If you live in West Michigan, or are planning to visit, here’s a day of affordable fun for the whole family.
Recently we went downtown to the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. I’d heard good things about it from other moms, and what intrigued me most is that general admission is free. Like everyone else these days, we’re trying to be thriftier with our budget.
Well, the KVM is absolutely fantastic! They have some really great exhibits detailing the history of West Michigan that interest Mom and Dad. But the highlights are all the interactive displays that even young children can participate in.
There are several science related exhibits. One features weather phenomenon, and you can watch as a miniature tornado forms. Another teaches how magnets work, and has hands-on activities for experimenting with magnetic energy. A display on electricity allows you to power a light bulb and a radio by turning a crank. That fascinated my son, David. You can even build a remote control car and race it around a small track. That was really popular with David too.
Besides the permanent exhibits, the museum features several temporary ones through out the year. Currently Eyes on Earth details how satellites work using several interactive displays. We spent a lot of time in that section experimenting with orbit and radar imaging. It sounds complicated, but because it’s so hands-on, even four year old David seemed to understand it.
All pre-schoolers will love the Children’s Landscape room. There you’ll find books, games, toys and even dress-up costumes to entertain little ones. We had to tear David away from the indoor snowball fight, fought with bean bags behind cardboard snow forts.
The KVM does have to two exhibits that charge admission. The Challenger Learning Center features a simulated space station and mission control. It was not open the day we were there. The other is the planetarium which has several different shows through out the week. We were fortunate to be there during the show designed for pre-school and elementary children. David enjoyed that too. Both these exhibits cost $3 a person.
We spent about three hours at the museum, including the 45 minute planetarium show. David didn’t want to leave, but Mom and Dad were starving. So we headed down a couple blocks to Old Burdicks housed in the Radisson Hotel.
Old Burdicks is a local sports bar and grill with a family-friendly atmosphere. The menu has a little of everything; steaks, burgers, pasta, Asian stir fry, even comfort food. The food is good, and reasonably priced. What makes it great for families on a budget is that for every adult entree purchased you get a free kid’s meal.
Kalamazoo is fairly easy to get around. There is a parking garage across from the museum. The fee is small and even less on weekends. The garage is centrally located in the downtown area so shops, restaurants and other places of interest are in easy walking distance. We probably would have spent more time downtown, but it was too cold and snowy that day to do much walking.
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is definitely worth checking out, even if you have to drive a little to get to it. It’s quality family entertainment for free. You can’t get more bang your buck.