Places To Visit In Grand Rapids: Less than an hour’s drive from Lake Michigan lies Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in the state. It’s named after the Grand River and is known for its lively arts & culture scene, furniture production, and rich history.
It was also the home of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States.
From exploring the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, strolling in the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park to indulging in delectable food served by a variety of restaurants and shopping downtown, there are endless fun activities to enjoy here.
It’s also considered one of the best beer cities in the world.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, an adventure junkie, or an art enthusiast, this vibrant city won’t disappoint.
Wondering which places to include in your itinerary?
We’ve got you covered with our list of 8 amazing places to visit in Grand Rapids, Michigan: –
The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park #1
This world-famous tourist attraction is sprawled over 158 acres. It is home to a vast botanical garden, an outdoor sculpture park, a waterfall, a rock garden, and an art museum.
The indoor and outdoor spaces can be explored throughout the year.
The outdoor gardens feature a variety of garden styles. Exquisite flowers, lush trees, waterways, and winding paths elevate their charm.
You’ll also find over 200 sculptures that include works by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, Auguste Rodin, and Edgar Degas as well as numerous up-and-coming sculptors.
If you’re a plant lover, make sure you explore the five-story Lena Meijer Conservatory, a tropical haven with exotic plants from different parts of the world.
There are indoor sculpture galleries too that feature bronze sculptures by world-renowned artists.
John Ball Zoo #2
John Ball Zoo is home to over 1000 large and small animals from different parts of the globe. One of its best characteristics is that it’s not a typical zoo but an urban park where animals are kept close to nature.
It also has an aquarium, a zoological garden, and a lush ambiance.
From lions and tigers to bald eagles, a Komodo dragon, a large alligator, and sloths, there is a variety of wildlife to view here.
There is an array of immersive experiences that are on offer. These include the opportunity to feed bears, penguins, pelicans, and spider monkeys.
Visitors can also opt for a practical session with animal ambassadors who teach them how to handle small animals or go for a chimpanzee training session.
Kids will especially love to brush a goat at Red’s Hobby Farm and enjoy a camel ride. The Zoo’s hours vary seasonally but it’s generally open from 10 AM to 6 or 7 PM daily. Admission fee also varies. For adults, it usually ranges between $11 to $14.
The Meyer May House #3
One of the most popular attractions in Grand Rapids, The Meyer May House was constructed in 1908 and was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
It was originally a Prairie-style house but underwent many modifications and additions over the subsequent years. After it was purchased, it was restored to its initial form.
Touring the house will leave you astonished since it features 60 different architectural styles that come together well for an overall splendid look.
It’s considered a Prairie masterpiece.
The outside space features lush trees that elevate the place’s charm.
It’s completely free to enter. Public tours are organised every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 AM to 1 PM.
If you’ve planned your trip during the weekend, there are tours every Sunday too from 1 PM to 4 PM.
Grand Rapids Public Museum #4
Curious about the region’s history?
Head to Grand Rapids Public Museum.
Founded in 1854, it’s one of the country’s oldest museums. The museum is home to a merry-go-round from 1928, a Voigt House Victorian Home, the Cook Carousel Pavilion, the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium, a gift shop, a theatre, and a café.
It has an impressive collection of over 250,000 artefacts in a range of different areas from history and culture to science and more.
If you’re a space enthusiast, you can enjoy learning about stars and galaxies at the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium which also features impressive architecture with its 50-foot aluminium dome.
Visiting with kids?
Take a ride on a working 1928 Spillman carousel.
You can also explore a replica of a 20th-century working furniture factory. Whether you’re interested in science, history, or arts, there is a wide variety of exhibits here that cater to every taste.
It’s open from 9 AM to 5 PM from Monday through Friday and 10 AM to 5 PM on Saturday and Sunday. The admission fee is $12 for adults.
Heritage Hill Historic District #5
The city’s first neighbourhood, Heritage Hill features many stunning historic homes with impressive architecture.
There is a variety of architectural styles to view here from Gothic Revival, Queen Anne Style, Prairie, and Georgian Revival to the Italianate. Many homes were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The district also offers a peek into the history of the early years of the city.
Some of the notable historical sites include the Voigt House, the McCabe-Marlowe House, the David M Amberg House, and the Meyer May House.
You can take a self-guided tour of these impressive homes. When hunger strikes, head to one of the numerous cafes and restaurants in the district. With so much to offer, it’s one of the best places to visit in Grand Rapids.
Grand Rapids Children’s Museum #6
Enjoy a fun family outing at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum which features an array of interactive exhibits.
One of the notable attractions here is the section called “Little Grand Rapids” featuring a little city where children can act like grown-ups and go to a bank, a grocery store, a doctor’s office, and an auto mechanic shop.
The exhibits rotate but you may find a dinosaur exhibit, a replica of the Lake Michigan beach where kids can play in the sand as well as a “kidstruction zone” which allows numerous activities for kids including creating a foam brick wall.
Daily programs are held here offering plenty of creative activities such as storytelling, costume-making, and more. Its convenient location downtown adds to its desirability.
Its timing varies through the week so make sure to check before visiting. The admission fee is $10 for children and adults.
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum #7
Another must-do activity in Grand Rapids is exploring the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. It offers a peek into the life of Gerald R. Ford, the 38th president of the United States.
It houses over 19,000 artefacts related to him. These include American bicentennial gifts, items from the 1976 presidential campaign, and dresses worn by Betty Ford, the president’s wife.
You’ll also find a replica of the White House’s Oval Office.
The exhibits depict his life story from his childhood to his time as a college student and then as a president.
It’s open from Monday to Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from 12 PM to 5 PM. The admission fee is $12 per adult. It’s free for kids aged 5 and below.
Grand Rapids Art Museum #8
Immerse yourself in the world of art at this impressive museum. Located downtown, Grand Rapids Art Museum features over 6,000 objects from the time of the Renaissance to modern times.
You’ll find many works from the 19th and 20th centuries including prints, paintings, photographs, and sculptures.
It also has a research library that has delicate drawings, photos, and prints, many of which are protected from light.
You can view them on request. The museum also has a Michigan Artist Series that showcase the works of artists from the state. Its timings vary through the week and the admission fee is $10 per adult.
A notable mention is Blandford Nature Centre which is sprawled over 143 acres and features fields, wooded areas, streams, and ponds. It also houses rescued wildlife and offers many community programs.
With so many incredible attractions to explore, Grand Rapids is a great destination for a fun getaway.
Start with the ones that attract you the most and get ready for an epic vacation.
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Q. What is Grand Rapids Michigan famous for?
Grand Rapids is known to be a leader in the production of office furniture. It also has a flourishing arts and culture scene and is home to many breweries.
Q. Why is Grand Rapids called Beer City?
Grand Rapids is called Beer City because it’s home to around 40 craft breweries that produce delectable beer.
Q. Is Grand Rapids a beautiful city?
Grand Rapids is one of the most beautiful cities to visit in the USA.