Simply put, because it’s the best. But don’t take our word for it – The New York Times ranked Grand Rapids as one of its top places to visit in 2016, as did Groupon in 2015 and Lonely Planet in 2014. Whether you’re in search of a beach, a craft brew, unique cuisine or the world’s biggest art competition, Grand Rapids and west Michigan have something for everyone.
Grand Rapids wasn’t named Beer City USA for nothing – the area boasts more than a dozen breweries and has something for everyone, from bourbon barrel-aged beers to hoppy IPAs. It’s not just the number either – several of the city’s brewpubs have been name to global best lists. The city also was named one of the 10 best vacation cities for beer lovers by TheStreet.com.
With a host of restaurants, cafes and bistros, there’s no shortage of unique food to try. Whether you’re looking for haute cuisine or a burger bursting with local ingredients and flavor, Grand Rapids has an option for every palate.
Grand Rapids is home to Art Prize, the world’s largest art competition, which transforms the city’s buildings and open spaces into a massive art gallery for a couple weeks each fall. During the rest of the year, there is a full host of other cultural touchstones including the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts , the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
From baseball to hockey to marathons, Grand Rapids has an option for every sports fan. The city is home to Detroit Tigers-affiliate the West Michigan Whitecaps, Detroit Red Wings-affiliate the Grand Rapids Griffins, NBA D-League Team the Grand Rapids Drive and minor league soccer team Grand Rapids FC. The number of minor league teams landed the city in the 2015 top 10 list of U.S. cities for minor league markets, having risen more than 150 places in the last four years. The city also hosts a number of running events throughout the year, including the Fifth-Third Riverbank Run, an Olympic qualifying event and the largest 25K in the country.
Love to travel? Not only is Grand Rapids a destination in and of itself, but it also has one of the best airports in the world as the gateway to the rest of the globe. For 2013, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport was ranked among the top five airports by size (two to five million annual passengers) in the world by the Airports Council International (ACI). The decision was made based on passengers’ views on 34 indicators, such as security, customer service, cleanliness and concessions.
The city lies only 30 miles from the Gold Coast – a 300-mile stretch of Lake Michigan coastline dotted with wineries, farms and other unique day destinations. Let’s not forget the beach itself, which is perfect for a relaxing afternoon or even catching some waves on one of the world’s biggest lakes (number five to be exact).
In 2012, Grand Rapids was named as the best city to raise a family by Forbes magazine, beating out other larger and better-known metro areas. The magazine cited the city’s excellent schools, easy commute and low cost of living as key reasons as reasons why Grand Rapids topped the list. The city also is one of the best places to retire, thanks in part to its affordability and plethora of free or low cost entertainment options and sporting events, according to AARP.
Higher education also is easily accessible at one of the more than a dozen college and university campuses downtown and within miles of the city center.