SOUTHEAST – Kentwood, Cutlerville, Dutton and Caledonia with Kids
Kentwood, Cutlerville, Dutton and Caledonia with Kids
The inside scoop on life with kids in Caledonia – from Stephanie Pearson
Despite the smelly breeze that can sometimes welcome you, the ‘small town’ of Caledonia has many sweet things to offer! Our family moved to town, attracted by the schools, and have since found a plethora of hidden gems among the farmland.
One of our favorite activities is taking bike rides on the Paul Henry Trail. If you park at Caledonia High School (9050 Kraft), you have the option of either heading northwest on the trail for miles of open pavement among the fields, or of taking the trail southeast toward town. The southeast trail only runs about a mile but it leads to one of our gems; Caledonia Lakeside Park!
Lakeside Park has two great playgrounds, ball fields, many picnic areas, and a beautiful view of Emmons Lake. There is no swimming allowed, but fishing is permitted and I’ve heard that it’s great!
While on the trail you may also be lucky enough to catch a hot air balloon being launched! Sky High Hot Air Balloons set flight from Kraft Middle School often; we’ve come across many just as they were leaving the ground!
A few pedals past the park (or a short drive around the corner) is Main Street. Visit it for some frozen treats at the Ice Cream Express (137 E. Main) and to see one of the cutest paint stores around, Muller’s Paint (227 E. Main).
Every June, Muller’s, along with many other local businesses, join together to boost the cowboy spirit during Western Week. This annual event includes a community bonfire, cattle cutting demonstrations, draft horse wagon rides, old-time family photos, a car show, line dancing, great music, tours of the blacksmith shop, a parade and fireworks.
Western life lives on here during the winter as well, where the infamous Cowboy Christmas Tree is aglow, adorned in hats, lassos, and other ranching gear.
Also on Main Street is the Caledonia Dance Center(131 ½ E. Main). In addition to offering classes, the center hosts birthday parties and offers a FREE weekly activity every Tuesday called Story Time with a Twist. Here kids, along with their caregivers, can experience a story combined with music, dance, rhymes, instruments, finger plays, and much more! The room is shoe-free, so plan ahead and wear socks.
Speaking of story time, Caledonia’s KDL branch (6260 – 92nd) is among the best! Built in 2011, and complete with a LEED-certified design, children’s garden, large outdoor checker board, huge deck, bountiful community room, and great indoor play space, the Caledonia library is the perfect place to bring the family for a cheap date. Oh…and don’t forget the books!
Each spring and fall our family is sure to visit one of the many great nurseries in and around town. Harder & Warner (6464 Broadmoor) is one of our favorites. In addition to a great selection of greenery, they are home to five former ArtPrize elephants and two giraffes, making it a fun place for the kids, too.
Each fall Harder & Warner offers hayrides, face painting, an educational scavenger hunt, free lunch, and The Great Candy Drop – every child’s dream!
The Cow Pie Music Festivaltakes place each August at Shagbark Farm (7500 Alaska Avenue). For those who don’t know cow pie, it’s poop, my friends…cow poop. But the festival is none of the like. Over forty bands and thousands of fans flock to town for this event – campsites and parking are FREE and there’s plenty of fun. For our family, this is more of a mommy-daddy night out, but children under 12 are allowed and welcomed at no charge!
The places I’ve listed are only a few. The area is naturally attractive, bustling with beautiful public lakes (Green Lake, Campau, and Kettle), gorgeous tree-lined drives, rolling hills, flowing fields, and the Thornapple River. And one of the best things about the town is how it’s only minutes from so many other great cities. Middleville and Alto, both adjacent, are home to a great number of family destinations including Dairy Discovery, Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park, and Indian Valley Campground & Canoe.