Travel Guide - Grand Rapids, Michigan


Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second largest city is a center of commerce, culture and conventions. Grand Rapids combines the sophisticated convenience of a large urban center with the warmth and charm of a small town. A temperate climate assures mild winters and pleasantly warm summers. For hundreds of years people have flocked to this region for its beauty and natural resources.

Over 2,000 acres of parkland are located throughout the City, and are available for residents and visitors. Enjoy a family picnic, hike the trails, and take advantage of the many recreational activities. Many of the parks also host ethnic festivals, concerts, and public outdoor art, sculpture, and historical monuments. A new city park of 1500 acres that will provide water sports is scheduled to be completed by 2010. Grand Rapids already has so much; yet, it is always preparing for the future.

Grand Rapids was named for the rapids of the Grand River, the waterway that provided power and a means of transportation for the settlement from its earliest days. An abundance of wood from area forests made possible the growth of the furniture industry.

While many residents make their homes in the suburban communities and townships surrounding Grand Rapids, in recent years, people have begun to rediscover the advantages of downtown living. Luxury condominiums provide a high-rise view overlooking the Grand River. Heritage Hill, downtown's closest neighborhood, offers tours of its historic homes. More than 60 architectural styles are reflected in the 1300 residences.

The recently opened 12,000 seat Van Andel Arena is home to the Grand Rapids Griffins professional hockey team. Besides hockey, the city also hosts the minor league Hoops basketball team and the Whitecaps, a Detroit Tigers baseball team affiliate. Canoeing, rock climbing, hiking and skiing are all popular in the area.

Families with children love Grand Rapids. The city offers numerous indoor activities, as well as outdoor fun. Many nature centers and the John Ball Zoo remain open even during the winter months, allowing visitors a unique and interesting view of the plants and animals. Summer-time brings out the wet and wild with popular wave pools and water slides. Those interested in a more quiet activity may wish to explore one of many interactive museums or art centers.

Whether you are relaxing in an Eames lounge chair, or touring a Frank Lloyd Wright house, you will notice that design matters. Grand Rapids has been known through the years as "The Paris of Furniture Design" and "The Furniture City." In the Van Andel Museum Center, visitors can view an operational reconstruction of an early 20th century furniture factory and walk through an 1890s downtown street of shops, featuring the sights and sounds of the times.

If you spend one vacation in Grand Rapids, you will see why this beautiful city is a place to which many return year after year.