980434 1246953628665622 3055068507128536075 o e1459892724543 Exploring Cereal City: A #MittenTrip to Battle Creek Michigan
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Exploring Cereal City: A #MittenTrip to Battle Creek Michigan

When you think of Battle Creek Michigan, you probably think of cereal, since both Kellogg and Post have manufacturing facilities within the city limits. But there is so much more to Cereal City USA than breakfast foods!

On our recent #MittenTrip, we set out to dig a little deeper and find the lesser-known gems that the area has to offer. Why should you consider Battle Creek for your next getaway? The answers might surprise you!

From Manistee to Battle Creek

Blue skies and open road: the perfect day for a #MittenTrip. Photos by Rhonda Greene
Blue skies and open road: the perfect day for a Michigan road trip. Photos by Rhonda Greene

We left our home in Manistee on a sunny (albeit a little chilly) morning. Heading south on US-31, we were anxious to get our adventure started. We’ve gone “downstate” many times, but the Battle Creek area was uncharted territory for us, adding an extra dimension of excitement to the day.

Stopping for a quick bite at Small Town Sandwich Shop in Spring Lake. Photos by Rhonda Greene.
Stopping for a quick bite at Small Town Sandwich Shop in Spring Lake. Photos by Rhonda Greene.

Small Town Sandwich Shop | Where to Eat in Spring Lake

By the time we reached the freeway exit for Spring Lake we were feeling a little hungry, so we pulled off at the Small Town Sandwich Shop. We had read lots of great reviews about the restaurant online, so our expectations were high, and they were definitely exceeded! The decor there was adorable and welcoming, like eating at the house of a quirky, artistic friend. And the food was just as welcoming! I had a Cuban sandwich with their homemade spicy pickles, and Adam opted for the special of the day, a perch sandwich.

Stretching our legs at Mill Point Park, Spring Lake. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
Stretching our legs at Mill Point Park, Spring Lake. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

Mill Point Park | Things to Do in Spring Lake

Wanting to stretch our legs a little more before hopping back in the car, we decided to take a little walk across the street at Mill Point Park, a cute little spot overlooking the Grand River. We spent a few minutes exploring the park and watching some birds on the riverbank, and then it was time to hit the road again.

Adam in the giant Adirondack chair at DeLass Garden Market, Spring Lake. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
Adam in the giant Adirondack chair at DeLass Garden Market, Spring Lake. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

DeLass Garden Market | Things to Do in Spring Lake

On our way out of town we spotted one more thing that made us feel compelled to stop: a giant Adirondack chair in front of DeLass Garden Market! (Seriously, how can you drive past such a great photo op and not stop for a quick snap?)

We decided that we wanted to see more on our trip than just the freeway, so we meandered along country roads from Spring Lake to Otsego. It was not the quickest route, but we were in a leisurely mood and enjoyed taking in the views of southwest Michigan’s farm country. Once we reached Otsego we stopped for gas, then found our way back to the freeway and took US-131 and I-94 for the final leg of our trip.

Paying our respects at Fort Custer National Cemetery. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
Paying our respects at Fort Custer National Cemetery. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

Things to Do in Battle Creek Michigan

Fort Custer National Cemetery

Upon our arrival in Battle Creek, our first stop was at the Fort Custer National Cemetery to pay our respects. We spent most of the remaining daylight wandering through different sections of the massive cemetery, including the German Memorial where 26 World War II POWs were buried following a tragic 1945 train accident.

Arriving at the Battle Creek Courtyard Mariott at sunset. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
Arriving at the Battle Creek Courtyard Mariott at sunset. Photos by Rhonda Greene.

Courtyard Marriott in Battle Creek Michigan | Hotel

Next step: the hotel! We arrived at the Courtyard Marriott just as the sun was setting. One of Battle Creek’s newest hotels, the interior design is sleek and modern. The lobby has a lovely little cafe, a lounge area, and computer workstations. We dropped off our bags and headed back out right away because it was time for something we’d been looking forward to for weeks: Sushi!

Eating dinner at Sakura Sushi Bar. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
Eating dinner at Sakura Sushi Bar. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

Sakura Sushi Bar | Battle Creek Restaruant

When we were looking up places to eat in Battle Creek, one of the places that stood out most was Sakura Sushi Bar. We are big-time sushi lovers. At home in the Manistee area, the opportunities to get sushi are pretty limited, so when we saw photos of the rolls at this place, it went right to the top of our must-eat list for the weekend.

We agonized over what to order – everything on the menu looked and sounded so delicious! I really don’t think you can go wrong there no matter what you choose. We ended up getting an assortment of rolls and a few pieces of nigiri, featuring meats ranging from fried chicken to raw octopus. We ate the whole gamut, and it was all amazing!

Picking up an evening snack at Sweetwater's Donut Mill. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
Picking up an evening snack at Sweetwater’s Donut Mill. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

Sweetwater’s Donut Mill | Battle Creek Donut Shop

Although we were stuffed to our eyeballs with sushi, there was one more food stop on our list for the night: Sweetwater’s Donut Mill. Open 24 hours, Sweetwater’s is practically legendary in the area. Before our trip, we asked a lot of people what we should do in Battle Creek, and this was one of the most recommended places. Since Sweetwater’s is just down the road from Sakura, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to check it out.

Donuts in hand – chocolate frosted for Adam, red velvet for me – we headed back to the hotel, where we stopped by the hotel bar for a nightcap. Once back upstairs, we devoured our donuts before drifting off to sleep in what may have been the comfiest hotel room bed ever.

Charlotte Highway bridge, built in 1886 and relocated to Bridge Park from Ionia County. Photo by Adam Greene.
Charlotte Highway bridge, built in 1886 and relocated to Bridge Park from Ionia County. Photo by Adam Greene.

Historic Bridge Park in Battle Creek Michigan

We started our Saturday with a cup of coffee at the hotel, then headed off to Historic Bridge Park to take a walk. Bridge Park is another attraction that nearly everyone mentioned, and one person described to us as “a zoo for retired bridges.”

The park is home to six bridges total, weaving back and forth across a small creek in a quaint loop that is also connected to the North Country Trail and the Calhoun County Trailway, which will also eventually connect to the Battle Creek Linear Park. (There is certainly no shortage of beautiful places to take a long walk in Battle Creek!)

Brunching at Addington Hills Cafe. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
Brunching at Addington Hills Cafe. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

Addington Hills Cafe [CLOSED] | Brunch in Battle Creek

The morning air was chilly, so after thoroughly exploring the park and some of the connected trails, we headed to Addington Hills Cafe for brunch. The restaurant was adorable, with bright-yet-tasteful colors and lots of natural light streaming in the front windows. I had spinach, tomato, and feta quiche, with a cup of bell pepper and artichoke soup. Adam opted for a ham and cheese melt with homemade potato chips. It was a hearty and delicious fuel-up after our morning stroll!

Visiting the Art Center of Battle Creek. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
Visiting the Art Center of Battle Creek. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

Art Center of Battle Creek

We chose Addington Hills Cafe because of its proximity to our next stop: it’s right next door to the Art Center of Battle Creek. The Art Center hosts various exhibitions throughout the year, in addition to offering classes in many different artistic mediums.

The current exhibition at the time of our visit was a student show, showcasing work from local elementary, middle school and high school artists. We checked out the entire exhibit, as well as their gift shop featuring many wonderful works by Michigan artists.

We picked up a couple of handmade ceramic tiles for our collection (we love unique tiles!) and had a lovely conversation with the lady who was working there, Maureen, an artist from Marshall.

The buildings at the Historic Adventist Village serve as a museum of the church's history. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
The buildings at the Historic Adventist Village serve as a museum of the church’s history. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

Historic Adventist Village in Battle Creek

Next, we headed to the Historic Adventist Village, an area covering several blocks on the west end of Battle Creek. The buildings (some restored, some reproductions of period buildings) serve as a museum, with historical scenes and information about the history of the Seventh Day Adventist church.

The village was not yet open for the season when we were there, so we didn’t get to go into any of the buildings, but were still able to walk around and look at them.

The stately main entrance to the Leila Arboretum. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
The stately main entrance to the Leila Arboretum. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

Leila Arboretum in Battle Creek

The next stop on our itinerary was the Leila Arboretum. As soon as the stately gates came into view, we knew we were in for a treat. The arboretum covers 72 acres that were donated to the City of Battle Creek in 1922 by the widow of C.W. Post, and it occupies the area that was once the Battle Creek Country Club. Renovations to the land began in the mid-20s, but efforts were abandoned due to the Great Depression. The once beautiful grounds became overgrown and fell into disrepair until the 1980s when a group of citizens became determined to restore it to its former glory.

Wizards and dragons keep watch over the Fantasy Forest at Leila Arboretum. Photos by Adam Greene.
Wizards and dragons keep watch over the Fantasy Forest at Leila Arboretum. Photos by Adam Greene.

Fantasy Forest at Leila Arboretum

One of the highlights of the Leila Arboretum is the Fantasy Forest. When a grove of 100-year-old ash trees near the arboretum entrance was decimated by emerald ash borers, the decision was made that rather than tear down the trees, they should be turned into art! During a 2015 competition, artists descended on the grove and brought it new life; the landscape is now dotted with an assortment of wizards, dragons, and other mythical beings. Currently, a total of 13 dead ash trees have been transformed into fanciful sculptures.

This was one of our very favorite attractions in Battle Creek, and we are already planning to go back later this summer so we can see the new additions!

The Kingman Museum, on the grounds of the Leila Arbretum, is a natural history museum and planetarium. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
The Kingman Museum, on the grounds of the Leila Arboretum, is a natural history museum and planetarium. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

Kingman Museum at Leila Arboretum

The grounds of the Leila Arboretum are also home to the Kingman Museum. The museum is largely a natural history museum and also has a planetarium. It is an adorable little museum with a nice collection of taxidermy and other artifacts, with lots of hands-on experiences for kids, especially in the area dedicated to dinosaurs and other prehistoric life.

Exploring downtown Battle Creek on a Saturday afternoon. Photos by Rhonda Greene.
Exploring downtown Battle Creek on a Saturday afternoon. Photos by Rhonda Greene.

Exploring Downtown Battle Creek Michigan

By this time, our brunch had worn off and we were feeling a bit peckish, so we headed into Downtown Battle Creek to find some refreshments. The downtown area has a strange juxtaposition of high-rise buildings that make it feel like a big city, but a personality at the street level that feels more like a small town.

Battle Creek Books [CLOSED]

We were a little surprised that most of the shops closed fairly early on Saturdays, so we decided to do a little bit of shopping first. Our stops included Battle Creek Books (which has since closed), where we picked up a handful of quirky greeting cards and a couple of softcover treasures off the bargain table.

Time for dinner and drinks at Arcadia Brewing Company! Photo by Rhonda Greene.
Time for dinner and drinks at Arcadia Brewing Company! Photo by Rhonda Greene.

Arcadia Brewing Company [CLOSED] | Restaurant in Downtown Battle Creek

Ready for some beer and food, our next stop was at Arcadia Brewing Company. While we were there we noted that they were running a promotion to gather bottled water donations to send to Flint. Bring in a case of bottled water and get a pint of beer for $1! Their goal is to ship off an entire pallet of water to the people of Flint. Of all the amazing things we saw all day long, this kind gesture was the thing that made me smile the biggest.

Arcadia Brewing has since closed its Battle Creek location, but no fear – Ashley recommends trying out Handmap Brewing in the same building!

Cheers! Drinking beers from Short's Brewing Company at the Cricket Club. Photo by the bartender, via Rhonda Greene.
Cheers! Drinking beers from Short’s Brewing Company at the Cricket Club. Photo by the bartender, via Rhonda Greene.

Cricket Club | Restaurant in Downtown Battle Creek

After finishing up at Arcadia, we moved down the street to an English-style pub called the Cricket Club. With its exposed brick walls and dark wood bar and trim, this place is definitely not shy on character! We were happy to find out that they had several different selections from Short’s Brewing Company. I opted for Soft Parade, one of my favorites, and Adam had some ControversiALE.

The staff at the Cricket Club was tons of fun and hospitable, showing us a great time while we were there. We enjoyed the place so much that we even bought T-shirts while we were there. They had some really great shirt designs, so that was a no-brainer as a souvenir!

We left the Cricket Club around dusk and spent some more time wandering around downtown and exploring. There wasn’t much else going on downtown that night, so we decided to head back across town toward the hotel, making an obligatory stop at Sweetwater’s on the way past for more donuts. (If there were a Sweetwater’s in Manistee, I would probably gain an extra 20 pounds from eating too many donuts. That place is dangerous, but in a good way!)

Back at the hotel, we stuffed ourselves with cream-filled amazingness and laid out our plans for our next, final day in Battle Creek.

Things to Do Near Battle Creek Michigan

Getting ready to feed the swans and geese at the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
Getting ready to feed the swans and geese at the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

We started the final day of our Mitten Trip with a quick breakfast at the hotel cafe before checking out. Our first stop of the day was the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, located just a few minutes outside of Battle Creek. For a small fee, you can enter the sanctuary grounds to see all of the birds and walk along nature trails that circle Wintergreen Lake. You can also buy buckets of corn to feed to the sanctuary’s waterfowl. Among the birds that call the sanctuary home are many who, due to injuries, would not survive in the wild.

Making friends with the Trumpeter Swans. Photo by Rhonda Greene.
Making friends with the Trumpeter Swans. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

These birds include a population of Trumpeter Swans that were part of a breeding program to bring the species back from the verge of extinction; the day we visited, we counted nearly as many Trumpeter Swans at the sanctuary as there once were left in the wild, a testament to the success of the program.

The sanctuary also provides homes for birds of prey, including hawks, owls, and eagles, who have injuries that prevent them from hunting in the wild. Many of these raptors are glove-trained and are used as part of educational programs. Elsewhere on the grounds, another building showcases a variety of game birds.

The Gilmore Car Museum is definitely an all-day stop. Photos by Rhonda Greene.
The Gilmore Car Museum is definitely an all-day stop. Photos by Rhonda Greene.

Gilmore Car Museum

It was a little on the cold side that day, so by the time our bucket of corn was empty and we’d seen all of the birds, our noses and fingers were feeling a little numb, so we decided it was time to move on to the final destination of our Mitten Trip: The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners.

Hickory Corners is a tiny speck on the map, just northwest of Battle Creek. The Gilmore, however, is anything but tiny! If you are planning to visit the Gilmore, be sure to allow an entire day. The 90-acre campus is actually home to eight separate museums (seven car museums and a dollhouse miniatures museum), as well as a historic diner! They also have a small cafe in the main building, where we snagged some lunch.

The grounds of the Gilmore Car Museum are filled with great photo opportunities! Photos by Adam and Rhonda Greene.
The grounds of the Gilmore Car Museum are filled with great photo opportunities! Photos by Adam and Rhonda Greene.

When we were there, the museum was not yet in full swing for the season, so only the main museum and two of the peripheral museums were open. Though saying “only” is kind of understating – even with just a portion of the exhibits open for viewing, we still spent hours there and feel like we barely scratched the surface.

Even though the rest of the buildings were closed, we still walked around because the grounds were full of amazing photo opportunities, including a vintage gas station that was just the right color for striking a pose in my Live Love Michigan shirt. The Gilmore is also on our list of places to revisit this summer!

More Things to Do in Battle Creek Michigan

On the ride home, we marveled at how much we’d managed to do and see on our three-day adventure. And there were even more things that we wish we could have done! It turns out that several of the attractions that we looked up in the area – including Binder Park Zoo, the Kimball House Museum, and Southern Exposure Herb Farm – were not yet open for the season when we were in town, so we didn’t get a chance to visit those places, but you should definitely check them out as well. There is definitely a lot more to Battle Creek than just cereal!

Is there anything else we missed while we were there? Let us know in the comments!

Special thanks to our sponsors for making our #MittenTrip to Battle Creek possible: Shorts Brewing and Live Love Michigan. 

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11 Comments

  1. Thank you for visiting our city and enjoying youselves! Don’t forget the River Regatta on June 25th, Leilapalooza music festival on July 30th at Leila Arboretum (voted one of the best music venues in Michigan by Awesome Mitten) and The Cereal City Soapbox Derby on September 24th in downtown Battle Creek… All brought to you by the Battle Creek Metropolitan Area Moustache Society.
    Thanks again for posting all of your fun and positive adventures around our beautiful state!
    JJ Ramon
    Battle Creek

    1. I have been born and raised in battle creek mi and i can tell people 1 thing for sure battle creek was a nice to place to live back in the 90s maybe but battle creek mi to me now is not the same town i grew up in

  2. Thanks for all the suggestions on places to see in Battle Creek- will definitely have to do a road trip there

  3. If you happen back to Battle Creek, check out Malia’s for dinner. Or check out the schedule for the Battle Creek Cereal Killers Roller Derby and catch a bout when they are playing. I’d suggest another trip during the summer so you can check out the places you mentioned that weren’t open, and one last suggestion- Station 66 for some delicious ice cream served on a freshly made (in house) waffle cone.

  4. If you return to this area, I hope you will visit the Children’s Garden located in Leila Arboretum. It is a learning garden and is not just for children. If you are visiting when the garden is closed, call me and I will be happy to open the garden and give you a guided tour. Hours are 8:30 am to 5 pm. during late Spring thru early Fall. Call 269-963-1448 or during LAS open hours, year round Mon. – Fri, at 269-969-0270 (LAS office). Calling ahead is suggested. Also suggested is Dews Pizza and Subs, North of Battle Creek on M66 at the corner of Pennfield Road. The Battle Creek Garden Tour for 2016 will be Sat. and Sun. July 16 and 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Children’s Garden. In February we have a cardboard sled event conducted by the Battle Creek Metropolitan Area Moustache Society benefiting a local non-profit each year. If the snow is melted on the hills, we truck it in for the race. Check out the Leila Arboretum Society Web site at http://www.LASGarden.org for additional info on events.

  5. I would have to second the Cornwells Turkeyville suggestion. And The Barn Theatre in Augusta, MI has been entertaining BattleCreekers and Kalamazoophiles for 70 years! If you see a production there, be sure to stick around for the free “bar show” in the Rehearsal Shed Lounge. In fact, if you miss the main stage show you are STILL welcome to join us for the late evening FREE entertainment. Thanks for the GREAT article.

  6. Sojourner Truth monument and grave site in Oakhill cemetery. Also the underground railroad monument across the river from the kellogg foundation.

  7. Loved this piece on BC. Just to update readers: Arcadia Brewery is no longer open but a new brewery Handmap has opened and worth checking out! Addington Hills, the Kingman Museum are no longer open.

    1. Thanks for the updates, Ashley! It’s been a few years since we’ve had an opportunity to explore Battle Creek, so we appreciate your tips.

  8. Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary is located about 15 miles south of Battle Creek in the town of Athens. It’s home to almost 200 rescued alligators, tortoises, turtles, and snakes.
    Take a tour with the staff to learn about where these animals came from.

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