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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Kalamazoo Vibes

Kalamazoo at a Glance

Location: Southwest Michigan

Access: Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport and Amtrak; located at the crossroads of Interstate 94 and US 131, halfway between Chicago and Detroit

Hotel rooms: 3,075

Contact Info:
Discover Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo County Expo Center

Built: 2009

Exhibit Space: 61,000 square feet

Other Meeting Spaces: 120-acre site with outdoor festival space and 220 campsites

Meeting Hotels

Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites

Guest Rooms: 340 rooms

Meeting Space: 50,000 square feet and 26 meeting rooms

Delta Hotels Kalamazoo Conference Center by Marriott

Guest Rooms: 480 rooms

Meeting Space: 42,084 square feet and 21 meeting rooms

Holiday Inn and Suites West

Guest Rooms: 130 rooms

Meeting Space: 2,900 square feet

Who’s Meeting in Kalamazoo

National Street Rod Association Nationals North

Attendees: 2,500

Professional Fraternity Association

Attendees: 200

School Nutrition Association of Michigan Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

Attendees: 350

Destination Highlights

Kalamazoo’s walkable downtown is anchored by the four-block Kalamazoo Mall, the nation’s first outdoor pedestrian mall. Revitalized Art Deco buildings house boutiques, coffee shops, chic restaurants, brewpubs, live music and DIY experiences at shops such as the Kalamazoo Candle Company, all within walking distance of several hotels.

World-class museums and attractions include the Smithsonian-affiliated Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum and the Gilmore Car Museum, North America’s largest automobile museum. On the National Register of Historic Places, the 1927, Spanish-style Kalamazoo State Theatre hosts productions and concerts. Nature is easily accessible in the surrounding countryside. Groups can see reindeer at Reindeer Ranch, pick apples at Gull Meadow Farms or revel in fall colors at Kalamazoo Nature Center.

Craft beer takes center stage in this corner of Michigan, home to Bell’s Brewery, the longest running craft brewery east of the Mississippi. Tours of Bell’s downtown facility or larger operation in nearby Comstock detail its history and brewing process and end with samples that showcase its grain-to-glass philosophy. For more fun, the Give a Craft Beer Trail invites aficionados to earn points that can be redeemed for prizes.

“When your group visits Kalamazoo, they can hike in the morning, grab lunch and a beer at Bell’s Brewery and catch a show at the historic State Theatre that evening, all within a 30-minute drive,” said Dana Wagner, director of marketing and communications for Discover Kalamazoo.

Distinctive Venues

Kalamazoo’s event spaces range from charming patios to elegant theaters. At the Smithsonian-affiliated Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum, gatherings can be held amid  more than 100 rare and unique aircraft and spacecraft including a SR-71 Blackbird. The museum can host 10 to 2,000 guests for receptions, banquets and meetings with on-site catering. For entertainment, attendees can strap into 3D flight simulators and indoor amusement park-style rides or watch an air show in the Missions Theater.

Bell’s Eccentric Café showcases 20 draft beers and small batch brews, some only available at the pub. With its cozy indoor areas and spacious beer garden and patio, it’s an ideal gathering place. Attached to the café, the general store stocks Bell’s apparel, swag and memorabilia.

“Bell’s is one of the most recognized breweries even beyond our area,” said Wagner. “They have an all-around experience with great craft beers and live music in the beer garden in summer and year-round live music in their Back Room.”

Historic Gilmore Car Museum features vintage structures on its 90-acre campus. Rentable space totals more than 215,000 square feet and includes the 1941 Blue Moon Diner, a re-created 1930s Shell station and seven partner museums. Outdoor spaces host up to 500 guests and there is a 2,480-square-foot ballroom for indoor events. According to Wagner, the museum is undertaking major updates, adding a new event center and pavilion and renovating the grill and patio area.

Major Meeting Spaces

Minutes from downtown Kalamazoo, the versatile Kalamazoo County Expo Center’s 61,000 square feet of exhibit space includes seven indoor rental spaces for vendor exhibitions and booths. Across its 120 acres, facilities include outdoor festival space, livestock show arenas, barns, group campsites and a 4,500-seat grandstand.

At Western Michigan University, the Fetzer Center’s 18,385 square feet of flexible meeting space includes a stunning garden patio, banquet hall and atrium-style lobby. In addition to seven meeting rooms, Kirsch Auditorium seats 250, and Putney Lecture Hall seats 90. Customizable in-house catering makes planning seamless.

Downtown, the 340-room Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites, adjacent to Kalamazoo Mall, offers 50,000 square feet of flexible meeting space in 26 rooms that include ballrooms, boardrooms and breakout rooms. There’s also a full-service spa, three on-site restaurants and a complimentary airport shuttle.

Newly renovated on the city’s west side, the 480-room Delta Hotels Kalamazoo Conference Center by Marriott has 42,084 square feet of event space in its adjacent conference center. The largest of its 21 rooms, the Aviator Ballroom accommodates 770 attendees theater-style or 800 for receptions. The property has a fitness center and  the area’s largest indoor pool and both are newly renovated. An on-site restaurant and lounge serves Kalamazoo craft beers on tap.

After the Meeting

With 11 golf courses in the greater Kalamazoo area, there’s a course for every level of play.

Centrally located Prairies Golf Club welcomes golfers of any skill level. The 72-par municipal Milham Park Golf Course spreads out on 130 acres. Nearby Gull Lake View Golf Club and Resort has six golf courses, and its par-71 Stoatin Brae was named 2021 National Course of the Year.

“Besides golf, we have tons of trails, nature preserves and parks for hiking, biking and exploring,” said Wagner. “We’re on the Great Lake-to-Lake trail system, and visitors can ride from Kalamazoo to South Haven’s shoreline 33 miles away.”

In colder months, three nearby ski slopes welcome beginner and intermediate skiers for day or night skiing. Family-run Timber Ridge ski area is the closest; Bittersweet services skiers with 11 lifts; and Swiss Valley has the highest peak in southwest Michigan.

Back in town, Wings Event Center is home to the East Coast Hockey League’s Kalamazoo Wings. It’s also a great place to experience concerts and festival-style events. More than 5,000 spectators can choose from four full-service concourse cafes and three specialty bars. A variety of spaces are available for gatherings before, during or after games.