Binder Park Zoo hosts an exotic coterie of more than 140 animal species, all administered to in accordance with the exacting standards of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Navigate the map of habitats, or hop on the free Wilderness Tram for rapid transit straight to the Wild Africa portion of the grounds to glimpse an impala's prancings, a mangabey's antics, or an ostrich's rude refusal to acknowledge visitors. Fans of gargantuan gullets can drop some food into the stretched esophagi of seven reticulated giraffes at the Twiga Overlook, and a red kangaroo displays its preternatural quad strength by jumping and deadlifting a tree trunk. Once casual backpackers work up an appetite on the 1.3-mile hiking trail, they can refuel with the two combo meals from either Beulah's Restaurant or Kalahari Kitchen. Use the two tokens for rides on either the Z.O. & O. Railroad or the Binda Conservation Carousel.
The talented chefs at Barley's American Grill pass on artificial flavors and fillers in favor of fresh ingredients used to fix up a menu of home-style American favorites. Preface a delicious meal with an appetizer of spinach-and-mozzarella bread served with a side of ranch dressing or pizza sauce ($8). Baby faces can don barbecue-sauce beards by taking big bites of the barbecue-bacon cheeseburger ($8.50) or matching their mandibles against the eatery's signature half-rack of baby back pork ribs with barbecue sauce ($13). Mouths take a pleasure trip to Italy with the pizza panini, stuffed with capocollo, pepperoni, mozzarella, and pizza sauce ($7.50), or plumb the depths of the sea with a platter of deep-fried cod and skewered shrimp ($14.50). A side of herb mashed potatoes ($2.50) sidles up alongside entrees to form a hunger-suppressing dynamic duo.
Kalamazoo Nature Center's 14-mile expanse of trails weaves around 1,100 acres of ponds, prairies, and forests, giving nature lovers of all ages an ample arena to hike, learn, and explore one of the first nature centers in the country. Membership allows unlimited free admission to the preserve so that visitors can soak up a diverse array of wild flowers, birds, and majestic park benches in natural habitat. Kalamazoo hosts a slew of family and children activities on select Saturdays, such as "Story Corner at the Barn," during which a storyteller corrals tykes aged 8 and younger for visits with sheep, goats, and barnyard residents before and after reading them pastoral tales. Additionally, Kalamazoo Nature Center members receive a 10% discount at Expedition Gift Shop, a bimonthly newsletter subscription, and discounts on youth camps for ages 3–17.
Landmarks of standup for decades, Connxtions Comedy Clubs remain mainstays for up-and-coming comics and national stars, with a roster of past performers that includes Sinbad, Drew Carey, Tim Allen, D. L. Hughley, and Rob Schneider. Headlining comedians, many seen on national television, keep the venues teetering Thursday–Saturday nights, whereas Wednesday nights host improv spectacles and open mics where rookies can begin their ascent into stardom or descent into miming. While refueling chuckle tanks, duos and groups can split a savory appetizer, such as fried pickle spears or buffalo popcorn shrimp, or enjoy a potent cocktail at the bar.
The Courthouse Athletic Center helps pintsize athletes build sports skills, friendships, and healthy lifestyles at six-week-long basketball and volleyball camps. Instead of playing full-contact Rubik's cube on Friday evenings, kids can burn off energy with a full hour of games and drills led by a friendly, experienced instructor. Youngsters play with campers near their own age and skill level, building confidence as they discover how to levitate volleyballs and putt basketballs into the hoop. The coach encourages each athlete along the way, sharing tips on form, strategy, teamwork, and sportsmanship. In addition to becoming better competitors, camp-goers develop perseverance, deepen their love of the game, and learn not to clone the ref, even in the event of a double-dog dare.
Slip ‘n’ slides. Mud pits. Tire runs. A tarzan swing. Regardless of whether you choose the 1.5- or 3.5-mile route, the Muddy Patriot has one goal in mind: to get you dirty. With adrenaline pumping and live music from The Bronk Bros. filling the air, racers aged 13 and older take on the Muddy Patriot obstacle course, which is made, like a pig’s-dream montage, almost entirely of mud.
Though it may technically be considered a competition, Muddy Patriot’s founder, Chris Bushart, intended it to be fun, first and foremost. As a veteran of the United States Navy, Bushart’s time spent traversing the globe made him realize how much he loved his country and how much he wanted to give back. The Muddy Patriot not only brings excitement to Michiganders for a day, but also supports local businesses and children’s charities such as Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center.