Explore the hidden gems and other beautiful attractions in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You’ll never run out of things to do in this beautiful city.
Whether you’re a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan or your travel plans happen to lead you toward the River City, you’ll find plenty of first-rate attractions worth your attention in Michigan’s second largest city. Whether you’re looking to get out and do something exciting or slow down and enjoy some culture, you’ll never lack for things to do in Grand Rapids during your time here. Here are just a few things worth checking out, especially if you’re thinking of moving here.
Enjoy Natural and Man-made Artistic Beauty
The Meijer name is well known throughout Michigan because of the grocery store, and the family has made its name throughout Michigan in other ways, namely via the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. The park allows you to observe plants from around the world year-round, as it features both outdoor and indoor spaces to help plants thrive in their preferred climates.
But plants aren’t all you’ll find in the five-story indoor space, known as the Lena Meijer Conservatory. You’ll also enjoy sculptures from some of the world’s greatest artists, catering to every type of culture lover. If you’re looking to see some of the most beautiful things this state has to offer, this is a great place to start.
Lions and Tigers and Spider Monkeys
No, we’re not talking about the professional teams that call Detroit home (besides, there’s no such team as the Spider Monkeys). We’re talking about the John Ball Zoo, one of the best attractions in Grand Rapids and a chance to see animals from around the world up close. You can feed bears, penguins and other animals in a safe, controlled environment, an experience that kids will never forget. If you’ve got an animal lover in your family, this is one thing you really shouldn’t miss.
See What Life Was Like Last Century
Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the world’s greatest architects, and you can see some of his work for yourself at the Meyer May House. Built in 1908, the house has been enhanced over the years and has only recently been restored to its original form. Today, visitors are welcome to tour the home, which features original furniture as well as reproductions, creating a mix of both ancient and modern feels that makes for a truly unique experience. Windows and skylights show off some of Wright’s signature touches, and visitors can get a feel for the history of the property with information about its adjustments and its eventual restoration.
Explore Our 38th President
There’s no doubting who Grand Rapids’ favorite son is: Gerald R. Ford. A graduate of Michigan and a native of Grand Rapids, Ford was a Michigan man through and through, and is buried in Grand Rapids along with wife Betty. When you fly into Grand Rapids, you fly into Gerald Ford International Airport, and when you drive into the city, you might want to check out the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum. You’ll see exhibits from throughout Ford’s life, as well as exhibits dedicated to Betty Ford and the couple’s children. History lovers will really enjoy getting the chance to learn about the man who helped the nation transition through what could have been one of its most contentious periods.
Learn About the City’s History
If history appeals to you, there’s no reason you have to stop at Gerald Ford. The Grand Rapids Public Museum has existed in some shape or form since the 1850s, and it’s home to roughly 250,000 pieces that tell the story of the River City. Grand Rapids has been known as the Furniture City, and you’ll be able to see some of the pieces of furniture that made this place a leader in creating office furniture for companies around the country. When most people think Michigan and history, one of the first things they think of is automobiles, and you’ll find several of those here as well. It’s a great way to get to know Grand Rapids in just a few hours.
Enjoy the Art of the City and Beyond
Grand Rapids is filled with some incredible museums, and one that’s both functional and enjoyable happens to be the city’s Art Museum. The Grand Rapids Art Museum earned a gold certification as a green building, and once visitors get inside, they’ll see a collection of 6,000+ works that rivals any city of Grand Rapids’ size. The museum is home to some pieces that date back to the 1400s, providing some of the most unique cultural sights that you’re likely to see anywhere.
See Animals in Nature
The John Ball Zoo is an incredible visit, but if you really want to see animals in their natural habitat, you need to check out the Blandford Nature Center. Not only will you see all kinds of animals that make their homes in Michigan, you’ll also see some of the streams, ponds and wooded areas that make Michigan such a nature lover’s paradise. The state is known as “Pure Michigan” for a reason, and the Blandford Nature Center makes it obvious as to why.
Visit the Market
If you’re looking to purchase some fresh food and unique items while you’re in Grand Rapids, you’ve got to make a visit to the Downtown Market. City markets are a staple of life in Midwestern cities, and Grand Rapids boasts a market that can compete with some of the best around. You’ll enjoy foods from cultures around the world as well as the chance to purchase fresh produce, allowing you to create some of your own fresh meals at home. You’ll also likely find a few souvenirs to bring home from your visit to Grand Rapids, so make sure you leave a few hours to explore the wares here.
See Tomorrow’s Baseball Stars Today
Just north of Grand Rapids is the suburb of Comstock Park, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Single-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The Caps have served as one of the earliest stops on a player’s journey through the minor leagues to Detroit, and a game at LMCU Ballpark offers family fun as well as a chance for baseball fans to see the stars of tomorrow long before they ever become famous.
See The Stars on the Ice
As the two largest cities in Michigan, it’s natural for Detroit and Grand Rapids to have a sporting relationship, and just like the Whitecaps supply players of the future to the Tigers, the Grand Rapids Griffins do the same for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. Players such as Justin Abdelkader have made their way from western Michigan over to Hockeytown, and checking out a game at Van Andel Arena is a great way to see bright young players who are just one step away from competing for the Wings.
Check Out a Show
Van Andel Arena is more than just the home of the Griffins. As a 12,000 seat arena, this building is a prime spot for some of the big names in music and entertainment to come to western Michigan and play before thousands of adoring fans. Grand Rapids gets plenty of exciting acts to stop at Van Andel Arena during their tours of the country, and if there’s someone you’ve been waiting to see, you just might spot them here.
Visit a Brewery
Grand Rapids has been through several names during its history, and a few of them have stuck. Furniture City and River City are well known and historic, but one name that’s relatively new is the Beer City. Grand Rapids is home to several fantastic breweries, and if you’re looking to try some unique flavors in your alcoholic beverages, this is one of the best places in the Midwest to do it. Many breweries also have extensive food menus, so if you’re traveling with companions who aren’t yet old enough to drink, you’ll still have plenty for them.
Relax By the Lake
Grand Rapids is a great place to relax for many reasons, and one great one is its proximity to Lake Michigan. You’ll have to drive a little bit to the west to get to the lake, but it’s a unique experience to actually stand by one of the Great Lakes and feel the breeze in your hair. On a pleasant summer day in western Michigan, it’s one of the most peaceful and relaxing activities there is.
No matter what you’re looking to experience in Grand Rapids, Michigan, you’ll find plenty of options to suit every taste in your party. If you’re looking for a few things to do over a weekend, a week or longer in the River City, this is a great place to start. You never know, you might enjoy Grand Rapids so much that you find yourself looking at moving here! When that happens, contact our skilled Grand Rapids movers to get you there.