Destination Spotlight: Grand Rapids
Located in the western corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, halfway between Chicago and Detroit, Grand Rapids combines the amenities of a big city with the friendliness of a small town. The big-city experience begins in downtown Grand Rapids, where more than 80 restaurants, five museums, and assorted shops and performance venues are located within a five-minute walk of 1,436 hotel rooms and a state-of-the-art convention center.
The quality and breadth of art, food and entertainment is on par with much larger cities. “Few cities anywhere do more to support creativity.” That’s according to Men’s Journal magazine, a claim driven home by the artwork lining downtown’s clean, safe streets. Some of the pieces were installed as part of the city’s annual ArtPrize event, which attracts more than 1,500 artists from around the globe to display their work all over town for a two-week period.
The artistic spirit extends to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, a 10-minute drive from downtown. This 118-acre oasis of natural and manmade beauty is one of the planet’s 100 most-visited art museums, and it has been named one of the “top 30 must-see museums in the world.” It’s one of the city’s five exceptional museums, a list that includes the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
Grand Rapids also offers some of the country’s best natural resources. Field and Stream magazine named it America’s 6th Best Fishing City, highlighting the salmon-rich Grand River that winds through downtown on its way to Millennium Park. Just five minutes from downtown, Millennium Park is one of the nation’s largest urban parks, offering a swimming lake with sandy beach, nearly 20 miles of biking and hiking trails, and convenient spaces for picnics and private events.
Parks, trails, nature centers and golf courses dot the entire region, from the rolling orchards of the Fruit Ridge to the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. The Fruit Ridge is a symbol of West Michigan’s agricultural prominence, which has made Grand Rapids a forerunner in the farm-to-fork dining movement. Local restaurant chefs purchase fresh, healthy ingredients directly from family farms. So can visitors, at a line of farmer’s markets that stretches from downtown to the lakeshore—a water wonderland hailed as one of the world’s top 25 shorelines.
Grand Rapids is also the headquarters city of many prominent faith-based organizations, including Zondervan, Family Christian Stores, Baker Publishing Group, Bethany Christian Services, the Action Institute and Worldwide Christian Schools, as well as the home of five Christian colleges. They’re part of an enduring faith tradition that has contributed to the city’s family-first reputation. Grand Rapids was recently named the best place in the U.S. to raise a family—as well as one of the best places to retire, a top 10 place to live, and one of 20 cities leading the economic recovery. It’s a perfect destination for faith-based groups and events.
For more information, visit experiencegr.com.
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