Here's How to Plan an Ultimate Kalamazoo Weekend

Nowhere is the combination of big city energy and small town feel more evident than in Kalamazoo, a community that combines energy and innovation with friendliness and an easy-going attitude. A vibrant Art Deco downtown sets the stage for quality dining, unique shops and galleries, and live entertainment. In Kalamazoo, you're never far from lakes, outdoor recreation, festivals and world-class attractions.

If you're looking to spend a weekend in the area, our friends at Discover Kalamazoo put together a list of must-do's when visiting.

Places to Hang Your Hammock

Many people love the beach, but many more love the feeling of swinging (or sleeping!) between a pair of tall trees at the park. In Kalamazoo, there are countless places to set up a hammock, but three spectacular destinations that you have to see to believe.

Hang out in Kalamazoo this summer Photo Courtesy of Morgan May (IG @Morgan_May14)

1. Fort Custer Recreation Area
5163 Fort Custer Dr.
Augusta, MI 49012

This recreation area has three lakes as well as the Kalamazoo River, high rolling meadows, soggy wetland, and abundant woods. There are 22 miles of hiking, biking, and horse trails. 219 modern campsites, two cabins, and three rustic cabins, Activities include Eagle Lake beach, picnic shelters, hunting, fishing, mountain biking and cross country skiing areas.

2. Lillian Anderson Arboretum
W Main St.
Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Kalamazoo College's Lillian Anderson Arboretum comprises 140 acres of marsh, meadow, pine plantation and second-growth deciduous forest in Oshtemo Township, Kalamazoo County, Michigan. The Arboretum was established in 1998 as a resource for the Kalamazoo College community, Kalamazoo-area residents, and visitors to the area.

3. Al Sabo Preserve
6310 Texas Dr.
Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Al Sabo Preserve is an area of northeastern Texas Township, in southwestern Kalamazoo County. It comprises 741 acres of marsh, forest, streams, and rolling hills. Numerous trails provide recreational opportunities throughout the preserve for families to explore during any season.

Pet-Friendly Stops

Going on a trip wouldn’t be the same without the entire family – especially your furry family members! When planning a trip to Kalamazoo, don't leave your four-legged friend behind. Here's a few spots in KZoo that are more than happy to host your pet.

Well-behaved dogs are always welcome at Arcadia Brewing Co. Photo Courtesy of Dan Woodall (IG @frodomonster)

1. Arcadia Brewing Co.
701 E Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Established in 1996, Arcadia Brewing is a British-style microbrewery and pub that offers a creative American menu, where handcrafted award-winning ales fuse with an innovative and eclectic fare. Specializing in wood-fired cuisine and brick oven pizzas made in a brick fire oven from Naples, Italy and house-smoked barbecue specialties like brisket and ribs smoked in a Southern Pride meat smoker.

2. Spirit of Kalamazoo Ice Cream
128 Portage St.
Kalamazoo MI

The Spirit of Kalamazoo sells unique clothing and merchandise representing the city of Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College and the state of Michigan. The store also sells delicious Plainwell Ice Cream, a locally made hard ice cream, and Water Street Coffee, a well-known local coffee.

3. Water Street Coffee Joint
315 E. Water Street
Kalamazoo, MI

Speaking of Water Street! The Water Street Coffee Joint offers house-roasted fresh brewed coffees and espresso drinks, shakes and smoothies made with Palazzolo’s gelatos and sorbettos, soups, salads, savories and the most incredible desserts, all made by hand with love, small batches and real ingredients.

Outdoor Music Venues

Ready to rock out? Kalamazoo has you covered. Whether you're taking in a concert or enjoying a play at one of ten live performance theatres, the art scene is magnificent in Kalamazoo. Discover these areas of the city if you're looking to enjoy some outdoor music this season.

Experience outdoor music events all around Kalamazoo Photo Courtesy of Entertainment District in Kalamazoo

1. District Square (part of the Entertainment District)
139 S. Edwards St.
Kalamazoo, MI

District Square is Kalamazoo's biggest outdoor bar & music venue. Night life is king  and an assortment of entertainment options are available from Thursday through Saturday. Enjoy live music ranging from rock, pop, blues and country presented on a state-of-the-art outdoor stage.

2. Bell’s Brewery
355 E. Kalamazoo Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI

Founded in 1985, Bell's Brewery, Inc. is Michigan's oldest craft brewery. The Eccentric Cafe in downtown Kalamazoo offers customers a chance to taste many of our well known beers, as well as small batch brews that are typically not available elsewhere.

3. Bronson Park
200 S Rose St.
Kalamazoo, MI

In every city there is a place that houses the memories of generations. It's true of the Bronson Park District, with Bronson Park at its center. Talk to real locals. Over and over, you'll hear stories of summer days spent playing tag in and around the park. Of summer concerts and Candy Cane Lane during the holidays. Of New Year's Fests and art fairs. Some will also tell you how a proud park, surrounded by neighboring churches, the county courthouse, public library, and civic theatre, stood strong as a deadly tornado swept through downtown.

Unique Places to Grab Drinks

Bottom's up! The beer culture is in full force in Kalamazoo. Home to 12 breweries, one of them being the oldest brewery in Michigan, Kalamazoo is quickly becoming a craft beer destination. With that said, there's plenty of other coctails to enjoy other than a hearty brew. Here's three spots to experience delightful craft cocktails.

Unique cocktails are available all around Kalamazoo Photo Courtesy of Principle Drink and Food

1. Principle Food & Drink
230 S. Kalamazoo Mall
Kalamazoo, MI
Principle Food & Drink was founded in the belief that West Michigan is hungry for an establishment that brings together these key elements: the finest ingredients offered by the local farm community;  talented, dedicated hospitality professionals from the Kalamazoo area; a creative craft cocktail program;  assembled in a comfortable attractive space in friendly downtown Kalamazoo.Try “The Colonial” – House made black tea infused flor de cana rum, cappelletti, orange, honey, lemon and mint.

2. Old Dog Tavern
402 E. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI

The Old Dog Tavern opened in January 2010 and is located in the historic Star Building at 402 E Kalamazoo Ave, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We are directly across the street from Bell’s Brewery and Water Street Coffee Joint—right next to the railroad tracks. Old Dog Tavern is owned and operated by Kalamazoo locals Sean and Amy Smith, with an aire for all things eclectic, odd and quirky. Try Angie Jackson’s “I’ve Got A Gal” – Journeyman White Rye, habanero simple syrup, pineapple juice and fresh lime.

3. Cosmo’s Cucina
804 W. Vine St.
Kalamazoo, MI
A contemporary oasis offering affordable gourmet cuisine, Cosmo's Cucina was established in November 1992 with the goal of bringing simply creative cooking to Kalamazoo. Cosmo's offers affordable gourmet cuisine incorporating seasonal foods into ever-changing lunch and dinner menus with creative daily specials, plus the popular weekend breakfast menu. Try the “Topolo Margarita” — Made with hand squeezed limeade, Sauza Commerativo Anjeo tequila, orange liqueur. Served shaken in a chilled martini glass. Also available in a Mango version.

What is your favorite thing to do in Kalamazoo? Share with us by commenting below!