Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan with a population of just under 200,000 in the city limits, and nearly 600,000 in the surrounding county. The federal West Michigan metropolitan area, which includes Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland (and some intervening farmland), has 1,325,000 people.
1 Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR IATA). The airport for Grand Rapids and Kent County with daily flights (sometimes several) from most of the country's major hubs. Although it has customs facilities for direct international flights, in practice it has very few. Most flights are on Delta Air Lines, connecting through the Delta hub in nearby Detroit. There are non-stop flights to Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International Airport from the following cities (some cities may be seasonal or only offer service certain days of the week): Atlanta, Las Vegas, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, Orlando, Toronto, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Newark, Fort Lauderdale and Washington.
Major highways to Grand Rapids include I-196 (from the Chicago area), I-96 (from Muskegon, or from Lansing/Detroit), and US-131 (from Kalamazoo, or from northern Michigan).
- See also: Rail travel in the United States
- Greyhound and Indian Trails offer bus service to Grand Rapids from various Michigan cities.
Like most mid-sized U.S. cities, an automobile is the most convenient means of getting around, with convenient free parking available most places outside of downtown. Parking downtown can be inconvenient and somewhat costly on weekdays and during major events (e.g. arena concerts). Parking is not enforced after 6PM on weekdays and on the weekends (besides Monroe Center NW on Saturday). Walking within the immediate downtown area is pleasant enough in good weather, and generally safe.
Several taxi companies operate in the city, and cabs can be picked up at designated locations such as the airport, or by calling their dispatcher; cabs are usually not hailed on the street, except around the time bars close on weekends. Pedicabs are also becoming popular within the downtown area, and operate during special events and weekend evenings.
"The Rapid" bus service has a terminal downtown, and routes throughout the city and its suburbs, running early mornings through late evenings on weekdays. Several routes run with less frequent service on Saturdays and Sundays. The buses are clean, safe, and generally on-time.
Street addresses identify the quadrant of the city by adding NW, NE, SW, or SE after the full street name. There are a few numbered streets just northwest of downtown, but most of the numbered streets are from 28th Street and out on the south side; the far north side instead has Three Mile Road, Four Mile Road, etc. Generally speaking, east-west roads are called "Street" and north-south roads are called "Avenue",
Interwoven bicycle paths and trails make getting around by bike within the city simple. The city website has bike route maps to make finding your way around easy.
- 1 Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, 1000 East Beltline Avenue NE (North of I-96 on East Beltline, between Bradford St. and Leonard St.), toll-free: . M W-Sa 9AM–5PM, Tu 9AM–9PM, Su noon–5PM. Plan at least four hours and up to eight hours to enjoy all that there is to offer. Walk the outdoor nature trails and boardwalk, study world-class sculpture within the outdoor sculpture park (including "Leonardo's Horse", a finished interpretation of the giant sculpture Leonardo da Vinci intended to be his masterpiece), and enjoy endless hours of fun with the kids in the children's garden. Visit the indoor areas including a special sculpture exhibitions in the lovely indoor galleries, see the largest tropical conservatory in the state of Michigan and gaze at exquisite arid and carnivorous plants. The gardens host special concerts in their outdoor amphitheater. Beautiful scenery. Adult 14–64: $12; senior 65 & older: $9; students with ID: $9; children 5–13: $6; children 3–4: $4; children 2 & younger: free.
- 2 Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl Street NW, ☏ . M–Sa 9AM–5PM, Su noon–5PM. Offers the sights and sounds of centuries gone by, coming alive once again. Downtown on the west bank of the Grand. Adults $10, seniors $9, students and children $5.
- 3 Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, 303 Pearl Street NW (downtown on the west bank of the Grand River), ☏ . Daily (9AM-5PM closed Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Day). Chronicles the United States' "accidental" presidency, the only Chief Executive never elected to serve, who restored a measure of trust to the office following its greatest crisis. Permanent and changing exhibits, highlights include Watergate break-in tools, State Gifts, Bicentennial materials, Oval Office, and interactives. Betty Ford Daylily on display, seasonally, in Betty Ford Garden. President and Mrs. Ford's final resting places are just north of the museum. Free parking is available. Adults $8; seniors and military service members $7; college students with ID $6; youths 6–18: $4; children under 5 free.
- 4 Grands Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), 101 Monroe Center, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. In addition to its permanent collection, features special exhibitions.
- Public Art. As the website suggests, "The Greater Grand Rapids area has quietly built an impressive collection of modern and contemporary sculpture over the course of the last thirty years." Highlights around downtown include La Grande Vitesse, a particularly good example of an Alexander Calder stabile resplendent in trademark bright red-orange, Fish Ladder, a sculpture-cum-overlook platform with views of the riverfront and migrating fish, and Project X, an earthwork by minimalist artist Robert Morris built into a hillside in Belknap Park. The website has extensive information on the pieces, the artists, and their locations, and a section dedicated to the works at Fredrik Meijer Gardens mentioned above.
- 5 Meyer May House, 450 Madison Ave SE, ☏ .
- Grand Rapids Symphony, ☏ . DeVos Performance Hall.
- Grand Rapids Ballet, ☏ . Michigan's only professional ballet company.
- Opera Grand Rapids, ☏ . One of two opera companies in the state (Michigan Opera Theater in Detroit being the other), Opera GR is Michigan's longest-running professional company.
- 1 Van Andel Arena, 130 West Fulton, ☏ .
- West Michigan Whitecaps, 4500 West River Drive. Comstock Park. Minor League Baseball. Single A affiliate of Detroit Tigers
- Grand Rapids Griffins. AHL Hockey. Farm team for the Detroit Red Wings.
- 2 Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, 30 N. Division, ☏ . The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre [GRCT] is the largest community theatre in Grand Rapids and one of the largest in the entire United States, with over 3,000 season ticket holders annually. We reach over 90,000 people during a single season: 110 performances of the six main stage productions; twenty performances of the two productions for children; and a varying number of special events. GRCT is one of the oldest community theatres in Michigan and in the United States. GRCT has a history of continuity and is one of the more self-sufficient arts organizations in our cultural community.
- Circle Theatre, 1607 Robinson Road SE Grand Rapids, MI 49506, ☏ . Circle Theatre continues to produce a season of main stage and Magic Circle productions during the summer months of May through September. The rest of the calendar year is focused on the academic theatre programs of Aquinas College and the Catholic high schools.
- Actors' Theatre, 143 Bostwick Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, ☏ . Actors' Theatre is committed to bring West Michigan the best in entertaining, innovative, challenging and thought-provoking theatre.
- Dog Story Theatre, 7 Jefferson Ave SE. Blackbox theatre that rents space to different acting troupes, so there's always something fresh going on! Comedy on Monday nights.
- Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts, 41 Sheldon Blvd SE, ☏ . Hosts art exhibitions and art house cinema not found elsewhere in the area. Check website for gallery hours and movie listings.
There are a lot of ethnic festivals during warmer months and are most often held at the downtown Calder Plaza.
- Festival of the Arts. Commonly known as simply Festival, this summer weekend event is the nation's largest all-volunteer arts festival. Chosen by the Library of Congress as a Local Legacy. This event generally occurs in the first full weekend of June.
- Fulton Street Artisan's Market. An open-air market, full of arts and crafts from all skill levels. Booth space is fairly cheap. Open June 14th to September 17th (in 2009), Sundays from 11AM-3PM. On the corner of Fulton and Fuller streets.
- Celebration on the Grand. A live music festival and fireworks show held on the weekend after Labor Day. A tradition for the area since the 1980s.
- Blues on the Mall. Live Blues performances every Wednesday at Rosa Parks Circle in the summer. Usually the best time to take in downtown nightlife during the week.
- ArtPrize. Downtown Grand Rapids and some of the adjoining neighborhoods is transformed into one giant arts showcase, as competing artists place their sculptures, paintings, murals, performances, etc., throughout the urban landscape, vying for the world's largest cash prize for art (first prize: $200,000). Winner is decided by public vote, enhancing the dialogue between artists and the public, both expert and casual observer alike. Runs for 3 weeks late Sep—early Oct.
- Schuler Books and Music- on 28th Street SE,cthis large independent bookstore is a great place to relax, read and even get some coffee.
- Bohemia Too- Cross a bead store with some funky clothing, gifts, and books and what do you get? This boutique store is right downtown on Weston Ave.
There are several enclosed shopping malls and retail centers in the city and its suburbs - most notably Woodland Mall in the southeast, Rivertown Crossing in the southwest, and Knapp's Corner in the northeast - but they feature much the same stores as similar malls in other cities, so they are mostly of interest to local shoppers and those from less urban areas without such resources.
- Bistro Bella Vita, 44 Grandville Ave SW (Across from the Van Andel Arena between Grandville and Market - Weston is the cross street.), ☏ . Fantastic Mediterranean country cuisine. One of the best values in all of West Michigan. This is more like a place you'd find in New York or Chicago. Great wine and beer list. Open for lunch and dinner.
- San Chez Bistro, 38 West Fulton St, ☏ . downtown. Upscale food, big city atmosphere, casual attire. Cuisine of Spain with a Latin and Cuban flair. Specializing in tapas, sangria, sherries, ports and a wonderful wine list.
- Rose's, 550 Lakeside Drive SE. On Reeds Lake. One of the many Gilmore collection restaurants, this is arguably the most popular. It has a great view and many delicious, yet tasty, foods.
- Yesterdog, 1505 Wealthy SE (in the wedge between Lake Drive and Wealthy Street), ☏ . Genuine early-20th-century memorabilia, genuine all-beef hotdogs, seemingly chaotic order-taking/filling procedure (trust them: it works). A quirky local institution in the Eastown neighborhood. (If you want to pass for a regular, skip the "dog" when ordering: e.g. "two Yester[dog]s, one Cheddar[dog]". Buy a T-shirt!)
- Sami's Gyros / The Pita House (Locations in Eastown, downtown, southeast 28th Street, and near Celebration Cinema South). ' Made to order eastern-mediterranean food, a local-immigrant success story.
- Gaia, 209 Diamond Ave. SE (just south of Cherry Street), ☏ . Ample servings of delicious vegetarian food in the closest Grand Rapids gets to a bohemian atmosphere.
- The Beltline Bar, 16 28th Street, ☏ . At Division Avenue. Mexican specialties, including their famous sauce-smothered "wet burrito". (No, it's nowhere near the East Beltline or the South Beltline--way back when they opened, 28th was "the south beltline".)
- Charlie's Crab, 63 Market Ave SW, ☏ . Some of the best seafood Grand Rapids has to offer in a refined setting overlooking the Grand River.
- Silver Derby, 816 Burton St. SE (near the corner of Eastern), ☏ . This "dive bar" has a great atmosphere and amazing chili dogs.
- El Burrito Loco/Cinco de Mayo (locations downtown, on East Beltline, Alpine Avenue, and Rockford). Another popular Tex-Mex eatery with Mexican-American flavors.
- Thai Express, 4317 Kalamazoo Ave SE, ☏ . ~11:30AM-8PM. Good Thai food, especially on a student budget. Most dishes are between $6-8. $12 max.
- Wolfgang's, 1530 Wealthy St SE (in Eastown), ☏ . This is a breakfast restaurant where you must bring your appetite and expect long waits, particularly on the weekend, but it is worth it.
- Twisted Rooster, 1600 E. Beltline Avenue NE, ☏ . A mid-range restaurant with a reasonably priced menu, the food is better than you might expect and the service is good for this genre - fear the huge hot dog and enjoy the bison burger
- Spinnaker (at the Hilton Grand Rapids), 4747 28th Street SE (28th Street at Patterson), ☏ . 6:30AM-10PM. A casual upscale restaurant open for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and our Famous Sunday Brunch. All-you-can-eat crab leg buffet for $16.95 on Fridays and Prime Rib and Pasta on Saturdays for $16.95 $8-$40. 48-$30.
- 1 MadCap Coffee Company, 98 Monroe Center St NW (Downtown next to the GR art museum), toll-free: . 10AM-3PM.
- Mulligans, 1518 Wealthy St SE. A bar/pub for twenty- to thirty- somethings into counterculture and indie rock. Sunday "make- your- own bloody mary bar". Not for the faint of heart. Right across from Yesterdog at the corner of Wealthy and Lake, in the Eastown neighborhood, a few miles East of Downtown. Bus 6.
- The B.O.B. ("the Big Old Building"), 20 Monroe Ave NW. At is a popular downtown nightspot featuring a diverse assortment of restaurants and bars under one roof, across the street from the Van Andel Arena, downtown. Buses 11,12 are closest, 1,3,4,6,9,13,14,15 all run nearby.
- The Intersection, 133 Grandville Ave SW. A long-standing venue for live rock and other kinds of music, in a large space downtown. Short walk from Central Station where buses 1-16 and 18 terminate.
- The Meanwhile, 1005 Wealthy St SE. Just west of Eastown, near Diamond Avenue. Opened in 2007, this hipster bar specializes in cheap drinks (numerous specials throughout the week), unique concoctions (try the "Vern Ehlers", named after the city's representative in Congress), pinball, and a great jukebox. Now features an outdoor patio in the back. Bus 5, or 4 and 6 get close.
- Billy's Lounge, 1437 Wealthy St SE. In Eastown, features live music - especially blues - most nights. Bus 6.
- Diversions, 10 Fountain St NW. The most popular gay/lesbian-friendly club in town, downtown on Fountain St. just west of Division Ave. Buses 6,9,13.
- Founders, 235 Grandville Ave SW. A great microbrew and taproom recently relocated to a new downtown locale. Count on a great variety of beer and occasional live music. Buses 1-16 and 18 all terminate at Central Station across the street.
- Bar Divani, 15 Ionia Ave SW. Winebar with excellent selections of wine, beer and spirits, and fantastic cuisine. Wonderful atmosphere as well. Buses 1,3,4,6,9,13,14,15 all get close.
- Hopcat, 25 Ionia Ave SW. A great variety of craft and micro brewed beers, located next to Bar Divani, on Ionia. Featuring over 40 rotating draft beers, and over 100 bottles to choose from, there is something for everyone (including liquor for those that can't drink beer). Buses 1,3,4,6,9,13,14,15 all get close.
- Brewery Vivant, 925 Cherry Street SE. A Belgian-style brewery in an old chapel in the East Hills neighborhood. A small menu of gastro-pub style food is available, along with cider from Spring Lake's Vander Mill. Bus 4 or 6.
- Spinnaker Lounge (at the Hilton Grand Rapids), 4747 28th Street SE (28th Street at Patterson Ave), ☏ . 6:30AM-10PM. A casual gathering spot, featuring multiple flat screen TVs, leather couches, and a fire place. Plenty of space for large gathering. $8-40.
- America's Best Suites, 35 28th Street SW, ☏ , fax: .
- Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, 187 Monroe NW.
- Best Western Midway Hotel, 4101 28th Street SE, ☏ , fax: .
- Clarion Inn & Suites Airport, 4981 28th Street SE, ☏ , fax: . Less than two miles from the Gerald Ford Airport. Business center with high speed internet available. Free airport and surrounding area transportation shuttle. Smoke-free, pet-friendly.
- Comfort Inn Airport, 4155 28th St SE, ☏ , fax: . Less than fifteen minutes from downtown Grand Rapids and three minutes from the Gerald Ford Airport. Business center with high speed internet available.
- Comfort Suites, 7644 Caterpillar Court, ☏ , fax: .
- Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown, 11 Monroe Avenue NW, ☏ , fax: .
- Crowne Plaza Grand Rapids Hotel, 5700 28th Street S, ☏ . Just off I-96, minutes from the airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Only three miles from Gerald R. Ford International Airport, with free shuttle. Five minutes from the largest shopping mall in West Michigan
- Econo Lodge & Suites, 2985 Kraft Avenue, ☏ , fax: . Southeast.
- Fairfield Inn Grand Rapids, 3930 Stahl Drive SE, ☏ , fax: . Just minutes from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport and the DeVos Convention Center.
- Hilton Grand Rapids Airport, 4747 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49512, ☏ .
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel Suites Grand Rapids/Airport, 5401 28th Street, ☏ . A few miles from Gerald R. Ford International Airport and fifteen minutes via expressway from downtown Grand Rapids.
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 6569 Clay Ave, ☏ .
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 358 River Ridge Dr. Nw, ☏ .
- Motel 6 Grand Rapids East - Airport, 3524 28th St SE, ☏ , fax: .
- Quality Inn Terrace Club, 4495 28th St SE, ☏ , fax: . A Bed and Breakfast atmosphere ten minutes from the airport.
- Residence Inn Grand Rapids, 2701 East Beltline Avenue SE, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: .
- Sleep Inn, 4284 29th St SE, ☏ , .
- SpringHill Suites Grand Rapids Airport Southeast, 5250 28th St. SE, ☏ , fax: .
- SpringHill Suites Grand Rapids North, 450 Center Drive, ☏ , fax: . Near numerous shopping opportunities, ten minutes from downtown.
- Travelodge Grand Rapids, 65 28th St SW, ☏ , fax: . Free breakfast and high speed internet in all rooms.
- Country Inn and Suites, 5399 28th St (Minutes from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport and fifteen minutes via expressway downtown Grand Rapids), ☏ .
- JW Marriott, 235 Louis Street NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503 (at the NW corner of Louis Street and Campau Avenue), ☏ . In the heart of downtown. Probably GR's most luxurious hotel (possibly tied with the Amway Grand Plaza).
Grand Rapids' crime rate is one of the most uneven in the USA. On the one hand, the city has dealt with rampant property crimes and pick-pocketing in the past. On the other hand, its murder rate is nowhere nearly as bad as Detroit and other Midwestern cities, being usually slightly above the national average.
The downtown area is safe if you use basic precautions. Several areas across the river and to the southwest of downtown are best to be avoided. The rest of the city is safe.
|Routes through Grand Rapids|
|END ←||N S||→ Holland → Chicago|
|Ends at ← Muskegon ←||W E||→ Lowell → Lansing|
|Benton Harbor-Saint Joseph ← Wyoming ←||W E||→ END|
|Petoskey ← Big Rapids ←||N S||→ Wyoming → Kalamazoo|
|Ends at N S ← Allendale ←||W E||→ END|