Battle Creek/Kalamazoo, Michigan
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Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- In 1905, Kalamazoo had 17 auto manufacturers, more than Detroit.
- Seventh-Day Adventists formally organized their church in Battle Creek in 1863.
- The Kellogg brothers created their first toasted flakes by accident.
- The Checker Cab company made the famous taxis in Kalamazoo from 1923 to 1982.
- In the 1910s, there were more than 80 cereal companies in Battle Creek.
Of cornflakes and cars
Battle Creek and Kalamazoo are small cities in southwest Michigan, in Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties, respectively.
The cities offer access to various parks and green spaces, which promise cycling, hiking, rock climbing and other options for the active traveler. They also are in driving distance of Lake Michigan for the water-based activities and relaxation available there. For sports fans, Battle Creek draws visitors to its numerous regional and national amateur sporting events.
In Battle Creek, Kalamazoo and neighboring communities, visitors have choices for music- and food-themed festivals, plus events focused on locally made craft beers. Beer tasting tours are a typical choice here.
Battle Creek was a health center in the late 19th century. Brothers W.K. and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg ran a sanitarium, which spawned two cereal companies in Battle Creek.
After the Kelloggs invented the toasted flake, W.K. founded the Kellogg cereal business. A former patient, C.W. Post, founded Post Cereals. Ralston Foods has since joined the other two, adding weight to Battle Creek’s claim to be the world’s cereal capital.
Visitors learn about the sanitarium’s practices in museum displays and can tour the Kellogg Manor House in Hickory Corners. They also celebrate breakfast food at the Cereal City Festival, but there are no tours of the food plants.
Attractions highlight other 19th century residents — the former slave and abolitionist Sojourner Truth and, in a historic village, the founders of the Seventh-Day Adventist religion.
Nearby Kalamazoo has a name that songwriters cannot resist. Glenn Miller’s “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” is the most famous example.
The city’s history includes major involvement in car manufacturing; production included almost every Checker Cab ever made. Visitors may explore the area’s auto heritage by locating factory buildings that survive although the businesses don’t.
The encounter with real cars comes at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, where visitors loiter in a 1930s gas station, lunch in an authentic 1940s diner and stroll amidst nearly 200 vehicles representing more than 100 years of automotive heritage. The museum hosts numerous car-related activities and offers Model T driving lessons.
Things to do for Venturers
- Come to Battle Creek for the city’s July Leilapalooza Music Festival, which features blues, folk, indie, rock and some more traditional choices, too. Or, choose the Kalamazoo Blues Festival, also in July.
- Cycle or rollerblade along pathways in Battle Creek’s Linear Park.
- Fly Kalamazoo offers flying lessons. Consider them, or try skydiving, available in Plainwell, north of Kalamazoo.
- Take a two-and-a-half-hour lesson at the Gilmore Car Museum’s Model T Driving School in Hickory Corners. Also, the museum is the site of several events of interest to lovers of autos and other motorized transport.
- Do your running through the dunes at Warren Dunes State Park west of Kalamazoo on Lake Michigan, then cool off in the water. Or, surf in the lake.
- Cycle the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. Also, rock climbing is an option throughout the area.
Things to do for Centrics
- Come for the fun at Battle Creek’s Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival in July.
- Take a ghost tour in Kalamazoo’s Mountain Home Cemetery.
- Visit the Dr. John Harvey Kellogg Discovery Center, and try some of the contraptions used for health treatments more than a century ago. The center tells the story of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, operated by the Kellogg brothers.
- Take a Kalamazoo walking tour that focuses on the town’s breweries and brewing history. Or take a day tour to area breweries in both Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties. In addition, local restaurants and others stage special events for the wintertime Kalamazoo Beer Week.
- Come for the harvest celebration and entertainment at the Kee-Boon-Mein-Kaa Pow Wow, held over Labor Day in Dowagiac, southwest of Kalamazoo. Kee-Boon-Mein-Kaa means “I have quit picking huckleberries.”
- Be a zookeeper for a day (aged 8 and up) and hold baby alligators (among other things) at the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary in Athens south of Battle Creek.
Things to do for Authentics
- Spend time in Battle Creek’s Historic Adventist Village, a recreated 19th century settlement. It includes restored or replicated houses, a log cabin and one-room schoolhouse.
- Try your luck at Battle Creek’s FireKeepers Casino.
- Watch the Do-Dah Parade, described as silly, which is part of Kalamazoo’s June Jubilee weekend. Other features include an arts fair and outdoor concert. The jubilee encompasses the annual Dionysos Greek Festival, too.
- Sit down to breakfast at what is billed as the world’s longest breakfast table, as part of the annual (June) Battle Creek Cereal City Festival. The city also celebrates its history during the weekend event with concerts, a parade and healthy living activities.
- Visit in autumn to view the changing colors throughout the region.
- Combine a love of flowers and food at the Glad-Peach Festival, focused on gladiolas and peaches over the first full weekend in August.