Discover Grand Rapids, Michigan, a unique destination that’s a wonderful combination of urban sophistication and small-town charm.
With great art, shops, restaurants, exciting nightlife and cultural attractions, it’s no wonder that people come from around the world to experience vibrant and energetic Grand Rapids. Lonely Planet agrees – it named Grand Rapids and Michigan’s Gold Coast the USA’s “Number One Place to Visit in 2014.”
The Famous Blue Bridge and Downtown Market
A great way to start your day is with a walk downtown to the beautiful and historic Blue Bridge. The converted railroad truss bridge is a favorite for locals for walking and jogging. It’s the perfect place to enjoy some coffee while people watching and taking in beautiful views of Grand Rapids.
Next, head to the Downtown Market. Open year-round, this indoor-outdoor market boasts fresh produce, specialty artisan products, flowers and prepared food stands, as well as local entertainment. Snack on fresh, local baked goods like an apple and cranberry croissant or just admire the super-fresh salmon and fabulously fat filet mignons. You can also take a cooking or yoga class here or tour the beautiful greenhouse located on the second floor. With so many wonderful food vendors, it is a swirl of bright colors and delicious scents.
Overlooking the array of vendors at the Downtown Market
Fabulous Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Another must-do while in town is exploring the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, a 53-hectare outdoor oasis just 15 minutes from downtown. Here, you can experience masterpieces of art and nature that delight a multitude of senses. From the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden, which has a sensory exhibit just for the little ones, to the futuristic-looking tropical plant conservatory, the garden and sculpture park will appeal to everyone.
In addition to seeing Roxy Paine’s mind-blowing “Neuron” sculpture and Auguste Rodin’s “The Kiss,” you can stand underneath the hoof of the breathtaking 7-meter sculpture, “The American Horse,” by Nina Akamu. Akamu created this monumental work based on plans from Renaissance master Leonardo Da Vinci. Other favorites include works of art by world-renowned English sculptor David Nash and several horse sculptures by Deborah Butterfield.
For music lovers, the amphitheater here makes a beautiful venue for outdoor concerts, with grassy tiered seating that is perfect for spreading out a blanket and listening to live music during the summer months.
"The American Horse," a sculpture by Nina Akamu, at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Shopping & Beer Culture Downtown
Before heading out to enjoy some local nightlife, stop by the delightful MoDiv intersection (Monroe and Division) to do a bit of shopping at stores like Gina’s Boutique. This area with tree-lined sidewalks is the perfect place to pick up an outfit for a night out on the town.
Downtown Grand Rapids will please beer connoisseurs, travelers and revelers alike. The city was even voted “Beer City USA” in a national poll, and you can find favorite craft beers in many downtown breweries, restaurants and bars. Head over to lively Ionia Avenue, home to a wide variety of bars and eateries, including Grand Rapids Brewing Company. Other great breweries to try in the city are HopCat and Founders Brewing Company.
To rest up after your adventures, stay downtown at the Amway Grand Plaza hotel, a lovely historic, turn-of-the-century property with romantic Old World charm and a friendly Midwestern feel. With modern amenities and traditional décor, it offers the best of both worlds.
Ionia Avenue, a downtown hot spot for breweries and restaurants
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