Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids, Michigan, is far more than just a pretty place to visit in the Midwest. It is the state’s second-largest city after Detroit, and the hometown of Gerald Ford, 38th president of the U.S. Places Rated Almanac ranked Grand Rapids third in its list of places to go for fun and recreation. Aptly located on the Grand River, the city treats visitors to both leisure and adventure. It is a paradise for outdoorsy types and an enclave of culture and entertainment.
Must-see Grand Rapids attractions include museums devoted to subjects both varied and illuminating. At the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, visitors can view a recreated state dinner, enter a replica of the White House’s Oval Office and observe the burglary tools used in the Watergate scandal of 1972. The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, a top attraction for families, engages kids in hands-on play. Permanent exhibits include the popular Giant Lite Brite, Wee Discover and Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles!
The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Michigan’s largest gallery of its kind, offers a state-of-the-art theater, a youth studio and ceramics studio. The Grand Rapids Art Museum displays works from the Renaissance to the modern era. Temporary exhibitions showcase local, national and international artists, including Salvador Dali.
The Grand Rapids Public Museum comprises four unique sites: the Chaffee Planetarium, the Veen Observatory, the 55-acre Norton Mound National Historic Landmark and the Voigt House Victorian Museum, carriage house and grounds. The Voigt House is located in the Heritage Hill Historic District, Grand Rapids' oldest neighborhood, where 1,300 homes on 3,500 acres showcase the Italianate, Colonial Revival and Queen Anne architectural styles.
The 1909 Meyer May House, designed from top to bottom by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a top Grand Rapids destination for tourists. This masterpiece of Prairie design is one of the most complete depictions of Wright’s genius.
Another major Grand Rapids attraction is the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, considered one of the top "Must-See Museums in the World." The 132-acre destination includes a comprehensive outdoor sculpture collection. Visitors can explore indoor and outdoor gardens, a tropical conservatory and a 5-acre children’s garden.
Grand Rapids has earned accolades as a mecca for craft beer connoisseurs. In 2012, it was named Beer City USA and made the list of Top 10 Best Vacation Cities for Beer Lovers. Locals say the three best microbreweries are Founders Brewing Co., Brewery Vivant and HopCat.
Prepare your taste buds for exceptional dining in Grand Rapids' restaurants. After all, the city is home to a lauded culinary institute, and local restaurateurs are committed to providing farm-to-table freshness. Try Reds on the River to experience just about every “best of” category for restaurants, including chef, steak, romantic dining, outdoor dining and wine list. Head to The Chop House for top-drawer steaks and wines, or to Leo’s for exquisite seafood. For a casual meal out, locals recommend the award-winning barbecue at Sam’s Joint and pizza at Uccello’s Ristorante Pizzeria and Sports Lounge.