On a recent family road trip through Michigan, We were searching for something fun to help break up the daunting 12-hour drive home to Missouri. As parents of young children, we know the importance of stopping every few hours from letting them get all their energy out.
While driving through Michigan we stumbled upon a place loaded with activities.
Air Zoo Aerospace is a science center and airplane museum with indoor kids amusement park rides. There is so much history and fun. It was a fantastic experience for our entire family of five. Our only regret is that we didn’t find it sooner.
We purchased our tickets three and a half hours before closing time. I said, “that will be plenty of time.” I have never been more wrong.
We had a lot of fun while we were there. However, we needed 3-5 hours to discover and explore each exhibit the Air Zoo had to offer. We only briefly visited the Restoration center and didn’t have the opportunity to see anything at the flight discovery center located just down the road.
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Location & Hours
What days is Air Zoo open? Air Zoo is open seven days a week to inspire learning and love of science, space, and planes. The Air Zoo is open at least 360 days a year.
Hours are Monday-Saturday 9:00 am- 5:00 pm and Sunday 12:00 pm-5:00 pm
Air Zoo is located at 61151 Porter Road in Portage, mi, between Detroit and Chicago. Air zoo is located on I-94 (Exit 78) near the Kalamazoo/ Battle Creek airport and is very easily accessible from the highway.
How much is it to go to the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo?
Admission to the Air Zoo is affordable, considering one price covers every exhibit.
Adult 19-59 $15.95
Children 5-18 $14.95
Senior 60+ $12.95
Children 4 and under receive free admission
US Military, Veterans, Police, and Fire Fighters receive a 50% discount on tickets.
You can also receive a discount when visiting with a group. To receive this discount, you will need to contact Air Zoo directly.
Air Zoo also offers $2 tickets for up to 6 members of a household for EBT and WIC card holders.
What is the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo mi?
The Air Zoo is a world-class Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum. It has more than 100 air and space artifacts, inspiring interactive exhibits, full-motion flight simulators, indoor amusement park rides, and hands-on interactive activities.
As you enter the Air Zoo exhibition floor, you are greeted by sparkling clean planes and a glossy runway painted on the floor of the more than 120,000 square feet of aerospace and aviation museum.
We didn’t know what to expect upon buying our tickets. We were on our way home from our week-long MI road trip, and we wanted to stop and take in as many adventures as we could.
I googled ‘Kids things to do near Grand Rapids,’ and Air Zoo showed up in a few places.
I didn’t read too much before deciding we needed to go. After all, our five-year-old is obsessed with planes and space and soaks up any information and facts he can learn.
Not only did we not regret our decision to stop, we decided we would be back soon and with more time.
Pro Tips for Navigating the Air Zoo
- The bathrooms are very clean and have changing tables and
- Parking is free and ample
- The museum is incredibly clean with gleaming floors
- The Space Exploration and Restoration sections are located in the back. We didn’t even know it was there until almost closing time. It was a vast area.
- The walls and floors have inspiring artwork.
Air zoo Exhibits
Air Zoo is organized in a way that takes you from the Early ages of aviation through the Jet Age of space and aircraft.
The aviation air museum is laid out where you can move through the history of planes, all grouped to allow you to move through the history of aircraft and take in the way airplanes have changed and improved over time.
Early Flight Era
Your journey starts with the Early Flight Era with planes and balloons from 1700 to 1918. Travel started with balloons, and this exciting section of FIC also displays five total planes from these years.
You will find fun facts for each aircraft, such as the wingspan, the plane’s role in flight, and speed.
Golden Age of Aviation
Planes from the Golden Age (1919-1939) include plants from the WW I era, as long as the introduction of commercial travel and air mail. One such plane on display in this section is the Ford Tri-Motor.
This particular plane played a significant role in commercial travel. The top speed was only 150 miles an hour. Many cars built today can go faster.
World War II Aircraft
In one of the most extensive sections of the air zoo, you will find and learn about more than 20 WWII planes ranging from the F6 Hellcat to the P38, which holds special meaning in our family, as Greg’s grandfather was a P-38 piolet.
Some planes in this section are hanging from the ceiling, and others are on the ground, allowing visitors an up-close look at the sheer size and capacity of these planes.
This section is like a walking history lesson and one of the most extensive exhibits in the new facility.
From the post-war era to today, jet-age planes are filled with the latest military technology and power. The minute you pull onto the air zoo property, you’re greeted with planes from the jet age.
Once inside, your eye will almost certainly be drawn to the Lockheed SR 71B Blackbird. One of the sleekest planes to ever fly in the sky. The sheer size of this strategic reconnaissance plane is breathtaking. Our five-year-old started rattling off details about the SR 71 within seconds of our entry.
In addition to the SR71, there are another 22 Jet Age aircraft on display, including the F 14 Tomcat, F/A 18 classic hornet, and the F 8J Crusader. Thanks to our five-year-old, I could identify a few Jet Age aircraft without assistance.
Air Zoo has an entire wing dedicated to space and space exploration. Sadly we discovered this room with only 15 minutes left before closing time.
We raced from the Apollo 11 area to the Space Shuttle that was on display. It’s easy to be a kid in a candy store learning about the moon landing and other space missions.
We were able to take in one of the short films showing in the Air Zoo theater- yep, they also have a theater. It was a cute short animated film about three flys on board during the first American moon landing.
It was cute and a great chance to expose our three kids to movie theaters. The show was only 17 minutes long, but it was packed with excitement and a fun message for kids.
Plan Your Air Zoo Visit
If you’re planning a lake Michigan vacation, you must make time for an air zoo day. Families are invited daily to discover their unique and exciting space in their sizeable interactive exhibition space.
From the moment you walk through the clouds and enter the floor of the air zoo, the excitement will begin.
If you have the time, plan an entire day’s visit to Air Zoo. There is a café inside the Flight Innovation Center (FIC) where you can purchase food to enjoy on-site. Kitty Hawk Cafe is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 11 am- 4:00 pm, Wednesday 11 am – 3:00 pm, and Sunday 12:00 pm-4:00 pm.
However, outside food isn’t permitted inside. You may carry drinks with you while visiting.
There is a family pavilion outside the FIC where you can enjoy lunch or snacks during your visit, then head back in to learn and play more.
Tickets are available for purchase online or upon arrival. Parking is free and close to the main entrance.
Hands-On STEM Learning
Air Zoo isn’t your typical stuffy science museum. You enter through a tunnel of clouds to make you feel like you’re flying to your destination, the Flight Innovation Center.
Here you can learn with interactive displays and exhibits at the Flight Innovation Center’s exhibits. You can walk into and sit on several of the planes that are on display.
This enjoyable activity teaches the fundamental sciences of mathematics, engineering, and physics. This Science Activity and Experimentation Station has many interactive activities that have multiple outcomes and are not just for kids!
Visitors of all ages can race airplanes, launch water bottle rockets or test the Bernoulli principle.
Amusement park-style rides
When we decided to stop at the Air Zoo, we expected to show our kids rare aircraft. We didn’t know there would also be several amusement park rides and flight simulators.
We thought that would be fun for them. All activities were included in the price of admission.
There are four different kids’ amusement park rides. All are appropriate for toddlers and adults alike. Kids between 36 and 48 inches will need to ride with a parent on 1 of the rides, but for the rest, they can ride alone.
We assure you there will be no shortage of smiles (from you or them.).
Women in Air & Space
The Air Zoo honors women in flight by presenting several exhibits within the Discovery Center and Innovation Center. The exhibition features stories, images, videos, and activities to help demonstrate the critical impact of these remarkable women.
Families get to know aviation innovators and current record-breaking pilots.
Explore Amelia: Adventurer Aviationtrix at Flight Innovation Center to find stories of courageous women overcoming barriers and making history on Earth.
The centerpiece of this museum-run exhibition is recreated scenes depicting Amelia presenting piloting tips to pint-sized.
Amelia was the first female pilot to land on the Atlantic. Please find out how she dreamed of flying and what mysteries followed.
Rosie the Riveter
The Air Zoo shows some women employed in military positions from 1942 to 1945 during the Second World War and the 1940s. On loan from the Yankee Air Museum, visitors can see an authentic rivet gun, rivet manual, and paystub at the former site of the Willow Run plant.
Watch videos of kids showing real Rosies and photographing their posters.
How long does it take to go through the Air Zoo?
Air Zoo is an amazing experience. There is so much to do and see. Expect to spend roughly 4 hours exploring at a minimum. You could easily spend much more than that.
If we lived nearby, we would regularly visit, especially on rainy days. There is just so much to explore.
How long does it take to go through the Air Zoo?
Air Zoo is an amazing experience. There is so much to do and see. Expect to spend roughly 4 hours exploring at a minimum. You could easily spend much more than that. If we lived nearby we would visit regularly, especially on rainy days. There is just so much to explore.
Are you hungry?
It is recommended to visit Kitty Hawk Cafe in the lower levels to enjoy the delicious meal and make sure you get some cookies. It also includes a picnic table in the backyard for snacking and refueling.
There’s an easy walking route from the Flight Discovery Centre. You can move your automobile or ride an e-bike (see schedule below).
The Fly Buy Gift Shop
After leaving the clouds, stop by the Fly-By gift store to purchase Air Zoo trinkets, and memorabilia to ensure you never forget the fun you had during your visit.
Support and donation
Although the Air Zoo is affiliated with the Smithsonian Museum, it is a non-profit organization, and operates and relies on donations and volunteer help.
One of the coolest and easiest ways that you can help support Air Zoo and its fundraising programs and its operations is by adopting an airplane.
Air Zoo offers a rotating selection of planes and a variety of levels you can adopt at.
Parties and Events
Air Zoo has space available for business meetings, corporate outings, holiday office parties, or other special events, and offers a unique venue to host a private party.
Imagine celebrating your wedding with as many as 600 of your closest family and friends under the stars of the world-renowned Air Zoo and alongside some of the most historical planes from the world war ii era.
Not only will you and your party have access to explore and learn about the planes that line the floor of the Air Zoo, but you will also have full access to the ride all of the amusement park rides, and have the full experience of the highly charged flight simulators.
Buy an air zoo membership.
Air Zoo memberships are available for purchase and make a great gift for any flight or space lover.
Membership also has many perks including free admission or discount entry to over 1200 museums and science centers in the US.
On-site members receive discounts at the Kitty Hawk Café, and off purchases in the Fly By Gift Shop. Local Portage MI businesses including hotels offer discounts when you present your Air Zoo Membership card. Members also have access to special members-only events, seasonal camps
If we weren’t out-of-towners passing through our family would be annual Air zoo, membership holders.
Air Zoo was nothing short of amazing. We had so much fun that we ran out of time. It is like no place else we have visited. Even if you aren’t into aviation, there is so much to discover. The amusement rides alone are worth a visit if your family has young kids.
Before you go, make sure you stop by the gift shop and museum store to grab a bit of swag and a few planes to play with once you’ve returned home.
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Erin is the mother of identical twin girls and their slightly older brother. She is a domestic engineer, and previously had a career leading customer service teams for a major HVAC company. Cleaning without harsh chemicals, and cooking easy and usually healthy meals are part of Erin's daily life. She volunteers with youth leaders, and genuinely wants to help others win. Erin has a degree in Communications, with a focus on Broadcast Journalism.