- 6151 Portage Road
- Portage, MI 49002
- (269) 382-6555
I’ve always liked museums for some reason. In high school, my favorite class was history. I’ve never really pushed people to go to museums with me because I know they can be boring to a lot of people.
When we lived in Lansing, I got to see a lot of the cool places I wanted to check out once a year when their tourism bureau did the pretty amazing Be A Tourist In Your Own Town. This great day gets you in to a number of different Lansing area attractions for just a dollar per person when you buy a “Passport” in advance.
During the month of may, a number of Kalamazoo area locations are doing an equally cool promotion. If you have a membership to Binder Park Zoo, The Air Zoo, Gilmore Car Museum, the Kalamazoo Nature Center or the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts, you can get in to any of the other attractions for free.
J and I have been members at Binder Park Zoo for a couple years now and we love our membership. We get to go to the zoo several times each year plus we get discounts on programs for L during the winter and summer seasons.
In the four years since we moved to Kalamazoo, we have actually never been to The Air Zoo. We have talked it about it so many times and for a couple years, they even had free admission, but we never went through with it. We didn’t want to make the mistake of not taking advantage of free admission again.
The Air Zoo was founded in the late 70’s at the Kalamazoo Aviation Museum. The large museum features a number of military planes, rides, and other aviation related artifacts. I knew the place had to be big ….due to the fact it’s an airplane museum….but the size of the place is really amazing.
We got to the Air Zoo just before 1:00 on a Sunday afternoon. There were quite a few people in the parking lot, but the lot is huge, so it looked pretty empty. That wasn’t the case though as the museum was actually pretty busy despite the perfect spring afternoon taking place right outside.
The building opens in to a large lobby with the admission and information desk. I pulled out my membership for Binder Park Zoo and the guy working gave the three of us wristbands which were good for the kiddie rides. We thought we were going to have to pay for the rides, but the ones that L was interested in were included. The 3-D and 4-D simulators would have cost us extra if we wanted to try those out, but the kiddie rides were enough.
L noticed the rides right away and we headed over to the Montgolfier Balloon Race. I let J and L go on this one without me and J said it was a little too much for L. At first she enjoyed it, but once the balloon got off the ground and they got over, she grabbed on to J pretty tight and kept asking, “Is it over yet, Mama?”
Once they got off, we decided to do something she might enjoy a little more, so we walked over to the Flying Circus B-Plane Ride. J was still a little too little to ride this one on her own, so J went with her again. The planes aren’t really designed for adults, so J was a little squeezed in to the back seat of the bi-plane. L loved this ride though. There’s a lever inside where you can actually control the plane and make it go up or down. L tried really hard to pull it up, but she was having trouble. L would pull it up for her for they would “Zoom, zoom to the moon.” We actually came back to the this ride several times and the last few times, I had to squeeze in to the back seat of the plane…and let me tell you, I have much longer legs than the average child.
One more ride before we headed to check out the planes and it’s the last of the kiddie rides we were going to let L ride. This one was The Century of Flight Ferris Wheel. The first time we got on to this one, all three of us squeezed in to the car. Not a great idea. It was doable, but again, not a lot of leg room. The next time we went on this one, I let J and L take it on their own and J said it was much more enjoyable.
After promising L we’d come back to the rides, we finally started looking at the planes and exhibits. There are two big areas with a number of different planes and displays. Separating them is a space exhibit which has a couple of capsules that you can climb in and press buttons…you know, L’s favorite thing to do. I wish I knew more about what I was looking at, but there were plaques at all of the displays and there were volunteers walking around that you can ask questions and get the answers you need.
Our trip through the museum part of The Air Zoo was a little bit rushed because L couldn’t wait to get back to the rides. We got through the exhibits just so we could see all that was there and headed back to the rides a few more times.
Our afternoon at the Air Zoo was a success. L was still a little on the young side, but it’s one of those things that will be great as she gets a little older.