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You Know You Are From Kalamazoo When

Updated on September 10, 2014

You know you're from Kalamazoo when...

Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo. It is an eclectic city. It has a big city feel with small town comforts. The people are great and there are lots of fun things to do.

This page is about some things that are unique to Kalamazoo and if you have ever lived here for any amount of time, chances are good that you have experienced many of the things listed below.

Keep reading to see if you agree that "You know you're from Kalamazoo when..."

Art Hop
Art Hop

You've been to the Art Hop

A signature downtown Kalamazoo event

The Art Hop is a monthly event in downtown Kalamazoo where local businesses and organizations display the work of local artists. The public event typically falls on the first Friday of every month and it is a great opportunity to mingle, check out local businesses and enjoy appetizers and drinks. It really is a great way to see the town, support talented artists and to be a part of a warm community.

The Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo sponsors the program in partnership with Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. The free event started in 1995 and has become a very popular event that is 100% Kalamazoo.


When you think of world's best donuts, you think of?

Sweetwaters of course

Sweetwaters Donut Mill has a serious fan base. There is a reason Sweetwater's Donut Mill is named as one of the top dozen "Best Donuts Ever" across America by AOL. It's because their donuts are really that good.

Sweetwaters donuts are a right of passage for anyone who lives in Kalamazoo. Perfect for bringing a dozen to work in the morning, a dessert after school or work, or even as a late night snack after the bar. Ask anyone from the area who has the best donuts and I bet everyone of of them will agree it's Sweetwaters Donut Mill

Henderson Castle
Henderson Castle

You know about the castle by the old cemetary

Kalamazoo has it's very own castle

Henderson Castle is an famous home in Kalamazoo. It was originally built in 1895 by successful businessman Frank Henderson and is located on West Main Hill overlooking downtown Kalamazoo.

Today, the castle is owned by award winning french chef, François Moyet, and it is open to the public. Francois runs a Bed and Breakfast and gourmet restaurant in the Castle.

Kalamazoo festivals
Kalamazoo festivals

You associate summer with festivals

Downtown Kalamazoo hosts great festivals just about every weekend all summer long

The Arcadia Creek Festival Site in downtown Kalamazoo is the home to some of the best festivals in the state. You can find a schedule to festivals and events downtown here at Discover Kalamazoo.

My personal favorites are Island Fest which is Michigan's largest reggae festival. This festival takes place the third weekend of every June. I also really enjoy the Taste and Brew of Kalamazoo. This festival features local and national bands, great local food, and great local beer. It takes place the fourth weekend of every July.

Kalamazoo Promise
Kalamazoo Promise

You know about the Kalamazoo Promise

Debt-Free college

The Kalamazoo Promise is a pretty amazing thing. The Kalamazoo Promise is a gift from a group of anonymous donors which pledges to pay up to 100% of the college tuition for graduates of public high school students in Kalamazoo to any of Michigan's state colleges or universities.

Think about it, what a gift. That is a huge financial burden for Kalamazoo families. It is a great incentive for students to work hard in school and it is a good motivation for a family to move to Kalamazoo.

Martini's Pizza
Martini's Pizza

You've ordered pizza from "The Pizza Nazi"

They seriously do have good food

If you enjoy good pizza, than you or a friend probably have a good story about "The Pizza Nazi". That is the nickname given to the owner of Martini's. The nickname is inspired because of some true, and some exaggerated stories of the Pizza Nazi's similarities to the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.

I really think the food at Martini's is fantastic. I also like and have a lot of respect for the owner of Martini's. He's a pretty cool guy and he is passionate about his product, but in the past he has demonstrated little patience for certain customers. The reviews say it all like this one from jandphof of Trip Adviser and many similar stories can be found here on UrbanSpoon

Bell's Brewery
Bell's Brewery

You know about good beer

Kalamazoo is a beer city

Kalamazoo is home to Bell's Brewery. Bell's is the oldest craft brewery in the state and this side of the Rocky Mountain divide. Several of the beers brewed at Bell's are consistently rated as the top beers of their category and according to, Bell's is the fifth best brewer in the world for 2013.

Besides, Bell's, Kalamazoo is home to several other award winning brew pubs. Notables include Old Peninsula, Gonzo's BiggDogg Brewery, Rupert's Brew House, Tibbs brewing Company, and more. Kalamazoo also has great bars for beer aficionados including Kalamazoo beer Exchange, Shakespeare's Pub and Central City Tap House.

Do-Dah Parade
Do-Dah Parade

If someone says Do-Dah, you think parade

Kalamazoo summed up in the form of a parade.

Downtown Kalamazoo's Do-Dah Parade is a goofy and non-traditional parade. It's held the first weekend of June and it marks the kick of to summer. The parade is just one part of a fun event filled weekend.

You can participate in the Do-Dah parade as a group doing satirical spoof of a person, place or thing. It is a celebration of all things weird, funny and creative. It is a family event, so try and keep your theme PG. It is also fun just to sit back and watch all the characters and enjoy the music.

Kalamazoo Train Station
Kalamazoo Train Station

Half your friends root for Chicago and half for Detroit

Kalamazoo is equal distance to two major cities

Kalamazoo sits smack dab right in between Chicago and Detroit. As a result, many residents are split on their favorite sports teams. Every year the Lions and Bears game, or the Red Wings and Black Hawks games get pretty lively in living rooms and sports bars.

Kalamazoo's is a popular stopping point for Amtrak travelers as the train station sits right in the heart of the city which makes it a great place for travelers to stop for the night to enjoy a night on the town.

When you think of Glenn Miller, you think of this song - I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo

If you live in Kalamazoo, there is no way you have not heard the song "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" by Glen Miller.

The song was recorded in 1942 by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. It was featured in the musical film Orchestra Wives. The song spent eight weeks in first place on the Billboard charts.

Kalamazoo Apparel - Kzoo pride

KZOO Kalamazoo MI Michigan Oval Vinyl Car Bumper Window Sticker 5" x 3"
KZOO Kalamazoo MI Michigan Oval Vinyl Car Bumper Window Sticker 5" x 3"

Represent Kalamazoo while you drive with this cool Kzoo sticker.


Links of note - Planning on coming to Kalamazoo?

Here are some important online resources if you are planning on making a trip to Kalamazoo

Did I miss anything? Share what you think is missing from the list.

Are you from, or have you been to Kalamazoo? - Share your favorite Kalamazoo story

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Kalamazoo is also known as The Mall City because it was the first city in the nation to block off city blocks (downtown) for commercial and retail sites. It's an outdoor mall, but a mall nonetheless.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      The Tower at the State Hospital!! I grew up in Southern Michigan (Branch County) and didn't live in Kalamazoo until I went to college. But growing up we heard "You kids are going to drive me to Kalamazoo" meaning the Mental Hospital!! I lived there for 20 years and didn't choose myself to move back to Branch County!!

    • raswook profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Wendland 

      4 years ago from Kalamazoo, MI

      @mssuzak: Thanks mssuzak, good call. I'm not a runner but is a big event,

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      The Kalamazoo Marathon, of course!!! Where runners come from all 50 states to join the fun of the Kalamazoo Community!!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Fun lens! I'm sharing it with friends from there. I know they'll get a kick out of it.

    • astevn816 lm profile image

      astevn816 lm 

      4 years ago

      Have not been to Kalamazoo but it sounds like fun


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