If you’re planning a trip to Michigan anytime soon, or even just passing through, stopping at Grand Rapids is a must. This fairly large city consists of just under 200,000 people and is full of unique and interesting sites and features.
You won’t regret putting this town at the top of your travel list this year. If you’re traveling solo, with your significant other, or with the entire family, there is no shortage of things to do in Grand Rapids.
Top Things to Do in Grand Rapids
Some travelers are all about finding the best food and drinks the local restaurants and bars have to offer. Others are all about taking in as much of the local culture as possible. Finally, some people are all about hitting the tourist destination spots.
Regardless of your preferred flavor and style of travel, placed perfectly on the Grand River, Grand Rapids has a little something for everyone. Keep reading for the details.
1. Shop at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market
Whether it’s their first or hundredth time, one of the top priorities for people traveling to Grand Rapids is to hit up the local Downtown Market. Here, you’ll find some of the best food and drinks Grand Rapids has to offer.
For the shopaholics in the group, they’ll be pleased to find a plethora of indoor market vendors as well as monthly outdoor market events. Downtown Market also hosts several cooking classes and restaurants with rooftop dining.
If it’s your first time in Grand Rapids, you absolutely cannot miss Downtown Market.
2. Take a Walk on the Blue Bridge
If you look up Grand Rapids on popular social media platforms such as Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram, you’ll likely see the famous Blue Bridge. This 575-foot truss bridge is a common stop for Instagramers looking to take advantage of this historical site.
The Blue Bridge was originally built in 1892 and crosses over the Grand River. Serving as a walkway for locals and tourists alike, this bridge connects the downtown area with the Swan neighborhood, one of Grand Rapids many great neighborhoods.
3. Stroll Through Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
If experiencing timeless art and the serenity of nature is at the top of your list of things to do in Grand Rapids, be sure to check out the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Here, you’ll find 158 acres of flowers intermingling with beautifully sculpted works of art.
The park boasts quite accurately that it’s always growing, always beautiful, and always new. The park also offers learning opportunities and events for people of all ages. These include everything from student field trips to a master lecture series.
4. Follow the Beer City Ale Trail
If finding the best drinks in town is your game, you’ve come to the right place. Also known as Beer City, Grand Rapids is home to over 20 breweries.
To guide you in your quest, however, is the “Ale Trail” map, giving you the exact location of all the glorious breweries to be found in Beer City. Just remember to take it slow, the beer is quite good and you’ll want to remember it the next day.
5. Take in Some Culture at the Grand Rapids Art Museum
When most people think about taking in the culture, art comes to mind. While art can refer to everything from music to theater to painting, we’re specifically talking about the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
On their website, you can look at future, current, and past exhibitions. Of course, you can expect to see the works of modern and local artists. However, the GRAM also showcases a permanent collection full of historical and culturally relevant art.
Make sure you add the Grand Rapids Art Museum to your list of things to do in Grand Rapids.
6. Take a Dip in Lake Michigan
If you’re near Lake Michigan, you almost have to jump in the water. Of course, this is assuming you’re not there during the winter.
Grand Rapids has a myriad of Lake Michigan Beaches full of perfect sugary sand and gorgeous clear water. It would definitely not go amiss to take your special someone there to enjoy a breathtaking sunset (hint, hint).
7. Catch a Show at the Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids
Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids is a live theatre that produces innovative and thought-provoking performances.
Amazingly, Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids provides jobs for over 100 local performers and artists every year. They are the only theatre in the city that pays their performers, although they do have plenty of volunteer workers.
Visiting this theatre is one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids to get a true sense of the local art and community.
8. Get a Glimpse of History at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
Gerald R. Ford was the only American President to ever come from Michigan. As such, it’s only natural that one of the best cities in Michigan holds homage to him through a museum.
The Gerald R. Ford museum showcases the life of our past president and how he went from an Eagle Scout/Football Player to one of our most well-known presidents. You can also take an in-depth look at all of the issues and events handles by Ford during his presidency, including the Nixon pardon, Vietnam refugees, and the energy crisis.
9. Experience the Wildlife At the John Ball Zoo
Going to the zoo is one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids to spend a day with the whole family. There’s something about wild animals that captivate children and adults alike.
At the John Ball Zoo, you can expect to see over 1,500 animals. There are also several indoor and outdoor exhibits and live shows and events. You can also opt to engage in fun activities such as camel rides, zip-lining, and close encounters with some of the wildlife.
10. Have Date Night at Opera Grand Rapids
Finally, for a bit of culture mixed with class, give you and your significant other a reason to dress up with a trip to the local opera. Established in 1967, Opera Grand Rapids works to provide high-quality live opera performances.
Enjoy a night out experiencing the timeless and powerfully moving art of opera performed by some of the nation’s best talent.
Looking for a Place to Stay in Grand Rapids?
Most people can’t help but fall in love with this amazing city when they visit. Whether it’s all the things to do in Grand Rapids or the warm vibe of the locals, they’re often prompted to move their entire life over to become part of the magic that makes this city so exceptional. If you find yourself falling into this category, you’ll need a place to stay.