15 Things All Grand Rapidians Should Do at Least Once
There’s no doubt about it, Grand Rapids is an awesome city. We’ve got lots of attractions and fun things always going on, we’re a family friendly city and appeal to the younger crowd as well. Grand Rapids has A LOT to offer so no wonder why we make so many “best of” lists.
With all that being said, we appeal to more than just tourists. Everyone that lives in this wonderful city should take every advantage of it.
These are the top 15 things that every Grand Rapidian should do/try at least once.
Go to One of the Museums
Or go to each one at least once! You’ve got plenty to choose from.
The Grand Rapids Public Museum is for everyone! There are so many different exhibits to check out that focus on science, history (including my favorite, the history of Grand Rapids), and different cultures. I was lucky enough to get to see the King Tut exhibit but coming soon (3/19) the Robot Zoo and Earth Explorers opens in May.
If you’re more into art, the Grand Rapids Art Museum is the place for you. From paintings to sculptures to handwoven items, there are a lot of different art pieces to be interpreted. Don’t miss out on the Michigan Made exhibit highlighting Michigan artists and designers. It lasts until March 29th.
For the little ones – The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is the place to take them! Your child will have a hands-on experience giving them the chance to learn and have fun at the same time. There are 18 permanent exhibits and they also have rotating exhibits on a monthly basis which keeps the fun constant! You can also plan your child’s next birthday party at the museum.
Our 38th President, Gerald Ford was raised in Grand Rapids so it’s only right to visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. The museum includes an exact replica of the Oval office, an interactive cabinet room and exhibits that pay tribute to both the former president and his wife, Betty, whom are both buried on the museum grounds. Unfortunately, the museum is closed for renovations and won’t reopen until this summer but you can take a look at the progress thus far.
Even if you’re not a hockey fan, a Griffins game is a must!
The Griffins are a minor-league affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. There is so much energy and excitment in the building when the Griffins play, it’s definitely a night of fun. Get together a group of friends, grab a drink and enjoy some hockey!
Another exciting game to check out in Grand Rapids are the West Michigan Whitecaps.
An affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, the Whitecaps are a minor league baseball team.
The perfect spring day would be sitting alongside a good crowd, watching the Whitecaps play and eating a giant corn dog.
Opening Day is April 9th and you can check out their schedule of events and also purchase tickets here.
The Grand Rapids Civic Theater is one of the oldest and largest community theaters in the nation!
The GRCT puts on 9 mainstage productions a year and no matter which one you see, you will not be disappointed! Plays include wonderful acting, dancing and singing.
I had the opportunity to see A Christmas Story: the Musical and it was awesome! I loved every minute of it.
Currently the GRCT is showing Sister Act through March 20th. This is a schedule of plays being shown this season.
You can’t live in GR, be a hot dog lover and not try Yesterdog. It’s a staple here in Grand Rapids.
The vintage decor, the ambiance, and of course the hot dogs. What’s not to love?
Not to mention Yesterdog was represented in the movie American Pie (most of the movie was actually based on the writer’s times at East Grand Rapids High School).
There’s no such thing as a regular hot dog at Yesterdog! Take a look at their menu here.
Downtown Market is hands down one of my favorite places in Grand Rapids. SO. MUCH. FOOD! And all types of food. Whatever you’re craving you can find at the Downtown Market. Including the infamous Slows BBQ, sushi, seafood, Mexican, desserts, and the list goes on and on!
What’s cool about the Downtown Market is that you feel like you’re in a giant greenhouse… because you are! If you head upstairs you can see it for yourself and take a second to step outside and enjoy the view of Downtown.
You can walk around, eat, buy some things you may need like fresh produce, spices, or fresh flowers. Also, the market offers a variety of fun classes and events like cooking.
Take a Beer Tour
We were voted “Beer City USA” for a reason!
Grand Rapids is full of craft beer, including local Michigan beers and GR’s own, Founders.
A beer tour will give you the chance to check out all the different breweries and distilleries in the area. You can take a 15-passenger tour van that will take you to and from breweries. You can get an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour to see how and where the beer is made.
Another option would be the Great Lakes Pub Cruiser which is a 15-person party bike and a ton of fun! Or if you’d rather do it yourself, here’s a map of the Beer City Ale Trail that you can follow along.
Whether you’re on the beer tour or just need a good beer, you have to make a stop at Founders at least once.
Grand Rapids is home to Founders so you can find a Founders beer anywhere but why go anywhere when you can enjoy it at the very place the beer is made?
Founders Brewing Co. is not only a place to drink but also a great place to enjoy some delicious food! They’ve got indoor and outdoor seating (even in the winter time complete with heaters) and a huge bar with lots to choose from!
One of the biggest attractions in the city and state, Frederik Meijer Gardens is a must see! It’s over 150 acres of gardens and sculptures.
There is so much to see and explore so plan accordingly. The must-see’s include a butterfly maze, an 1800’s farmhouse, a kids-sense garden for the little ones, and the waterfalls in the Japanese gardens.
Frederik Meijer also has a gift shop and cafe with blown-glass pieces on the ceiling.
Make sure to attend one of the Summer Concert Series which is held in their beautiful outdoor venue. Concerts are held June through September.
LaughFest is a 10-day festival full of comedy! Anything from stand-up, to improv, community showcases, and film.
The event benefits cancer, grief and support groups offered at Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids.
Each year, LaughFest draws THOUSANDS of people into Grand Rapids to take part in the festivities.
LaughFest is for everyone! Including shows for adults only, for the entire family and even events specifically for children.
This year’s lineup includes acts like Marlon Wayans, Seth Meyers, Kathy Griffin, Chris D’Elia plus so much more! Check out the full lineup of events and how to purchase tickets here.
This year’s LaughFest is from March 10-20th.
Anything from vinyls to CD’s to DVDs you can find at Vertigo. They have a huge inventory of music even some really cool indie stuff as well.
You can also sell any of your unwanted CDs, LPs and DVDs.
Keep up with them on Facebook.
See a Movie at Ah-Nab-Awen Park
Ah-Nab-Awen Park is 6.5 acres and is right along the Grand River. It’s the perfect place to spend your summers.
Lots of events are held at this park but one of the best ones is Movies in the Park. On the summer weekends, the park will put on a different movie. The movie is shown on a giant projector for everyone to see.
Grab a group of people or a date, a blanket, maybe a picnic basket; and sit back, relax and enjoy the movie!
The Tin Can is an awesome spot if you’re out Downtown. They have over 80 different canned beers with a good portion of them being from Michigan.
However, if you decide to stop in at the Tin Can you HAVE TO get a pudding shot. This isn’t like any other shot. You take this shot with a spoon and it almost has an ice cream texture. Depending on what they made for that day, there are different flavors to choose from. My personal favorite is the Crunch Bar.
Be careful though, they’re so tasty you can barely taste the liquor. It’s the perfect alcoholic dessert!
The Fulton Street Farmer’s Market is the oldest and longest running farmer’s market in Grand Rapids. The cool thing about the FSFM is that it’s even open in the winter seasons.
They have everything you need from meats to cheeses, breads and produce. Everything is fresh and local! Meet some of the vendors here.
They are open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday’s.
Take a Selfie Next to the Calder Statue
Calder Plaza is where a lot of festivals and events take place, but it’s mostly known for that big red statue.
It’s the La Grande Vitesse, a steel sculpture made by the artist, Alexander Calder in 1969. It translates to “the great swiftness” aka Grand Rapids.
Being the iconic symbol of the city, it’s only right to snap a selfie next to the statue.