Explore Kalamazoo and Live Like a Local

Kalamazoo Outdoor Mall
Downtown Kalamazoo Mall Photo via DiscoverKalamazoo.com

“Living Like a Local” in Kalamazoo, Mi

At the Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association, we want to take away all the guesswork about where to stay, dine, shop, and explore. And we want you to have all the information to plan the best Michigan getaway ever! Our blogs are packed full of information and some of the best-kept secrets- some shared by our innkeepers, who, after all, are the best ones to ask when you want to “Live like a Local.” Today’s blog brings you to the Southwest urban town of Kalamazoo, which lies along the Kalamazoo River, some 50 miles south of Grand Rapids. Follow along as we share all the information about the best places to dine, explore and shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. And the very best place to stay in Kalamazoo is aptly named – The Kalamazoo House B&B.  

Feeling like a more small-town setting, check out the lovely lodging at The Voyagers Inn, 24 miles south of Kalamazoo. 

Kalamazoo is a fun name and rolls on the tongue. Here you will find a rich culture filled with world-class museums, theatres, and live music venues, making this vibrant city a fun place to visit. It’s also a foodie haven, craft beer scene, and live entertainment, attracting visitors from around the region. It’s also fun to remember that Kalamazoo was once the manufacturing domain for Checker cabs, Gibson guitars, Kalamazoo stoves, Shakespeare fishing rods and reels, and the Roamer automobile.

Kalamazoo House
Kalamazoo House

What makes the Kalamazoo House B&B Special

This Victorian beauty with Italianate and Eastlake influences was built-in 1878 for the Lilienfeldd family, who owned the D. Lilienfeld & Brothers Cigar Company. It became known as a social center for Kalamazoo society people. Over the years, like many large historic homes, it passed through several owners and eventually became a bed and breakfast, aptly named the Kalamazoo House B&B, after the first hotel in Kalamazoo. For a complete history, check out this article.

Happy innkeepers having a drink
Amy & Jeff at Roca,  enjoying the cocktails and music playing at the Art Fair.

New owners Amy and Jeff took over the helm in 2020. This picture is from their Facebook Feed – sorry, Amy & Jeff, I just had to include this fun little glimpse into your personalities which truly represents what the Kalamazoo House B&B  hospitality is all about. This young couple has a total love of life that embraces the foodie culture and music scene in Kalamazoo, and as Amy told me, the Kalamazoo House B&B is her baby.  She and Jeff take great care in ensuring each guest have a wonderful experience while staying in Kalamazoo at the Top Rated Bed and Breakfast – the Kalamazoo House B&B. They are honored to be the new stewards of this welcoming inn, a historical focal point in Kalamazoo. And because they love to experience everything Kalamazoo, from a great meal at their favorite restaurant to a local game or show- this couple has plenty of information on how to “Live like a Local” in Kalamazoo!

When I asked Amy about her favorite detail of the Kalamazoo House B&B, she said it was the historic chandelier that graces the inn. This 140-year-old beauty is original to the home and is made of pewter and crystal. Imagine dining or being entertained below:)

Dining room

Amy is a formally trained pastry chef, so guests are assured of a quality stay and a fabulous breakfast. Amy is keen on bringing the freshest and most local ingredients to her breakfast table, with her menu changing seasonally. And when I asked what the guests’ favorite breakfasts were, she mentioned her breakfast enchilada and Pineapple Crisp (which changes seasonally to Michigan’s pears and apples). It includes baked fruit with oatmeal and brown sugar topping. After seeing some of Amy’s food shots, I am guessing there are many others, including this delicious French Toast topped with fresh fruit.

Mixed Berry Stuffed French Toast

The inn is open year-round (only closed on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day). The couple has recently expanded their Special Occasion Offerings, including renting the entire inn or the common areas for a few hours to celebrate a special occasion such as a retirement or anniversary.   With such elegant common areas, a luxurious guest room, and Amy’s culinary background, this makes for an intimate and special venue for any occasion.

New offerings include “Breakfast in your Room” option and a complimentary “Build Your Own Bloody Marys” for the holiday season. In addition, the beautiful home will be decked for the holidays to prepare for its annual house tour on December 13th, complete with a real-life Santa and entertainment. It’s always fun to take that last-minute getaway before the holidays to relax and enjoy the festive surroundings and local holiday events.

Tips from your innkeepers at the Kalamazoo House B&B

Amy and Jeff love everything Kalamazoo and are a wealth of information on what to do while visiting this vibrant town. Top on their list for dining is the Principle Food and Grill with Amy’s favorite-  roasted red pepper pasta and pork chops – a current description from their menu-“Berkshire Pork Chop cherry chutney – buttermilk blue – pearl onion – pole bean” and Jeff’s favorite includes their smoked fish-  “MI Trout smoked potato – chow chow – remoulade – caper” and of course the fabulous desserts including “Peanut Butter Banana Split palazollos gelato – sea salt – peanut crisp – honey drizzle” #yumyum They also love to recommend Brick & Brine, and a new favorite Roca, which is a fusion of flavors inspired by Latin American culture and cuisine. And for ridiculously good Greek food, order take-out or dine in at Theo & Stacy’s.

Many vineyards and breweries surround Kalamazoo. One of the couples’ favorites is the Cody Kresta winery– named after their two dogs. All the grapes used in their wines are grown in the Lake Michigan Shore Appellation, with Amy’s favorite -2020 Peach- made from 100% Southwest Michigan peaches.

Porch at Kalamazoo House
Beautiful flower gardens around the inn

The couple stays pretty busy at the inn, but when they get a few minutes to themselves, they love to bike at Celery Flats in Portage Park, just 15 minutes away and tend to their lovely gardens around the inn.


Exploring Kalamazoo

Favorite Dining in Kalamazoo
Favorite Things to do in Kalamazoo
  • Check out the Lillian Anderson Arboretum
  • Explore the Kalamazoo Valley Museum
  • Biking at Portage and Celery Flats
  • Hike the Kalamazoo River Trail, 22 miles of trails that wind through downtown Kalamazoo before branching out into the surrounding countryside’s hills, rivers, and lakes.
  • Check out the Kalamazoo Nature Center– 1,100 acres of nature, including ponds, prairies, forests, and wetlands.
  • Enjoy a live performance at the Kalamazoo State Theatre-Built during the film boom in the 1920s, this icon still retains its vintage charm, including a massive pipe organ that used to be for silent movies. 
  • Have a refreshing swim in Marvin Glen County Park
  • Art Hop is a tradition in Kalamazoo! It’s usually held on the first Friday of the month, and it involves dozens of local businesses coming together to provide food, art, music, and culture for guests who “hop” from one location to the next.
  •  With more than 25,000 plants, the Leila Arboretum is one of Michigan’s grandest destinations for flowers, trees, shrubs, and succulents.
  • Learn about air and space flight at the Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum
  • Enjoy wine tasting at the Lawton Ridge WineryThey have a vineyard, and their family has been tending to it for decades, harvesting grapes and bottling reds and whites.
  • Visit the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts
  • Al Sabo Preserve- hiking, biking, and cyclist haven.
  • Rent some skates at the Lawson Ice Arena
  • Visit the Gilmore Car Museum-Located a few miles northeast of Kalamazoo in Hickory Corners, Michigan, this great museum is one of the largest auto museums in the United States, with over 300 vintage and classic cars on display! Models include a 1927 Ford Model T, 1913 Rolls Royce, and 1958 Edsel Pacer Four Door Hardtop.
  • Enjoy a show at Farmer’s Alley Theatre.
  • Enjoy the flowers at the River Villa and Jan Schau Wildflower walk behind the Comstock Community Center; a true hidden gem!
Great Shopping in Kalamazoo

The historic Kalamazoo Mall remains a staple in Downtown Kalamazoo and features revitalized Art Deco buildings, specialty shops, chic restaurants, unique coffee shops, and lively brewpubs!

  • Kalamazoo Mall-  Opened in 1959, this mall is the first outdoor pedestrian mall in the United States that covers several city blocks. Guests can enjoy shopping, dining, and drinking. 
  • Kalamazoo Antique Market
  • Vintage in the Zoo- Vintage shops in the mal

Living like a local in Kalamazoo has never been more fun. Book your stay today at the Kalamazoo House B&B and enjoy luxury and hospitality like no other.

The custom Google map below highlights easy reference to all the places mentioned in this blog.