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.
Kids can’t be expected to care about their health when video games, cartoons, and outdoor adventures are vying for their attention. That’s why the adult leaders of the Memorial Health Foundation devised a plan to get kids excited about health: HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum. Born of the founders’ desire to foster a healthier current and future community, the museum appeals to youngsters through educational forms of entertainment. Its exhibits incorporate amplified versions of many of kids’ favorite pastimes, including a life-sized rendition of Operation and numerous computer games. A rock-climbing wall and tree house with a slide encourage kids to learn through movement, which is exactly how adults learn how to escape charging bulls. Youngsters can explore the space with their families or partake in programs such as children's camps.
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.
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.
Imagine holding a king salmon so heavy you can barely lift it for a picture, only to hear the captain yell a new fish just took another trolling rod down. The guides of Captain Hook's Charter Fishing venture into Lake Michigan for such trophies, taking anglers out for perch fishing, sport fishing, and salmon trolling. Operating one of the state's largest charter fleets, the captains can take up to 40 perch fishers on a climate-controlled party boat and accommodate smaller groups of 4–5 anglers on smaller crafts. A FAQ page preps guests before going out, covering topics such as how to get a fishing license and what pattern suit is customary fishing attire.
Though his own family has crafted wines for more than a hundred years, D'Avella Family Winery founder John D'Avella "specializes in making wines for people who don't typically enjoy wine," according to an interview for WNDU Channel 16. John transforms locally sourced grapes into more than 35 smooth, Italian-style wines, whose recipes he honed across 150 trial batches. The tasting room offers 1-ounce pours of these handmade vinos, which include blackberry sweet, concord dry, and Niagara semisweet varieties.
In 1939, Everett Cook purchased what would become the Cook family farm and was told it was the worst investment he had ever made. But in the spirit of tenacious American homesteaders, three generations of Cooks turned that bad investment into a thriving bison ranch. After years of research, Peter Cook—Everett’s grandson—became a member of the National Bison Association, and ordered the ranch's first 30 bison in 1998. The hulking, majestic curiosities began drawing in groups from area schools, cross-country motor-coach tours, and time-traveling harmonica players to the 83-acre farm in northern Indiana's Amish country.
During the ranch’s signature one-hour tour, guests board a wagon and venture out to interact with and feed the animals as guides regale them with facts about North American bison. After the tour, groups can also sit down for a meal of bison burgers or bison brats. The animals receive no growth hormones or stimulants and graze on the ranch's own hay and grain, which produces tender and healthy meat, unlike animals fed with growth hormones, which produces meat that won’t stop quoting Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Bison burgers, brats, and steaks are available for purchase online or inside the ranch's gift shop. In addition to the tours, the ranch also allows guests to hunt their own game during guided hunts, taking home bison, deer, and wild turkey.