Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Kalamazoo, MI

  • Published 2022/05/03

An amalgamation of different experiences, Kalamazoo is one of the best places you can choose for your next vacation.

The place will be etched in your memories forever after taking the trip.

But what makes Kalamazoo so interesting?

From popping art and culture scenes, fun-filled activities, and hiking trails to vast museums, recreational activities, and splendid nightlife, there is no shortage of things to enjoy in Kalamazoo.

Did you know that Kalamazoo also houses the famous Western Michigan University?

By now, you probably already have an idea of how happening the city is.

It is a fun town to hang out, chill, and relax for a few days.

Here are the best things to do in Kalamazoo, Michigan:

Check Out the Artifacts at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Interior of Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Joe Ross from Lansing, Michigan, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is entirely operated by the student body of the Community College of Kalamazoo.

It is famous for its collection boasting a whopping 50,000 artifacts.

Some of them come from places far and wide, like Egypt.

Exterior of Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Cody Hough, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum showcases a 2,300-year-old Egyptian mummy.

Apart from international history, it also focuses on local culture and history.

If you want, you can even see video presentations of the artifacts.

There is also a 109-seat planetarium where you can enjoy a show.

Interior entrance of Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Joe Ross from Lansing, Michigan, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get Inspired by the Local Art at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Exterior of Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

72elyod, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in downtown Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is one of the city’s famous art locations.

It is an entirely non-profit organization.

The main thing about this institute is that it houses numerous events and occasions throughout the year.

It helps promote several works by local artists and students from various schools.

Apart from the events that take place annually, the museum also showcases a permanent art collection with over 4,600 works by local artists.

Apart from local art, you can find some famous works by several well-known artists from all over the United States.

Pick a Trail at the Kalamazoo Nature Center

If you are a nature lover, there is a piece of nature in the heart of Kalamazoo just for you.

The 1,100-acre Kalamazoo Nature Center offers everything you might look for in a nature spot.

The first thing you will notice when you enter this nature center is that it has a lot of trails for walking, running, or biking.

You will find flowers, forests, prairies, and various other habitations in this center.

There are 13 highly maintained trails with almost 10 miles’ worth of hiking routes.

There are even wheelchair-friendly trails, and Habitat Haven is one of them.

The Bluebird Trail is the most favored trail with the longest route.

Spend a Night at Henderson Castle

Exterior of Henderson Castle

Jim Roberts, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Henderson Inn, also known as Henderson Castle, is one of the most attractive places in Kalamazoo.

It was a castle, but later the government remodeled some of the parts, turning it into an inn.

The best part?

It’s open to the public, so you can book a stay at this castle.

Frank Henderson, a very successful businessman, owned this home back in 1895.

It was built in a Victorian mansion-style design and still looks well-detailed even to this day.

You can find hot baths, saunas, vineyards, and many modern amenities here.

It is a perfect combination of the past and the present.

Catch a Show at the Kalamazoo State Theatre

The Kalamazoo State Theatre is one of the city’s iconic tourist attractions.

Operating since 1927, it’s considered an iconic landmark in Kalamazoo.

It is now of great historical significance and is part of the League of Historic American Theatres.

Despite being around for many years, the theater has not lost even an ounce of its original charm.

It remains to host exciting events and shows.

They offer a lot of confections like candy and popcorn, and even liquor.

Live concerts happen here often, too.

Bargain at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market

The farmer’s market is an open market that sells many products.

From various homegrown products to locally made handicrafts, you can find everything in this market, all at very affordable pricing.

Starting from the summer months of May, the market is open until early November.

More than 100 small businesses set up their stalls or shops here to help promote the local economy.

While the main market is not available during the winter season, other smaller markets are set up during December and January.

Grab a Beer at Bell’s Brewery

Bell's Brewery cherry beer bottle cap on a table

Atomazul /

You must have heard of the famous Two Hearted Ale.

Among the most popular attractions in Kalamazoo, Bell’s Brewery is the home of the Two Hearted Ale.

The family started brewing their beers at home in 1983, and now, they run one of the biggest breweries in Michigan.

It is not only a famous brand in Michigan.

They’ve expanded their business across 31 states.

They have a lot of unique flavors for you to try out.

Hike the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail

Are you passionate about running or hiking?

Check out the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail when you’re in Kalamazoo.

It has a 22-mile trail that is easily accessible.

The road is 10 feet wide, so joggers, bikers, and even cars can access the trail.

It is wheelchair-friendly as well.

The trail goes through the downtown area, so you can quickly stop and find a snack to nibble on if you are hungry.

Go on a Beer Tour

Exterior of Kalamazoo Beer Exchange

RonaldL /

Beer is an integral part of Michigan culture.

So, joining a beer tour while visiting the Western Michigan area is always exciting.

Several private and public touring companies offer beer tours.

These beer tours are pretty interesting, as they even let you see the various brewing processes.

Walk around Al Sabo Preserve

Wildflowers at Al Sabo Preserve

Dean Pennala /

Want to enjoy some greenery amid the bustling city?

Kalamazoo presents you with the beautiful Al Sabo Preserve.

It has almost 741 acres of free land that consists of trails and even boardwalks.

Moab, Lookout, Atwater, and Mandala Two are the names of some of the trails.

Tall trees framing a trail at Al Sabo Preserve

Loriwilli /

Are you interested in mountain biking?

There is an option for that here, too.

With almost 7 miles of biking trails inside the preserve area, you can easily go mountain biking.

Enjoy scenes of the spot where the Kalamazoo River meets the Portage Creek.

You might spot some animals here, such as deers, coyotes, muskrats, and turtles.

Scenic view of Al Sabo Preserve's meadow

Dean Pennala /

Tour VerHage’s Fruit Farm & Cider Mill

Verhage’s Fruit Farm & Cider Mill is one of Kalamazoo’s most interesting tourist attractions.

While it’s a working farm, visitors are invited to tour it.

The best time to visit this farm is during the fall and holiday seasons.

There are a lot of tours from which you can choose.

You can pick apples, watch them be made into cider, or even make some yourself.

You can also enjoy some of their farm-made organic treats.

There is also a donut shop where you can satisfy your cravings.

Have a Snack at Sweetwater’s Donut Mill

Kalamazoo is not essentially Kalamazoo without Sweetwater’s Donut Mill.

What started as a local family business now has three shops across Sweetwater’s Donut Mill.

Stop at any one of the locations if you want to devour some lip-smacking breakfast.

There are over 50 different types of donuts along with coffee.

Sweetwater’s Donut Mill has it all for you, from simple glazed donuts and chocolate ones to jelly-filled donuts.

Even if you miss the time for breakfast, you can drop by anytime, for the shop is open throughout the day.

It also serves some of the best baked goods.

Energize Yourself with a Cup of Coffee from Water Street Coffee

Water Street Coffee is one of Kalamazoo’s very own cafes that have been around for almost 25 years.

It also happens to be a diner where you can grab a late-night meal at an affordable price.

Its coffee beans are roasted in-house and are combined with some syrups that suit their flavors well.

The cafe has expanded to various locations, where you have the option to avail of your coffee via drive-thru.

Enjoy a Game at Bronson Park

A statue at Bronson Park

Gpwitteveen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bronson Park has been a tourist attraction in Kalamazoo since the 1850s.

Located in the prime location of downtown Kalamazoo, it is the center of tourists’ interest.

The locals generally go to Bronson Park if they want an outing.

The spacious park features a picnic area, lush greenery, beautiful fountains, and interesting sculptures.

Children sculptures at Bronson Park

Roberto Galan /

The sculptures were created in honor of the heroes that gave away their lives during the war.

Did you know you can play at Bronson Park, too?

Gear up and play bubble soccer.

Make sure that you visit the park with a group of friends, as the equipment is available for rent for a group of 10.

Visit the park on a sunny afternoon and have the time of your lives.

The trees of Bronson Park

Andrew Jameson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Catch a Performance While Enjoying Dinner at the New Vic Theatre

In Kalamazoo, the New Vic Theatre is a well-known institution.

It has a unique role in the local theatrical scene and was formed in 1966 by local citizens.

The theater’s yearly Christmas plays and concerts have made it a popular destination for visitors.

The venue’s concession sells a variety of hot and cold refreshments but no alcoholic beverages in a cabaret-style setting.

They have staged more than 325 shows throughout its existence, many of which were premieres in Kalamazoo.

There are just 100 seats available for each performance, which is only open on weekends.

As a result, visitors are encouraged to plan and purchase tickets in advance.

Get Active at Markin Glen Park

Markin Glen Park was formerly a private estate owned by Morris Markin, the founder of the Checker Motors Corporation.

It is now a beloved recreational park a short distance from Kalamazoo’s city center.

Hiking routes, mountain biking trails, a paved multi-use trail, fishing, swimming lakes, and a swimming beach are all available in the park.

Aside from this, volleyball courts, tennis courts, softball fields, and picnic shelters may be rented.

Campground amenities are also available, so you can pitch your RV and enjoy everything the park offers.

You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Kalamazoo if you take the time to trek to the top of the park.

Swing Your Clubs at Milham Park Golf Club

Milham Park Golf Club is an 18-hole golf course that is demanding and fun.

Near Milham Park, the 130-acre course has a par 72 rating.

Founded in 1933, the long-running golf course was expanded from nine to 18 holes in 1936.

The park has been one of Michigan’s top municipal golf courses for many years.

Every day, including weekends and holidays, the park offers tee times for visitors to take advantage of.

In addition to a spacious, well-stocked pro shop, it has a snack bar providing various concessions.

Sip Wine and Learn Winemaking at Lawton Ridge Winery

Fewer and fewer wineries are now using fruit from their own vineyards as a source of grapes for their production.

At Lawton Ridge Winery, this tradition has not yet come close.

The winery began as a small, family-run vineyard and has grown into a world-class producer of award-winning wines paired with delectable dishes.

Its sommeliers are also exceedingly helpful and would go out of their way to assist you in choosing the ideal wine.

Relax on the winery’s picture-perfect veranda with a bottle of your favorite wine or a selection of wine samples to test out.

Participants in the wine tasting sessions are encouraged to pay for the privilege of learning more about wine.

Final Thoughts

Even though this city is overflowing with natural splendor, it also has a thriving arts scene, exciting cultural hotspots, and diverse recreational opportunities.

Kalamazoo has an undeniable allure that draws visitors back again and again.

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