If you and your kids are looking for a little day trip adventure to round out your summer, check out the Kalamazoo Air Zoo! Ann Luke and her family had a wonderful time exploring all it had to offer!
My friend Amy and I are finally at a place in our lives where all our kids are of an age where we can go and do things together without having to deal with strollers, diaper bags, or nap schedules. It’s really wonderful and we are enjoying our “family double dates!” Our first adventure took us to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. I had watched an episode about the Air Zoo on CMU Public Television’s Destination Michigan show (part of segment 504 which starts at the 1:53 mark) and thought it looked like a lot of fun. While I didn’t think my girls would be super interested in looking at all the airplanes, the facility has amusement park-style rides that I knew they would love, so I figured there was something for everyone!
I don’t know if it was the day we chose to go, or just the fact that the building is enormous, but it felt like we had the place to ourselves. The kids were able to go on the rides over and over again without ever having to wait in line and they were delighted. The rides included a 26-foot indoor Ferris wheel, bi-planes, a paratrooper jump and, their absolute favorite, the hot air balloons. There was also a play area for the younger (3 and under) kids, and for older kids and adults the Air Zoo has a 3D space shuttle ride and full-motion flight simulators. My husband tried the simulators and spent a fair amount of time flying upside down!
We managed to pull the kids away from the rides long enough to take in the 4D movie. We watched Salute to Heroes which was a presentation of the final flight of the B-17 Kalamazoo Gal during a World War II bombing mission over Germany. This was definitely a film for an older audience. I think most of the content was lost on our young kids, but they did enjoy the special 4D effects. In reviewing the Air Zoo website it seems they offer another movie called Making the Invisible Visible which shows images of Earth, auroras and star trails which is likely more kid appropriate!
The airplane collection on display includes more than 50 airplanes from a replica of the first Wright Flyer to World War II era fighters and bombers to my favorite, the one of-a-kind SR-71B Blackbird – the fastest plane ever built (it can go from New York to London in under three hours!). There was also a wonderful space exhibit. All in all, we had a great time and stayed until the place closed (far longer than I expected!). If you need a break from the sun or you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day, I highly recommend you head over to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. We’ll definitely be back to see their new exhibit, “Tigers: Tracking a Legend” which highlights how space and aviation science are used in conservation efforts around the world.
A few final details… We paid for the Ultimate Ace Package ($16.50) for everyone when we went. As someone who doesn’t do well on rides, it probably would have been smarter for me to just get the General Admission Package for $10. The same thing goes for my 5 year old who only went on the four amusement park-style rides included in the general admission price. My 3 year old was free, and the full package was worth it for my husband who went on everything. The facility is open Monday – Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.