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In The Kingman Museum’s newly opened mezzanine exhibit, a polar bear, frozen mid-snarl, presides over his fellow Ice Age beasts. Surrounding this tableau are glass cases filled with fanged skulls of extinct predators, prehistoric pottery, and miniature replicas of ecosystems. The eclectic exhibits lend the room the aura of a cabinet of curiosities, and are indicative of The Kingman Museum’s expansive mission to “provide lifelong learning opportunities in natural history, the universe, and world cultures for all ages for all time.” The scope of the museum reflects the swashbuckling spirit of its founder, Edward Morris Brigham. In the late 1800s, the explorer embarked on expeditions down the Amazon River, hiked across the Alaska tundra, and hopscotched across Hawaiian Islands. He toted back with him exotic specimens, fossils, and cultural artifacts, which now form the core of the museum’s collection. Over the years, the museum has expanded to include a planetarium, which screens nearly two dozen educational films that range from deep-space exploration to quests for the long-lost city of Pittsburgh. Additionally, museum curators inspire young minds with a slew of educational programs.

175 Limit St
Battle Creek,
MI
US

Founded five years ago, the Battle Creek Bombers have already shown their mettle, earning the title of 2011 Northwoods League Champions in 2011. The Northwoods League, one of the nation’s most competitive collegiate summer leagues, offers its top-caliber players minor league internships without jeopardizing their college careers. This season, the Bombers hope to conquer their league again and send more of its players to the MLB, having already done so for alumnus Tony Sanchez, who was the fourth pick in the 2009 draft. Led by Daniel Rockett, their top 2011 scorer with 46 runs and 43 RBIs, the team will surely spend this season launching home runs without the help of covert trebuchets.

While the players focus on the game, their mosquito mascot, Mo-Skeeter, mingles with roaring crowds in the Bomber’s home venue, C.O. Brown Stadium. Patrons can look on from general seating or opt for the more luxurious HBC fan-deck seats, where panoramic views complement an included all-you-can-eat feast with draft beer and hot dogs.

1392 Capital Avenue Northeast
Battle Creek,
MI
US

When Eagles Nest owner Sarah Sowles says her restaurant is filled with smiling faces, she means it—the grins of well-fed customers brighten the first page of her lunch-and-breakfast menu. She aims to keep her morning patrons happy with favorites such as wet breakfast burritos that glisten beneath a ladleful of sausage gravy and custom three-egg omelets that can be filled with corned beef or veggies. And since her café serves breakfast all day, guests can stop in anytime for a stack of blueberry pancakes or some biscuits and gravy. Diners have plenty of options for lunch, too. They can customize burgers, capping prime-steak patties with a choice of three toppings before having their name branded into the bun. Also on the menu are wraps that envelop buffalo chicken and ranch dressing and baja citrus chicken salads that layer pecans and cranberries beneath a raspberry vinaigrette.

110 North Main Street
Olivet,
MI
US

The staff members at Sylvan Learning Center's numerous study facilities understand that each child learns differently. Therefore, they don?t try to implement a uniform tutoring system; instead, they design custom lesson programs based on the results of standardized testing, diagnostic tools, and one-on-one interviews.

Tutors work with students from kindergarten through grade 12, illuminating topics ranging from basic reading and writing to remembering complex algebraic formulas without having them tattooed on your chest. Many of Sylvan?s instructors work in local schools, so they are intimately familiar with common curricula and understand how to gear lessons toward optimal results. After-school and summer classes can ready high-schoolers for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or they can help students to wow college-admissions officers with their superior essay-writing skills.

4625 Beckley Rd
Battle Creek,
MI
US

As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.

2245 West Columbia Avenue
Battle Creek,
MI
US

From a single shop in Sturgis, Michigan, Auto-Lab has grown into a full-service franchise that cares for cars' every nook and cranny. Each location's ASE-certified technicians keep autos flourishing with regular maintenance checkups, helping identify and stave off problems before they spread. These experts peer into the dark abyss under the hood, employing high-tech diagnostic tools to identify and repair computerized engine issues, and keep tabs on brakes before they seize up and stop you just as you're about to break the sound barrier. In addition, they guarantee all services for 12 months or up to 12,000 miles.

126 West Dr North
Marshall,
MI
US