Grand Rapids Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Grand Rapids Trip Guide

Things to do in Grand Rapids, Michigan, include attending the annual ArtPrize competition and visiting Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
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John Ball Zoo
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Dining at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
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Inspiration flows on both sides of the Grand River, especially near downtown. The annual ArtPrize extravaganza reflects the metro’s focus on the original.


ArtPrize The fall competition (September 21 to October 9, 2016) is part art walk, part city tour. More than 1,500 paintings, sculptures and installations are displayed at 160-plus venues such as bars, coffeehouses, restaurants, churches and parks. Purchase a map at an exhibition center and register to vote to help choose the winner of a $200,000 grand prize.

The B.O.B. The Big Old Building buzzes with energy from its occupants: restaurants, bars, night clubs, a comedy club and brewery.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park Waterways and paths lead through the 30-acre sculpture park featuring 60 pieces. A newly opened Japanese garden highlights contemporary sculpture in a traditional setting.

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum This museum dedicated to the 38th president of the United States, a Grand Rapids native, explores key moments in his life.

Grand Rapids Art Museum A collection of 5,000 pieces spans the pre-Renaissance Era through the 21st century in the world’s first Gold LEED-certified art museum.

Grand Rapids Downtown Market The indoor market combines a traditional farmers market with a hall for year-round local produce, fish, meats and cheeses.

John Ball Zoo All the staples of a small-city zoo—lions, tigers and bears—are here, but a petting zoo with stingrays and wallabies, a ropes course and a four-story zipline separate this zoo from others.

Meyer May House Considered one of the country’s most complete Frank Lloyd Wright restorations, the Meyer May House was originally designed for a prominent clothier. After the owner died in the 1930s, the house sat vacant until it was restored and reopened in 1987. Free.


Grove Relying almost entirely on area sustainable farms, Grove offers fine dining on beef tartare, beet salad and house-made ramen. The dessert list’s creative dishes salted dark chocolate fudge and flavor-of-the-day ice cream. Executive chef Chris Madsen fuses Asian, French and American foods to create a wide-ranging menu at this JW Marriott restaurant. The creativity extends to the “whenever meals and munchies” in the lounge and the craft cocktails at Mixology.

Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop A dozen made-from-scratch soups fill the chalkboard. Some of the most popular? Vegetable cream cheese, lobster bisque and white chicken chili.


Amway Grand Plaza Hotel Crystal chandeliers and gold leaf details hint at the opulence of the AAA Four-Diamond, restored 1916 hotel. Guests have nine on-site dining options, including the upscale 27th-floor restaurant, Cygnus 27. Try a Brew and Renew at The Spa and Salon for beer-inspired services.

JW Marriott Grand Rapids The luxury hotel strives to make guests’ stays as relaxing as possible. Touches include beragmot-scented bath products, bath sheets, soft and firm pillow options, and rental bikes to explore downtown. An on-site spa offers treatments with local flavor such as the Sweet Cherry Rebalancing Facial.

More information: Experience Grand Rapids

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