Destination: Summer!

Great adventures near and far
Get wet at River Oaks County Park Splash Pad

Summer is about taking trips with your kids: Whether it’s a short trip to a local park to hike or bike, longer trips to museums or water parks, or day trips to a special location or festival, there are a million places to go.

To help narrow down that list, the family fun experts here at FYI have some great suggestions for close, near and far adventures to find this summer.

Destination: Animal Attractions


Binder Park Zoo, 7400 Division Dr, Battle Creek, *27 miles
One of the largest zoos in Michigan with 433 acres of 32 exotic and 19 domestic animals, Binder Park Zoo has a variety of fauna and flora, a Wild Africa exhibit, a train, a tram, a carousel, a Wildlife Discovery Theatre and a children’s zoo where kids can feed goats, llamas, sheep and other domestic animals. See image in gallery above

  • Hours: 9 am–5 pm Mon–Fri, 9 am–6 pm Sat, 11 am–6 pm Sun
  • Cost: $11.50 ages 2–10, $13.50 ages 11+, $12.50 ages 65+
  • Contact: 269.979.1351,binderparkzoo.org


Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park, 8313 Pratt Lake SE, Alto, *66 miles
Located on 80 acres of land, Boulder Ridge boasts a collection of 1,500 exotic animals and reptiles representing 180 species including kangaroos, ostrich, lemurs and an 11-foot alligator. There’s also a petting zoo where visitors might get the rare chance to pet a baby zebra, wildebeest or water buffalo.

  • Hours: 10 am–6 pm Mon, Wed–Sat; 10 am–8 pm Tues, 12 pm–6 pm Sun
  • Cost: $11.50 ages 2–10, $13.50 ages 11+, $12.50 ages 65+
  • Contact: 616.868.6711, boulderridgewap.com

Day Trip

Sea Life Michigan Aquarium, 4316 Baldwin Road, Auburn Hills, *160 miles
With more than 5,000 sea creatures including sharks, turtles and octopi, this aquarium offers talks and animal feedings to observe, an underwater ocean tunnel and a touch pool to
allow you to feel a crab, sea star, sea urchin and more.

  • Hours: 10 am–8 pm Mon–Sat, 10 am–5 pm Sun
  • Cost: $18 ages 13+, $13 ages 3–12, free for children 2 and under
  • Contact: 866.622.0605, visitsealife.com/michigan

Destination: Bike


Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, Kalamazoo, *1 mile
Newly constructed bike lanes through downtown Kalamazoo have connected the KRVT’s 22 miles of paved paths. Trails are perfect for a short ride after dinner or a daylong family pedal to Lake Michigan by way of the KRVT to the Kal-Haven trail. See image in gallery above


Fort Custer Recreation Area, 5163 Fort Custer Dr, Augusta, *15 miles
With more than 25 miles of mountain biking trails, Fort Custer has paths for all skill levels that run through second-generation forests and along the Kalamazoo River. Park includes campsites, a swimming lake and hiking trails.

Day Trip

Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, S. Dune Hwy, Empire, *190 miles
Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage trail is a 27-mile path through quaint towns, farms and forests along the Lower Peninsula’s northwest coastline. Look forward to pit stops at Glen Haven Historic Village and the famous Sleeping Bear Dune Climb.

Destination: Camp


Markin Glen County Park, 5300 N Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, *3.5 miles
Explorers of all ages will enjoy Markin Glen’s 160 acres of paved trails through mature beech forests and native wildflower meadows. Aside from 38 modern campsites, a well-maintained playground overlooking a swimming lake and shady picnic nooks, hikers can experience a scenic view of downtown from one of the highest points in Kalamazoo.

  • Hours: 7 am–sunset, beach hours 7 am–8:30 pm
  • Cost: $5 daily vehicle pass, $2 pedestrian/bicyclist daily pass, $25 annual vehicle pass (good for all five Kalamazoo County parks)
  • Contact: 269.383.8778, kalcounty.com/PARKS/markinglen/index.html


Warren Dunes State Park, 12032 Red Arrow Hwy, Sawyer, *74 miles
Warren Dunes has three miles of shoreline, six miles of hiking trails and a dune formation that rises 260 feet above Lake Michigan. Rustic, semi-modern, modern and group campsites available. See image in gallery above

Weekend Trip

Beaver Island Campground, Donegal Bay Road, Beaver Island, *227 miles
Beaver Island is surely one of the more unique and rustic destinations in Michigan. Hop a ferry, stop by the bakery, set up the family tent at one of two campgrounds, kayak through inland rivers, learn about the island’s gripping history and play on Lake Michigan white sand beaches all afternoon.

Destination: Children's Museums


Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, 11 Sheldon Ave NE, Grand Rapids, *51 miles
Hands-on, interactive museum for children ages 2-10, including bubbles, vet clinic, kidstruction zone and a real beehive.

  • Hours: 9:30 am–5 pm Tues, Wed & Fri; 9:30 am–8 pm Thurs; noon–5 pm Sun; closed Mon
  • Cost: $8.50 ages 1-64, $7.50 ages 65+, $6.50 military family and school faculty, free for members & children under 1
  • Contact: 616.235.4726, grcm.org


Curious Kids’ Museum, 415 Lake Blvd, St. Joseph, *51 miles
Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone, 333 Broad St, St. Joseph, *51 miles
Just steps from one another, Curious Kids’ Museum and Curious Kids Discovery Zone offer interactive fun. The museum has more than 100 interactive exhibits for ages 1-10, including a vet clinic, a Great Lakes ship and bubbles. The Discovery Zone is geared to kids ages 3-14 and has water exhibits, a climbing wall and tower, and an outdoor science gallery.

  • Hours: Curious Kids’ Museum: 10am–5 pm Mon–Sat, 10 am–4 pm Sun' Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone: 10 am–5 pm Mon–Sat, noon–5 pm Sun. Both facilities are closed Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day.
  • Cost: $6 admission to each facility, $10 joint admission to both, free for members and children under 1 year
  • Contact: Curious Kids’ Museum, 269.983.2543; Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone, 269.982-8500; curiouskidsmuseum.org

Day Trip

Science Central Museum, 1950 N Clinton St, Fort Wayne, IN, *120 miles
This science-focused museum in the renovated former City Light and Power Plant built in 1929, offers more than 130 hands-on exhibits including a NOAA Science on a Sphere, a high-rail bike and tidal pool. Kids ages 2–7 have a special area with a giant piano keyboard, water play activities, bubble windows, and play area. See image in gallery above

  • Hours: Until June 30: 10 am–4 pm Wed–Fri, 10 am–5pm Sat, noon–5 pm Sun, closed Mon & Tues; Summer hours begin July 1:
    10am–5pm Mon–Sat, noon-5pm Sun
  • Cost: $8, free for members and
    children under 2
  • Contact: 260.424.2400, sciencecentral.org

Destination: Festivals


Kindleberger Summer Festival of the Performing Arts, Kindleberger Park, Park & Maple Streets, Parchment, *3.2 miles
Five days of family fun including two stage performances, Brigadoon and Pirates of the Amazon, a car show, arts and crafts, 5K & Kids Fun runs, parade, children’s area and food vendors. See image in gallery above


Three Rivers Water Festival, Railroad Street, Three Rivers, *27 miles
A real small-town festival offering three days of family-friendly fun including a pig roast, parade, pet show, carnival rides, food, live bands and fireworks.

  • Hours: June 16-18; events begin at 9 am June 16 & 17 and at 7 am June 18, check website for schedule
  • Cost: Admission and many activities are free; cost varies for others
  • Contact: trchamber.com

Day Trip

Delta Rocks! Family Festival, Sharp Park, 1401 Elmwood Road, Lansing, *74 miles
A free family festival with more than 30 activities including clowns, live animals, children’s make-it take-it craft booths, inflatables, games, face painting, super sling shot, trackless train rides and petting zoo. Park your car at Lansing Mall and take advantage of the free shuttle that runs to the festival.

Destination: Hike


Lillian Anderson Arboretum, W Main Street, Kalamazoo, *6 miles
Kalamazoo College’s biology research grounds are the perfect place to escape into nature without driving far. Tucked behind Kalamazoo Public Library’s Oshtemo branch, the arboretum has miles of trails through meadows and forest, over footbridges and past lakes and marshes. Look for a new educational pavilion this summer.


Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, 701 W Cloverdale Road, Hastings, *27 miles
Your family will fall in love with this remote piece of wilderness in Kalamazoo’s backyard. The institute’s researchers have put together a packed summer schedule of educational nature hikes amongst grand oak stands and converted meadows.

  • Hours: Trails open dawn-dusk; Visitors’ Center 9 am–5 pm Mon-Fri, guided nature hikes listed online
  • Cost: Free trails, event pricing varies
  • Contact: 269.721.4190, cedarcreekinstitute.org

Day Trip

Van Buren State Park, 23960 Ruggles Road, South Haven, *39 miles
Located three miles south of South Haven, Van Buren State Park offers woodland trails and awe-inspiring vistas of Lake Michigan. It’s the perfect place for parents to lounge with a book by the Big Lake while kids dune-jump down sugar bowls and sandy blowouts. See image in gallery above

Destination: History


Gilmore Car Museum, 6865 W Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, *15 miles
Journey back to yesteryear and see one of the largest collections of historic automobiles in North America. Kids can explore an old-fashioned gas station, vintage dealership and eat lunch at a 1950s-style diner. See image in gallery above

  • Hours: 9 am-5 pm Mon–Fri
  • Cost: $5 day pass, $15 week pass
  • Contact: 269.671.5089, gilmorecarmuseum.org/


Coopersville & Marne Railway Train, 311 E Danforth St, Coopersville, *68 miles
Passengers can travel through time on a 7-mile route in 1920s-era train cars while learning about the history of trains in western Michigan.Check the schedule for popular-theme rides like “The Great Train Robbery”. Charter rides are available by appointment.

  • Hours: 9:30 am–1:30 pm Wed, 9:30 am–last train Sat, theme trains 11:30 am–3:30 pm Sun
  • Cost: Ticket prices vary
  • Contact: 616.997.7000, coopersvilleandmarne.org

Day Trip

Greenfield Village, 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, *131 miles
This not-so-secret family venue is a classic for a reason. With 83 authentic historic structures including the lab where Thomas Edison gave the world light, workshop where the Wright Brothers gave us wings and the building where Abraham Lincoln practiced law, this expansive museum brings 300 years of American history to life.

Destination: Music


Celery Flats Music Festival, 7328 Garden Lane, Portage, *6 miles
Enjoy an afternoon of bluegrass and Americana music in the Celery Flats Historical Area. See image in gallery above


Grand Rapids Symphony’s Picnic Pops, 6800 Cannonsburg Road NE, Belmont, *66 miles
Pack a picnic dinner and sit outside on a blanket and enjoy orchestral covers of artists such as Queen, The Beach Boys, Boys II Men and David Bowie.

  • Hours: 7:30 pm July 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 & 29, Aug 2 & 4
  • Cost: Lawn seating $18 adult, $5 child, call GRS for table and chair seating prices
  • Contact: 616.454.9451, grsymphony.org/gr-pops

Day Trip

Music in the Park, Dewey Canon Park, Three Oaks, *74 miles
A quaint gazebo at the center of downtown Three Oaks has been hosting performers from around the world since 1899. This summer’s lineup includes world music from Dominica, The Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival and Columbia College’s soul collective.

Destination: Splash!


River Oaks County Park Splash Pad, 9202 E Michigan Ave, Galesburg, *7.6 miles
With in-ground and above-ground water spray play, this zero-entry water park is great for kids ages 2–12. The 330 acres surrounding the splash pad area include Morrow Lake, a playground, picnic shelters and hiking trails. See image in gallery above


Flash Flood Water Park, 35 Hamblin Ave, Battle Creek, *26 miles
This water park combines inside and outside fun, including two 200-foot outdoor waterslides, two 200-foot indoor water slides, zero depth entry pools, a water playground and Water Wars. Inside you’ll find inflatables and other

  • Hours: 10 am–7 pm most days Memorial Day–Labor Day, check website as hours vary
  • Cost: $9; $12 Superblast admission (both water parks and inside attractions), free for children under 2
  • Contact: 269.966.3667, bcparks.org/182/Flash-Flood-Water-Park

Day Trip

Stearns Park Beach, Stearns Outer Drive, Ludington, *147 miles
Located within walking distance to downtown, this beach on Lake Michigan offers not only sand and swimming, but volleyball courts, a playground, the North Breakwater Light, shaded grassy picnic area with grills, concession stands and a skateboard park.





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