Air Zoo so much more than hot air

The Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Mich. will delight (and educate!) kids of all ages.
 
 

By Tamara L. O'Shaughnessy

Editor
 
If you go
  • Buy the unlimited ride pass, $12.95. We saw too many parents tell disappointed kids they were out of the $2 individual ride tickets. The pass lets you ride all day over and over again-and believe us, they will.
  • Start at the main campus first, grab lunch at the Kitty Hawk Café (prices are reasonable and food is good), then stroll to the Air Zoo's East Campus where you'll find more planes, space-related exhibits, a space walk experience and a Zero Gravity ride.

We've seen the billboards advertising the Air Zoo near Kalamazoo, Mich., for years but never made time to visit. What a mistake that was.

The Air Zoo, less than three hours from downtown Chicago, is one of the best museums we've visited. It successfully combines the thrilling history of our air and space travel with fun through air-related amusement rides and simulators (our favorite was the 3-D Space Shuttle Ride).

We visited with four kids, age 7 to 14, who were instantly engaged walking through panels of blue sky and clouds into a vast, visually stimulating space filled with aircraft and rides. Knowing they weren't airplane buffs, I was surprised to find them examining planes and the exhibits with intense scrutiny. They walked away from the museum with a new appreciation for war's impact (thanks to the 4-D movie showing a WWII bombing run over Germany) and enough airplane and space facts to fill this magazine.

We stayed as guests of the Holiday Inn Kalamazoo West, a hotel designed with kids in mind. The family suite features cool bunk beds, kids' own flat screen TV for watching movies or playing PlayStation and just enough privacy for mom and dad. What makes this hotel stand out, however, is the huge pool and free game area.

One warning, kids won't want to leave.

If you go
  • Buy the unlimited ride pass, $12.95. We saw too many parents tell disappointed kids they were out of the $2 individual ride tickets. The pass lets you ride all day over and over again-and believe us, they will.
  • Start at the main campus first, grab lunch at the Kitty Hawk Café (prices are reasonable and food is good), then stroll to the Air Zoo's East Campus where you'll find more planes, space-related exhibits, a space walk experience and a Zero Gravity ride.

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