We just returned from a couples trip in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When I mentioned our getaway to Grand Rapids, some seemed confused on why we would choose there without a specific reason to go. Grand Rapids is one of the most underrated places to visit in the United States. How many domestic destinations give you a chance to experience the big city in a small town, Art and culture for days along with a beach that’s only 45 minutes away. It’s pretty easy to get to when you fly into the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
From there you have one of the most beautiful and walkable downtown areas full of incredible restaurants and memorable museums.
Things To Do in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Here’s what you should do when you plan a few days in this lovely city.
This guide will walk you through all the best places to eat and things to do. Don’t miss out on any of these unforgettable experiences.
Where to Stay in Grand Rapids
First, let’s look at where to stay in Grand Rapids. You’ll definitely want to find a hotel that is close to downtown. This way you’ll be able to walk or take a really inexpensive Lyft or Uber. It’s so convenient and worth it.
Amway Grand Plaza
The Amway Grand Plaza is located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s an award-winning hotel and you’ll be able to tell from the minute you walk into the luxurious lobby. Prepare to be stunned! It’s West Michigan’s largest hotel and convention complex.
Everything about this hotel is opulent from Wolfgang Puck’s The Kitchen and Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse. You’ll feel like a VIP every time you return to your room ( you can find a Room Tour in my story highlights here). And the rooms are decorated with classic glamor and beauty.
This historic hotel was built in 1913 (Oo-oop to my Sorors) as the Patlind Hotel. Amway acquired the hotel in 1979 and added a glass tower in 1983.
Travel Tip: If you are a Hilton Honors member, you can earn points by staying at this gorgeous hotel.
The next thing you’ll want to think about is where to go shopping. I often like to make a shopping run at the beginning of my trips and I recommend shopping in Uptown Grand Rapids for unique boutiques. You can literally spend hours just browsing from store to store.
Here are some of my favorite shops in Uptown Grand Rapids:
- Global Infusion
- Adored Boutique
- Bluedoor Antiques and Elements
- Fulton Street Farmer’s Market
Can’t Miss Things to See In Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids has a thriving arts community with peaceful museums. Grab a latte and enjoy some of these lovely attractions. It’s a wonderful way to just enjoy spending time by yourself or with someone you love.
There are so many things to see and do at this spacious park. If you are taking your family, then spend time at the kettle pond or on the walking trail.
Catch some live music at the amphitheater. It’s pretty large and there are local musicians that play.
Finally, if you enjoy art, you can walk around the sculpture park. There are more than 50 amazing pieces of art.
This is my favorite choice if you are going with kids is their children’s garden. It was simply amazing. It gave me Alice in Wonderland along with a Mad Hatter tea party to match. Make sure you have comfortable shoes because it’s over 200 acres
2. Grand Rapids Art Museum
No trip to Grand Rapids is complete without a visit to the art museum. Even if you don’t think you enjoy art all that much, you will have a relaxing time just walking around the lovely exhibits.
There are usually lots of events going on at the museum too. Plus, they have things for your kids to do!
3. Grand Haven Beach
For a second, I forgot that lake Michigan was only 45 minutes away from Grand Rapids. On our last day of the trip to the beachfront in Grand Haven. Of course, it was crowded with beachgoers and volleyball players for a Saturday afternoon with one highway that leads into and out of Grand Haven but we still enjoyed our time. If you’re ever in Grand Haven, make sure to stop by the Toasted Pickle for lunch.
4. AM Yoga
Check out my IG stories here to find out more about our relationship with yoga. A jam yoga session may be the perfect release during your Grand Rapids trip.
Best Restaurants in Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids is a really laid back city. It’s perfect to go out and have a truly fancy a night on the town. Get dressed up and try these two places during your weekend trip.
1. Ando Sushi
Hubby and I are real sushi lovers. The eat-raw-sashimi kind. We are always looking for original rolls and appetizers when we try a new restaurant and I can promise that Ando did not disappoint. Their pork belly sliders are mouth-watering with their fried buns. I was also pleasantly surprised by the Surf N’ Turf roll that included beef and salmon on top.
2. Zoko 822
Zoko 822 is a full-service tapas restaurant and bar. Their menu stands out because packed with vegetables and ingredients that are inventive. You wouldn’t think to put them together. But they did, and they are amazing.
Try the Empanada Vegetal. It is a baked pastry that is stuffed with peas, beans, fennel, and has the bright addition of lemon, crema, and an unforgettable pea tendril salad.
If you love a fresh sandwich with juicy meats and crisp veggies, then this is your place! Everything is locally sourced and made with exquisite care.
Enjoy a hearty, inspired dinner at New Hotel Merten our first night. It’s retro-chic brasserie serves French classics & old-school cocktails in a historic, former hotel. Make sure to grab an after-dinner drink at their Rooftop lounge, The Haute. It has a great view of downtown Grand Rapids
If you want to go somewhere that is a lot more laid back for dinner, then experience the food and drinks at Brewery Vivant. I say experience because it’s in a refurbished historic funeral home! The energy in this place is remarkable.
Enjoy their micro-brewed beer with the Poutine. I’m not 100% sold on Poutine but you’ve never had fries like these!
Finally, if you love a good laugh, then you have to check out Dr. Grin’s Comedy Club in the B.O.B.! That stands for Big Old Building and it’s one of the best places to watch a stand-up show, grab a drink at the bar or stay late for the club scene. All in one building.
Either check out a headliner act or you can take the family to an earlier Clean Comedy Showcase.
For The Culture
This is the new section of my travel posts where I recognize some of the African American contributions in the cities we’re visiting.
As far as I’m concerned. Forty Acres might be the best brunch spot in Grand Rapids. The restaurant is full of Black History inspired decor, service with a smile and food that has me wanting more. I highly recommend the Beermosas, Hubby says he’s never had anything like them before! Forty Acres serves authentic American soul food with attention to every detail.
I was personally impressed with the Grand Rapids African American Museum. They did a fantastic job making contributions to the Grand Rapids History Museum and though they are currently across the street from the Grand Rapids Art Museum, they have plans to continue their own expansion by 2021. When you go, you’ll get to experience and view African American art, culture and history that’s reflective of the black experience in Grand Rapids and beyond. I’m grateful that they sold me a vintage Obama campaign pin that promises to expand in the coming years.
It’s an impressive and uplifting museum that is perfect for all ages.
When to See Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids weather is mild and perfect in the summertime. It does snow quite a bit as October/November approaches but I hear that it is an awesome spot for ice skating.
Experience Grand Rapids for yourself. I’m glad we did. Take it from me, you won’t regret making Grand Rapids your next weekend trip.
Thanks to Experience Grand Rapids for allowing us to discover this domestic gem. All thoughts and opinions are our own.