Grand Rapids is the capital of Western Michigan. It sits about the idyll of the Grand River, and with access to Lake Michigan only half an hour away, it’s both a perfect Midwestern hub and an attractive holiday destination for visitors around the country.
Perhaps the thing we love most about the city is that you get the small-town feel, but you’ll never run out of things to do in Grand Rapids.
Are you about to become the newest Grand Rapidian? Here are seven things you can look forward to when you call our city home.
1. Visit the Downtown Market
The Downtown Market is so much more than a foodie destination. It’s a local meeting place, and if you’re relocating to Grand Rapids, then it’s time to get acquainted.
With over twenty vendors, two restaurants, and vast amounts of space for activities, you can try something new every day of the month.
Plus, the space runs special events, culinary classes, and even stuff just for kids. It’s time to sync your calendars!
2. See an Exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM)
GRAM is Grand Rapid’s very own, world-class art museum, and there is truly something for everyone here.
Perhaps the things you will continue to return for are GRAM’s exhibitions. These include deep dives into the museum’s collection as well as traveling exhibitions and looks at both Michigan and American artists.
If you are in town for a while, you should become a member not only to enjoy free admission but to support GRAM’s community programming and help attract more world-class exhibitions.
Membership starts at $15 a year. But don’t worry! There are also free days once a week, which is perfect for every budget.
3. Follow the Beer City Ale Trail
If you’re looking for the genesis of the craft beer scene in the U.S., then you have arrived. Grand Rapids is Beer City USA, and it hosts 37 breweries and brewpubs in town (and 80 around the region).
The best way to see them all – slowly – is to make your way around the Beer City Ale Trail. The trail takes you beyond Founders Brewing Co. and introduces you to the hardwon efforts of the local population in putting their city on the map.
When you visit eight breweries on the map and check in on the app or with your Beer City Passport, you earn yourself a Beer City Brewsader t-shirt.
4. Go to a Gig
You don’t expect a city the size of Grand Rapids to attract so many quality touring artists, but it’s just another of the pleasant surprises you’ll find when you move to Grand Rapids.
The live music in town is nothing short of extraordinary, and you’re sure to catch a gig at:
- Van Andel Arena
- 20 Monroe Live
- DeVos Performance Hall
- St. Cecilia Music Center
- The Pyramid Scheme
- The Intersection
There are over 100 live-music venues around town, from living-room-style coffee houses to massive arenas. Read more about you never have to miss a thing.
5. Take the Kids to the John Ball Zoo
The John Ball Zoo is perhaps the most under-the-radar attraction in Grand Rapids, and it’s a local treasure.
Our local zoo is well-known in the zoological community for doing its best to recreate the natural environments of the animals it hosts.
Although open seasonally (March to November), the team at the zoo focus on education and conservation. There are also regular feedings, storytime sessions, and even smaller sessions for members only.
6. Wander the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is a place you’ll return to again and again. Whether you love art, nature, or you’re raising curious young minds, there are almost endless activities here that change with the seasons.
Our local sculpture park isn’t a secret. It also happens to be the second-most popular attraction in Michigan and one of the world’s most visited art museums. And we’re lucky to have it only minutes from downtown.
Whether you’re visiting or joining us permanently, you’ll love the annual events like:
- Butterflies are Blooming
- Chrysanthemums and More!
- Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World
Summers here are jam-packed with concerts in this incredible setting. In past years, artists like Brandi Carlile, Iron & Wine, and Lyle Lovett, graced the stage of the Fifth Third Bank Summer Concert Series.
7. See the Stars at the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Planetarium
Another rainy Saturday afternoon? Spend it being curious at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
The GRPM is a treasure that you and the kids will never grow bored of. GRPM offers a range of temporary exhibits as well as a permanent collection to enjoy year-round. The newly built Design Zone is the latest addition that provides a highly interactive experience that introduces visitors of all ages to the essential concepts of design in both arts, music, and engineering.
This is another place where you’re going to want to become a member to score free admission year-round as well as access to exclusive, members-only events.
Don’t forget to leave time for the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium, attached to the museum. The city named the planetarium for the Grand Rapids-native astronaut who died in the 1967 Apollo 1 tragedy.
You’ll Never Run out of Things to Do in Grand Rapids
New York. LA. Miami.
It turns out that you don’t need to live in a big coastal city for access to incredible museums, parks, and cultural events. You can get all that and more in Grand Rapids.
Are you looking for more things to do in Grand Rapids or Western Michigan? Visit our travel facts and lifestyle archives for more helpful content.