10 Things to Do in Grand Rapids, MI for First Time Visitors

There’s much to say about the city that sits right atop the Grand Rapids—that’s how the city gets its name after all. Grand Rapids is the second largest city in the state, and it happens to sit just 30 miles east of the great Lake Michigan. There are plenty of things to do and sights to see in the city, which gives you more reason to visit at the end of the day. Regardless of whatever time of the year you’re visiting Grand Rapids, there’s something for you to enjoy and experience. Here are the top 10 things that you must absolutely do if you’re visiting Grand Rapids for the first time.

1. Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Your senses will go on absolute overdrive once you step into this park. It’s not just about the plants; it’s not just about the sculptures. It’s the combination of everything in the gardens that make this place such a unique attraction in Grand Rapids. This is not a place that you can see in just one visit. There are 158 acres of beauty in this garden.

2. Blandford Nature Center

There’s no better way to experience the natural feel of Grand Rapids than by going to Blandford. The wildlife trails here are something that you’ll just have to walk to believe. They even say that tigers roam the areas around freely around here.

3. General R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum

Not everyone might’ve paid enough attention in history class to know that President Ford was born in Grand Rapids. You don’t have to be a history or politics buff to appreciate this library and museum. It’s a great tribute to an important person and family in American history.

4. Meyer May House

Frank Lloyd Wright has done plenty of architectural marvels globally, and one of them happens to sit right in Grand Rapids. The Meyer May House is a beautiful piece of architecture. You can tour the house and admire its designs. Every niche in this place is truly special.

5. Heritage Hill Historic District

If you like anything that involves history at all, a short walk through the Heritage Hill Historic District will surely satisfy you. If you don’t, you’d still appreciate all the beautiful homes you’d see along the way. You can do the tour of the historic district or simply enjoy a nice stroll down the street. It’s great either way.

6. John Ball Zoo

Every great city has a decent zoo, and Grand Rapids’ John Ball Zoo is definitely more than decent. It’s just two miles from downtown, and it houses over 1,100 animals from all over the globe. It’s a great way to spend an entire day with the family.

7. Grand Rapids Symphony

Music is an important part of the Grand Rapids culture, and the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra is at the center of it all. The symphony performs in various locations throughout the Grand Rapids area and beyond. The most renowned musicians make up the symphony, and they’re absolutely worth to see. Make sure you check the symphony schedule for performance dates.

8. Fulton Street Farmers Market

This farmers’ market has been around since 1922, so you know that it’s a good one. The market is actually open four days out of the week; and on Sundays, the artisans show their work in the market when the farmers are taking a day off. You’ll find all sorts of goodies in the market, and you can shop rain or shine.

9. Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

Anyone can enjoy this children’s museum, even those who are young at heart. Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a great way to spend some time indoors, and you’ll have plenty of laughs, play, and learning to do here—no matter how old you may be. Of course if you have a family with kids, this museum is the perfect place to be.

10. Grand Rapids Public Museum

You might think that it’s just another museum, but the Grand Rapids Public Museum has been around since 1854. This large and stunning museum has three floors of artifacts that range from scientific to mechanic. You can easily spend a day or two just looking at everything, but make sure you set aside some time to visit the planetarium as well.


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