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The Kalamazoo Nature Center stuns visitors with its natural beauty.

Recently, Western Michigan University’s home city of Kalamazoo was named the coolest city in the United States with the lowest cost of living by PureWow, a lifestyle content publication.

For WMU students staying local for spring break, check out these fun activities around Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo Mall:

The Kalamazoo Mall is a centerpiece of downtown Kalamazoo. The outdoor pedestrian mall was built in 1959 and was the first of its kind in the U.S. The mall features a plethora of specialty stores, restaurants and brewpubs all while immersing you in the old art-deco style architecture of downtown.

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Stores on the Kalamazoo Mall encourage patrons to shop local.

Vine Neighborhood:

The Vine has houses dating back to the 1840’s and is one of the most colorful places to live in the city. Situated between WMU and Downtown Kalamazoo, the Vine Neighborhood attracts long-term residents, students and homeowners who want to be near it all.

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A mural of the major landmarks that make up the Vine Neighborhood. 

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A school bus rides through the Vine as the sun rises on Downtown Kalamazoo.

Fourth Coast Coffee & Bakery:

Found within the Vine Neighborhood itself, Fourth Coast Café serves gourmet coffee drinks, juices, loose leaf and packet teas, in-house baked pastries, bread and more. Located beneath the Crow’s Nest Restaurant, go here in the morning and you just might be able to feed two birds with one scone.

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Coffee as you walk in and breakfast above your head, Fourth Coast Coffee offers the best of both. 

Air Zoo:

Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Experience is a museum located directly next to the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport. The museum features over 100 rare and historic air and space artifacts including the world’s only intact SR71-Blackbird. Air Zoo is known for its pairing of aircrafts with amusements like flight simulators and 4D experiences, making it fun for everyone.  

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Air Zoo's show floor is full of aircraft from all eras of flight that catch visitor's eyes.

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The only SR-71 Blackbird left intact remains on display at Air Zoo. 

Kalamazoo Nature Center:

Celebrating its 60th anniversary last year, Kalamazoo Nature center offers some of the best of Kalamazoo’s natural beauty. 14 miles of trails wind through the wooded landscape where hikers can find landmarks such as the Kalamazoo River or one of the highest points in Kalamazoo County. KNC is more than just the outdoors, their visitors center offers interactive displays so you can learn about the animals who call KNC home. There is a $5 admissions fee.

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Railroad tracks pass through Kalamazoo Nature Center. You are never too far from a train in Kalamazoo.

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Autumn at the KNC makes for some of the best sights of the native deciduous forest. 

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A blue heron walks in a creek on the eastern border of the Kalamazoo Nature Center.  

Lillian Anderson Arboretum:

Quaintly off the road on M-43, Kalamazoo College’s Lillian Anderson Arboretum is easy to miss. The hidden gem offers 140 acres of marsh, meadow, pine and deciduous forest. K-college uses the arboretum for research but it's open from dawn to dusk and free to the public.

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Lillian Anderson Arboretum features a growth of pine trees, known as the Magnificent Pines.

Bishop’s Bog Preserve:

Located in Kalamazoo’s neighboring city of Portage but too cool not to be included on this list is Bishop’s Bog. As the last remaining “relic bog” in southern Michigan, the bog is like no other landscape many have experienced before. Home to carnivorous plants and sphagnum moss, be sure to bring your rain boots while walking on the floating boardwalk through the one-of-a-kind preserve.

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A floating Dock passes through Bishop's Bog in order to mitigate damage to the fragile landscape. 

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A bench offers a place to rest in the serene bog. Wait here to see what wildlife you might encounter.

Kal-Haven Trail:

Spanning the 34 miles from Kalamazoo to South Haven, the Kal-Haven Trail is one of the most accessible places in Kalamazoo to walk, run, bike and snowmobile in the winter. Built on an old railroad bed, the trail is mostly flat and straight, passing through wooded areas, farmland and small towns all the way to the black river mouth in South Haven just miles from Lake Michigan.

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The Kal-Haven Trail State Park trailhead is on Tenth Street. 

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The Kal-Haven Trail travels through wooded scenery.

Bell’s Eccentric Café: 

This Kalamazoo classic has reached national acclaim. Bell’s Brewery, General Store and Eccentric Café keeps building a legacy Kalamazoo residents stay excited about. Some beers are exclusive to the café and right around the corner at the general store you can get Bell’s gear and beer to go and homebrew ingredients.

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Bell's Eccentric Cafe pairs draught beer with delicious food 

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Bell's general store offers all things Bell's beer. Whether your favorite is Oberon, Official or Two Hearted, they have the beer and the swag to go with it.

Kalamazoo Beer Exchange:

By offering rotating draught beers, the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange takes a new approach to happy hour. The Beer Exchange bases their prices on real time sales, so when one beer is popular the price goes up and vice versa. The practice is called dynamic pricing, just like the real stock market. To add even more to the experience, random “market crashes” add to the excitement. Currently the exchange is closed due to COVID-19, but a reopening is expected in April per a Facebook post.

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The Kalamazoo Beer Exchange eagerly waits to reopen coming April. 

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