Here are a few ideas for a mini vacation in the Western Michigan area.
We have managed to stumble upon some really great places and I thought I would share them with you. All of these places provided a great inexpensive experience. Plus we all learned some things while we were there or just plain had fun.
If you find yourself driving west on 1-94 and need something to break up a longer trip these first two would work, or you can make it a destination trip like we did.
Air Zoo – located in Kalamazoo
This is a really fun place to visit, about halfway between Detroit and Chicago off of I-94 (exit 78). It features year round indoor entertainment. There are several amusement park style rides plus over 30 rare aircraft are on exhibit. It is both fun and educational – with plenty displays on aircraft history. The admission prices were very reasonable.
I had never heard of the place but had seen an advertisement in a travel magazine so we decided to check it out. My six year old son loved the space shuttle simulator and the zero gravity ride. They now have a Real 3D Mission Theatre. Some rides are for older kids – like the flight simulator, which by the way didn’t look like fun to me – especially right after lunch. You can also go on real airplane rides right out back.
It was recently voted the “Best place to take an out-of-towner” and “Best place to spend a day with the family” by Readers Choice. As is states on their website: “history for the buff’ and thrill for the seeker”!
They are open Monday – Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 12-5. Check their website for more information www.airzoo.org
Gilmore Car Museum – located in Hickory Corners
What a surprise this turned out to be. We had no idea what to expect as we drove down the winding road in the country to get there. It is located about 20 minutes from either 1-94 or US I-131.
This place is meticulously maintained with eight restored historic barns scattered around the grounds. It was picture perfect. It is considered to be one of the top five car museums in the Nation. They have a fully operational 1940’s Blue Moon Diner and a 1930’s Gas Station for display purposes only. The gas station even had the hose lying out across the drive that went DING-DING when a car drove across.
They are in their forty-fifth season and recently decided to remain
open all year-round. Each year they have special exhibits. Last year it was the History of Stock Car Racing, which they have decided to run again this year due popular demand. My son noticed right off that the stock cars didn’t have doors and thought it would be cool to get in the car through the window. This year, in addition to the stock car exhibit, they also have a special showing of Vintage Motor Cycles and Ford Muscle and Super Cars.
The antique cars are categorized by the year they were made and then showcased in their own barn. They also have a small barn dedicated solely to hood ornaments. The Antique Road Show highlighted the hood ornament collection on one of its shows recently.
They also have some great classes you can take; like learning how to drive a Model T – all in an afternoon.
This place is TOP NOTCH! Even if you’re not a car buff there is plenty of history to take in. Plus it’s a nice drive in the country.
The price of entrance is only $8 – $10 and kids under the age of six are free.
For further information https://www.gilmorecarmuseum.org
John Ball Zoo – Grand Rapids
This is a nice zoo to visit. It boasts the only Komodo Dragon in Michigan as well as Camel rides (seasonal). You can also touch a stingray at the stingray lagoon, paddle a swan boat or ride a zipline!
The price of admission seems reasonable – $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for kids ages 3-13 and kids under 3 free.
For more information go to https://johnballzoosociety.org
Tunnel Park – Holland
What a great way to visit Lake Michigan. There is a tunnel built right into the dunes that you walk through to get to the lake – when you pop out the other side the view is awesome.
Tunnel Park is a 22 acre park just west of Holland. There is no lifeguard on duty. There is a shower house and place to change clothes. There is small fee to get into the park.
We stopped in late one afternoon after picking blueberries just up the road at Gold Barn Blueberries. It was the perfect way to cool off.
For more information check out