Kalamazoo not only has an interesting name, but also some interesting facts as it was a stop for the Underground Railroad and they have the only winery in the state that produces wines with no preservatives added. But it also offers so much more than a memorable name and some tidbit information. It has a vibrant and progressive downtown that sets the stage for quality dining, eclectic shops and galleries, and live entertainment. Not to mention, historical places and lots of outdoor activities.
10. Kalamazoo Farmers Market
A great place to visit in Kalamazoo is the farmers market that is filled with the freshest foods and products. The 40+ vendors include Augusta Creek Farms to buy fleece and felted items such as hats, scarves, and slippers; Bear Foot Farms who sell meat that is free of antibiotics, MSG, nitrites, and hormones along with pesticide and herbicide free fruits and vegetables; and Java Jones Handcrafted Coffee. They also have the Farmers Night Market on Thursdays that feature 40 vendors, whiffle ball, lawn games, and live music. This is the perfect opportunity to get some shopping done and experience the downtown area.
9. Milham Park
In 1910 the City of Kalamazoo purchased a 60-acre parcel of land from John Milham estate for $5,000. It was developed as a public park and opened to the public in 1911. The first day more than 5,000 people visited the park, and its popularity has continued ever since. Today this beautiful area is a historic 49 acre park that has the Portage Creek running through it with hundreds of mature shade trees, drinking fountains, grills, playgrounds, and a large picnic shelter with electricity and a seating capacity of 144 people, 10 of which are handicapped accessible. For nearly a century, Milham Park has remained very popular during fair weather for hikes, leisurely strolls, family and class reunions, and a thoroughly pleasant recreation spot.
8. State Theater
The State Theatre opened on the corner of S. Burdick and Lovell Streets in 1927. Many acts that frequented the State Theatre included opera, dramas, big bands, ballet, dance reviews, stage shows and silent movies. Today it functions as a live performance venue showcasing concerts from top touring bands like Greensky Bluegrass and BB King, events such as Australia’s Thunder from Down Under and the Nutcracker Ballet, and performances from Jeff Daniels, and Brian Regan. It is a grand theater that has survived to attract a wide variety of performers. It is one of the few remaining atmospheric movie palaces in the United States.
7. Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is a non-profit art museum and school that was originally opened in 1924 and moved to its current facility in 1961. Today, it has ten galleries that showcase outstanding temporary exhibitions and portions of the significant permanent collection. The permanent collection has 4,650 pieces including American painting, sculpture and ceramics; American and European work on paper; and photography. Recently, the permanent collection has expanded to include Oceanic, Pre-Columbian, African, and East Asian art. It also supports special events throughout the year including the West Michigan Area Show, the Art Fair, and the Do-Dah Parade.
6. June Jubilee
This jubilee is held on one weekend at the beginning of June and includes Art on the Mall, Dionysos Greek Festival, The Do-Dah Parade, Summer Reading Games Kick-off Party, Kalamazoo Institute of Art Festival, and much more. The Art on the Mall is a two-day show featuring more than 75 local and regional artists who sell their original art and fine crafts on the downtown walking mall. The Dionysos Greek Festival is a three day event where musicians, singers, and dancers come via Greece and share the authentic Greek experience. The Do-Dah parade is an un-structured, silly, fun, and unusual entertainment for kids and adults of all ages. There are so many things to do in Kalamazoo during the first weekend of June, that it will be hard to decide. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy it.
5. Air Zoo
The Air Zoo is an aviation museum and indoor amusement park that was founded in 1977. Today, there are over 50 historical aircraft along with RealD 3D/4D Missions Theater that drops you in the middle of two different missions where you either go to the moon or bomb Germany during World War II. There are also amusement park rides including Century of Flight Ferris Wheel, and Flying Circus Bi-Plane Ride, awesome 360-degree, full-motion flight simulators, and the world’s largest indoor mural. It has been voted the Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners and Best Place to Spend a Day with Your Family three years in a row making it rank number five on the best tourist attractions in Kalamazoo.
4. Kalamazoo Nature Center
This is one of the nation’s top nature centers whose mission is to inspire people to care for the environment by providing experiences that lead them to understand their connection to the natural world. They do an excellent job of achieving their mission with interactive exhibits and live animals, a tropical Sun-Rain Room, wildlife viewing areas, an Expedition Station with rotating seasonal themes, and more. There is also 1,100 acres of wooded, rolling countryside which includes an 11 acre arboretum, and a replica of the 1830s DeLano Homestead where you can take tours throughout the year, including the popular annual festival, Holidays at the Homestead.
3. Kalamazoo Valley Museum
This museum was voted the top small museum in Michigan by readers of Michigan Living Magazine because it is largely aimed at families, and focuses on science, technology, and history in a highly interactive, hands-on way. The exhibits include The Mystery of the Mummy which is centered on a 2,300-year-old Egyptian mummy donated to the museum in 1928, Science in Motion which includes three sections of hands-on exhibits in this gallery encompassing energy, the human body, and technology, and also simulated space flights via the Challenger Learning Center. If that isn’t enough, there is also a 109-seat, state-of-the-art planetarium to see the cool night skies in a whole new way. Business hours are Mondays – Thursdays and Saturdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm, Fridays from 9:00am to 9:00pm, Sundays and Holidays from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. General admission is free during all regular operating hours along with many programs and events, so bring the whole family for a day of fun and exploration.
2. Echo Valley
Invite your friends to Echo Valley which brings together tobogganing, tubing, and ice skating into one snowy spot for wintertime revelry. They have an all-season sledding surface known as Everslide which has been installed on each toboggan run. At the tobogganing hill, quarter-mile runs accelerate tobogganers to speeds as fast as 60 MPH before bringing them to a safe halt at the bottom, where the staff then sends the toboggan back to the top via an overhead lift. The ice skating rink has ample room with 43,000 square feet which will be a delight for young and old alike. After doing all of these activities, visitors can go to the 2400 square foot warming lodge to relax and get warm by getting a bite to eat, and something warm to drink.
1. The Henderson Castle
Henderson Castle, built in 1895, is a large privately owned home located on the steep West Main Hill. It has been recently renovated and is under new ownership. For those not on a romantic holiday, imagine waking up to an incredible breakfast, getting a massage or facial at the day spa, and soaking in the rooftop hot tub while having the best view of downtown. If you want to celebrate a special occasion or set the romance on fire, they have packages to meet your needs such as fresh rose petals sprinkled on your bed, a bottle of French champagne and decadent chocolate covered strawberries. They also offer daily tours, princess tea parties, murder mystery dinner party and high tea.
It’s obvious that the folks of this city love to have fun and show visitors a good time. Autumn is a great time to visit because of the changing leaves and spring is beautiful in its splendor. Winter months are very snowy and summer months tend to be hot averaging between the 80s and 90s. No matter when you decide to visit, you are sure to have a great time and there are many places to visit in Kalamazoo.