It may not be a household name like New York, but Grand Rapids is one of America’s most rewarding cultural and artistic centres. It is also situated near the coast of Lake Michigan, making it a water sports destination as well.
Art fans will feel spoiled by their trip to the city. Head to the impressively large and well-laid out Frank Meijer Sculpture Gardens, or just stroll around the central district, taking in the many public artworks on display.
In the evening, visitors can couple this artistic feast with a visit to the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre – one of America’s largest municipal theatres and always home to a thriving program of plays and shows. There is even an opera company in the city – a sign of how much the community values artistic creativity.
Grand Rapids is also a town which values history, and tourists can learn everything they need to know at the informative Van Andel Museum, as well as the unique Gerald Ford Museum, which is dedicated to one of Michigan’s most famous sons.
If museums, theatres and art are not your passion, then there is much more to do in the region. Dine on great value Mediterranean and traditional American food at the many fine restaurants, and sample one of the city’s plentiful bars in the evening – and don’t miss the local brews from Founders Brewery.
For the more active holidaymakers, bikes can be hired and taken to the shores of Lake Michigan, you can hire fishing tackle and a boat, and drift off for a blissful day in the sunshine, and the area’s many streams also offer activities like canoeing and rafting. There are even some excellent beaches such as the lakefront at Grand Haven State Park
Most visitors will find that summer is the ideal time to visit. With high temperatures and solid sunshine, the beaches of Lake Michigan, the woodland trails and the city itself is more family-friendly between May and September than the very cold winter months. However, travelling in February and March could be a cheaper way to visit, and with a lively cultural scene, Grand Rapids will still be a great place to be.
Although the town centre is compact, the car is king in Michigan – if you want to make the most of the region’s natural attractions or visit cities like Chicago or Detroit. Cab firms are available, but the custom is not to hail them directly. Give them a call instead if a late night pick up is required.