I enjoyed a Sparkling Ale. Bell’s was actually the first Michigan brewery of the modern microbrewery resurgence where you could walk in and grab a beer by the glass. They also have a general store where you can buy souvenirs and home brewing supplies, and the brewery offers tours on the weekend.
In between all the different kinds of brew consumption, I got out of the cold stopping in one of the historic foodie spots in town, Coney Island. Celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, they have their own unique version of the Coney Island hot dog that Detroit and the state of Michigan is known for. After ordering, you can watch as they pile on meat filled sauce, onions, and mustard on your hot dog in the open atmosphere. More hot dogs then I could count sat at the window up-front waiting for people to pass by, get intrigued, and stop in.
Nearby is Food Dance, where each dish is made with fresh, local ingredients. Their offerings change with the season. I sat at the bar in the casual setting and enjoyed a freshly made cranberry apple muffin with a double cappuccino made from Water Street Coffee alongside. As well as offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there is a market where you can get meats, oils, pastas, spices, freshly made pies, desserts, and a lot more.
Walking the Downtown
Of course, to get from one place or another I had to be outside. While walking briskly, I grabbed pictures of deserted streets and buildings of interest. Through that process, The Kalamazoo Building and Star Paper Company building stood out. As I captured each photo, I was intrigued to learn more about how the former turns out to be the first skyscraper in town, while the latter is historic and is actually now home to the Old Dog Tavern.
Winter in the Park
I swiftly cut through two parks as well, Arcadia Creek Festival Place and Bronson Park. I couldn’t tell on this day, but Arcadia is a vast outdoor space for concerts and special events. You’ll find playgrounds for kids to play on and people eating outdoors throughout the space in the warmer months. There are great skyline views that can be had at the northeast entrance.
Bronson Park goes back generations with statues throughout and is surrounded by churches, the local library, civic theater, and county courthouse. Abraham Lincoln actually spoke at the park once. The white of winter was fun to capture in both parks regardless of trudging through snow drifts.
This day trip did not go as planned. Despite that, the winter stroll both inside and out in Downtown Kalamazoo led to a lot of discovery, learning of history, and also coming across places I might go to (or return to) next time I’m in town. View more of the downtown scene and some of the food and drink opportunities you can have when going for a wintry stroll around downtown Kalamazoo.
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What are your favorite spots to walk around outside or hang out inside in downtown Kalamazoo?