Back in the summer of 2019, I flew to Kalamazoo to go visit some old friends of mine and to go explore some of the places in the city too. I absolutely love the atmosphere and vibe that the city emits, and the city has so many art connections that you can really feel it – I really recommend visiting if you’re ever in Michigan.
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What to do in Kalamazoo
I’ve curated this list of the places I visited with my friends, so make sure you check them out if you’re ever in the city!
Rose Gold Coffee Company
Updated Jan 2023: I’m sad to announce that I think this coffee shop has closed as of summer 2022
To start off my list is Rose Gold Coffee Company – I absolutely loved this coffee shop when I visited and it was completely plant based which was amazing! The staff there were some of the most wonderful and kind people, and they made the most AMAZING cheesecake ever.
The coffee shop itself had the perfect aesthetic, with a brick wall and featured art from local artists in the community, as well as having loads of boardgames to play while you’re there! I really hope to go back here soon if I can!
The Kalamazoo Institute Of Arts
The KIA in downtown Kzoo is probably one of my favourite places from the whole trip. It’s a museum for not only permanent art exhibits but travelling ones too, and it is also a school that offers 300+ classes like pottery! The museum is definitely worth going to, with an amazing range of exhibits and if you go during ArtHop* there is usually live music! Admission is only 5 dollars and you could easily spend hours around the museum
*ArtHop is a monthly event that spreads across downtown Kalamazoo, celebrating local artists of all kinds. Anything from live music, art demos, food trucks, and much more fun stuff.
Just by the KIA, is Bronson Park, which is a wonderful place to just hang and chill out, as there is lots of shade and it’s bang in the middle of downtown. It has lots of wonderful statues and fountains, and many live events are held in the park all year round.
Sweetwater’s Donut Mill
Sweetwater’s is one of my favourite places we got food at in Kzoo, they have some of the best donuts I’ve ever had and they have one of the widest range of donuts I’ve ever seen – ironic saying as it’s a donut store! The donuts are also crazy cheap for how amazing they are, so I definitely recommend stopping by!
Okay, I bet you’re thinking about how going to a library is a strange place to stop by on your trip, but I would suggest going there either for a cool down in the aircon or to just feel at home with a large collection of books (or both!). I found the library an amazing place to wander around, as it’s really tranquil, and they have these amazing prism-like cubes that hang from the ceiling that are really mesmerising to look at!
Immediately when my friend told me about Rocket Fizz, I automatically imagined Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes from Harry Potter. This cute little joke candy shop is basically just that – there are all sorts of things in this candy store from crazy flavoured soda to an abundance of taffy! And the retro feel to the store makes it feel so inviting I swear I could’ve been there for hours.
Bookbug and This Is A Bookstore
Now the reason why these are two different places is because, well, they are! Technically they are two different bookstores, but you can walk in-between the two since they are owned by the same people! This is a Bookstore is one of the cutest independent bookstores I’ve been into, and they have a cafe instore which makes the store smell divine! Bookbug is home to all the kids books but that doesn’t mean it’s any less amazing to look around! The entire store is phenomenal and filled with so much fandom merch I felt incredibly at home – despite being 3,000 miles away from it!
Tudor House Tea & Spice
If you’re a massive tea lover, I couldn’t recommend Tudor Tea more. We stopped by here a few times while I was visiting for boba/bubble tea and to stock up on different teas before I flew home. They have a seriously warm and cosy feel at Tudor Tea – imagine the coffee shop aesthetic but with less tables and much more rows of tea! If you’re ever around in the Autumn or Winter, I seriously recommend their Maple Taffy tea and Jack Frost Chai tea – I’m now wishing I could go back and buy some more…
Kalamazoo Valley Museum
The museum is definitely one place we visited that I would always recommend, especially if you have young kids or you just wanna get out of the heat for a little while. It has amazing exhibits such as Kalamazoo Direct to You, which is all about the history of the city and what it became known for. Apparently, even some of my friends ancestor’s items were on show there!
Ritter’s Frozen Custard
This was my first time having frozen custard, and even though it wasn’t vegan, it was one of the best things I ate on the trip. I had pistachio flavour and I would definitely recommend it if you ever stop by – and it’s a great way to cool down in the summer too!
Kalamazoo Farmers Market
As cottagecore aesthetics and markets have always been something I absolutely love, getting to go to the Kalamazoo Farmers Market was a big hit for me. You can get HUGE boxes of blueberries in the summer, and there was also a local poem artist there who will write you a poem based on a word or feeling, and you choose how much to pay for it. You can check out some of her work at @thepoemmarket over on Instagram! I definitely recommend stopping by if you have a morning free, but be sure to check which days it’s on.
Other places to see in Michigan!
Of course, while I was on my trip we visited some places outside of Kalamazoo, so here’s a quick rundown of my favourite parts a little further afield.
Although we didn’t explore much of the city itself, it has such a wonderful beach on the edge of Lake Michigan, and I really recommend going one evening for a walk or a dip in the water over summer. The water still stays pretty warm after the sun goes down during summer so don’t worry too much about that!
Sherman Dairy Bar, South Haven
Although clearly not a vegan place, I definitely recommend stopping by on a hot day if you have the chance, but be aware of the large queues that form – trust me it’s worth the wait!
Lake Michigan in Manistee
If you love swimming, especially in freshwater, I couldn’t recommend Lake Michigan more. Although I’m not a hugely confident swimmer in open waters, going for a dip in the middle of summer and watching the sunset over the water was probably one of my favourite memories from the trip. We went here a few times, including on the 4th of July when we watched the fireworks at the beach!
Sault Ste. Marie – Ontario, Canada and The Upper Peninsula, Michigan!
While on my trip, this was the most north I had ever been in the states, so my friend offered to see if we could do a road trip to the UP (Upper Peninsula) and over the border to Canada! I had never been into Canada before this trip so I was really excited to tick off another country from my list. Although there is more to see on the US side of the border, we got to see the sunset in Canada which was fantastic. I would love to go see the Upper Peninsula again in the fall as I’ve been told that the colours there are gorgeous – and who doesn’t love a road trip in fall anyway!?
I hope you enjoyed this post and that it’s inspired you to check out one of my favourite cities, I’m sure you’ll see me write about Michigan soon in the future!
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