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Romantic overnight in Kalamazoo

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

Sometimes a couple needs to get away from their daily life to put a little spark back in their relationship. Kalamazoo, a short distance away, provides ample opportunities to rekindle the flame.

We chose a romantic bed and breakfast, the Kalamazoo House, a carefully restored 1878 Victorian right downtown. The owners and hosts, Terry and Laurel Parrott, set the tone when we walked in the door, with welcoming smiles and personal attention. Choosing between a room with a whirlpool tub or a fireplace was the second hardest decision we made. Picking one of the breakfast entrees turned out to be the most difficult choice of all. Lauren made sure we remembered to choose an entrée before we went to bed, so that all would be ready when we arose.  Homemade chocolate chip cookies were available before bed, along with a choice of hot and cold beverages. We brought a bottle of wine; they provided the wineglasses and the corkscrew.

Settling into what has been the master suite on the second floor was easy enough. The soaring ceilings, wood-paneled walls, period wallpaper and red brocade bed covering spelled out luxury, even before I saw the large black whirlpool tub in the bathroom. Fluffy robes and bath salts were provided. The pillow-topped queen bed was divine, with all the modern comforts such as a flat screen television and Wi-Fi. This was not the evening to check our email, however.

Breakfast was served in the small parlor under a magnificent glass chandelier. I chose the crustless quiche, but the French toast (my husband’s choice) looked divine. Breakfast was served from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. with coffee available at 7 a.m. Given how comfortable our room was, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would have gotten up that early, however.

With the Kalamazoo Art Institute right next door, a quick stop in their galleries seemed like a good way to spend an hour. We walked further up to Michigan Avenue where we had a choice of shopping, including one of our favorite antique, collectible and architectural salvage shops, The Heritage Shop. Nearly 17,000 square feet is packed with all manner of treasure. I picked up a slightly damaged piece of stained glass with no earthly idea where or how I might use it.

After a grueling few hours of shopping, we made our way to the Waters Street Coffee Joint for an afternoon refresher. The small brick building was originally a gas station, but now features some of the best coffee around. They roast their own beans in small batches at their Willard Street facility to ensure that every cup is a rich, complex blend.

With lots of dining choices available, we chose Rustica, an intimate, open-kitchen restaurant featuring fresh, sustainable and local products.  The restaurant’s culinary influences come from France, Italy, Spain and other European countries, but the preparation and execution is flawlessly American. Because of the owners’ affiliation with our favorite Kalamazoo wine store, Tiffany’s, they also have a terrific 180 bottle wine list and 30 different wines by the glass. Since I had been so virtuous at breakfast, I splurged at dinner with the Braised Lamb Shank, Yorkshire pudding, spinach and mango chutney. I love to end my meal with cheese as it makes me feel so continental, and Rustica offered a very nice local and domestic craft cheese plate with house jam, local honey, spiced nuts, and grilled bread.

When a romantic outing is just a few miles away, why wait for Valentine’s Day this year to grab some special moments with your loved one?

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