Battle Creek
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2024 AWESOME Guide to Things to Do in Battle Creek Michigan

If you are traveling on I-94, you are sure to run straight into Battle Creek. While this historic Michigan town would be easy to pass by — especially since Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids are on the horizon — a stop in Michigan’s famous Cereal City is always worth it.

Battle Creek
Battle Creek I Shutterstock

Battle Creek is known as the birthplace of cereal — and when the wind is blowing in the right direction you may smell cereal wafting in the breeze. But it’s also a town with a rich history that includes a vital role in the Underground Railroad and scenic public parks. With historic sites and a downtown that is being revitalized, there’s a contagious energy in Battle Creek that makes a trip here feel special.

Vintage Photo Of Visitors To The Kellogg Cereal Plant In Battle Creek Michigan
Kellogg’s, Battle Creek | photo via _charlesphoenix

How Battle Creek Became Cereal City

Centuries before the cereal industry blossomed in the heart of Battle Creek, the lands that now comprise the city were the home of Native Americans, primarily from the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi. Once European settlers arrived, Battle Creek quickly grew into a market center for prairie farmers, with the community thriving on the abundance of natural resources in the area.

At the onset of the Industrial Revolution, it was clear that Battle Creek was ready to grow and prosper. Around this time, a patient came to Battle Creek to recuperate from chronic health conditions and became consumed with the growing trend of marketing healthier foods. His name was C.W. Post, and he later created Grape-Nuts Cereal, which was introduced in 1897 and helped launch the Post Cereal company. His efforts made Americans believe that breakfast truly was the most important meal of the day – and that cereal was the perfect option.

Around the same time, W.K. Kellogg, who worked for his brother John H. Kellogg at the Battle Creek Sanitarium (where Post was a patient), created cornflakes (originally made with wheat) for patients at “The San.” They proved so popular that the Kellogg Toasted Corn Flake Company (later known as the Kellogg Company and WK Kellogg Co.) was founded in 1906. In addition to an array of delicious breakfast cereals, the Kellogg Company also introduced the idea of cereal box prizes.

DID YOU KNOW: Vernon J. Herzing developed his famous cereal, Honey Bunches of Oats, in Battle Creek and Rice Krispy Treats were invented in the city by Malitta Jensen and Mildred Day. The city also holds its annual Cereal Festival, allowing festival goers to dine at the World’s Longest Breakfast Table.

By the turn of the 20th century, Battle Creek was at the heart of the “Cereal Boom,” with more than 80 cereal companies operating in the area. Today, Kellogg and Post are the only remaining cereal companies from that boom, but they continue to anchor the local economy in Battle Creek.

Outdoor Things to Do in Battle Creek

Battle Creek may be known as the place where everyone’s favorite breakfast cereals are made, but it’s also an agricultural community with an abundance of natural beauty. These are just a few of the best outdoor things to do in Battle Creek…

Experience the Wonder of the Fantasy Forest at Leila Arboretum

If you are looking to experience a day of whimsy and wonder during your time in Battle Creek, then the Fantasy Forest at Leila Arboretum should be one of the first stops on your itinerary.

This sculpture garden feels like it has been ripped from the pages of a fantastical storybook, with carvings of witches, wizards, dragons, and other mythical creatures waiting around every turn. Most guests spend at least an hour or two exploring this forest, which delights the imaginations of children and adults alike.

The forest has quickly become one of the most popular attractions in Battle Creek and stands as proof that beauty can emerge from destruction. All the sculptures in the forest were created out of ash trees destroyed by the emerald ash borer invasion.

Spend a Day at Binder Park Zoo

One of the best places to enjoy a family adventure in Battle Creek is at the Binder Park Zoo. This quaint zoo is open seasonally between early May and late October, making it a favorite among families and visitors hoping to enjoy the fresh air and warm temperatures during the summer months.

As they meander through the zoo, visitors can see dozens of animal species as they interact with their habitats. Some of the most popular animals at the Binder Park Zoo include the African Lion, American Black Bear, Ostrich, Reticulated Giraffe, and Snow Leopard.

There’s even an opportunity to feed the giraffes at the Twiga Overlook, which is a fun memory for families to cherish.

In addition to the animal exhibits, the zoo has a variety of entertaining attractions. The Wilderness Tram takes visitors on a safari ride through the savanna, and the Z.O. & O. Railroad which takes guests on a scenic journey through the natural areas of the zoo.

Historic Bridge Park-Battle Creek
Historic Bridge Park | photo via roamingthemitten

Explore Historic Bridge Park

Spanning across more than 26 acres, Historic Bridge Park is an idyllic green space in Battle Creek that is beloved by residents and visitors alike. The park owes its name to the series of historic bridges that have been lovingly restored and connected to the park as part of a trail system.

The park is built along the edges of the Kalamazoo River and Dickinson Creek and features some of the most pristine, natural views in Calhoun County. Popular park activities include walking and hiking the trails, boating along the river, picnicking in the pavilion, and looking for wildlife.

Not only are these bridges picturesque and interesting, but they also serve as a living history museum. The bridges pay homage to the history of transportation in Michigan, and the art of steel fabrication that made bridgework possible.

Pick Your Own Bouquet at Zemr Family Farm

Self-described as a small hobby farm, Zemr Family Farm has quickly become one of the most well-known summertime attractions in Battle Creek.

This flower farm specializes in U-pick flowers, allowing visitors to meander through their flower fields and build their own vibrant bouquets. The farm typically opens in the spring when the flowers begin to bloom and stays open until the end of the harvest season in October. This makes it the perfect place to stop if you’re visiting Battle Creek during the warm weather season.

Visit the Underground Railroad Sculpture at Linear Park

Given its central location between Indiana and the Canadian Border, Battle Creek played a pivotal role in the Underground Railroad. Several stationmasters in the Battle Creek area worked to aid freedom seekers hoping to make it to Canada where they could begin to restart their lives.

Today, Battle Creek pays homage to this important piece of the community’s history through the Underground Railroad Sculpture on display at Linear Park. This sculpture is the largest monument in the country dedicated to the tireless and often dangerous work of the Underground Railroad.

Featuring depictions of Harriet Tubman and stationmasters Sarah and Erastus Hussey helping freedom seekers along the route, it is a powerful and moving work of art.

Sojourner Truth Memorial Park, Battle Creek, Michigan
Sojourner Truth Memorial Park, Battle Creek | photo via hi.felicia

Learn a Bit About the Past at the Historic Adventist Village

The Historic Adventist Village is a recreated village showcasing the community of Adventists who settled in the region in the 19th century.

The village spans more than three city blocks, and it includes a variety of historical structures, including an 1852 log cabin, a replicated 1857 meeting house, and a one-room schoolhouse designed in the style of the 19th century. Guests interested in visiting the village are encouraged to make reservations in advance to be sure that a tour guide will be available.

Battle Creek River
Battle Creek | photo via puremichiganguy

Indoor Things to Do in Battle Creek

Battle Creek is not immune to Michigan’s wild weather, so if you are looking to escape the elements, you will find that these are some of the best indoor activities and attractions in Battle Creek…

Try Your Luck at Firekeeper’s Casino

Firekeeper’s Casino is a casino and hotel in Battle Creek that has earned the reputation of being one of the best entertainment and gaming destinations in Michigan.

Known for its Vegas-like atmosphere, Firekeeper’s Casino is a lively and entertaining casino that offers guests the chance to play their favorite games, make a few bets, and delight in the kinds of shows found in Sin City.

Visit the Battle Creek Regional History Museum

The Battle Creek Regional History Museum offers visitors an engaging and immersive experience that allows them to better understand the cultures and communities that came together to make Battle Creek the wonderful place that it is today.

The “Museum Lite” space in the front of the building features a regional history exhibit and a Battle Creek gift shop. The “Museum Lite” displays are rotated frequently, allowing visitors to learn a little more every time they stop by. Past exhibits have included a Michigan Air National Guard exhibit, a baseball and cereal display, and an exhibit on Sojourner Truth.

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

Explore the Art Center of Battle Creek

For over 70 years, the Art Center of Battle Creek has been integrating arts and culture into residents’ daily lives. Since it opened its doors in 1948, the art center has aimed to provide engaging programming for residents to help expose them to the world of art, while giving artists a space to display their creations.

During the year, up to a dozen exhibits are displayed at the art center, making this one of the most interesting and inviting indoor attractions in Battle Creek.

Griffin Grill &Amp; Pub-Battle Creek
Griffin Grill & Pub | photo via andrew_eatsfood

Local Restaurants in Battle Creek

Refined dining meets casual appeal at local Battle Creek restaurants which are known for their down-home atmosphere and eclectic menus and give customers plenty to choose from.

Clara’s on the River is easily considered to be everyone’s favorite restaurant in Battle Creek. The restaurant operates out of the historic Michigan Central Railroad Depot and its interior decor makes diners feel as if they have stepped back in time. Boasting an extensive menu that includes burgers, salads, and Tex-Mex options, it would be impossible to visit this restaurant and not discover your new favorite dish.

Finley’s Grill and Smokehouse is another place to enjoy a mouthwatering meal. It’s the only restaurant in the city that doubles as a smokehouse. It’s the best place for authentic barbecue food in Cereal City.

Griffin Grill & Pub offers a cozy atmosphere and a convenient location. Known as the most authentic Irish pub in the city, this downtown restaurant is famous for its Irish American menu that highlights locally sourced ingredients.

National House Inn-Marshall
National House Inn | photo via sherirutanart

Where to Stay Near Battle Creek

Conveniently located between Detroit and Chicago, Battle Creek is an easy stopping point for weary travelers working their way along I-94. While chain hotels offer ease and convenience, local places offer an authentic and immersive experience.

  • Greencrest Manor is a European-style bed and breakfast that prides itself on its luxurious appeal and home-like amenities where no detail is overlooked. Visitors will find seven guest suites — each one decorated in its own unique style — reading nooks and limestone fireplaces for a cozy atmosphere.
  • The National House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Marshall is close to Battle Creek and has welcomed visitors for over 150 years. Visitors can enjoy afternoon tea, a warm crackling fire, cozy beds, and more at this scenic B&B.
Welcome To Battle Creek Sign
Battle Creek | photo via twomenandatruck_kzoobc

Battle Creek FAQs

Why is Battle Creek called Cereal City?

Battle Creek is known as Cereal City because the town is considered the birthplace of the cereal industry. At the turn of the 20th century, there was a so-called “Cereal Boom” in Battle Creek, and more than 80 different cereal companies were operating in the city. Today, Post and WK Kellogg Co., two of the most well-known cereal companies in the world, are headquartered in Battle Creek.

Can you tour the cereal factories in Battle Creek?

Kellogg’s began offering tours of its factories in 1912, and those tours continued until 1987. By the time the tours stopped operating, more than 6 million people had walked through the factory and learned more about how cereal was manufactured and produced. Today, there are no public cereal factory tours available in Battle Creek.

Does Battle Creek really smell like cereal?

Depending on the direction of the wind, you may be able to smell the scent of cereal blowing in the breeze in Battle Creek. During the cereal industry’s prime, many people said that the streets of Battle Creek smelled like Fruity Pebbles.

I grew up about 10 miles north of downtown Battle Creek, and when the wind was blowing in our direction, we could smell the Fruit Loops baking. The smell of cereal is the smell of home!

Ashley Pichea

Does Battle Creek have a downtown?

Yes, Battle Creek has a historic downtown area that is currently redefining itself. The revitalized energy in downtown Battle Creek is infectious, with people coming from around the state to enjoy the local shops and restaurants that can be found there.

National Cereal Festival - Battle Creek, Michigan
National Cereal Festival | photo via Cereal Festival on Facebook

Discover Battle Creek, Where Small Town Charm Meets Innovation and Ingenuity

If you need to escape to a place that offers a sense of tranquility and natural beauty — and where the scent of fruit-flavored cereal wafts in the breeze — Battle Creek is a must-visit Michigan destination for you. With its picturesque parks, historical sites, and bustling downtown, a trip to Battle Creek is perfect for your next weekend road trip or a summer getaway.

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