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Over the past decade, Grand Rapids’ reputation as an excellent destination city has grown and grown. As home to globally recognized cultural delights like ArtPrize and the Frederik Meijer Gardens, as well as one of the country’s top beer scenes, it has been named as one of the top cities to visit in the U.S. multiple times. So, what are you waiting for? Here’s how to spend a day in Michigan’s second city.
Start the day right with breakfast at Wolfgang’s Restaurant, a Grand Rapids institution in the Eastown neighborhood. It has an eclectic menu featuring unusual takes on the usual breakfast suspects and generous portions. As it’s widely considered the best breakfast in the city, you should expect to wait, but that just means it’s good, right?
Heading farther east of downtown is the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, which is an art gallery, museum and botanical garden all rolled into one. The sprawling, 132-acre site is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state of Michigan and has been ranked among the top museums in the world. It has a diverse range of sculptures, including big names like Degas and Rodin, as well as a number of themed gardens, such as the Japanese Garden, Children’s Garden, and Farm Garden, truly offering something for everyone.
For lunch, head downtown to check out the Downtown Market, the first LEED-certified market in the country. The cool and innovative facility has plenty of local vendors to browse, including restaurants, baked goods, and beverages.
There are a number of fascinating places to spend your afternoon in downtown. There’s the Gerald R. Ford Museum, where you can learn more about the life of the 38th President who was raised in Grand Rapids. Ford and his wife Betty are also buried in the museum’s grounds. Or how about the Grand Rapids Public Museum? It’s the second largest museum in the state with over 250,000 artifacts and specimens and interactive exhibits covering subjects like science, art, and history.
In 2017, the World Food Travel Association recognized Grand Rapids as one of the world’s best food and beverage destinations, so what better way to spend the evening than by sampling both? Due to the city’s location, there’s a focus on farm-to-table cuisine, and some of the best restaurants specializing in this type of fare are Grove, Terra GR Restaurant, and The Green Well Gastro Pub.
Grand Rapids has become so popular for beer tourism that its nickname is now Beer City, so there’s no other way to end your day. Its most famous brewery is the Founders Brewing Company, which has a large taproom serving beer you can’t find anywhere else. If Belgian beers are your thing, check out the longstanding Brewery Vivant, or if you want to try lots of breweries in one of the best bars in the country, HopCat is the place for you.