There’s a lot to see and do in Kalamazoo, Michigan, but you can still get a real sense of the city in a single day. A world-class air and space museum, centers for local art and history and a wealth of delicious food and drink are all worth visiting if you don’t have much time to spare.
Begin the day with a delicious breakfast at Crow’s Nest, a short walk from downtown on S. Westnedge Ave. This upscale diner has some cool and different options, including its French toast which comes in flavors such as espresso, amaretto pecan and strawberry shortcake.
Next, we’re heading farther south to Air Zoo, one of the most popular attractions in the region. The Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum has much to explore and something for everyone, with historical exhibits dedicated to all kinds of unique and significant aircraft from the Wright brothers to rockets and space capsules. There are also amusement park-style rides, flight simulators, and educational activities for the entire family.
For lunch, it’s back to town to take a stroll along the Kalamazoo Mall. Now split into the south and north malls, which run from Eleanor Street to W. Lovell Street along Burdick Street, it’s notable for being the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the United States when it opened in 1959. It’s also a great place to work up an appetite with plenty of locally owned boutiques and small art galleries to check out. Once you’re hungry again, it also has a wide variety of dining options, such as Rustica, a fancy European eatery, or The Union Cabaret & Grille, a classic American grill.
After lunch, it’s time for more culture at one of two downtown highlights, depending on your tastes. You can learn about the history of Kalamazoo, check out a 2,300-year-old mummy, catch a planetarium show and more at the free Kalamazoo Valley Museum. Alternatively, you can visit the city’s premier art museum, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, which has regular rotating exhibitions celebrating local art, as well as a permanent collection featuring paintings, sculpture, and photography from across the globe.
Time to eat again, and there are a number of options in the city. Food Dance is a farm-to-table restaurant downtown with a range of modern dishes made from fresh, seasonal produce, or there’s Zooroona, a restaurant serving a menu of excellent Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food in atmospheric surroundings that will make you forget you’re in Kalamazoo.
End the evening by enjoying Michigan’s famous beer industry at one of the state’s top breweries, Bell’s. Attached to the main brewery, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe is a cool space with more than 20 draft options, including some exclusive beers you can’t find anywhere else.