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.
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.
Unpainted figurines and pottery pieces stand in single-file lines on the pine shelves of Haze Ceramics and More, patiently waiting for guests to brandish paint-dipped brushes and embellish their blank surfaces with artistry. The studio's instructors lead classes and special events throughout the week, demonstrating techniques for mixing colors and achieving a variety of smooth or grainy textures. Aside from giving children and adults the chance to select a ceramic coffee mug, coin tray, or spiked mace from the studio’s expansive collection, classes include all glazes, paints, and firing fees. Special events, such as ladies' night, fuel outbursts of creativity with wine and snacks, and private parties clear out the room so that birthday boys and girls can gleefully bash away at terra-cotta piñatas.
From art restoration to custom-made frames and gift-able artwork, the framing artisans at Framer's Edge and Gallery consider it all their expertise. Fabricating frames on-site, technicians draw from a collection of more than 5,000 mold samples to create fully customized dwellings for works of art and exceptional report cards. Additionally, the gallery hangs works from local artists and photographers available for purchase, as well as jewelry, pottery, and blown glass.
Founded by local civic leaders in 1854, the Grand Rapids Public Museum continues to keep the city’s history alive in the minds of its current residents with a promise in it mission statement and a trove of exhibits that explore West Michigan’s natural and cultural past. Current exhibits and standing collections cast a spotlight on past and future centuries, giving voice to the stories that helped shape our modern world while speculating about when our politicians will be finally replaced with robots. If visitors to the three-story Van Andel Museum Center can pry their eyes away from the exhibitions inside, they will be treated to stunning views of the downtown skyline; similarly, the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium enthralls with its panoramic photographs and up-close looks at the night sky.
Just as history constantly replenishes itself, the Grand Rapids Public Museum never stops working to collect local treasures, educate members through camps and special programs, and develop projects for the future.
Skilled artist Regina Marie Johandes employs more than 30 years of experience working with fused glass as she creates original pieces and enlightens budding artisans. Regina's vibrant, full-service studio brims with chromatic creations including jewelry, home decorations, and celestial road maps. Informative workshops taught by Regina and a team of talented instructors bestow glass-fusion knowledge upon nascent creators, teaching each step from cutting and coloring to fusing and tossing into a wishing well. Students leave with a one-of-a-kind bauble, and local artists working at the studio are available to enhance custom pieces with their wire- or metal-manipulating prowess.