How Do You Explain Kalamazoo To Someone Who Has Never Been Here?
When I moved here in October it was only the fifth time I had ever stepped foot in the area and every time before that I was confined to one place; I never had time to discover the city. I've extended the olive branch to other friends to come out and visit this year and they seem pretty excited to experience Kalamazoo for the first time.
But that idea had me thinking... how do I explain everything about this city to someone who's never been here? Well, considering there is no other place like Kalamazoo it wasn't too hard to convince them to come out and experience it first hand. If you have a friend or relative you can also enlighten them on what the city is like. Just tell them this:
It Has The Best Of Both Worlds: From where I live if you go three miles to the west, you'll be in the downtown area with breweries, entertainment venues, lavish hotels and a fun nightlife. Drive three miles east and get ready to enjoy that woodsy, country feeling only small-town Michigan can offer with trails and nature areas.
I Hope You Like Beer Runs: Downtown Kalamazoo can be kind of tricky with its one-way streets and questionable parking accommodations, but when it comes to the brewery experience you can walk from bar to bar for the ultimate beer run. Actually when I say "beer run" it's more like a beer triathlon. There are over a dozen breweries in the Kalamazoo area and there is actually a map you can download that will show you the best route to hit them all up on a beer adventure.
You Can Shop Somewhere Historic: If you need anything grocery-wise, Gull Rd between Sprinkle and Downtown is the way to go. I doubt you won't find anything you may need with all the shops and stores that line the three-mile stretch. But if you're looking for something nice, why not try the Kalamazoo Mall? It's actually the first outdoor mall ever and was created by the guy who invented regular malls. Kalamazoo is the only city that can claim that.
Don't Let The Name Fool You: Yes even though it's in our name and I really wish we had one, Kalamazoo doesn't actually have a zoo in it; not anymore at least. You'll have to travel to Battle Creek to experience Binder Park Zoo. But there used to be a zoo at Milham Park in Kalamazoo. However, there is an Air Zoo. With over 100 rare and historic airplanes & spacecraft, interactive exhibits, indoor amusement park rides, science classes, and summer, winter, & spring break camps for kids, the Air Zoo is your the perfect place for education science-based family fun and activities.
Kalamazoo Is More Than Just A Funny Lyric: Glen Miller wrote that classic tune "I've Got A Gal In Kalamazoo" which was later covered by The Andrews Sisters titled "I've Got A Guy In Kalamazoo." Also, Creedence Clearwater Revival mentioned the city on their hit "Down On The Corner":
Rooster hits the washboard and people just got to smile,
Blinky, thumps the gut bass and solos for a while.
Poorboy twangs the rhythm out on his Kalamazoo.
Willy goes into a dance and doubles on kazoo.
My personal favorite musical "tip of the hat" to Kalamazoo is in the movie "Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny." In the film during a dream sequence actor/singer Jack Black is having, Tenacious D perform a song called "Master Exploder" (NSFW). During the beginning of the song, Jack's musical partner Kyle Gass is wearing a Kalamazoo t-shirt which they purchased while touring with Weezer in the early 2000's when they played the Wings Event Center.
I could give you more ideas but you're smart and probably know way more than I do about this amazing city. What are some things you would tell your friends about it? Let us know in the comments below.
BONUS VIDEO: Michigan Meteor Caught on Camera Over Kalamazoo