Beer City USA. That’s what national polls and USA TODAY readers call my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I suppose the name is fitting in a way because we have over 60 breweries in the local area. (I share my two favorite local breweries at the end of this post.)
Yes, the beer is great. But here’s the thing… There is much more to Grand Rapids than just beer, and the “Beer City” moniker doesn’t accurately reflect all there is to love about my hometown.
The “Beer City” moniker doesn’t accurately reflect all there is to love about my hometown.
Here is just a small sampling of other things my hometown has to offer.
We have beautiful (and fun) outdoor spaces.
Grand Rapids has some of THE BEST PARKS – fun playgrounds, beautiful views, and interesting locations. We are an outdoorsy family that loves to explore area parks so you can trust me when I tell you that we seriously have some spectacular parks.
For amazing playgrounds, check out a few of our favorite parks.
- Hagar Park features a gigantic wooden play structure. If you let them, your kids will happily climb, run, swing, and slide there for the entire day and still ask to come back the next day! (My kids do!)
- Roselle Park has a small but unique playground that my children adore. The nature-themed playground equipment stands at the foot of two large silos. One silo has climbing grabholds for climbing around the bottom of it, and you can climb the stairs inside the other silo for a beautiful view of the park from the top.
- Millenium Park is fantastically fun! It features a really big traditional playground on land. But then, it also has a small playground over some shallow water and a splash pad. This also happens to be a great park for walking, biking, and hanging out at the beach.
- If you don’t mind a short drive, we also love Thatcher Park in the nearby village of Ravenna. Thatcher Park features a cute little playground and a huge hillside slide. Your kids will totally think the slide was worth the drive.
For beautiful outdoor spaces, check out Townsend Park and Fallasburg Park. Children (and adults) love wading in the cool stream and searching for crawfish at Townsend Park. And, everyone loves the historic village, covered bridge, river views, stone archway and beautiful stream at Fallasburg Park.
We have art!
We love art here in Grand Rapids. The GRAM (Grand Rapids Art Museum) is a wonderful place to view some great art displays. However, my family’s favorite place for art is Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. At Meijer Gardens, we enjoy the indoor art exhibits but we also enjoy wandering the beautiful gardens and admiring the many outdoor sculptures there. (Have I mentioned before that we are an outdoorsy family?)
We also love ArtPrize! Every fall, Grand Rapids becomes a wonderland of art. This huge art competition is free and open to the public. Art is exhibited throughout the city in museums, restaurants, parks, hotels, walkways, and more. You can even discover art exhibits floating in the river running through downtown. Some prizes are awarded based on public vote, and some are awarded based on a jury of art experts. Some of the art is imaginative, some is funny, some is serious, and all are wonderfully creative.
We have sports.
Sports fans rejoice! Grand Rapids is home to various sports teams including baseball, hockey and basketball. We may not have any major teams, but I think that is just as well. The tickets for minor team games are more affordable, and personally, I find them to be a lot more fun.
Our family loves attending West Michigan Whitecaps baseball games on a warm summer day, and we enjoy the excitement of Grand Rapids Griffins hockey games in the winter.
So if you love sports and are visiting Grand Rapids, you may want to check out these game schedules:
- West Michigan White Caps (minor league baseball)
- Grand Rapids Griffins (American Hockey League)
- Grand Rapids Drive (NBA G League basketball)
We have great hiking trails.
Like many outdoorsy families, we enjoy hiking. So we are delighted that the North Country Trail (NCT) goes right by my hometown. The NCT is a cross country hiking trail that crosses through seven states from North Dakota to New York, and it passes within a few miles of Grand Rapids, Michigan. We have enjoyed hiking three local portions of this trail – in the nearby town of Lowell, at Seidman Park in Ada, and in areas of Cannon Township.
Other favorite places to hike in the Grand Rapids area include the following:
- Grand Ravines Park features the state’s longest suspension pedestrian bridge, a bald eagle nesting area, the cutest little covered bridge ever, and of course, beautiful ravines.
- Pickerel Lake Nature Preserve is a wonderland of wildlife. The entire family enjoys searching for fish, frogs, evidence of beaver activity and more as we hike the beautiful trail around this small lake.
- Rosy Mound Natural Area is a gorgeous area that features woods, sand dunes, beach and wildlife. If you don’t mind stairs (so many stairs!!), it is a truly amazing hike.
For more trails, you may want to check out our previous article about our favorite kid-friendly trails in the area.
We have the beach!
Grand Rapids is just a short drive (only 20 minutes!!!) from the shores of Lake Michigan. This freshwater Great Lake is known for chilly temperatures, big waves, lovely views, pristine sand beaches, and impressive sand dunes.
Some of our favorite beaches include Grand Haven State Park, PJ Hoffmaster State Park, Duck Lake State Park, Kirk Park and Tunnel Park.
And, of course, we have beer.
Yep, we have over 60 breweries in our local area. If you are looking for a pint of really good craft beer, Grand Rapids is a great place to find it. My husband and I rarely drink but we do have a couple of favorite breweries. Perrin Brewery is a favorite amongst our out-of-town guests. And, our favorite hidden local gem is The Hideout Brewery.
Have you been to the “Beer City” of Grand Rapids? What are your favorite things to do there?