Destination: Summer!

Ideas for fun, fun, fun all summer long!
Windmill Island Gardens in Holland has a real windmill, antique Dutch carousel, playground and children’s gardens, and grounds featuring dikes, canals and picnic areas.

There’s a reason we all love summer: because it’s long days of fun, fun, fun (the Beach Boys knew what they were talking about).

Michiganders know how to pack more into our short summer months than you can stuff in a carry-on suitcase. And Southwest Michigan is a summer paradise — we are just a few hops, skips and a car ride from beaches, museums, festivals, music and more.

To help your family enjoy the season, our family fun experts at FYI have compiled these great suggestions for close, near and far adventures to have this summer.



Pollinator Garden

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, 12685 East C Ave, Augusta, 15.2 miles*

The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta has a Pollinator Garden with over 30 species of native Michigan plants to attract pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds. The Sanctuary, which is a refuge for migratory birds, also offers two miles of walking trails, including a 3/4-mile paved trail good for strollers, and four geocaches hidden on the property.

Hours: 9 am–7 pm daily

Cost: $5 adults, $4 for seniors and college students, $3 ages 2–17, children under 2 free

Info: birdsanctuary.kbs.msu.edu, 269.671.2510


Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

1000 E Beltline NE, Grand Rapids, 56.6 miles*

More than just gardens and sculpture, Frederik Meijer Gardens has a variety of kid-friendly features as well. From the Butterfly Maze and The Lena Meijer Children’s Garden with imaginative, child-friendly activities, to its newest feature, the Japanese Garden, which has eight acres of unique plants, waterfalls, elevation changes and structures, your family’s senses will be filled.

Hours: 9 am–5 pm Mon–Sat; 11 am–5 pm Sun

Cost: $14.50, $11 seniors and students, $7 children ages 5–13, $4 children ages 3–4, children 2 and under free

Info: meijergardens.org, 616.957.1580

Day Trip

Windmill Island Gardens

1 Lincoln Ave, Holland, 66.4 miles*

With 36 acres of gardens, including some that mimic famous paintings by Van Gogh and Matisse, and a 250-year-old working Dutch windmill, these gardens offer a lot to see. Tour the inner workings of the windmill, ride the antique Dutch carousel, enjoy the playground and children’s gardens, and walk the grounds with its dikes, canals and picnic areas.

Hours: 9:30 am–6 pm daily

Cost: $9 adults, $5 for children 3–15

Info: cityofholland.com/windmillislandgardens, 616.355.1030



Woods Lake Park

2900 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, 2.8 miles*

Woods Lake Park is conveniently tucked away in the heart of the city and offers a sandy beach, picnic pavilion and a playground. You can fish along the shore, and the lower parking lot has handicapped-accessible parking. With Oakland Plaza across the street, beverages and ice cream are a quick walk away.

Hours: 8 am–dusk daily

Cost: Free

Info: kzooparks.org/parks


Eagle Lake Beach, Fort Custer Recreation Area

5163 Fort Custer Drive, Augusta, 15 miles*

A quick afternoon at the beach can be had on the shores of Eagle Lake at Fort Custer’s recreation area. You can stake your spot on the sand or on lush grassy areas nearby. Bring sand toys, floaties, chairs and towels and enjoy the lake views.

Hours: 8 am–10 pm daily

Cost: $11 State of Michigan Recreation Passport

Info: michigandnr.com/parksandtrails, 269.731.4200

Day Trip

Silver Beach County Park

101 Broad St, St Joseph, 52.7 miles*

A fun family day trip, Silver Beach offers Lake Michigan beach access, volleyball, picnic areas and playgrounds. There’s also a large splash area with seating and in-ground water spouts, concession stands and a restored carousel.

Hours: 5 am–sunset daily

Cost: $8 per vehicle

Info: berriencounty.org/parks, 269.982.0533



Air Zoo

6151 Portage Road, Portage, 5.3 miles*

Explore space and air flight exhibits in this multi-sensory aviation museum. Recently expanded, the Air Zoo offers more than 50 rare and historic aircraft, amusement park-style rides, flight simulators, 3D/4D theater programs, as well as historical exhibits and educational activities.

Hours: 9 am–5 pm Mon–Sat; noon–5 pm Sun

Cost: $15.50 adults, $12.50 ages 60 and older, $14.50 ages 5–18, children 4 and under free

Info: AirZoo.org, 269.382.6555

Kalamazoo Valley Museum

230 N Rose St, Kalamazoo, .2 mile*

One of the area’s not-so-hidden gems is the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. The 60,000-square-foot museum offers cultural, historical and scientific literacy development for children of all ages via special exhibits, such as this summer’s Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice and Dinosaur Discovery. Admission and exhibits are free; some programs and planetarium shows cost $3 a person. Check FYI’s calendar on page 24 for ongoing, weekly and daily museum events.

Hours: 9 am–5 pm Mon–Sat; 1–5 pm Sun

Cost: Free admission; $3 for planetarium shows

Info: KalamazooMuseum.org, 269.373.7990


Michigan Maritime Museum

260 Dyckman Ave, South Haven, 39 miles*

With five buildings, including a center for teaching boatbuilding skills, this museum highlights the maritime history and culture of the Great Lakes. There are also on-water excursions, including a river launch, a tall ship and a Coast Guard motor lifeboat. Make sure to check out its new exhibit, Lake Michigan’s Call to Duty, which highlights the Lake Michigan region’s vast mobilization for World War II.

Hours: 10 am–5 pm daily

Cost: $8 adults, $7 seniors and $6 children; tickets for on-water excursions vary in cost, see website for details and reservations

Info: michiganmaritimemuseum.org, 269.637.8078

Kids ‘N’ Stuff Children’s Museum

301 S Superior St, Albion, 46.8 miles*

Kids ‘N’ Stuff Children’s Museum is an interactive experience exploring interesting facets of everyday life. You’ll find hands-on exhibits on agriculture and wind energy, build mountains or castles from blocks, visit critters and learn about conservation, explore how grocery stores, credit unions and auto shops work, and more. Best yet? There’s free admission on June 22 & July 27.

Hours: 10 am–4 pm Tues–Sat; noon–4 pm Sun

Cost: $6.50, children under 1 free

Info: kidsnstuff.org, 517.629.8023

Day Trip

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

220 E Ann St, Ann Arbor, 98 miles*

The focus of this museum is hands-on experiences in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). This museum offers more than 250 exhibits on topics ranging from honeybees and Michigan nature to light, optics and the internet.

Hours: 10 am–5 pm Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat; 9 am–5 pm Tues; 10 am–8 pm Thurs; noon–5 pm Sun

Cost: $12, children 0–23 months free

Info: aahom.org, 734.995.5439



Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery

34270 County Road 652, Mattawan, 10.6 miles*

Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery, which produces a variety of fish species for the Great Lakes and connected inland waters, has exhibits, tours, hiking trails, a bird-viewing platform and hands-on activities for kids. A visit to the hatchery is appropriate for all ages and allows kids the opportunity to engage in local nature and ecology.

Hours: 10 am–6 pm, Mon–Sat; noon–6 pm, Sun

Cost: Free

Info: michigan.gov/dnr, 269.668.2876


Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary and Zoological Gardens

1698 M-66, Athens, 34.4 miles*

Ever wanted to hold an alligator? Well, you can here. Created as a safe haven for reptiles and amphibians needing homes, the Sanctuary promises opportunities for hands-on and up-close experiences to observe and learn about a variety of species. Explore the animal exhibits, sandbox, gazebo, rainbow forest, lagoon, swamp walk and greenhouse as well.

Hours: 10 am–6 pm daily

Cost: $7.95, $6.95 seniors and educators, children 2 and under free

Info: alligatorsanctuary.com, 269.729.4802

Day Trip

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

3411 Sherman Blvd, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 119.5 miles*

Ranked as one of the Top Ten Zoos for Kids by parents.com, this zoo offers a walk on the wild side in its 38-acre, park-like setting. Go on safari in search of lions, leopards and zebras, and stop to hand-feed giraffes. Discover kangaroos, orangutans, sharks, tigers, stingrays and more and enjoy kid-friendly features and five rides.

Hours: 9 am–5 pm thru Oct. 8

Cost: $14 adults, $12 for ages 62+, $10 for ages 2–18, children 1 and under free

Info: kidszoo.org, 260.427.6800



Strawberry JAMboree

Stokes Homestead, 13988 County Road 215, Grand Junction, 32.2 miles*

You can pick them, eat them, sample wine made with them and compete in a contest eating pie made out of them — it’s all strawberries, all the time at this weekend family fun fest. Enjoy the farm’s wagon rides, nature trail, cow-train rides, playground, corn crib, pedal karts and duck races, or peruse arts and crafts and see a magic show.

Hours: 10 am–5 pm, June 24–25

Cost: Free, however there is a cost for picking berries

Info: stokeshomestead.com/strawberry-jamboree.html, 269.427.7777


National Blueberry Festival

Downtown South Haven, 38.7 miles*

With a parade and pageant, arts and crafts, concerts and more ways to eat blueberries — from pancakes to pie — than you can imagine, this festival is four days of blueberry-lovin’ fun. Take in the classic car show, sand sculpture contest, fish boil and kids’ activities, too.

Hours: Aug 10–13, hours vary by day and activity; check website for schedule

Cost: Most events are free, there is a cost for some vendors and food

Info: blueberryfestival.com, 269.637.5171

Day Trip

National Cherry Festival

Traverse City, 192.2 miles*

This festival is more than an homage to cherries; it’s a week-long event with concerts, kids’ activities, arts and crafts fair, parade, an air show and food events galore. With performers including Shinedown, REO Speedwagon, Cole Swindell, TruTV’s Impractical Jokers, and the USAF Thunderbirds, there’s pretty much entertainment for every age and interest.

Hours: July 1–8; see website for full schedule of events

Cost: Some activities free, tickets required for others; see website for details.

Info: cherryfestival.org, 231.947.4230



Nicholas Kik Pool

1018 Walter St, Kalamazoo, 1.1 miles*

With a 50-meter outdoor swimming pool, Kik Pool offers an affordable cool-off alternative, but also offers swimming lessons, lap swimming and water fitness classes. The pool is part of Upjohn Park, and after you take a dip, wander over to the park’s playground.

Hours: Open swim hours: 1:30pm–7 pm Mon, Wed, Fri–Sun; 1:30 pm–3 pm Tue & Thurs

Cost: $7 adult, $4 child

Info: kzooparks.org/kik-pool, 269.337.8191


Long Lake Beach, Ramona Park

8600 S Sprinkle Road, Portage, 9.8 miles*

One of the draws of Ramona Park is its beach staffed with lifeguards who watch over the whole family as they splash in the lake. Aside from swimming and fishing, Ramona Park has multiple play structures, pavilions, picnic tables, soccer, football and baseball fields, grills and restrooms, making it a great all-day destination.

Hours: 10:30 am–7:30 pm, June 9–Sept 4

Cost: $5 per vehicle for Portage residents; $10 per vehicle for non-residents

Info: portagemi.gov, 269.329.4522

Day Trip

Red Oaks Waterpark

1455 E 13 Mile Road, Madison Heights, 145.5 miles*

A huge park with water slides, wave pool, a children’s water playground with 68 features and toddler play area, and 990-foot moving river, your family can make a day-long adventure visiting the Red Oaks Water Park in Oakland County. The wave pool, river ride and children’s water playground are heated. There are abundant grassy areas for sitting as well as picnic pavilions and grills.

Hours: 11 am–7 pm weekdays; 10 am–7 pm weekends

Cost: $17 weekdays, $20 weekends; children up to a year old are free with a paid adult admission

Info: oakgov.com/parks/recreation, 248.858.0918



Upjohn Park

Lake and Walter Streets, Kalamazoo, 1.1 miles*

Nestled right in the heart of Kalamazoo, Upjohn Park boasts 18 acres that include a large, multi-section playground for children of different age groups and physical abilities. There’s a “Sway Fun” glider (a wheelchair-accessible glider that fits two wheelchairs and about six other children), a zoo of wooden animals that double as percussion instruments, a sand playground and three-point harness swings. Older kids might like the basketball court, skate park and soccer fields to run around on.

Hours: Dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

Info: kzooparks.org/parks, 269.337.8191


Northside Park

Watson Road, north of River Street, Otsego, 18.9 miles*

Northside Park is tucked amongst rolling hills with a mammoth Swiss Family Robinson-style wooden playground structure that has turrets, rope spider webs, miniature zip lines, a spaceship, kid-sized honeycomb, four slides and wall-puzzles. There are also baby and regular-size swings and a skateboard area with a ramp, baseball diamond and basketball court.

Hours: Dawn–10:30 pm

Cost: Free

Info: cityofotsego.org/parks, 269.692.3391

Day Trip

Tunnel Park

66 N Lakeshore Drive, Holland, 71.7 miles*

You can’t beat the views at this playground. Located on the Lake Michigan shoreline, this 22-acre park features a unique tunnel through a dune and a children’s playground complete with a dune climb and a stairway with scenic views of Lake Michigan. It’s also a great place for swimming, sunbathing and picnicking.

Hours: 7 am–10 pm daily

Cost: $7 daily motor vehicle fee for non-residents

Info: miottawa.org/parks, 616.738.4810




Close: 30 minutes or less away
Near: up to 1 hour away
Day Trip: 1 hour or more away
* Distance from Bronson Park, downtown Kalamazoo



Alice Wagner’s 7-year-old daughter, Olivia, started showi

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Windmill Island Gardens in Holland has a real windmill, antique Dutch carousel, playground and children’s gardens, and grounds featuring dikes, canals and picnic areas.

There’s a reason we all love summer: because it’s long da

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Good News!

Sunday, March 19, 2017
FYI- Family-Magazine-2017-School-Smarts-Guide-Feb/March2017

From left, Comstock STEM Academy students Macy Cannon, Amaya Gonzalez, and Shelby Alexander and teacher Karyn Medendorp work on a mechanical project in the school’s science lab.

Public schools?

Friday, January 20, 2017
FYI- Family-Magazine-2017-Preschool-Guide-Dec16/Jan-2017

Ask other parents on the playground, at work, or through

Monday, November 21, 2016