Kalamazoo got its name from a Potawatomi word and shares it with the Kalamazoo river, which runs through the city. Legend has it that the name originates from a word meaning “boiling water”, which referred to a race held in the Fall by the Native Americans where they had to sprint to the river and back before a pot of water reached its boiling point.
The mystery and wonder surrounding this city doesn’t stop at its name but continues into the incredible sites and activities within Kalamazoo. These are the best things to do in Kalamazoo.
- Kalamazoo, Michigan
- 20 Things To Do In Kalamazoo
- 1- Paddle The Kalamazoo River Valley Water Trail
- 2- Visit The Kalamazoo Valley Museum
- 3- Take A Dip At Markin Glen County Park
- 4- Step Back Into History At Kalamazoo State Theater
- 5- Be Enchanted At Henderson Castle
- 6- Explore Kalamazoo Nature Center
- 7- Hike Al Sabo Preserve
- 8- Admire Artwork At Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
- 9- Find Tranquillity In Milham Park
- 10- Go On A Scavenger Hunt
- 11- Go Wine Tasting At Lawton Ridge Winery
- 12- Watch A Show At New Vic
- 13- Do A Farm Tour At VerHage Fruit Farms
- 14- Catch A Game At Homer Stryker Field
- 15- Admire Local Talent At The Art Hop
- 16- Shop For Glass Art
- 17- Get An Adrenalin Rush At Climb Kalamazoo
- 18- Do Some Research At Kalamazoo Public Library
- 19- Taste A Local Beer At Shakespeare’s Pub
- 20- Take A Tour Of Bell’s Brewery
- 20 Things To Do In Kalamazoo
20 Things To Do In Kalamazoo
1- Paddle The Kalamazoo River Valley Water Trail
Paddle down the Kalamazoo River with this guided kayak tour to explore the beautiful, peaceful, and scenic natural sites that coexist with the bustling city through which the river runs.
You can choose to rent a kayak or canoe and even BYO beer (BYOB) to drink (responsibly) along the way.
Just be sure to bring bug spray, especially in the warm summer months or after heavy floods.
The meeting point for the Kalamazoo River Valley Water Trail is at 3151 57th Street, Fennville, Michigan 49408.
2- Visit The Kalamazoo Valley Museum
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is a place of both awe and education.
Most of the exhibits are interactive and contain hands-on components that truly immerse you in the world of science and discovery.
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum doesn’t charge admission and is free for everyone to visit.
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is at 230 North Rose Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007.
3- Take A Dip At Markin Glen County Park
With a gorgeous wooden bridge straight out of a Hollywood movie, Markin Glen County Park is arguably one of the most scenic spots in Kalamazoo.
The county park is known for being a great spot to take a dip in the famous Kalamazoo river to cool off during the hot summer months.
Markin Glen County Park also includes walking trails, campgrounds, and sports fields, so it is guaranteed that there will be something here for every member of the family.
The Markin Glen County Park is at 5221 North Westnedge Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49004.
4- Step Back Into History At Kalamazoo State Theater
The Kalamazoo State Theater is a magical mixture of history, charm and spectacle.
The theatre’s interior is breathtaking and transports you into the past with its incredible arched ceiling and massive centre stage.
The theatre was built in the 1920s and embodies the old-fashioned ambience of the era, bringing a little piece of history and vintage charm into our present-day lives.
The Kalamazoo State Theater is at 404 South Burdick Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007.
5- Be Enchanted At Henderson Castle
The first thing you will notice about Henderson Castle is that it looks like it’s out of a fairytale.
Built in 1895, the castle was once home to an aristocratic couple and currently offers B&B-style rooms where you can live like royalty.
Amenities on the property include gardens, ballrooms, vineyards, hot tubs and a fine-dining restaurant.
Henderson Castle is at 100 Monroe Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49006.
6- Explore Kalamazoo Nature Center
Kalamazoo Nature Center is a beautiful place to visit and has over 1,100 acres (445 ha) of pure heaven.
The centre includes forests, ponds, wetlands and hiking trails.
One of the incredible things about the hiking trails here is that they are all labelled by difficulty so that you can easily pick the path that best suits your comfort level.
The Kalamazoo Nature Center is at 7000 North Westnedge Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49009.
7- Hike Al Sabo Preserve
At 700 acres (283 ha), the Al Sabo Preserve is slightly smaller than the Kalamazoo Nature Center, but by no means less beautiful.
The preserve has various environments, including marshlands, forests, open fields and trails.
Take a hike through the dense forests to truly get lost in nature and spend some time enjoying some peaceful reflection among the beauty of nature.
The entrance to Al Sabo Preserve is at Texas Drive, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49009.
8- Admire Artwork At Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is an incredible mixture of many awesome things all under one roof.
You can find a nonprofit museum, a gallery, a cultural centre, a library and a school in one convenient location.
The museum is home to a collection of over 5,000 works from all over the world, and it showcases pieces in different mediums, such as sculptures and oil paintings.
The subject matter within these pieces is also varied and includes portraits, still lifes and landscapes.
The institute hosts various events and classes, including film screenings (with discussions after), silent discos, public speakers, and art classes.
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is at 314 South Park Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007.
9- Find Tranquillity In Milham Park
Milham Park is 49 acres (20 ha) of pure tranquillity in the southwest of Kalamazoo, a little slice of peace within the chaos of big-city life.
The park offers drinking fountains and public restrooms, so you can spend a relaxing day within its borders without ever having to leave.
There are also public grills available so that you can grill up a meal for family and friends to share under the shade of the nearby trees while you watch the river flow lazily by.
For events such as weddings and birthdays, choose between two different picnic shelters to book for such occasions.
Milham Park is at 607 East Kilgore Road, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49001.
10- Go On A Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt is a fun and interactive way to discover Kalamazoo as these hunts will help you explore the streets and discover hidden gems tucked away throughout the journey.
Skip the buses and save gas by walking through the city between the different famous attractions and immersing yourself in everything that Kalamazoo offers.
There are so many different scavenger hunts offered throughout the city (even one that involves a zombie survival component), so you can choose the activity that best suits your specific travel style.
- Kalamazoo Scavenger Hunt is at 241 West South Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007.
- Zombie Scavengers Hunt is at 315 South Rose Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007.
- Operation City Quest Scavenger Hunt is at 315 South Rose Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007.
- 3Quest Challenge Scavenger Hunt is at 315 South Rose Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007.
11- Go Wine Tasting At Lawton Ridge Winery
The Lawton Ridge Winery is a family-owned winery producing red and white wines.
Whether you want to tour the vineyard and learn all about how the different wines are made or grab a glass of wine and enjoy a tasting session on the veranda, Lawton Ridge has an experience that is right for everyone.
The winery is also known for having an excellent level of gastronomic expertise and knowing exactly which of their wines would go best with the meal you have in mind for your next dinner party, so talk to the experts and grab a bottle (or two) to take home.
The Lawton Ridge Winery is at 8456 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49009.
12- Watch A Show At New Vic
One of the aforementioned hidden gems of Kalamazoo is the New Vic Theater. Opened in 1966, the theatre’s original production of “A Christmas Carol” and annual Christmas Concerts remain some of the oldest and longest existing traditions within the city during the holiday season.
The theatre’s seating is reminiscent of a Parisian cabaret house and adds to the comfortable ambience and intimacy of the performances hosted here.
A concessions stand is also available for hot and cold beverages throughout the spectacle.
The New Vic Theater is at 134 East Vine Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49001.
13- Do A Farm Tour At VerHage Fruit Farms
Despite being a popular tourist attraction, the VerHage farm is a regular, fully functioning working farm.
If you tour the farm, you will see the machinery used daily by real farmers and real produce and products made on the farm.
Perfect as an educational (and fun) opportunity for all ages, the farm also includes hay rides, pony rides, cider-making demonstrations and tractor-driving lessons.
If you go during the right season, you can even pick apples from the trees on the farm to take home for some of Mom’s famous apple pie.
The VerHage Fruit Farm and Cider Mill is at 8619 West Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009.
14- Catch A Game At Homer Stryker Field
Whether you’re a die-hard baseball fan or couldn’t care less about the sport, visiting Homer Stryker Field is a fantastic night out for everyone.
Baseball fans will get swept up in the intimate atmosphere of the field, which is small enough that you can hear the players during the game and almost touch the dirt flying up from the field.
For everyone else, grab some popcorn from the vendors, soak up the electric atmosphere, and admire the old-fashioned style of the field and its stands.
The Homer Stryker Field is at 251 Mills Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49048.
15- Admire Local Talent At The Art Hop
The Art Hop is one of the long-lasting traditions of Kalamazoo. It’s on the first Friday of the month from February through December.
Here, local businesses create a space where visitors can explore the many products and services that Kalamazoo offers.
You can find anything from art and music to food and culture or even glass-blowing demonstrations.
You can even download a mobile Art Hop Site to find a map of that month’s art stops and information on the participating artists.
The Art Hop is at 359 South Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007.
16- Shop For Glass Art
If you don’t manage to catch a glass-blowing display at the Art Hop, head to Glass Art Kalamazoo, where you can catch a glass-blowing show and take a class.
You’ll receive one-on-one instruction with an instructor to make incredible pieces such as glass pumpkins, charcuterie boards, Christmas ornaments, ice cream bowls, bracelets, pendants and tumblers.
Glass Art Kalamazoo is at 326 West Kalamazoo Avenue #100, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007.
17- Get An Adrenalin Rush At Climb Kalamazoo
Thrill seekers should head down to Climb Kalamazoo, where you can find 44 climbing walls with 150 climbing routes, 30 to 40 bouldering routes, a dedicated bouldering cave, and a pro shop for climbing gear and apparel.
The difficulties range from beginner to advanced, so even if you’ve never climbed or stepped foot on a climbing wall before, you’ll be able to learn with the guidance of expert instructors.
The walls range up to 100 ft (30 m) high, with 10,500 square feet of climbing space available.
Climb Kalamazoo is at 136 South Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007.
18- Do Some Research At Kalamazoo Public Library
The Kalamazoo Public Library isn’t a run-of-the-mill public library.
Here, you can attend classes and workshops, lectures and reading events.
There’s even a Booktoberfest every Fall. Examples of other events held at the library include Bedtime Stories, Family Storytime, Cult Movie Matinees, Photoshop for Beginners, Brave Space Workshop and the Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee.
The Kalamazoo Public Library is at 315 South Rose Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007.
19- Taste A Local Beer At Shakespeare’s Pub
With 44 beers on tap, Shakespeare’s Pub is a must-visit destination for beer lovers.
The pub offers Extreme Karaoke every Thursday at 8.30 pm and hosts NFL Sundays throughout the NFL season.
With a food menu almost as expansive as its beer list, there’s sure to be something delicious for everyone at this gorgeous local pub.
Shakespeare’s pub is at 241 East Kalamazoo Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007.
20- Take A Tour Of Bell’s Brewery
Also known as Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, this charming spot more than lives up to its namesake.
This family-owned and operated brewery is one of the largest independent breweries in the United States.
To learn about the stories and craft behind the amusingly named craft beers, take a tour of the brewery before grabbing a pint and heading into the picturesque beer garden.
Bell’s Brewery is at 355 East Kalamazoo Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007.
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