South haven

Dig Michigan: Kalamazoo Region

Situated approximately half way between Detroit and Chicago and home to Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo is the second of Michigan’s regions that we are exploring this month. Our goal with this series of articles is to give you a little taste of some great vacation opportunities that are probably less than a tank of gas away, so if you have suggestions or questions about visiting the area, we’d love it if you would share them in the comments

july 20 station

A Brief History
Through Discover Kalamazoo we learn that Kalamazoo County began as a small fur-trading post founded by Titus Bronson in the late 1700s. Like many Michigan cities, Kalamazoo’s name was adapted from an Indian word, “kikalamazoo,” meaning boiling water. Water has long been a vital component in Kalamazoo’s major industries including papermaking and agriculture which have helped the area grow and prosper.

Some of the many famous products manufactured in Kalamazoo include Checker Cabs, Gibson guitars, Kalamazoo Stoves, Stryker hospital beds and Shakespeare fishing rods and reels. In the late 1800s, W. E. Upjohn moved to Kalamazoo and created The Upjohn Company, which is now part of Pfizer Corporation, the world ‘s largest pharmaceutical company.

Recently Kalamazoo has made national news with the Kalamazoo Promise which provides a scholarship to every Kalamazoo Public School student. It has served as a catalyst and an inspiration throughout Michigan, the United States and even the international community.

Culinary Delights
Once know as ‘Celery City‘, Kalamazoo was once was noted for celery and bedding plants. To this day the surrounding countryside still continues to produce significant quantities of farm crops of which can be found at one of the many area farmers markets and u-pick farms. Like other regions in Michigan the Kalamazoo area has become home to the burgeoning wine industry. The Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail hugs the southeast shore of Lake Michigan, extending from the Michigan-Indiana border north 70 miles to the Kalamazoo River. The Kalamazoo area also is home to several micro-breweries such as Aradia brewing Co in Battle Creek and the granddaddy of them all Bell’s Brewery. Other notable food producers include Tree-Mendus Fruit which is home of the world famous International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship, the A.M. Todd Company which is a leading producer of peppermint oil and their offshoot Kalsec which produces spice, herb, hop, and vegetable extracts. Just a few of the great restaurants in the area include Zazios which features an interactive dining experience, the Epic Bistro, Food Dance, Tello Wine Bar and the historic Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub.

Kalamazoo and surrounding areas, in pictures
The photo above is titled july 20 station taken by Kathie Gibson aka noearlybird and is part of the Kalamazoo flickr pool. The location of the photo is the new Kalamazoo Transportation Center. Also check out Kathie’s shots of Binder Park Zoo in nearby Battle Creek. In addition to Kalamazoo, some other areas you may want check out include, South Haven, St. Joseph, Battle Creek and Saugatuck.

South Haven Pier by the kcephoto
South Haven Pier by the kcephoto

But what is there to DO in Kalamazoo?
Known as the land of rolling hills and numerous lakes it is the cities that bring rich and diverse community culture to the Kalamazoo region. This area of Michigan is packed with must see attractions, abundant recreation and unique shopping experiences for everyone. In the summer months the beautiful inland lakes and the the Lake Michigan shoreline towns of St. Joseph, South Haven and Saugatuck are popular destinations. Other notable outdoor hotspots include the Kal-Haven Trail State Park, which is a 34.5 mile linear Kal-Haven Trail State Park extends from South Haven, on the shores of Lake Michigan, to the northwest suburbs of the City of Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo Watershed Heritage Water Trail and Warren Dunes State Park. There is also plenty to do year around such as the Air Zoo, the Gilmore Car Museum, the #1 in the nation rated Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, the Binder Park Zoo, the American Museum of Magic and the expansive Fort Custer Recreation Area.

Where do I go for more?
You can dig deeper through Absolute Michigan by checking out Absolute Michigan county pages for St. Joseph , Kalamazoo, Cass, Barry, Van Buren, Allegan, Calhoun & Branch and also try the pages for Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, South Haven and many other towns that you can see on the Absolute Michigan Map of Michigan. Of course there are tons of other web sites with useful information. Some of our favorites are the The City of Kalamazoo, South Haven Visitors Bureau, St. Joseph Today and Battle Creek Play for Keeps.

Van Buren County, Michigan

Moving up the Michigan shoreline from Berrien County, we come to Van Buren County. Read on for much more about Michigan’s fruit basket!