West Michigan – Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that you need to stop learning! Around every corner in West Michigan, you’ll find historic landmarks, behind the scenes tours, and events that enrich your life. This isn’t just for kids! There are plenty of things for adults to learn too. Check out some of our favorites and let us know what you learned.
Grand Haven’s Chocolates by Grimaldi offers family friendly tours where you can learn about the chocolate making process from pod to bean to the chocolate you eat! Taste fresh samples right off the production line, tour behind the scenes, and get a close of view of their vintage 1950s enrober, just like the one from I Love Lucy! Check out what goes into making these delectable desserts and try them fresh off the press! This behind the scenes experience is $4 per person and can be scheduled via phone.
Dablon Vineyards – Winery & Tasting Room in Baroda offers tours in the summer and early fall. Every Friday and Saturday, Dablon’s winemakers take guests on behind the scenes tours to places that the general public doesn’t see up close. Check out their beautiful hillside production facility, underground barrel room, and wonderful vineyard. Through these areas you will learn about Dablon’s unique winemaking process and why their Baroda vineyard is so suitable for growing grapes. Your guide is more than happy to answer questions! After the tour, visit the tasting room to sample six Dablon wines of your choice. For more information and how to book your tour, visit their website!
Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks offers tours throughout the weekend and once per day during the week. These tours give a detailed history of the factory and a step-by-step explanation of the distilling process. Tours end with a generous tasting and specific information about each of their spirits. It’s a great way to get either introduced to spirits or build on your knowledge of the industry. With these tours from Journeyman Distillery, you’ll get a first hand account of the hard work that goes into making your favorite spirits.
Traverse City and their Inland Seas Education Association is dedicated to helping people of all ages experience the Great Lakes through hands on and experiential learning on their tall ship schooner. The program has been used for school groups and family excursions to teach maritime history, Great Lakes ecology, astronomy, and more.
South Haven has some great events that will combine your vacation with educational opportunities. On June 16th, the Maritime Museum begins their Pirate Chaser Sails. Bring kids of all ages for a sail on the tall ship Friends Good Will. This is one of the most popular experiences for families on vacation. Kids from ages 6 to 11 can enjoy Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum’s Bailey’s Budding Naturalists workshop fromJune 20th to the 24th. Here, they’ll learn about plants, nature, and create exciting projects. South Haven also has a series of events and festivals throughout the summer that you and your family can check out. The Traditional Jewish Brunch onJune 26th is $10 and includes live music, desserts, and tours. Make sure to visit South Haven this summer to balance your vacation with learning experiences!
Kids Day is June 18th at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland. Kids get free theme park admission with unlimited rides, games, petty zoo time, and walking farm animals. Kids will also be able to climb aboard police cars, fire trucks, and other rescue vehicles to learn more about them from community service providers. Immerse yourself in the Dutch culture with Dutch food treats at Hungry Dutchman Café. Between the rides and enrichment opportunities, this is the perfect blend of vacation and education.
Take a trip to St. Ignace to learn about culture and biology. On August 27th they’ll have their annual Powwow. If you would rather learn about biology, there are many trails and outdoor adventures to be enjoyed in St. Ignace. With these events and outdoor activities, you can’t forget about the museums which are also a great learning source. Visit St. Ignace this summer!
Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek is offering their Overnight Safari for families with kids ages 6 and up this summer! Experience an African Safari where you can watch live animal presentations, participate in fun activities, and sleep in an authentic African tented camp. When you wake up the following day, you’ll have all day to explore the zoo with the included zoo admission. There isn’t a better way to get a behind the scenes and hands on look with the animals at Binder Park Zoo! Visit their website for specific days and how to sign up.
Amanda’s Bequest in Montague has the perfect blend of vacation and education. The bed and breakfast boasts a great way to learn how to urban farm. They have a small orchard, honey bees, hens, ducks, and a vegetable garden. They host a cooking school which allows guests to learn how to make cheese, cook and bake from scratch, and home food preservation skills. Enjoy the relaxing bed and breakfast side of Amanda’s Bequest as well as their educational opportunities through their onsite cooking school.
The free summer program No Family Left Indoors is bringing arts, recreation, nature, and educational non-profits together to host a series of fun events. This year, Historic Charlton Park in Hastings is hosting “It’s Recess Time!” on June 21st. Participants will be exploring the park and playing games of yesteryear. There will be hoop and stick, graces, and more! Bring your family to learn about some of the games that you may have played as a kid. For more information on this event and the other events in the program, visit their website!
All programs though the Outdoor Discovery Center in Holland are educational. Two that are coming up are the Soar Into Summer event and Plein Air Artists of West Michigan. Soar Into Summer on June 9th has a variety of family activities such as kayaking, barrel train rides, live animal exploration, and more. Bring the whole family to extend their education through June at this event. With Plein Air Artists of West Michigan on June 11th, the group will be set up along the trails, painting the various natural areas for a few hours. They will talk about paintings and visitors walking the trails are encouraged to watch and ask questions about their process. This is just a taste of the events that the Outdoor Discovery Center has throughout this summer!
Deer Tracks Junction in Cedar Springs offers hands on farm education with their animals. Learn how they grow their feed and milk their goats or snuggle with a bunny from their Rabbit Barn. New this year is their Hands-on Deer Area where you can see all the different kinds of deer and their babies. They also have their Wildlife Safari Tours throughout the ranch. Tours are guided by knowledgeable staff that will provide commentary about the animals you see. Visit their website to learn more and book your tour.
Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings will participate in No Family Left Indoors. OnAugust 2nd, the Piece Cedar Creek will host Amazing Animals, a look at many of the creatures that call the Institute their home. You and your family will be able to see a number of these creatures up close and learn about what it takes for them to survive in the wild. Enjoy this free event and the other No Family Left Indoors events this summer!
You and your family can explore nature with the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta. The Bird Sanctuary offers family friendly educational events and experiences throughout the summer. On June 4th and 8th, enjoy Birds & Coffee Walks throughout the sanctuary. On June 15th and 29th, join them for their Wild Wednesdays series for families with children under 7. You can also explore the trails and take a self guided tour to learn more about the birds or go on a group led tour by one of their experts. Find time this summer to visit W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary and learn more about their flying friends!
The Art Gallery of Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie will have a series of exhibits and events throughout the gallery in June. Galleries include From Shimmer to Force: Wonderment of Water, clay artist Ulrike Schneider, Algoma University’s fine art program thesis exhibit “Interval,” and York Wilson and Contemporaries. On June 24ththey’ll host a French Cafe experience. You can also enjoy a gallery tour and lunch by appointment. Treat yourself to some art this summer at the Art Gallery of Algoma!
A great spot of vacation and education are the Windmill Island Gardens in Holland. Here, you can learn about Dutch heritage, history, agriculture, floriculture, and nature. This year, they’ll be featuring the “Year of the Butterfly” in their gardens which are now certified monarch waystation. This will be kicked off by the opening of their “Vlinder Veld” which is “butterfly field” in Dutch. Enjoy the butterflies and the gardens at Windmill Island Gardens!
Great Turtle Kayak’s award winning tours to Mackinac Island are now available! The tour includes social studies, science, and physical education as you learn about the rich history of Mackinac Island and the Straits you’re kayaking through. You and your family will be able to see examples of hydrology, meteorology, geology, and other sciences in action and theory. Paddle your way to their website to book your trip today!
The Marshall area has a range of museums for you and your family to visit this summer! Topics range from learning about more obscure topics to the history of the area itself. If you want to experience history for yourself, visit Cornwell’s Turkeyville for their Civil War Reenactments on June 18th and 19th. No matter what you want to learn, you will definitely want to explore and experience the Marshall area this summer!
Crystalaire Adventures in Frankfort helps you design your own camping expeditions and regional tours all across the state. It’s your choice where you want to go! Once you know where you want to go, you have a ton of options to help them create your custom tour. They take into account everything from age and size of the group to budget and intensity of the trip. Some of the examples of things you can explore are geomorphology of sand dunes or human impacts on Michigan’s forests. To learn more and plan your trip, visit their website!
Holland is home to plenty for both your vacation and education. When you’re not enjoying the beaches or downtown Holland, make sure to visit places like the Outdoor Discovery Center or Holland Farmer’s Market! Both offer events for the entire family. Holland also hosts a variety of car shows and cultural festivals. For more information and a full list of things to do, visit their website!
Charlevoix’s Harsha House highlights a unique collection of historical exhibits featuring the history of the town. Exhibits look at key industries and how these impacted Michigan and the country as a whole. Charlevoix also has some great walking tours through their historic areas. If you’re in the area this summer, take a stroll and learn about the history of Charlevoix and some of the biggest influences across our great state.
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