Kalamazoo, Michigan is an eclectic college town and home to Western Michigan University.

The town features a hip and progressive downtown with many options for high-quality dining, interesting shops, art galleries, and entertainment. The town isn’t far from outdoor recreation, lakes, and beautiful scenery, while the Kalamazoo Nature Center, Markin Glen County Park, and the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail are a few of the options for enjoying the outdoors near the town.

1. Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Kalamazoo Valley Museum
© Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Kalamazoo Valley Museum is an interactive and family-friendly museum that is focused on history, technology, and science. This free museum is run by the Kalamazoo Valley Community College and features more than 50,000 artifacts, including The Mystery of the Mummy exhibit, complete with a 2,300-year-old ancient Egyptian mummy and other artifacts from ancient Egypt. Additionally, there are exhibits related to local history and industry as well as several branches of science. In addition to exhibits, the museum features a 109-seat planetarium that shows a wide range of presentations with state of the art audio and video equipment to give visitors a fully immersive experience of the stars and planets.

230 N Rose St, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007, Phone: 269-373-7990

2. Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
© Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is a non-profit art museum and school in Kalamazoo’s downtown that hosts around a dozen temporary exhibit installations each year. They are quite involved with local schools and the community and each year the exhibits include recurring shows from high schools, young artists, and other locals. Other exhibits are made up of pieces borrowed from other museums, galleries, and private collections. In addition to the temporary exhibits, the museum has more than 4,600 pieces in its permanent collection. The primary emphasis of the collection is on art from the United States and the collection showcases such artists as Ansel Adams, Mary Cassatt, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, and many others.

314 S Park St, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007, Phone: 269-349-7775

3. Kalamazoo Nature Center

Kalamazoo Nature Center
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Kalamazoo Nature Center is a nature preserve that includes 1,100 acres of rolling hills and woods to the north of Kalamazoo. The primary attraction of the nature center are the miles and miles of hiking and walking trails as well as the 13 different trails offering 10 miles of hiking and walking paths through the center’s ponds, prairies, forests, and other wildlife habitats. You can find one that is perfect for any ability level. For instance, the trail named Habitat Haven is a 0.6-mile handicap-accessible trail that is rated easy and features a variety of habitat overlooks. On the other end of the spectrum are the difficult-rated Fern Valley Trail and the 2.7-mile Bluebird Trail, which is the park’s longest trail and is rated as moderate.

7000 N. Westnedge Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49009, Phone: 269-381-1574

4. Kalamazoo Farmers' Market

Kalamazoo Farmers' Market
© Kalamazoo Farmers' Market

The Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market is a market selling locally grown produce and handicrafts. The market mainly operates in the summer months, starting from the first Saturday in May until November. It features more than 100 businesses weekly and hosts a night market with farmers, local artisans, and food trucks. In addition to the summer markets, they offer several winter markets in various locations around town. Shopping at the Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market is a great way to experience the local culture and support local farmers, artisans, and other creatives. Each of the markets offer unique opportunities for shoppers to get to know the person who created or grew the products they are selling.

251 Mills St, Kalamazoo, MI 49048, Phone: 269-342-5686

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5. Markin Glen Park

Markin Glen Park
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Originally a private estate belonging to Morris Markin, who founded the Checker Motors Corporation, Markin Glen Park is now a treasured recreational park located just a short distance from downtown Kalamazoo. The park offers a variety of facilities including hiking trails, a mountain bike trail, a paved multi-use trail, fishing and swimming lakes and a swimming beach. In addition you will find tennis courts, volley ball and soft ball courts and picnic shelters which can be reserved. The park also has a great serviced campground where you can park your RV and settle in to enjoy all the facilities. A hike up to the highest point in the park will reward you with wonderful views of downtown Kalamazoo.

Markin Glen Park, 5300 N. Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49004, 269 381 7570

6. The Henderson Castle (Inn)

The Henderson Castle (Inn)
© The Henderson Castle (Inn)

The Henderson Castle is one of Kalamazoo’s most popular and most impressive inns. The hotel is located in the historic West Main Hill neighborhood and occupies an 1895 Queen Ann-style castle. The impressive castle was formerly the residence of Frank Henderson, one of Kalamazoo’s most successful early businessmen. While the historic home has plenty of old-fashioned charm, the home has many modern amenities as well, such as WI-FI, heated marble floors, a sauna, steam room, hot tub, and much more. In addition to offering a fantastic option for overnight stays, the inn has an organic garden, vineyard, day spa, and restaurant that are open to the general public.

100 Monroe Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49006, Phone: 269-344-1827

7. Farmers Alley Theatre

Farmers Alley Theatre
© Farmers Alley Theatre

The Farmers Alley Theatre is home to a non-profit community theater group that performs classic plays as well as new and upcoming acts, cabaret shows, and kids’ programs. The theater offers an intimate, family-friendly, and community-focused environment to enjoy each performance. The seating area is small, which means no matter where you are sitting you will have a close-up view of the show. They offer drinks for purchase and sometimes offer light snacks. Each year the theater hosts a holiday show which includes hot chocolate, coffee, and holiday desserts as a part of the admission. Season tickets are available for guests who wish to see several shows during the annual season.

221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, Phone: 269-343-2727

8. Markin Glen County Park

Markin Glen County Park
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The Markin Glen County Park occupies the former site of a private estate that has been developed into public recreational land. The park features hiking trails, sports fields, and a lake with swim access and a beach. Fishing is allowed on the lake as well. The park has several playgrounds for children as well as a paved, multi-use trail. One of the highest points along the trails offers scenic views of downtown Kalamazoo. For overnight guests, the park has a campground with 38 campsites, each of which has a fire ring and a picnic table. The campsites are modern, with electric, sewer, and water hookups, a dump station, and modern restrooms with showers.

5300 N. Westnedge Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49004, Phone: 269-381-7570

9. Verhages Fruit Farm & Cider Mill

Verhages Fruit Farm & Cider Mill
© Verhages Fruit Farm & Cider Mill

Verhages Fruit Farm & Cider Mill is a working farm and family-friendly attraction that offers a variety of experiences for guests. The farm’s attractions are mostly open in the fall and each week they host a variety of tours, each hour during the day. The tours take from 30 to 60 minutes and include a walk through the animal barn, a hayride, picking apples, and a cider making demonstration. The cider mill, donut shop, and country store offer a large variety of treats to enjoy at the farm as well as merchandise to take home. The farm and cider mill are very handicap accessible, including the hayrides.

8619 W. MI Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49009, Phone: 269-375-0153

10. Confections with Convictions

Confections with Convictions
© Confections with Convictions

Confections with Convictions is a gourmet chocolate and candy shop specializing in hand-crafted truffles that are made with organic, fair trade chocolate from recipes created by chocolatier Dale Anderson. In addition to the shop’s own hand-crafted chocolates, they sell a selection of gourmet, organic, and fair-trade chocolates from various places all over the world. The store was opened to give troubled youth a chance to work towards something productive. The name of the store comes from the fact that the business employs and supports young people in the court system towards a more productive future and only uses the most wholesome ingredients in their sustainable production process.

116 W. Crosstown Pkwy #101, Kalamazoo, MI 49001, Phone: 269-381-9700

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11. Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum

Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum
© Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum

You can bring the whole family to experience a unique day out at the Air Zoo Museum, where educational fun is the order of the day. The museum is located about half-way between Detroit and Chicago, where it offers almost limitless opportunities to learn about science and aeronautics and have loads of hands-on fun. Just a few of the amazing attractions include their full-motion flight simulators, indoor fun rides and hands-on exhibits which enable visitor to learn about many aspects of science. The museum is also chock-full of fascinating aircraft and space exhibits including a whole room dedicated to the Apollo 11 moon landing. When you need a break from all the excitement you can visit the Kitty Hawk Café for refreshments.

Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum, 6151 Portage Road, Portage, MI 49002, 269 382 6555

12. Lawton Ridge Winery

Lawton Ridge Winery
© Lawton Ridge Winery

The Lawton Ridge Winery has been growing grapes since 1974 and opened their production facility in 2008. The wine produced at Lawton Ridge is made from grapes that are grown in their own vineyard or other local vineyards. The award-winning winery creates a selection of wines that are designed to pair well with food, with everything from classy, dry red wines to sweet dessert wines. The winery’s Kalamazoo Tasting Room offers visitors a chance to taste up to six wines for a small fee. With advance reservation, they can accommodate groups of up to 30 people for private events.

8456 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009, Phone: 269-372-9463

13. Kalamazoo River Valley Trail

Kalamazoo River Valley Trail
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The Kalamazoo River Valley Trail is a 22-mile non-motorized, multi-use trail and there are plans to extend the trail to a final length of 35 miles. The trail is 10 feet wide and offers access for bikers, walkers, joggers, and other non-motorized uses. The trail is designed as part of a larger network that connects more than 140 miles of trail, offering nearly endless opportunities for fun, exercise, and more. The trail passes through downtown Kalamazoo, which gives visitors plenty of chances to visit downtown shops, cafes, and restaurants. The route is a popular place for families to take a walk together or for fitness-minded visitors to get in a good cardio workout.

14. West Michigan Beer Tours

West Michigan Beer Tours
© West Michigan Beer Tours

West Michigan has a diverse selection of high-quality breweries and West Michigan Beer Tours offers beer lovers a chance to experience breweries in a special way. They offer both public and private tours that visit several large and small breweries and tour-goers have the opportunity to meet the owners, managers, and employees of the breweries. Some breweries even offer the opportunity for guests to take part in the brewing process. The tours can be by bus, by bike, or on foot, depending on the specific tour that is chosen. Private tour options can be customized for a group’s specific needs and wants, with groups choosing the stops, length, and experiences that they would like to include in their tour.

210 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, Phone: 269-350-4598

15. The New Vic Theatre

The New Vic Theatre
© The New Vic Theatre

The New Vic Theatre is a landmark institution in Kalamazoo. It was founded in 1966 by local residents and has a unique place in the local theater scene. The theater is especially well known for their annual Christmas performances and concerts. The venue features cozy, cabaret-style seating in an intimate space, while the concession serves several hot and cold beverages, although no alcohol. They have performed more than 325 productions in their history, many of which had their debut in Kalamazoo. The theater is only open weekends, except for special events, and only sells 100 tickets for each performance. Therefore, guests are advised to book tickets in advance of their visit.

134 East Vine Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49001, Phone: 269-381-3328

16. Al Sabo Preserve

Al Sabo Preserve
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Al Sabo Preserve is a 741-acre nature preserve that boasts several hiking trails as well as two boardwalks. Trails feature such names as Moab, Atwater, Lookout, and Mandala Two. Mountain biking is a popular activity in the park and the nature preserve has 7 miles of cycling trails. Both the hiking and mountain biking trails offer scenic overlooks and panoramic views of the nature preserve and the west branch of Portage Creek which flows through the Al Sabo Preserve and meets up with the Kalamazoo River. Wildlife abounds and includes species such as muskrats, deer, coyotes, turtles, and fish. Bird enthusiasts will also delight in the more than 150 species of birds that call the nature preserve home.

6310 Texas Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

17. Kalamazoo State Theatre

Kalamazoo State Theatre
© Kalamazoo State Theatre

Kalamazoo State Theater is a grand theater and performance venue that has been a Kalamazoo landmark since it opened in 1927. Although the historic theater, part of the League of Historic American Theatres, has been renovated, it still retains much of its original charm. The venue hosts top touring bands, events, and other performances. The state theatre offers full-service concessions during and before each of their shows and offerings include draft and bottled beer as well as liquor, water, and soft drinks. They also have popcorn and premium candy and there are a number of restaurants located nearby for guests who are looking for a more substantial meal.

404 S. Burdick Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, Phone: 269-345-6500

18. Miller Auditorium

Miller Auditorium
© Miller Auditorium

The James W. Miller Auditorium is a performance venue that is located on the campus of Western Michigan University. The auditorium is the fifth largest in the state of Michigan and can seat almost 3,500 guests. There are three seating sections, the Orchestra Level, the Balcony Level, and the Grand Tier. The auditorium hosts a variety of performance types including movie showings, comedians, and speakers and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra plays several shows a year in the auditorium as well. The venue generally hosts Broadway shows each year and several well-known acts have performed here, such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Dave Chappelle. The auditorium is also the venue for Western Michigan University’s graduation ceremony.

2200 Auditorium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49006, Phone: 269-387-2300

19. Kalamazoo Growlers Baseball

Kalamazoo Growlers Baseball
© Kalamazoo Growlers Baseball

The Kalamazoo Growlers is a baseball team based in Kalamazoo. The team competes in the Northwoods League and plays their home games at the Homer Stryker Field. Their mascot is a black bear named Porter who wears a Growlers jersey with the number 64 on it. The team’s name brings to mind the plethora of microbreweries in and around Kalamazoo. The Homer Stryker Field boasts a seating area known as the Miller Lite Party Zone, which has picnic seating, buffet food, and free-flow soda and water. They also have an indoor/outdoor suite known as the Bell’s Bear Cave as well as the Home Plate Club, which has individual tables served by wait staff for premium game-viewing experiences. Concessions at the ball park include classic ballpark food and specialty barbecue.

251 Mills Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49048, Phone: 269-492-9966

20. Airway Fun Center

Airway Fun Center
© Airway Fun Center

At Airway Fun Center you and your whole family can have hours of fun. Since many of the fun activities are located indoors you can enjoy the center all year round regardless of the weather. A few of the most popular indoor activities include bowling, the Balladium (foam ball shooting), the Laser Maze, Laser Tag, Escape Room, Go-Karts and the Ropes Course. Outdoor activities include a Climbing Wall, Mini-Golf and an outdoor Ropes Course. The center also boasts a great Tap Room where adults can enjoy their favorite craft beers while the kids enjoy all the activities. Airway Fun Center is the ideal venue for your next children’s or teen’s party.

Airway Fun Center, 5626 Portage Road, Kalamazoo, MI 49002, 269 327 7061

21. Lawson Ice Arena (Western Michigan University)

Lawson Ice Arena (Western Michigan University)
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The Harry W. Ice Arena is a 3,667-seat multi-purpose arena with an attached natatorium. The arena is located on the campus of Western Michigan University and is home to the Western Michigan Broncos men’s hockey team as well as the university’s synchronized skating team. The attached natatorium houses an Olympic-sized swimming pool and is home to the university’s diving and swimming teams. Besides hosting sporting events, the Lawson Ice Arena also hosts many other events and past events have included professional boxing matches, concerts, and ice shows. The ice arena and natatorium offer open-skate and open-swim hours for the community.

2009 Howard Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49006, Phone: 269-387-3050

22. Milham Park Golf Course

Milham Park Golf Course
© Milham Park Golf Course

Milham Park Golf Course is a challenging 18-hole golf course. The par 72 course is located on 130 acres located nearby Milham Park. The long-standing course was created in 1933 and was expanded from 9 to 18 holes in 1936. The park is considered one of the best city golf courses in Michigan and is consistently well maintained. The park has tee times available daily, including weekends and holidays. The course frequently hosts golf tournaments and competitions and facilities at the course include a large, well-stocked pro shop, a snack bar selling a variety of concessions, power golf carts, and practice areas.

4200 Lovers Lane, Kalamazoo, MI 49001, Phone: 269-344-7211

23. West Michigan Glass Art Center

West Michigan Glass Art Center
© West Michigan Glass Art Center

West Michigan Glass Art Center, also known as Glass Art Kalamazoo, is a local non-profit organization dedicated to providing the community with glass art experiences and classes. The center allows guests to have a hands-on experience with glass making and glass art and they offer a variety of glass making classes in the Lampworking Studio, the Kiln Fusing Shop, and the Hot Shop. Classes range from one session to multiple sessions, depending on the subject. Some past classes include Make a Beer Mug, Learning to Blow Glass, bead making, glass lamp making, and many others. In addition, the center actively supports local children who have been diagnosed with cancer by donating glass beads to make their journey a bit more beautiful.

326 W. Kalamazoo Avenue #100, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, Phone: 269-552-9802

24. Ballet Arts Ensemble

Ballet Arts Ensemble
© Ballet Arts Ensemble

The Ballet Arts School of Dance is a dance school that teaches classical ballet through enjoyable, kid-friendly classes. The school is the home of the Ballet Arts Ensemble, which is a non-profit dance performance group composed of 14 to 20 teenage dancers. The dancers are required to take two ballet classes a week as well as participate in a 4-hour rehearsal class each week. The ensemble offers performances a few times a year that are open to the public and past performances have included Hansel & Great and the Nutcracker. Performances are hosted at a variety of venues around the city.

2018 Rambling Road, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, Phone: 269-345-3433

25. Ballet Kalamazoo

Ballet Kalamazoo
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Ballet Kalamazoo is a dance school that teaches ballet based on the National Training Curriculum of the American Ballet Theater. The studio teaches high-level ballet while maintaining a friendly, welcoming environment for dancers and their families. The school offers classes for students ranging from age 3 up to age 17. The school strives to promote traditional ballet but integrates current dance trends as well and they also focus on teaching the students valuable character skills and teamwork. They are also committed to maintaining a family-friendly environment through age-appropriate performances, costumes, and musical numbers. They perform several performances each season at various venues around town.

169 Portage Street, Studio 1, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, Phone: 269-267-6681

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Attraction Spotlight: Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is both a school and a non-profit art museum. Since the year 1924, the Kalamazoo Institute has provided a permanent art collection for visitors to explore, art activities, art exhibitions, events, art lectures, and art classes. The Institute believes that art is for everyone, and that art inspires, transforms, and fulfills people. The mission of the Kalamazoo Institute is the cultivation of the appreciation and creation of visual arts in western Michigan.

The exhibitions displayed at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts feature works derived from the collection of the museum. These exhibition are always available for visitors to view within the galleries of the Institute’s lower level. The museum’s collection was developed originally to complement the art school of the Kalamazoo Institute, and focuses on American ceramics, American sculpture, American painting, European and American works on paper, photography, from the sixteenth century and beyond.

The main strength of the collection at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is American works of art. Much of the primary focus of this American art collection is works from the twentieth century, and is composed of over 4,600 original works of art. The collection of American art at the Institute includes pieces by Andy Warhol, Franz Kline, Helen Frankenthaler, Janet Fish, Richard Diebenkorn, Dale Chihuly, William Merritt Chase, and Alexander Calder. There are also works in the permanent collection by Mary Cassatt, Ansel Adams, Tim Lowly, Andrew Wyeth, Luis Jimenez, James Abbott Whistler, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Cindy Sherman, Ed Paschke, Lorna Simpson, Edward Hopper, Chuck Close, and Norman Rockwell.

The permanent art collection also features American artwork from the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century, as well as European works of art from the twentieth century. The collection has grown during recent years to include works of art from eastern Asia, such as artwork from Japan and China, along with ceramics and gold works from the Pre-Columbian era. Visitors can also find Oceanic objects and African works of art included within the permanent art collection at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts was founded by the Kalamazoo Chapter of the American Federation of the Arts in the year 1924. The Institute was established "to further the development of interest and education in and of regard and appreciation for the various arts." The current facility that houses the Kalamazoo Institute opened to the public in September of 1961.

The current building of the Institute was designed Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, a firm in Chicago, Illinois. The facility encompasses forty-five thousand square feet, and is based on the Mies van der Rohe International architecture style. Inside the facility are office spaces, a sculpture garden, several areas for various exhibits, an auditorium, a library, and studio classrooms.

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts underwent a large renovation and expansion in 1997. This project expanded the Institute to seventy-two thousand square feet, and also added an interactive gallery designed for children, a gallery shop, a two-story lobby, and more. The colorful Kalamazoo Ruby Light Chandelier, created by artist Dale Chihuly, became one of the lobby’s permanent fixtures.

435 West South Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, Phone: 269-349-7775

Attraction Spotlight: Kalamazoo Valley Museum

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum, situated in the downtown area of Kalamazoo, provides plenty of free fun for families, both those that live in the community and visitors to the area. The museum features many different awe-inspiring, interactive, and constantly changing exhibits for visitors of all ages to enjoy. In addition to exhibits, the museum also hosts musical performances, lectures, hands-on crafts, and planetarium shows.

The collection of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum dates back to a gift of rocks, shells, and corals in the year 1881 from Horace Peck, who was a banker in the community, to the Kalamazoo School Board. The collection has now grown to include more than fifty-five thousand items. The focus of the collection is on historical documents, photographs, and artifacts that share the stories of the events, organizations, businesses, and people that have impacted the Kalamazoo region of Michigan throughout its history.

Visitors to the Kalamazoo Valley Museum will be immersed into the sounds and sights of the past, experiment with different types of science to see what happens, explore curiosities of the weather, learn about the human body, and much more. Guests can discover the different stories behind the museum collection’s numerous artifacts, finding treasures that reveal new ways of thinking about history or bring back memories. Along with the many hands-on exhibits throughout the museum, there is also a full schedule of a variety of changing special exhibitions that keep visitors coming back.

The heart of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, or of any museum, is its artifact collection. The collection at this museum consists of approximately fifty-five thousand artifacts, and forms the basis for a large amount of what visitors can experience and see at the museum. Visitors can explore the museum’s collection in the Time Pieces exhibit. A three-story display welcomes guests when they walk into the building. The shadow box wall full of artifacts displays some of the museum’s most beloved artifact, as well as other objects that are representative of the museum’s collecting history. Visitors can look at Time Pieces from each of the three floors, and can find out more about the story behind each of these items from the touch screen kiosks in the exhibit.

The Innovation Gallery at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum is one of its newer exhibits and focuses on of four different topics: Land, Music, Body, and Mobility. The interactive exhibit space features technology-rich, one-on-one exploration. The Mobility section offers visitors a chance to construct a race car, then test their designs against friends and other guests on the exhibit’s track. There is also an interactive display showing how the shapes of boats, planes, and cars affect their speed.

The Land area of the Innovation Gallery features a display that shows how glaciers created the Great Lakes, as well as an augmented reality sandbox that lets children create their own topography. The Music section lets visitors explore their inner musician in the rhythm machine room, offering the chance for guests to compose their own masterpiece with different instruments.

230 North Rose Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, Phone: 269-373-7990