Air Zoo so much more than hot air

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.

If you go

  • Buy the unlimited ride pass, .95. We saw too many parents
    tell disappointed kids they were out of the 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.

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.

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