PLAN YOUR TOUR
Metered street parking in downtown Kalamazoo is free on weekends. The 90 minute free parking spaces are monitored on Saturday and you may get a ticket if you overstay, but they are unregulated on Sunday. Most ramps are the same rate on Saturday – some (like the movie theater ramp on Portage) are free on Sunday. Read the signs before you enter.
A parking map is included in the souvenir booklet/ticket, so you can plan your parking as well as your route. The tour is structured so that a complete loop from any beginning point to the opposite point and back to the start is no more than two miles.
This is not a handicapped-accessible tour, although we have had people on crutches and blind people choose to take the tour and who said they enjoyed it. We don’t turn people away, but we do warn of hazards.
These buildings all were constructed many decades before the Americans With Disabilities Act, and upper floors are accessible only by stairs. All buildings on the tour require stair climbing.
If you take children on the tour, they can climb the stairs or you can carry them. Strollers will be parked at the door of each building and the site manager will watch them while you take the tour. There’s just no way to get strollers or other wheeled carriers up and down the kinds of stairs you’ll encounter.
What to wear
Before each years’ tour, the Hidden Kalamazoo Tour Committee clean unused areas and inspect for possible hazards. Although most of the buildings on the tour are clear of fallen plaster or exposed nails, you’ll want to wear closed-toed shoes. Flip-flops or open sandals could make you vulnerable to tripping on the stairs or getting poked or even scratched by a splinter or nail we’ve somehow overlooked.
Most of the old buildings are not air conditioned. They can get even warmer than outdoor temperatures. You’ll want to check the weather forecast before you leave for the tour.
How long is the tour?
Tour sites open at 10 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Usually it takes 20 minutes to view each site. Add 10 to 15 minutes’ walking time between sites, and you can see why many people allow two and one-half to three hours for the entire tour.
There are guides at each site to talk about the building’s history and notable architectural features, but outside the buildings, this is a self-directed tour. You can start at any site you wish, and visit sites in any order you choose. You do not have to visit every one.
If your schedule makes it inconvenient to take the whole tour on a single day, you can break it up and visit some sites on one day and others on the other day. Your ticket is good for both days.