12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Battle Creek, MI

Written by Meagan Drillinger
Updated Mar 24, 2023

Author Meagan Drillinger visited Battle Creek in the fall of 2022 while on assignment for PlanetWare.

Battle Creek is a Michigan city that is packed with local history and things to do for all ages. It sits where the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek rivers meet and has long been an important strategic point in history.

Historic Adventist Village in Battle Creek, Michigan
Historic Adventist Village in Battle Creek, Michigan | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Nicknamed Cereal City, Battle Creek is where popular brands like Kellogg's and Post got their starts. Battle Creek also played a role in the Underground Railroad and the sheltering of men and women escaping slavery in the south.

A long history of wellness in Battle Creek brought tourists from all over the country who were in search of living a healthier way of life.

Today Battle Creek's tourist attractions pay homage to these many different branches of history. It also features plenty of opportunity to experience the gorgeous Michigan outdoors. It's a fascinating city and a great place to experience so much of what Michigan has to offer.

Discover the best places to visit here with our list of the top things to do in Battle Creek.

1. Visit the Binder Park Zoo

Red panda at the Binder Park Zoo
Red panda at the Binder Park Zoo

One of the most impressive zoos in the country can be found right here in Battle Creek, Michigan. The Binder Park Zoo spans more than 430 acres and features dozens of species from all around the world. The zoo is best known for its Wild Africa exhibit, which brings the majestic creatures of the African continent to the heart of the Midwest.

The Wild Africa exhibit is truly one of a kind. Animals roam without the confines of cages in an 18-acre habitat. Animals include giraffes, zebras, ostriches, lions, waterbucks, gazelles, red river hogs, and much more.

In addition to the Wild Africa exhibit are other delightful creatures, like lemurs, snow leopards, red pandas, kangaroos, and the Canada lynx.

Binder Park Zoo entranc
Binder Park Zoo entrance | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

A Zoorassic Park exhibit takes visitors back to the time of the dinosaurs with fossils, hands-on history, and life-sized replicas.

The zoo is open seasonally from April through October.

Address: 7400 Division Drive, Battle Creek, Michigan

2. Walk Historic Bridge Park

Historic Bridge Park
Historic Bridge Park | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Historic Bridge Park is most certainly a beautiful outdoor space for locals and visitors of Battle Creek to enjoy, but it also serves as an outdoor museum.

The 26-acre park is one of the first of its kind in the U.S. and is dedicated to restoring truss bridges that have formerly fallen into disrepair. These revitalized bridges are now located within the park and connect its web of trails. The park has five metal truss bridges and one stone arch bridge, all of which are open to foot traffic.

In addition to the bridges, the park has plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, from a boat launch on the Kalamazoo River to picnic areas and a playground.

The famous North Country Trail passes through the park, as well. The park also serves as a trailhead for the 5.3-mile Calhoun County Trail.

Address: S Wattles Road, Battle Creek, Michigan

3. Frolic in Fantasy Forest

Fantasy Forest
Fantasy Forest | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

It's not every day you can frolic in a field among wizards and centaurs. But with a visit to Battle Creek, fantasy becomes a sort of perplexing reality. Located at the Leila Arboretum, Fantasy Forest is a mythical sculpture garden that attracts thousands of visitors from around the country every year.

The free sculpture garden is filled with characters that have leapt from the pages of a fantasy book — wizards, dragons, stone castles, and other mythical creatures spring from the meadow and beckon visitors to come take a closer look. But more than a cool work of art, the park is actually a great example of community revitalization.

The park sits on what was once a grove of ash trees that were more than 100 years old. Unfortunately, the trees fell ill and died, and so a field was cleared and the tree remains were used to carve these elaborate sculptures.

Address: 922-970 W Michigan Ave, Battle Creek, Michigan

4. Enter the Leila Arboretum

Leila Arboretum
Leila Arboretum

After thoroughly exploring Fantasy Forest, continue on to discover the rest of the Leila Arboretum. Established in 1922, the historic society gardens span 72 acres and include thousands of different plant and flower species, many plantings of which date back to the inception of the garden.

Today the arboretum is home to many different attractions, from an 18-hole disc golf course to a kaleidoscope garden, an urban farm, and dozens of sculptures.

The 365 Urban Farm is really fun because it showcases sustainably grown veggies, fruits, flowers, and local goods. The Farm Stand has many of these products for sale, which is a great way to give back to the community.

The arboretum hosts events, as well, like a summer concert series and something known as the Leilapalooza Music Festival, which is a Battle Creek favorite.

Address: 928 W Michigan Ave, Battle Creek, Michigan

5. Enjoy Linear Park

Linear Park
Linear Park | Kzoo Cowboy / photo modified

Want to see the highlights of beautiful Battle Creek? Linear Park is a unique way to get out into the city and see it on foot or on two wheels. The long park includes a 26-mile paved pathway that runs throughout parts of the city and provides a cool perspective for both sightseeing and a bit of exercise.

Speaking of exercise, Linear Park has six loops of varying lengths for people who want to get a little extra activity. The Perimeter Loop is the longest loop and runs for 10.5 miles. The shortest loop is the Spring Lake Loop, which extends for a mile.

Linear Park is extremely popular among walkers, joggers, and cyclists. Both the Battle Creek and the Kalamazoo rivers run through the park, so you'll probably find people canoeing or fishing, as well.

Along the paved pathway, the park has set up historical and cultural markers for points of interest, so you'll learn a little something as you go along. Plus, the park is free for everyone.

6. Explore the Historic Adventist Village

Historic Adventist Village
Historic Adventist Village | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Michigan state has a lot of religious history, and Battle Creek is no exception. Take a look at one of the oldest religious communities in the state with a visit to the Historic Adventist Village.

The village is a recreation of a 19th-century community, spanning three blocks and made up of historic buildings that tell the story of the religious settlers here.

You can explore a log cabin from 1852, two family estates built in the early 19th century, a one-room schoolhouse, a church, and the replica of Ascension Rock. It is believed that Millerite Adventists waited for the second coming of Christ at this rock on October 22, 1844.

Address: 411 Champion Street, Battle Creek, Michigan

7. Dig into the Cereal History Exhibit

Cereal History Exhibit
Cereal History Exhibit | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

It's no secret that Battle Creek is called Cereal City. The name, it turns out, actually dates back to the Seventh Day Adventist history in the city. Two young Adventists, John Harvey Kellogg and W.K. Kellogg were brought on to turn Battle Creek into a destination for wellness. The Kellogg brothers began experimenting with healthy food and, eventually, flaked cereal was born.

This is, of course, the completely abbreviated version of the story. But this was the beginning of Kellogg's Cereal. Eventually, C.W. Post was inspired to create his own cereal line. Soon, Battle Creek had more than 100 companies registered to produce cereal. While barely a fraction of those original companies remain today, Battle Creek will always be Cereal City.

The Cereal History Exhibit goes into far greater detail on the subject of cereal, from the evolution of Tony the Tiger to memorabilia like vintage cereal boxes and preserved historic cereal in glass jars.

Address: 34 Jackson Street W #1b, Battle Creek, Michigan

8. Visit the W. K. Kellogg House

W. K. Kellogg House
W. K. Kellogg House | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

The Kellogg family has its stamp all over Battle Creek. As the original creators of cereal, and major players in the development of the city, it's no wonder you see the name Kellogg all over the place. You can learn more about the Kelloggs and their impact on Battle Creek with a visit to the W.K. Kellogg House.

The home, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, became the residence of W.K. Kellogg in 1918 who owned it until the 1940s. In 1990, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation purchased the home, and it became the headquarters for the Kellogg Foundation. Today the house is used for nonprofit functions.

Address: 1 Monroe Street. Battle Creek, Michigan

9. Explore the Kimball House Museum

Kimball House
Kimball House | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Battle Creek's history museum is found at the Kimball House. The historic, Queen-Anne-style Victorian home dates back to 1886 and was the home for a family of doctors for three generations. Today it serves as the Kimball House Museum.

The theme of the museum is Victorian life in the Midwest. The home has been preserved as an upper middle class home during the Victorian era and has exhibit rooms that talk about the Battle Creek Sanitarium, as well as the Adventist history of the community. Other exhibits include a pioneer room, general store, and a recreation of servants' quarters.

The home was built by Dr. Arthur H. Kimball who was a city health official. His son became the first pediatrician in Battle Creek and founded the local chapter of the American Red Cross. The building was donated in the 1960s to be used as a museum.

Address: 196 Capital Ave NE, Battle Creek, Michigan

10. Pay Respects at the Underground Railroad Memorial

Underground Railroad Memorial
Underground Railroad Memorial | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

The park in front of the W.K. Kellogg House is home to another important monument in Battle Creek: the memorial to the Underground Railroad. The massive bronze sculpture stands as a testament to the men and women who risked their lives for freedom, escaping slavery in the south to reach the free north.

Battle Creek was an important part of the Underground Railroad, providing a safe haven for men and women who were fleeing the south. Many people continued on to Canada, but plenty decided to settle in Battle Creek, too.

The monument stands at 28 feet long and 14 feet high and is one of the largest monuments dedicated to the Underground Railroad.

One side of the sculpture is of Sarah and Erastus Hussey, Quaker station masters who helped bring Black people to Battle Creek. The other side of the monument shows Harriet Tubman leading people to safety.

Address: 2-10 N Monroe Street, Battle Creek, Michigan

11. Play at Willard Beach Park

Volleyball court at Willard Beach Park
Volleyball court at Willard Beach Park | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Battle Creek may not have Great Lake access, but that does not mean it doesn't have beach opportunities. Willard Beach Park offers a sandy, Goguac Lake alternative that is an extremely popular place to visit in the summer months.

Goguac Lake is a 352-acre lake in the heart of Battle Creek. During the summer, the park on the lake is teeming with people looking to get outside and enjoy fresh air and a cool dip in the water. A volleyball court in the sand is a popular spot for pickup games, as well.

The park is open seasonally and features picnic shelters that can accommodate up to 50 people.

Address: 600 Jennings Landing, Battle Creek, Michigan

Read More: Best Beaches in Michigan

12. Wander Woodland Park and Nature Preserve

Woodland Park & Nature Preserve
Woodland Park & Nature Preserve | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Woodland Park & Nature Preserve is a lovely nature area not far from the city center of Battle Creek. The park spans 145 acres and has five miles of walking trails.

No matter the time of year, you'll always find activity in the park, whether it's walkers or joggers on the trails, or cross-country skiers in the winter.

One of the best trails within the park is the Loop. The 2.5-mile trail takes about an hour to complete and passes through really picturesque sections of the park.

Tip: Go during the changing of the leaves for a little extra scenery.

Address: 2518 Gethings Road, Battle Creek, Michigan

Map of Things to Do in Battle Creek, MI

Battle Creek, MI - Climate Chart

Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Battle Creek, MI in °C
-1 -9 2 -8 8 -3 15 2 22 8 26 13 28 15 27 14 23 10 16 4 8 -1 2 -7
Average monthly precipitation totals for Battle Creek, MI in mm.
42 39 61 86 88 87 87 92 99 74 75 63
Average monthly snowfall totals for Battle Creek, MI in cm.
31 27 17 7 0 0 0 0 0 1 14 35
Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Battle Creek, MI in °F
31 15 35 18 46 26 59 36 71 46 79 55 83 59 80 57 73 50 61 39 47 31 35 20
Average monthly precipitation totals for Battle Creek, MI in inches.
1.7 1.5 2.4 3.4 3.5 3.4 3.4 3.6 3.9 2.9 3.0 2.5
Average monthly snowfall totals for Battle Creek, MI in inches.
12 11 6.5 2.9 0 0 0 0 0 0.3 5.4 14