Grand Rapids is the anchor city for Michigan’s “west coast”, a vibrant, diverse city that offers something for everyone. In addition, “GR” is less congested and more quaint than other big cities in the State. It has a “small Chicago” feel to it, a distinctly midwestern flavor. In all, Grand Rapids is a fantastic place for a getaway. Places Rated Almanac ranked Grand Rapids as the #3 city in the nation for fun and recreation. Here are five things to do in the city.
John Ball Zoo
Where else can you see more than 1,100 animals of more than 230 species, walk through lush gardens, and stretch your legs in a beautiful urban park? Here you can see the largest alligator outside of Florida, babboons, chimpanzees, spider monkeys, exotic birds, and much more. One of the neatest attractions is an Australian walk though exhibit that features Wallabies and Budgies. The wallabies, if they want to, can come out in the walk way to be petted! This is a great place for children, especially young ones who’ll love seeing animals that can be seen in few places in the United States. John Ball Zoo is located at the corner of Fulton and Valley, just west of downtown Grand Rapids. The Zoo is only two miles west of downtown Grand Rapids and there’s easy access from the I-196 expressway.
Grand Rapids Public Museum
Did you know Grand Rapids is home to one of the oldest history museums in the United States? The Grand Rapids Public Museum was founded in 1854 as the “Grand Rapids Lyceum of Natural History”, and is now known by most locals as the “Van Andel”, though the Van Andel Museum Center is just one part of this attraction. Located downtown on the banks of the river on Pearl Street. Permanent exhibits include “The Furniture City”, “Habitats”, and “Collecting A through Z” (a dazzling collection of stuff people collect). The kids (young and young at heart) will enjoy a ride on the 1928 Spillman Carousel. Also, you won;t want to miss the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium.
Grand Rapids Symphony
How about some art and culture? GR has that too in the form of one of the oldest continually running symphonies in the country. For more than 75 years, the GR Symphony has served western Michigan, and they even performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2005. The Symphony presents eight concert series intended for young children through adults year round, and they present more than 400 performances each year, nearly half of which benefit students, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. Later this month, the Symphony will present “Two Brandenburgs” and “Wacky, Way Out Instruments”, a concert aimed at the entire family that will feature odd musical instruments like the bagpipes, typewriter, and cell phone.
This trendy brewery rests on the bottom floor of The B.O.B. (which stands for Big Old Building), located downtown on Monroe Street. This 70,000-square-foot, four- story, red brick building is truly a part of Grand Rapids history. It was constructed in 1903 when it served as Judson’s grocery warehouse. Now, The B.O.B. hosts a night club, comedy club, restaurants, gift shops, and the brewery. No matter what your taste bugs crave, you’ll find it here: Asian cuisine, Mexican cuisine, American fare, fresh brews, and martinis. There’s almost always a party going on somewhere and it’s conveniently loacted near other downtown attractions.
Ecosystem Preserve at Calvin College Campus
Get outside with your family or friends or take a run on the wonderfully manicured trails of this preserve in Grand Rapids, adjacent to the campus of Calvin College. One of the lesser-known attractions in Grand Rapids, this preserve is located on more than 100 acres of land. The Ecosystem Preserve wraps itself around the headwaters of a local stream, Whiskey Creek, which flows through Calvin’s east campus, and is the source of water for the Seminary Pond. Its varied environment hosts about 100 bird species each year, with approximately 60 that nest within its boundaries. Especially for locals, this is an excellent place to get in touch with nature. Less than three miles away from the Grand Traverse Pie Co. located on 28th Street SE.
While you’re in Grand Rapids, don’t forget to visit us at our Pie Shop location >