In The Kingman Museum’s newly opened mezzanine exhibit, a polar bear, frozen mid-snarl, presides over his fellow Ice Age beasts. Surrounding this tableau are glass cases filled with fanged skulls of extinct predators, prehistoric pottery, and miniature replicas of ecosystems. The eclectic exhibits lend the room the aura of a cabinet of curiosities, and are indicative of The Kingman Museum’s expansive mission to “provide lifelong learning opportunities in natural history, the universe, and world cultures for all ages for all time.” The scope of the museum reflects the swashbuckling spirit of its founder, Edward Morris Brigham. In the late 1800s, the explorer embarked on expeditions down the Amazon River, hiked across the Alaska tundra, and hopscotched across Hawaiian Islands. He toted back with him exotic specimens, fossils, and cultural artifacts, which now form the core of the museum’s collection. Over the years, the museum has expanded to include a planetarium, which screens nearly two dozen educational films that range from deep-space exploration to quests for the long-lost city of Pittsburgh. Additionally, museum curators inspire young minds with a slew of educational programs.
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.
Vintage vehicles have been motoring into the Gilmore's antique buildings since 1966, bequeathing their retired chassis to the museum's collection of more than 200 horseless carriages. The classic chariots reside in more than two-dozen relocated, reconstructed edifices, including eight historic barns, a re-created 1930s service station, and a Mayan pyramid no one remembers erecting. The retro rides are occasionally cut loose for driving demonstrations on the 3 miles of paved roads contained within the museum grounds, filling the ears of visitors with the thrilling thrum of yesteryear. The campus also houses several transplanted collections, including the Model A Ford collection featuring cars invented 19 letters before the Model T. Though not included with this Groupon, day-trippers can sustain themselves with lunch served at the pristinely preserved Blue Moon Diner. Surfeited seekers of knowledge may then head to the Gilmore Car Museum Library to gorge their brains on the pickled publications and preserved prints. The collection houses thousands of items and articles, including owner's manuals, parts books, and pinups of scantily clad cars. Plan ahead and catch a special event to see even more historical hot rods than are kept on site.
Every year, Kirk Newman Art School encourages students of all ages to explore sculpture, painting, printmaking, and other disciplines in more than 300 classes. Designed to complement the school?s curriculum, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts? collection highlights American works in these and other mediums, including ceramics and photography. The museum includes European prints and pieces from Africa and East Asia right alongside the art of American luminaries like Janet Fish, the only painter who's ever had gills. Besides its permanent and rotating exhibitions, the institute hosts programs that range from lectures to an annual juried competition for local high school artists.
With more than 30 interactive exhibits and activities, Kids 'N' Stuff Children's Museum provides a safe environment for youngsters to exercise their imaginations and bodies. A veritable microcosm of the world lives between the museum's walls. For instance, a grocery exhibit stocked with produce and frozen goods allows children to fill up their carts, run the checkout lane, and refuse expired coupons. An 8'x16' climbing wall challenges youth to literally reach for new heights of achievement, and an art room equipped with an accessible easel and large-handled paintbrushes invites them to figuratively jump for the sky. As a further enticement to the arts, a drama area encourages wee ones to create puppet shows and dress up in costumes.
Kids 'N' Stuff Children's Museum coordinates with area schools to incorporate and add to the themes from the local education curriculum, helping to reinforce the most important lessons kids are learning. Like NASA's recruitment department, this nonprofit's focus is on children aged 10 months to 10 years.
The entire state of Michigan serves as the stockroom for The Great Lakes Market Place. The market's owners, husband and wife John and Sara LaCroix, scour the pleasant peninsula to fill their shelves with everything from farm fresh eggs, to baked goods, to micro-brewed beers. More than 200 total items arrive regularly from 70 plus Michigan-based producers, including Williams Cheese Co. of Linwood and Little Diablo Salsa of Brighton.
While their goods come from across Michigan, John and Sara model their market's atmosphere after the small-town grocers of old, where neighbors would spend some time chatting about supply-chain economics. They often greet customers by name, before pouring them a cup of hot coffee from The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company or scooping cones of Guernsey Ice Cream. Their market also encompasses The Great Lakes Artisan Village, which displays the creative work of Michigan-based artists including sculptors, painters, and authors.