Getaway to Grand Rapids
What’s located inside a mitten and can be described as collaborative, innovative and exciting? Ok, we know the answer is in the headline, but play along. The answer is: Grand Rapids, Michigan! While this welcoming city gets cold and snow ridden in the winter, it is virtually a fun filled playground for children and adults come summertime.
We reached out to Kelly McGrail, Director of Marketing at Experience Grand Rapids. She’s lived in Grand Rapids for nearly 10 years and has tons of recommendations to share for your next trip.
Amtrak: What do you love about living in Grand Rapids?
Kelly: So many things! First off, the sense of community – the people are so friendly and welcoming. Then of course, there is the downtown area that feels like a big city but it’s completely walkable and there is so much to do. Our entertainment district just keeps growing and the food and beer scene is top-class.
Summertime is here which means time for outdoor fun. Grand Rapids has a lot to offer, but what are some of your favorite outdoor destinations?
I love to head up north in the summer and kayak along all of the inland rivers and lakes. Also, there are a few things more beautiful in this world than the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Empire and Pictures Rocks National Lakeshore up in the Upper Peninsula.
To the Amtrak rider looking to learn about Grand Rapids culture, are there any museums, monuments or historic sites you recommend?
Yes! We have a wonderful Public Museum that gives some amazing history on Grand Rapids. We also have the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum where Gerald and Betty are buried on site. Another huge part of the culture in GR is Founders Brewing Company. It is one of the largest micro-breweries in the world and it is located right across from the Amtrak Station! Grand Rapids is also home to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, one of the top 30 Must See Museums in the World. This summer, the gardens opened the Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Gardens – this 8-acre garden was 4 years in the making and is absolutely breathtaking.
What are the top family-friendly places to visit in Grand Rapids?
The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park (they have the best children’s gardens), the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, and the John Ball Zoo.
You have one day in Grand Rapids, what’s on your must-do list?
I would hit the Frederik Meijer Gardens first and take a tram tour. After the tram, I would walk through the Japanese Gardens and the Children’s Gardens. I would then travel downtown and hit up the public museum. I would head to Founders for lunch and then head out for a walk along the river. I would end the night by visiting another downtown brewery or restaurant.
Amtrak riders love food recommendations. Can you tell us few Grand Rapids restaurant spots they should visit?
Grand Rapids has incredible food (make sure to check out our Grand Rapids Food Trail). A few must stop places are Grove, Reserve Wine & Food, San Chez, and Six.One.Six.
Lastly, give it to us straight. Why is Grand Rapids worth the ride?
I’ll let our national recognitions speak for themselves! In 2014, Lonely Planet named Grand Rapids and Michigan’s Gold Coast the #1 Place in the nation to visit. The Huffington Post also named Grand Rapids the number one place to hit on your travel bucket list around that same time. We were named Beer City USA in 2012 and 2013 (the poll retired after GR came out on top twice) and USA Today named Grand Rapids “America’s Best Beer Town” in 2015. Groupon topped it off by naming Grand Rapids the #1 Place to Visit in 2015.
Have you taking an Amtrak getaway to Grand Rapids? Tell us about it in the comment section below.