Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in Michigan. Located inland, in Kent County, it is a short drive from the Lake Michigan shoreline. Grand Rapids has many attractions to engage visitors and residents alike. History buffs, nature lovers, and patrons of the arts will all find much to do while in the area.
The Gerald R. Ford Museum, located at 303 Pearl Street NW, is one of the area’s main attractions. Former President Gerald Ford was from the suburb of East Grand Rapids; he was the only president to have lived in the area. The exhibits at the museum highlight Ford’s term as the 38th U.S. President and even include a full-scale replica of the Oval Office. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Burial Site is located on the grounds of the museum. Both the museum and the burial site are open every day except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Nearby, at 272 Pearl Street NW, is the Public Museum of Grand Rapids. Also known as the Grand Rapids Public Museum, this attraction has many interesting exhibits, including those dedicated to Michigan’s mammals and furniture industry. The Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium is also housed here; it requires a small additional fee for admission.
Anyone interested in architecture from the past should visit Heritage Hill, the oldest neighborhood in Grand Rapids. Located next to the downtown area, Heritage Hill is on the National Register of Historic Places. It consists of approximately 1300 homes and includes more than 60 architectural styles, including Tudor Revival and Georgian Revival. The oldest home was built in 1845; some of the later houses were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Those interested in self-guided walking tours can find maps online and at the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention and Visitors Bureau; combined, these three tours feature 76 of the most interesting homes in Heritage Hill.
Rosa Parks Circle, located at the corner of Monroe Avenue NW and Monroe Center NW, is an outdoor attraction where area residents gather all year. During the summer, it is a popular venue for festivals and concerts. In the winter, the amphitheater freezes and becomes an ice rink.
The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is a very popular attraction. Located at 1000 East Beltline NE, it boasts indoor and outdoor gardens, a sculpture park, nature trails, tram tours, and much more on its 125 acres. In order to make the most of this barrier-free attraction, visitors should plan to spend the day. The Taste of the Gardens Cafe is open for lunch, and vending machines are located throughout the property; outside food is prohibited. The gardens are open every day.
The John Ball Zoo is located at 1300 West Fulton Street. In addition to providing a home for more than 1100 animals from all over the world, the zoo holds special events throughout the year. It is also available for after-hours parties in June, July, and August.
With its plentiful sightseeing and cultural opportunities, Grand Rapids has something for everyone. Additional information about these attractions and more is available at the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention and Visitors Bureau, located downtown at 171 Monroe Avenue NW, Suite 700.