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It is a roofed outdoor market with a small indoor hall for shops. The market sells all kinds of seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, honey, condiments, maple syrup, baked goods, and lots of great breads and pastries. Many food trucks bring their goodies on busy market days, so you can also get a nice lunch and even some local brews.
Adjacent to downtown, the medical institutions and universities, and the hip Uptown district in Grand Rapids, Heritage Hill is the city's oldest residential district with over 60 different architectural styles and 1,300 houses dating from 1844 to the 1920s. The best way to explore this part of town is to take a self-guided walking tour through the neighborhood, which features homes of nearly every style of American architecture. From the Greek Revival to Prairie, the Heritage Hill Historic District features the homes of lumber barons, teachers, judges, and legislators all of whom played a pivotal role in shaping the city's future. Today, its population of 4,000 households is very diverse, harkening back to the original residents that called this place home.
The Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve is an outdoor research and teaching venue for Calvin College students and faculty. Here, they actively work on preserving plants and animals indigenous to the area, along with their habitats. The Preserve not only offers learning grounds for students, but also for Grand Rapids residents, who can enjoy the green spaces while seeing the ways in which human activity affects the natural world around them.
The museum collections contain 5,000 pieces of art, including more than 3,500 prints, photographs, and drawings. The museum organizes weekly music concerts, provides a venue for a yoga studio, and once a week invites adults to explore their artistic side
Other play areas include a bubble room, classic games like Legos and Lincoln Logs, and a space where they can make as much noise as they want while experimenting with unique musical instruments. The museum hosts daily programs, which are included in admission, including creative activities like art and costume-making, storytelling, and other activities.
Frank Lloyd Wright built the house for the clothing manufacturer Meyer May in 1909. The style of architecture was revolutionary and shocking for the affluent neighborhood of Grand Rapids, which was replete with stately old Victorian-style houses. Steelcase Company purchased and meticulously restored the house in 1985.
To get a true feel for this university town and to be within easy reach of the major attractions, including the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and the Children's Museum, it's best to find accommodation in the city center. Those in town for a trade show should consider staying near the DeVos Place Convention Center, which is connected to some of the larger downtown hotels via skyway.
For over a decade, the city of Grand Rapids is transformed into a giant gallery with this annual competition. Artists from around the world converge in late September each year to present their creations in whatever media they choose.
Their famous burgers are locally sourced and made of USDA grain-fed beef with no preservatives or fillers. Try the Train Wreck burger with cheddar cheese, sautéed mushrooms, a sunny side up egg, caramelized onions, and lettuce served on a grilled and seasoned brioche bun and served with fresh-cut fries. They also have a great selection of craft beers on tap.
There are also exhibits dedicated to First Lady Betty Ford, as well as their children. The museum also has temporary exhibits from the Presidential Library System, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Archives, and hosts various educational programs and community events.
After their time in the White House, the lives and achievements of U.S. Presidents are celebrated in the system of Presidential libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration. The Gerald R. Ford Museum opened in 1981. The core of the Museum is its permanent exhibit, which offers the highlights of President and Mrs. Ford’s lives. The permanent exhibit features an interactive video and holographic presentation that allows visitors to experience the illusion they are "participating" in history and travelling with President Ford to popular destinations throughout the world.
Here, you can find good old pub classics such as Shepherd’s Pie or Fish and Chips, but you can also expect some creative additions like the Bangladesh Burrito. Their chef likes to play with ethnic flavors, giving the dishes a modern take. Try one of the restaurant’s monthly specials. The ingredients are locally sourced from a number of suppliers and farmers in the area. Only a small number of the Museum’s artifacts are displayed at any given time.
The Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium is an intrinsic part of the Museum. The Museum also contains the Cook Carousel Pavilion, a café, the Meijer Theater, and a gift shop.
The UICA presents a wide variety of contemporary artwork by both local and international artists, including visual art and performance art. The museum hosts changing themed exhibits, which are designed to inspire and challenge visitors. The museum also sponsors events, classes, and programs for the public, and sponsors public art installations across the city. Docent-led tours of the gallery are available.
It is hard to imagine a music event in Grand Rapids that does not involve the Grand Rapids Symphony in some way. This group of renowned musicians is associated with almost all musical performances in the city: Bach Festival, Symphony Chorus, Youth Symphony & Classical Orchestra, and Symphony Youth Choruses. It is also the orchestra for the Grand Rapids Ballet Company and Opera Grand Rapids.
Very few people outside of art history circles know that some of the most famous sculptures in the world can be seen in a Grand Rapids’ garden. Opened in 1995, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a major recreational, educational, and cultural destination in the Midwest and one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Its 158-acre main campus consists of Michigan’s largest three-story conservatory with a waterfall, rock garden, and a variety of tropical and rare plants. The park also has five themed indoor gardens, four-season outdoor gardens, picturesque forest trails, and a wetlands boardwalk.
The Chop House in downtown Grand Rapids recreates the romantic spirit of the 1940’s with plush, rich décor, exquisite artwork hanging on the walls, marble accents, and ornate gas lamps. Sinatra plays in the background while soft lighting and the smell of grilled meat prepare the diners for a scrumptious dining experience before they even sit at their tables. For a starter, try their Duck Confit Nachos with duck confit, Brie cream, caramelized onions, tomato concasse, and duck craklings sprinkled with citrus. All of the restaurant’s ingredients are fresh and seasonal, and they work with a number of local farms and artisans.
Housed in a LEED Gold Certified green building in the downtown area, the Grand Rapids Art Museum houses a diverse and growing collection. Home to more than 6,000 works, the permanent collections include 19th- and 20th-century prints, paintings, photographs, and sculpture. Galleries also contain examples of decorative arts and modern art and design.
The Gerald R. Ford Airport Viewing Park, situated on Kraft Avenue north of 52nd Street, is the ideal place to watch aircraft take off and land in Grand Rapids. During the summer months, join dozens of "bird-watchers" as they flock to this newly renovated space daily to watch the planes come and go. The airport viewing park provides a pavilion with permanent restroom facilities, filtered drinking fountains, and an abundance of picnic tables and seating available for the whole family to enjoy. The airport viewing park offers awesome entertainment for aviation enthusiasts and families alike, making it a great place to spend some time between flights.
The permanent exhibits at the Gerald R. Ford Museum contain many insights into the life and times of this Grand Rapids native. Collections include items from the 38th president's childhood and college years, like his Eagle Scout memorabilia and college football uniform. Other exhibits include items and information related to Ford's political career, from his 1976 presidential campaign items to gifts given to him while in office.
A day of sightseeing in Grand Rapids is not complete without a visit to the Downtown Market. It is a foodie's paradise, with plenty of choices for a quick bite, full meal, tasty treat, or specialty ingredients for you to take home and create your own gourmet meals. Among the heartier options are Neapolitan-style pizzas, authentic Detroit BBQ, a Vietnamese restaurant, traditional Mexican "street food," and a fish market with a raw bar and catch-of-the-day menu.
Home rink of the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey franchise, the multi-purpose Van Andel Arena opened downtown in 1996 and continues to host a varied lineup of concerts, performances and community events. The 12,000-capacity showplace also serves as one of 200 local venues to showcase entries from Grand Rapids’ annual ArtPrize competition, which takes over the city for more than two weeks every fall, attracting more than 26,000 visitors a day by using the city as an experiential canvas to spark connection and conversation. During the event, Grand Rapids comes alive with innovative works on display at galleries and bars, on vacant storefronts and bridges, and in other traditional and unexpected venues all over town.
Today, the building is open to the public at no charge, complete with original and reproduction furniture. Visitors can also admire the 108 windows and skylights, products of Wright's love for using leaded glass. There is also a film that chronicles the history and restoration of the property, including its grounds, which now sit as they did when the house was first built. A French phrase that translates to “the great swiftness” or “the grand rapids, La Grande Vitesse is the centerpiece of the Calder Plaza.
Alexander Calder, widely considered one of the most important American sculptors of the 20th century, was commissioned to create the La Grande Vitesse as part of the city's urban renewal initiative as the first public artwork to be funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. As a symbol of the city's artistic spirit, La Grande Vitesse sparked interest in other art activities. Calder Plaza regularly hosts cultural events such as the city’s Hispanic Festival and Pride Festival, as well as summertime food truck food courts.
Other play areas include a bubble room, classic games like Legos and Lincoln Logs, and a space where they can make as much noise as they want while experimenting with unique musical instruments. The museum hosts daily programs, which are included in admission, including creative activities like art and costume-making, storytelling, and other activities. The museum offers a variety of exhibits related to the people and history of Michigan.
Visitors can take a walk down a Grand Rapids street that has been reconstructed with storefronts accurate to the times of the 1890s. A working 1928 Spillman carousel is available for rides, and visitors can walk through recreated sections of a working furniture factory from the early 20th century. Displays and artifacts from the Anishinabek people, the American Indians of West Michigan, are also on display.
The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park offer indoor and outdoor space that can be enjoyed year-round. The outdoor gardens showcase flowers and peaceful green spaces through a variety of garden styles. Outdoor sculptures are set in the beautiful natural scenery, backed by trees and waterways, with winding paths.
Would you feel less guilty about eating and drinking your way through Grand Rapids if you did it on a bike? That experience is what the Great Lakes Pub Cruiser offers. However, you don’t use just any bike. They have a fun 15-person party bike on which all patrons pedal together from one eating or drinking establishment to the next.
The Grand Rapids Public Museum started its life in 1854 as the Lyceum of Natural History. Its goal is to capture the spirit of West Michigan through immersive and authentic experiences that simultaneously provide entertainment and education. To get a true feel for this university town and to be within easy reach of the major attractions, including the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and the Children's Museum, it's best to find accommodation in the city center. Those in town for a trade show should consider staying near the DeVos Place Convention Center, which is connected to some of the larger downtown hotels via skyway.
During its main season, early May through the end of October, the market is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8am to 2pm. During the rest of the year, it is open Saturdays only from 10am to 1pm. Included in the numerous styles are examples of Italianate, Georgian Revival, Gothic Revival, Federal, Queen Anne, Tudor, and Chateauesque architecture, as well as several buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Every year for nineteen days, the downtown area of Grand Rapids becomes a veritable art show. This occurs during the time of the ArtPrize, a radically new, different, open, and independent international art competition.
The museum offers a variety of exhibits related to the people and history of Michigan. Visitors can take a walk down a Grand Rapids street that has been reconstructed with storefronts accurate to the times of the 1890s. A working 1928 Spillman carousel is available for rides, and visitors can walk through recreated sections of a working furniture factory from the early 20th century.
Displays and artifacts from the Anishinabek people, the American Indians of West Michigan, are also on display. This five-step concrete environmental ladder was built by local artist, Joseph Kinnebrew, to assist salmon jumping over a six-foot dam to reach the spawning grounds while providing a piece of unique artwork for the public to enjoy. It is conveniently situated along a walking area by the Grand River for easy viewing. Tourists can watch the migrating trout, steelhead, and salmon make their way upstream, an activity that is fascinating for all ages. They use the land and wildlife to provide high quality community programs and environmental education. Visitors can hike the trails and explore the nature through different seasons, sign up kids for activities such as Spring Break, Winter Break, and Summer Camp, explore the Heritage Buildings to travel back in time, visit Wildlife Education Center, or walk the Wildlife Trail to see the Blandford’s wildlife.
The terms “global pub” and “gastropub” have different meaning in different places, but Graydon’s Crossing covers all the prerequisites: a warm and cozy pub atmosphere, 46 beers on tap from local Michigan to Old World Belgium style beers and many imports, and great pub food.
The Grand Rapids Children's Museum offers the city's youngest visitors the chance to explore, learn, and play. One of the most popular areas is "Little Grand Rapids," where they can try out being a grown-up in their own little city, complete with a bank; grocery store; auto mechanic; and a doctor's office, where they can examine x-rays and explore health sciences.
You’re sure to work up an appetite with all this exploring. Downtown Market, an eclectic hybrid public marketplace/emporium/food incubator, is a one-stop shop for dining in or carrying out a mouthwatering array of cuisines all housed under one roof. Choose from bakery items, ice cream and coffee to seafood, ethnic fare, barbecue and sushi, or hit up the grocery and gourmet specialty shops to assemble all the ingredients you need to create the perfect picnic.