Let us help tailor a Kalamazoo Experience that’s right for you.
Biking/Hiking or Rolling/Strolling?
Looking for day ride? Consider the Battle Creek Linear Park, running from Fort Custer National Cemetery to South Bedford Road, along the Kalamazoo River and looping around Battle Creek, approximately 20 miles. One of the best city bike trails looping through urban, manicured park, historical sights, neighborhoods, woods, and party stores – ride around waterfowl in Kolb Park, take on the beautiful hills of the Leila Arboretum.
For a longer adventure consider the Kal-Haven Trail State Park a (crushed limestone trail connecting Kalamazoo County to South Haven). Or ride the Vicksburg Quilt Trail (ask Innkeeper for map), or the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail.
In September consider The Vineyard Classical Bicycle tour – part of the annual Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival. The tour travels past lush vineyards and orchards at the peak of harvest season. Cyclists pass by woodlands, rivers, lakes and neighboring villages and can choose from three different length routes (20, 40 or 60-mile distances). There will be SAG support with radio crew, route maps, road markings, first aid and refreshment stops provided. Helmets are required.
Whether you prefer to explore on water or on land, Hastings has a trail for you. Located one hour Northeast of Kalamazoo, the scenic Thornapple River is adjacent to downtown Hastings and is easily accessible from Bliss and Tyden parks. The Riverwalk Trail follows the Thornapple for three miles and is suitable for walking, biking, and sight-seeing. For those seeking more of a challenge, the recently completed Hammond Hill Trail offers 7-miles of multi-use trails for hiking and mountain biking and more. Avid cyclists may also test themselves on the permanently marked Barry-Roubaix Killer Gravel Road Race courses (24, 32, and 64 miles) that take in some of the area’s most challenging trails and scenic back roads.
Hikers can check out Awesome Mitten’s list of 6 Trails to Try for Real Adventure. Or consider All Trails for exploring the most popular trails near Kalamazoo with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers. Or check out this list of lesser known parks and trails put together by Discover Kalamazoo.
Hiking opportunities also abound at the Kalamazoo Nature Center featuring 14+ miles of hiking trails that wind through some of the most special habitats in Michigan. Or the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, located in Hickory Corners with numerous trails and other areas open to the public for walking and hiking. The grounds of the Kellogg Estate, which include the Kellogg Manor House, are open from dawn to dusk year-round. Visitors may take self-guided tours of the estate and historic Manor House, and docent-led tours are available by reservation. The W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, in nearby Augusta, offers several trails, some of which are paved and accessible to visitors using wheelchairs. Explore independently, or join one of many events that highlight the Sanctuary’s resident and wild birds.
The Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery also has a nature trail system winding through the grounds, around a mixture of now-defunct and still-functioning ponds. Although unpaved, the trails are well-maintained enough to make pushing a stroller possible. The trails are quiet and peaceful and make a loop about a quarter-mile long. Wooded areas are perfect for shade on a hot day or for viewing the changing colors in the fall. Open areas provide welcome sunshine on a cool day and beautiful views across the ponds. At the beginning of the trail, next to the visitor’s center, is the hatchery’s show pond.,
For strollers – Discover Kalamazoo has put together a Tasty Treats Downtown Walking Tour
Appreciate the classics?
Take a walk through Kalamazoo History at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.
Wander through the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts with a permanent collection of nearly 5000 works including American painting, European and American prints and photographs, and pre-Columbian gold; as well as a constant rotation of traveling and temporary exhibitions.
Take a day for the 90-acre historic campus at the Gilmore Car Museum. Cars – classics (and lots of them) but not just cars. The Museum tells the history of America through the automobile, fostering experiences that connect people with the history, heritage, and social impact of the automobile. Specialized shows (Corvette, Lincoln, English Sports Cars) scheduled throughout the summer. Something a little smaller, but no less classic – the Vicksburg Old Car Festival.
Feed your inner artist?
Bread/Cheese/Wine/Tea & Chocolate: Two women-owned bakeries, producing equally delicious breads and pastries, both worth a visit – Sarkozy’s Bakery and The Victorian Bakery. While you’re downtown, check out MOMA: Market on Michigan Aveenue for crackers, cheese, meats, and artisan deli sandwiches and salads. Visit The Cheese Lady and add some artisanal cheese from goat to sheep to cow’s milk, from soft to firm, from Italy to France to the U.S. – cut fresh from the cheese wheel to your desired size. Pick up a beverage from Tiffany’s Wine & Spirits or Tudor House Tea & Spice, and round out your picnic with a selection of truffles and confections hand-crafted with Fair Trade Organic Chocolate from original recipes by chocolatier Dale Anderson of Confections with Conviction. Vegan and gluten-free options available. Heat getting to you? Try a scoop of any Plainwell Ice Cream – available in town at Spirit of Kalamazoo, and of course, in Plainwell.
Shades of Lavender: Check out a Lavender Farm where you can enjoy walking through the lavender fields and cut your own bundles to take home. Watch as they distill lavender essential oil in a copper still and then enjoy a bit of shopping.
Golf? Games of Chance?
Kalamazoo hosted the World Disc Golf Championships in 2008, and the World Amateur Disc Golf Championships in 2015. Larry LaBond, a local disc-golf enthusiast, put together a list of courses with descriptions that were used during the tournaments – many of which you can play on today. DG Course Review includes an interactive map identifying courses in and around Kalamazoo.
Indoor golf simulators at X-Golf Kalamazoo offer players accuracy and realism – even in bad weather. The relaxed, welcoming atmosphere makes it perfect for players of all ages and levels. Firekeeper’s Casino – just 30 minutes east of Kalamazoo offers 2680 slots, 78 action-packed games, a 12-table poker room, and shopping and fine restaurants to suit every taste and budget. Half-way between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, on US 131 Exit 61, you’ll find Gun Lake Casino.
Hops, Grapes, and Grains
Ciders: Virtue Cider in Fennville offers farmhouse ciders from fresh heirloom apples and using traditional farmhouse production methods that include native and secondary fermentation, use of wild yeasts, and an expansive oak barrel-aging program. Sample ciders straight from the source, or take home some bottles for yourself from the Bottle Shop. For something closer to home, check out Soil Friends Market in Comstock, a first generation family farm, cider press, and Meadery. Even closer? Saugatuck Brewing Company (Kalamazoo) and Texas Corners Brewing offer a small but tasty selection of hard ciders.
Grapes: Looking for a place to sit and sip? Consider Stamped Robin a wine and cocktail lounge serving 20 different wines on tap; For a late night big city feel in the heart of Kalamazoo, The Wine Loft is the perfect place to enjoy a wine tasting, and sometimes even meet the wine makers; or The Sangria Shop – a family owned and operated business that is dedicated to producing authentic Artisan Sangria, Wines and Spirits – including fruit infused spirits like Lime Vodka and Coconut Rum.
Want to bottle your own? Try Tempo Vino Winery in the heart of downtown. A unique experience for all wine lovers, from the curious novice to the seasoned connoisseur. Make your own private label wine.
Check out our wineries. Lawton Ridge Winery has been growing their wine grapes at their vineyard in Lawton, Michigan since 1974, and opened a production facility and tasting room on Stadium Drive in Kalamazoo in 2008. All of the wine they produce comes from grapes grown either in their vineyard or in neighboring vineyards in the Lake Michigan Shore AVA (American Viticultural Area). While Lawton Ridge makes a variety of wines, they strive for well balanced, food-friendly wines ranging from elegant, dry reds to dessert wines, many of which are award-winning.
St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw is the state’s oldest, continually-operating winery, and they were recently awarded seven Double Gold and seven Gold Medals, as well as the 2017 Most Gold Medals trophy during the 30th Annual International Wine Judging competition. Try some of their awarding-winning wines at their tasting room when you stop by.
The Kalamazoo Stillhouse boasts Kalamazoo’s first federally licensed artisan distillery since prohibition. Located in the River’s Edge District they mash, ferment, distill, and bottle handmade spirits on site, including vodka, gin, aged whisk(e)ys, and brandy.
Grains: At The Grand Traverse Distillery – Kalamazoo Tasting Room at 224 E. Michigan Ave. in the Haymarket District you can sample craft spirits using agriculture from Northern Michigan that would not only rival foreign imports, but raise the bar and create a truly hand crafted spirit focusing on quality above all else.
Click here for a PDF map listing hard ciders, wineries, breweries and distilleries.
Lose Yourself in Books?
KAZOO BOOKS – Hands-down this is our favorite. Owner Gloria Tiller opened her first Kazoo Books location in 1988 which she described as “a simple little paperback used bookstore.” The original store was expanded in 1999 and the Parkview location added four years later to keep up with growing demand for new and used books. Tiller orders directly from publishers and distributors, and still sells used books. A knowledgeable staff, large inventory and personal service are all components that contribute to the longevity of Kazoo Books.
MICHIGAN NEWS AGENCY – O.k. this is not a traditional bookstore – but it is a tradition in Kalamazoo. This downtown Kalamazoo icon has been “Bringing the World to You Since ’47.” Operating 7am to 6pm 365 days a year, this store stocks 6,500 different magazine titles, 16,000 paperback books and about eight different newspapers. A trip to Kalamazoo is not complete without a trip to the Michigan News. BONUS: less than a mile from Stuart Avenue Inn – really – you can walk there!
KALAMAZOO PUBLIC LIBRARY FRIENDS BOOKSTORE – How can you not love a bookstore with the motto – “Gently Used Books, Very Gently Priced.” Located in the lower level of the downtown library, this store sells used books with proceeds supporting the library and promoting literacy and reading in the community. If you go, be sure to check out their weekly specials.
THIS IS A BOOKSTORE & BOOKBUG is a full-service independent bookstore featuring the best in new books and book-related events. Bookbug has a special emphasis on and expertise in children’s and young adult literature, while “This is a Bookstore,” has a curated selection of adult literary fiction, nonfiction, and graphics.
Love drama? Music?
Music options include contemporary, rock ‘n roll, blues, bluegrass, folk, jazz, big band, classical, open mic jams, live recordings, and festivals. Performance venues range from intimate at The Union Cabaret and Grille to classic pub venues like Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Old Dog Tavern, O’Duffy’s Irish Pub, and Arcadia Brewing to concert halls Kalamazoo State Theatre, Chenery or Miller auditorium, and even Wings Event Center and Firekeeper’s Casino.
Music Festivals include Gilmore Keyboard Festival (even years), Cooper’s Glenn Music Festival, Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival, Stulberg International String Competition, Kalamazoo Bach Festival, Kalamazoo Blues Fest, Audiotree Festival, Bronson Park Summer Concert Series, and Kindleberger Summer Arts Festival – just to name a few.
Planes, trains, and automobiles?
Trains – Check out the BO Tower built in 1915, and responsible still today for switching trains between tracks (corner of Pitcher and Willard). The Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek offers a miniature train ride on a loop that goes through a tunnel and along the creek. The Little River Railroad an hour away in Coldwater offers rides on an authentic 100-year-old steam engine train. A little further and you can find the New Buffalo Railroad Museum, located on the grounds of what was once the largest train yard in Southwest Michigan. Home to exhibits and collections recalling New Buffalo’s proud heritage as a railroad hub for both the Pere Marquette and Chesapeake & Ohio (also known as the Chessie System).
Visitors can stroll through the Chessie Box Car and Troop Pullman Sleeper Car, and operate the hand-crafted model train layout. Free Guided Tours
Every Fall on the last Sunday in October the Kalamazoo Model Railroad Historical Society hold a Train Show & Sale at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds, featuring over 150 vendor tables, along with door prizes, free how-to clinics and a food concession stand. Operating layouts in G, HO, and N scales are present.
Every Christmas Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids has a Railway Garden, complete with model trains that weave around holiday-themed horticulture and 30 iconic Grand Rapids miniature landmarks.
Venture to Owosso and hop aboard a train departing from the Steam Railroad Institute. During winter months, ride its Polar Express taking passengers on a Christmas-themed journey to an annual holiday festival in the Village of Ashley.
Or – you can always hop the Amtrak from Chicago or Detroit, book a room at the Stuart Avenue Inn, and an Innkeeper will meet you at the station.
Automobiles – Take a day for the 90-acre historic campus at the Gilmore Car Museum. Cars (and lots of them) but not just cars. The Museum tells the history of America through the automobile, fostering experiences that connect people with the history, heritage, and social impact of the automobile. Specialized shows (Corvette, Lincoln, English Sports Cars) are scheduled throughout the summer. Something a little smaller, but no less classic – the Vicksburg Old Car Festival, usually in June.
Streetrod Nationals North in September brings in over 2000 Street Rods, Street Machines, Custom Cars, Trucks and Specialty Vehicles all 1989 & earlier, plus Commercial Vendors with parts for sale all weekend.
Like your cars a bit faster? Check out Kalamazoo Speedway and the Kalamazoo Klash named one of the top five short-track racing events in the nation, or nearby Galesburg Speedway and US 131 Motorsports Park (hosting the Funny Car Nationals).
Have your own gear? Check out Kalamazoo River Watershed Council for information on River Trails and the Kanoe the Kazoo Schedule of paddle trips. Southwest Michigan Paddling has a map of access points.
For rentals and support check out Plainwell Kayak Company offering lake and river options (1, 2, and 3 hours). Lee’s Adventure Sports in next door Portage rents kayaks, canoes and paddle boards for the day. Choose your own river. Choose your own river. Located on the tranquil St. Joseph River, En Gedi Canoe Livery is just a half hour from Kalamazoo. Canoe livery season opens Memorial Day weekend. Offering canoe, kayak (single or tandem) and tube. A little further out, U-Rent-Em Canoe Livery an hour north of Kalamazoo in Hastings, MI offers full-service canoe, kayak and tube rentals on the scenic Thornapple River.
Something a little different?
Checkout Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery and see lake sturgeon, Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, northern pike, northern muskellunge, walleye, largemouth bass and a variety of sunfish! The Hatchery also has a nature trail system winding through the grounds, around a mixture of now-defunct and still-functioning ponds. Although unpaved, the trails are well-maintained enough to make pushing a stroller possible. The trails are quiet and peaceful and make a loop about a quarter-mile long. Wooded areas are perfect for shade on a hot day or for viewing the changing colors in the fall. Open areas provide welcome sunshine on a cool day and beautiful views across the ponds. At the beginning of the trail, next to the visitor’s center, is the hatchery’s show pond.
Looking for an outdoor adventure? Soar above Kalamazoo in a Hot Air Balloon. Too high for you? The Allegan Zip Line has two 600-ft. zip lines spanning the Kalamazoo River, plus, an outdoor QUICKjump free-fall simulation. Guests zip across the river and back for an exciting round-trip experience that lasts around 20 minutes. Or consider something a bit higher up with SkyDive Allegan
Horseback Riding for riders of all levels at Wild West Ranch in Allegan.
Allegan Antiques Market the last Sunday of the Month April – September. 200 dealers inside, 200 dealers outside. The show exhibitors carry a large variety of antiques and collectibles as well as some who specialize in glass, pottery, china, primitives, advertising, vintage jewelry, sport & fishing, furniture, and much more.
Check out a Lavender Farm where you can You can enjoy walking through the lavender fields and cut your own bundles to take home, watch as they distill lavender essential oil in a copper still and then enjoy a bit of shopping.
Or consider Discover Kalamazoo’s itinerary for the introverted traveler.
Kalamazoo Derby Darlins Kalamazoo’s own Flat Track Roller Derby team plays at Wings Event Center. Also playing at Wings Center are the Kalamazoo Wings, a professional hockey team, operating since 1974. A K-Wings game is the unmatched choice for entertainment during the fall and winter, with a fast-paced product on and off the ice.
Western Michigan’s Bronco’s – NCAA Division 1 football team play home games complete with canon and horse a short walk from the Inn.
United States Tennis Association Boys’ 18s & 16s National Championships overtake Kalamazoo for ten days each September. This is the single most important event of the tennis year for the nearly 500 outstanding junior boys who arrive from all parts of the United States. Each of the ultimate winners in singles and doubles earn the cherished title of United States National Champion. And as a testament to the incredible tennis played here, the 18s Champions in Singles and Doubles receive an automatic bid to the main draw of the U.S. Open Tournament.
Winter – Bittersweet Ski Resort offers seventeen runs for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. 350-foot vertical drop, quad chair lift and 100% snowmaking. Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers is a local grassroots cross-country skiing support club that grooms a trail at Milham Park. Check out their website for trail conditions and other information. Tobogganers and tubers will find plenty to do at Echo Valley Sports Park.
Every Christmas Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids celebrates how the world spreads joy across centuries and cultures with the glow of over 300,000 lights, strolling carolers, rooftop reindeer and 42 international trees and displays including the Germany tree, adorned with handmade glass ornaments and homemade springerle cookies, the England tree with antique Christmas cards and mistletoe, and the beautiful Eid ul-Fitr display, which celebrates the end of Ramadan. In the Railway Garden, model trains weave around holiday-themed horticulture and 30 iconic Grand Rapids miniature landmarks.
Venture to Owosso and hop aboard a train departing from the Steam Railroad Institute. During winter months, ride its Polar Express taking passengers on a Christmas-themed journey to an annual holiday festival in the Village of Ashley.
Kalamazoo’s New Year’s Fest is an all-ages showcase of performing arts that takes place on New Year’s Eve in Downtown Kalamazoo. There are a variety of activities that take place including music, magic, comedy, exhibitions, fireworks and great food. Buttons grant admission to every venue and act. The ball drop and fireworks are free to attend.
January brings Kalamazoo Beer Week, a week-long series of events that support the craft-beer experience through special tastings, dinners and interactive events. It’s your chance to meet the brewers, learn about what it takes to develop their intricate, highly desired brews, while gaining a greater understanding of the brews that have captured the palates of beer drinkers everywhere.
Summer – Summer kicks off in Kalamazoo the first weekend in June with the June Jubilee featuring many different events held in the downtown area. Browse juried art work from nearly 200 artists at the Annual Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Fair. The variety of medium includes ceramics, jewelry, glass, fiber, leather, paintings, prints, sculpture, wood, stone, metal, and photography. Artists may be the headline, but entertainment, food vendors, and a Friday beer garden add to the fun.
Any performance at The Barn Theater in nearby Augusta is worth a summer’s evening. Show’s run June through August, but be sure to get tickets and stay after your show for the Bar Show in the Rehearsal Shed.
In August, Magicians and Illusionists from all over the world will converge on Colon Michigan for Magic Fest. Or check out The Calhoun County Fair, Michigan’s oldest county fair held in Marshall in August; followed by the Midwest’s longest running Historic Home Tour also in Marshall in September.
Or visit Allegan Antiques Market one of the top ten indoor/outdoor antique shows in America at the Allegan Fair Grounds on the last Sunday of the month running April through September. The show has grown to an average of 400 exhibitors per show. New buildings, expanded exhibitor areas, food services and picnic areas have been added to create an enjoyable day for everyone. The show features a large variety of antiques and collectibles as well as some who specialize in glass, pottery, china, primitives, advertising, vintage jewelry, sport & fishing, furniture, and much more. Recent trends in the home design field have made the show a hot spot for architectural, industrial, primitive, country, and shabby chic.
Fall –In September consider The Vineyard Classical Bicycle tour – part of the annual Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival. The tour travels past lush vineyards and orchards at the peak of harvest season. Cyclists pass by woodlands, rivers, lakes and neighboring villages and can choose from three different length routes (20, 40 or 60-mile distances). There is a variety of places to stop and have breakfast at in town before the ride. There will be SAG support with radio crew, route maps, road markings, first aid and refreshment stops provided. Helmets are required. The Festival includes wine tours, wine tasting, 4 stages of musical entertainment, grape stomp, carnival rides, car show, sports activities, arts & crafts show and more.
Also in September, Streetrod Nationals North brings in over 2000 Street Rods, Street Machines, Custom Cars, Trucks and Specialty Vehicles all 1989 & earlier, plus Commercial Vendors with parts for sale all weekend.
Every Fall on the last Sunday in October the Kalamazoo Model Railroad Historical Society holds a Train Show & Sale at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds, featuring over 150 vendor tables, along with door prizes, free how-to clinics and a food concession stand. Operating layouts in G, HO, and N scales are present. event.
Venture to Frederick Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids for the annual celebration of autumn, Chrysanthemums & More! is the largest of its kind in Michigan, featuring expansive chrysanthemum displays, fall foliage and family-friendly activities.
Take a Haunted History of Kalamazoo Walking Tour and her about the ghost of Thelma . . .and more.
Fresh produce: From spring until late fall, Kalamazoo is ripe with fresh possibilities. Farmer’s Markets and Pick-Your-Own Orchards abound. Pick-your-own season starts in June with strawberries and goes through October with apples and pumpkins. If you’re lucky enough to visit in the fall, be sure to put a corn maze or hayride on your to-do list. Savor homemade cider and donuts alongside the changing landscape.