Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Portage, MI

  • Published 2022/10/04

Portage is a magnificent city in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, offering boundless things to do.

Historically, Pottawatomie Native Americans occupied the area long before the arrival of the earliest settlers in the early 1880s.

Known as the “Celery City” of the nation in the 1880s, Portage kept that title until the mid-20th century.

However, this suburb is a lovely place to live in and is a perfect holiday destination for families, tourists, and those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of life.

You can find many historic structures, verdant parks, a beautiful network of trails, scenic lakes, natural preserves, tourist attractions, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Are you interested in visiting this gem?

Here are some of the best things to do in Portage, Michigan, that will make your stay unforgettable:

Embark on an Air Adventure with the Family at Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum

Interior of Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re seeking the best place for your entire family, look no further than the world-class Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum on Portage Road.

It was voted the “Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners” and “Best Place to Spend a Day with Your Family” for three consecutive years.

It has also become the home of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame since September 1995.

Aircraft in Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 1977, Air Zoo preserves the vibrant history of flight and envisions being the top aviation museum worldwide.

Featured at Air Zoo are more than 100 rare and historic air and space artifacts, full-motion flight simulators, interactive historical exhibits, indoor amusement park rides, Quounset hut-style missions theater, learning activities, and more.

A display in Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, Air Zoo offers group tours for visitors of all ages and a unique venue for parties, family gatherings, weddings, meetings, corporate outings, programs, and other special events.

With its numerous facilities and amenities, there’s no shortage of exciting things to do with the whole family.

Plan your visit and enjoy your incomparable adventure at the five-star-rated Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum!

Tartar missile in Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend a Fun Family Day at Airway Fun Center

There’s no perfect place to bring your friends or family of all ages to have fun than Airway Fun Center.

It’s a top-notch destination where you can do boundless fun things, from team building, corporate, parties, and games to attractions, food and drink, entertainment, and more.

Play golf at the mini golf course, go bowling at the traditional lanes or VIP suite, challenge yourself at the three-wall climbing wall, and blast your friends with foam balls at the palladium arena.

Then, play their laser maze and beat your opponents at the large laser tag arena.

You can also get out of the thrilling escape room, ride the 4Spin gyroscope, try the ropes course, solve puzzling patterns of the time freak, explore virtual reality, and bring the kids to the arcade.

If you’re hungry, Airway Fun Center has a Taproom and mobile food truck offering their most famous dishes, from sandwiches, hot dogs, and tacos to nachos, salads, pizzas, and more delectable American classics.

There’s something for everyone at Airway Fun Center.

No wonder locals, residents, customers, and visitors alike don’t hesitate to rate it five stars.

Find the Airway Fun Center along Portage Road and appease your ripples of excitement by doing quality fun things with the whole family and friends!

Go Playing, Hiking, or Biking at Harbor’s West Park

Located on Summersong Path, Harbor’s West Park presents many recreation opportunities for everyone.

Teens can play or practice sports on the basketball court, sand volleyball court, and in-line youth hockey rink.

Bring the kids to the playground’s steps, ladders, slides, bridge, and monkey bars.

The open fields are excellent for flying kites or playing frisbee.

The lovely Harbor’s West Park also has paved walking loop trails ideal for hiking and biking.

At the same time, this place is great for picnics as it has picnic shelters, BBQ grills, and restrooms.

Get Up for a Water Adventure at Ramona Park and Beach

Another local favorite that visitors should discover is Ramona Park and Beach.

Established in 1968, this 65-acre park provides many amenities for everyone’s recreation, with a spectacular sight of the accessible Long Lake.

It has a sports complex for those who want to practice or play basketball, volleyball, tennis, pickleball, baseball, soccer, and football.

Its superb location with picnic amenities is perfect for family outings, parties, summer getaways, and other special events.

If you love water adventure, go fishing and swimming or rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddle board for thrilling activities in the waters.

There are lifeguards on the beach, as well as concession stands.

The enormous shaded play area is ideal for kids’ enjoyment and when the weather isn’t beach-friendly.

Spend your family day at Ramona Park and Beach on S. Sprinkle Road!

Get into Nature at Schrier Park

Situated on W. Osterhout Avenue, Schrier Park gets its name from Alice Schrier.

It features more than 1.1 miles of paved and woodchip walking trails, including loops connecting Eliason Nature Reserve, Bishop’s Bog Preserve, and other parks.

You’ll enjoy hiking, jogging, biking, and connecting with nature with its trails and hardwood forests.

While walking through the scenic woods is peaceful and relaxing, you can also go winter cross-country skiing.

If you’re not into these activities, there’s an indoor shelter with a fireplace and an outdoor pavilion with picnic tables.

You can rent them for family reunions, parties, gatherings, or other special occasions.

Likewise, there’s a play area for young children at Schrier Park.

Book Tee Time at the Moors Golf Club

If golfing is one of your pastimes, The Moors Golf Club has everything you need.

Enjoy hitting golf balls at this 18-hole golf course while fenced by spectacular views of teeming greens and clouded by endless blue sky.

The well-conditioned course offers four sets of tees for players of different skill levels.

They will have a fantastic experience with the Moors par 72 layouts of 6,831 yards designed by an architect named Arthur Hills.

Finished in 1979, this property knits through Woodbridge Gills over bridges and marshlands.

The Moors Golf Club also has a clubhouse with a restaurant to enjoy great food after playing.

At the same time, you can find what you need at their golf shop.

Visit the Moors Golf Club on Moorsbridge Road west of Portage.

Discover Eliason Nature Reserve

Eliason Nature Reserve is a park with an upland and wetland ecological community and comprises a segment of Bishop’s Bog Preserve.

In remembrance of her late husband, David Eliason, Linda Eliason donated 123 acres of property to the city in 2011.

Eliason Nature Reserve now totals 141 acres.

It features a 1.6-mile asphalt trail, and its boardwalk connects to Bishop’s Bog Preserve and Schrier Park.

The trail is perfect for hiking, jogging, or bike riding, with scenic views of nature.

Explore Bishop’s Bog Preserve

Bishop’s Bog Preserve is a natural treasure worth exploring, especially by nature lovers.

This 152-acre preserve is southern Michigan’s one of the largest remaining “relict” bogs.

Dedicated in 1987, it was named for the original Bishop family that settled in this area.

Bishop’s Bog Preserve comprises the natural area and rare and protected plant and animal species.

Plant species include stemless pink lady slipper and orange fringed orchid, while animal species include red-shouldered hawk and Blanchard’s cricket frog.

The preserve’s nature and walking trails are perfect for hiking while you enjoy encountering plants and wildlife.

Relax at Haverhill Park

Next to Haverhill Elementary School, you’ll find Haverhill Park.

This four-acre park is another go-to place for outdoor amusement.

There are an in-line hockey rink, basketball, tennis, and pickleball courts for teens to play and practice.

While you can picnic here, children can play on the playground.

Hike or bike riding on the park’s trails, too.

Mature oak trees surround Haverhill Park.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Celery Flats

A barn at Celery Flats

BigSpinelli /

Celery Flats is a component of the majestic Portage Creek Bicentennial Park with two different scenes.

In the north part of Garden Lane, you can enjoy many activities such as picnics, sightseeing, wildlife viewing, photography, and more at the Celery Flats Pavilion.

You can also enjoy open spaces, picnic tables, playground, and other amenities.

Meanwhile, the Celery Flats Historical Area is on the south side of Garden Lane, Kalamazoo County’s ninth most visited place, which also embraces various historical structures.

The picturesque Amphitheatre, which is excellent for an outdoor wedding, offers theatrical and musical performances to entertain residents and visitors.

The 1931Grain Elevator, the oldest remaining commercial building in Portage, presents a country setting but is worth spending for parties, meetings, and other gatherings.

The rustic Hayloft Theater is a barn dating back to the 1920s, restored as a theater in the late 1940s, perfect for a wedding experience.

The one-room Schoolhouse, which dates back to 1856, was relocated to the Celery Flats Historical Area in 1990, is an excellent example of Greek revival architecture.

On the other hand, the historic four-square Greek revival home Stuart Manor was built in 1846, making it the oldest surviving building in Portage.

Additionally, Celery Flats is also perfect for walking, hiking, and biking because it has paved paths in every direction.

You can reserve the buildings in the Celery Flats Historical Area for private group use, such as parties, meetings, special classroom activities, and other events.

Expand Your Mind at Portage District Library

Portage District Library is excellent for book lovers and those who want a peaceful atmosphere.

Savor your moment here from a plethora of books to music and movies.

Moreover, there are fascinating art exhibits by local artists hosted by the library, which you can view during its open hours.

They also host storytimes for different ages and interests, with some bonded with music.

Some examples are baby and toddler storytime and family storytime.

Visit Portage District Library on Library Lane if you want to learn, experience, and explore local arts and culture.

Take a Stroll at West Lake Nature Preserve

West Lake Nature Preserve is a magnificent park that rewards you with many recreation opportunities while maintaining the natural habitat.

It measures 110 acres of wetland bog habitat, a nature trail, and a dock promenade with a panoramic view of West Lake.

You’ll enjoy walking on the beautiful trails while surprised by the panoramic scenery.

This park is perfect for birdwatching, featuring red-winged blackbird, golden-crowned kinglet, and Nashville warbler.

Besides hiking and birdwatching, you’ll also have fun strolling, relaxing with nature, and picnicking with the park’s amenities for these outdoor activities.

Likewise, West Lake is great for fishing, abounding with bluegill and largemouth bass.

Children can enjoy the nature-themed playground at the trailhead as well.

You can find West Lake Nature Reserve on S. Westnedge Avenue.

Go Skating at Millennium Park

Along Romence Road, you’ll find Millennium Park.

It features southwest Michigan’s first outdoor rink where many can enjoy skating in the winter.

Besides its terrific skating surface, it also offers skate rentals, skate sharpening, food concessions, lockers, and restrooms.

The refrigerated rink beautifully turns into a pond in the spring and summer seasons.

Additionally, there’s a bike trail if you’re into biking.

What if you can’t stand the cold?

The park has a warming house, too.

Don’t miss the winter getaway at Millennium Park with the family!

Go Fishing at Lakeview Park

Established in 1970, the 26-acre Lakeview Park is one of the oldest parks in Portage.

It features 1,200 feet of shoreline on stunning Austin Lake with fishing piers.

If you go fishing at Austin Lake, some species you might catch include muskellunge, largemouth bass, and northern pike.

Young children can also enjoy the play structures, while teens can play softball, basketball, volleyball, tennis, or pickleball on the designated sports amenities.

Lakeview Park is ideal for family picnics, reunions, parties, and other special occasions.

Its paved trails are perfect for those who are up for some exercise or relaxation.

Lakeview Park is on Portage Road.

Buy Fresh Produce, Farm, and Local Products at the Portage Farmers Market

The Portage Farmers Market happens every Sunday from May through October at Portage City Hall on S. Westnedge Avenue.

All products you need are here, from fresh produce, farm products, delicious foods, and handmade goods to skincare products, handicrafts, and much more.

You’ll see the dynamic community at this market full of farmers, food producers, craftspeople, artisans, and other vendors.

Bring your kids and let them join some kids’ activities there.

The Portage Farmers Market is even more lively with some live music.

Stay in Shape at YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo

The YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo is on W. Centre Avenue and offers several amenities.

It has three locations in Kalamazoo County, including the city of Portage.

This place is excellent for working out because of its fitness facilities and bringing the family for fun and learning.

Its Portage branch has an indoor pool, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, an indoor track, a Harding youth area, a cardio theater, and more.

When you become a YMCA member, you’ll have benefits, including free family activities, lessened program fees, decreased kids zone fees, and more.

Visit Gourdneck State Game Area

Gourdneck State Game Area is accessible from West Centre Avenue, Angling Rod, and Vanderbilt Avenue.

Its trails are ideal for hiking, and the site is suitable for those who want to explore nature.

Besides birdwatching and wildlife viewing, there’s a designated public area for hunting.

Nestled nearby is Sugarloaf Lake, including Little Sugarloaf Lake.

Bluegill, northern pike, and largemouth bass are some fish species living in the lake.

There’s a boat launch off Shaver Road, which provides access and parking.

While visiting Gourdneck State Game Area and the nearby lake, follow local regulations.

Traverse the Trails at Portage Creek Bicentennial Park

Bridge over the waters of Portage Creek Bicentennial Park

RonaldL /

One of the city’s popular attractions that you should not skip visiting is Portage Creek, Bicentennial Park.

The charming park’s 3.5-mile recreational paved trail is the cornerstone of the Portage Park Trail System, over 200 acres.

The Portage Creek Bicentennial Park Trail flows along scenic Portage Creek, forming a trailhead at Kilgore Road and ending at Celery Flats on Garden Lane.

While hiking and biking are visitors’ favorite outdoor activities here, there are other fun things to do, too.

You can go fishing at Portage Creek or have a family outing using the park’s picnic shelters, tables, and BBQ grills.

There’s a playground for young children, too.

Interestingly, Portage Creek Bicentennial Park was the city’s official project in honor of the nation’s 200th birthday.

Final Thoughts

Portage is a striking city with many surprising things and places you’ll love.

Thanks to its numerous attractions that offer enjoyable activities to experience quality life.

If you get the chance to visit, enjoy the best things to do in Portage, Michigan!

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