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.
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).
Amtrak offers daily evening train service from Chicago's Union Station on its Pere Marquette run.
Greyhound and Indian Trails offer bus service to Grand Rapids from various Michigan cities.
Megabus,  Service from Chicago, East Lansing, and Detroit. The bus stop is located on Market St SW just south of Wealthy St SW.
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). 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, currently operating 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. This is the same system used by Washington, D.C., but Grand Rapids doesn't have the capital's confusing system of alphabetic and numerical street names. 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.
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: 888-957-1580, . 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 if you don't mind dealing with the frequently unpleasant staff. Adult 14–64: $12; Senior 65 & older: $9; Students with ID: $9; Children 5–13: $6; Children 3–4: $4; Children 2 & younger: Free.
Van Andel Museum Center, 272 Pearl Street NW, 616-456-3977. M– Sa 9AM–5PM, Su 12PM–5PM, . Offers the sights and sounds of centuries gone by, coming alive once again. Downtown on the west bank of the Grand. Adults $8, ages 3-17 $3.
Gerald R. Ford Museum, 303 Pearl Street NW, 616-254-0400, . Every day 9AM-5PM exc. holidays. 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. Jerry's final resting place is just north of the museum. Downtown on the west bank of the Grand.
Grands Rapids Art Museum, 101 Monroe Center, (616) 831-1000, . In addition to its permanent collection, features special exhibitions.
Public Art - as the 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.
Grand Rapids Symphony, DeVos Performance Hall, (616) 454-9451, .
Grand Rapids Ballet, 616-454-4771, . Michigan's only professional ballet company.
Opera Grand Rapids, 616-451-2741, . 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.
Van Andel Arena, 130 West Fulton, 616-742-6600, .
Grand Rapids Griffins, . AHL Hockey. Affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, 30 N. Division, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, ☎ 616-222-6650, . 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, ☎ 616-456-6656, . 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, ☎ 616-234-3946, . 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, 2 West Fulton St. Grand Rapids MI 49503, ☎ 616-454-7000, . 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 11-3. 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 30 year-old tradition for the area.
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,  - After a hugely successful inaugural event in 2009 and increased attendance in 2010, ArtPrize returned in 2011 and again in 2012. Downtown Grand Rapids (and in 2011 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: $250,000). Winner is decided by public vote, enhancing the dialogue between artists and the public, both expert and casual observer alike. 2010 dates are Sep. 21—Oct. 9.
Schuler Books and Music- With three locations in the G.R. area (28th Street, Alpine Ave, and on Monroe Center downtown) this 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.), ☎ (616) 222-4600, . 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, (616) 774-8272 , . 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),616-336-0746. 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.
MorningStar76, (next to Yesterdog). Coffeehouse and den of sin.
Gaia, 209 Diamond Ave. SE just south of Cherry Street, (616) 454-6233. Ample servings of delicious vegetarian food in the closest Grand Rapids gets to a bohemian atmosphere.
Marie Catrib, 1001 Lake Dr. SE on the corner of Diamond and Lake, (616) 454-4020. Fabulous sandwiches, soups, and some Middle Eastern dishes. Amazing desserts (try the Sticky Toffee).
The Beltline Bar, 16 28th Street at Division Avenue, (616) 245-0494. 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, (616) 459-2500, . 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, (616) 243-5777. 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, ☎ (616) 827-9955, . ~11:30-8. The best Thai place to eat at, especially on a student budget. Most dishes are between $6-8$12 max.
Wolfgang's. In East Grand Rapids (1530 Wealthy St SE, (616) 454-5776), 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. 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 (1600 E. Beltline Avenue NE,(616) 301-8171) - fear the huge hot dog and enjoy the bison burger
Spinnaker (at the Hilton Grand Rapids), 4747 28th Street SE (28th Street at Patterson), ☎ 616-957-1111, . 6:30a-10PM. A casual upscale restaurant open for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and our Famous Sunday Brunch. Currently featuring an all-you-can-eat crab leg buffet for $16.95 on Fridays and Prime Rib and Pasta on Saturdays for $16.95 $8-$40. edit 48-$30.
Rita Girls Bakery, 40 Monroe Center St NW Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504, ☎ 616-710-1580 or 810-240-3137, . Tue - Fri: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm & Sat: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm. "Taking Sweets to the Streets": Adorable cupcake and brownie bakery in the heart of downtown. ==Drink== * Mulligans, 1518 Wealthy St SE. A bar/pub Perfect 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") at 20 Monroe Ave NW 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, is a long-standing venue for live rock and other kinds of music, recently relocated to a larger 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, is 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, is 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, is the best winebar in the city. Excellent selections of wine, beer and spirits, and fantastic cusine. Wonderful atmosphere as well. Buses 1,3,4,6,9,13,14,15 all get close. * Hopcat, 25 Ionia Ave SW, is the city's newest place for 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, is a Belgian-style brewery located 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), ☎ 616-957-1111, . 6:30a-10p. A casual gathering spot, featuring multiple flat screen TV's, leather couches, and a fire place. Plenty of space for large gathering.$8-$40. ==Sleep== * America's Best Suites, 35 28th Street SW, +1 616 452-5141, Fax: +1 616 452-0046, . *Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, 187 Monroe NW, Grand Rapids. * Best Western Midway Hotel, 4101 28th Street SE, +1 616 942-2550, Fax: +1 616 942-2446, . * Clarion Inn & Suites Airport, 4981 28th Street SE, +1 616 956-9304, fax: +1 616 956-6617. 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, +1 616 957-2080, fax: +1 616 957-9712. 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, +1 616 301-2255, fax: +1 616 301-2256.  * Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown, 11 Monroe Avenue NW, +1 616 242-6000, Fax: +1 616 242-6605, . * Crowne Plaza Grand Rapids Hotel, 5700 28th Street S.E., +1 616 957-1770, .Located 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 Southeast, +1 616 940-1777, fax: +1 616 940-9809.  * Fairfield Inn Grand Rapids, 3930 Stahl Drive SE, +1 616 940-2700, Fax: +1 616 940-2700, . 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, ☎ 616-957-0100, . * Holiday Inn Express Hotel Suites Grand Rapids/Airport, 5401 28th Street Court, +1 616 940-8100,  Located just miles from Gerald R. Ford International Airport and fifteen minutes via expressway from downtown Grand Rapids. * Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 6569 Clay Ave., +1 616 871-9700, . * Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 358 River Ridge Dr. Nw, +1 616 647-4100, . * Motel 6 Grand Rapids East - Airport, 3524 28th St SE, +1 616 957-3511, Fax: +1 616 957-4369, . * Quality Inn Terrace Club, 4495 28th St SE, +1 616 956-8080, fax: +1 616 956-0619. A Bed and Breakfast atmosphere conveniently located ten minutes from the airport.  * Residence Inn Grand Rapids, 2701 East Beltline Avenue SE, +1 616 957-8111, Toll-free: +1 800 331-3131, Fax: +1 616 957-3699, . * Sleep Inn, 4284 29th St SE, +1 616 975-9000, +1 616 954-6767.  * SpringHill Suites Grand Rapids Airport Southeast, 5250 28th St. SE, +1 616 464-1130, Fax: +1 616 464-1139, . * SpringHill Suites Grand Rapids North, 450 Center Drive, +1 616 785-1600, Fax: +1 616 785-1601, . Located near numerous shopping opportunities, ten minutes from downtown. * Travelodge Grand Rapids, 65 28th St SW, +1 616 452-1461, fax: +1 616 452-5115,  free breakfast and high speed internet in all rooms. *Country Inn and Suites, 5399 28th St (Just minutes from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport and fifteen minutes via expressway downtown Grand Rapids), ☎ (616) 977-0909, . *JW Marriott, 235 Louis Street NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503 (at the NW corner of Louis Street and Campau Avenue), ☎ 616-242-1500, . In the heart of downtown. Probably GR's most luxurious hotel (possibly tied with the Amway Grand Plaza) ==Get out== The lakeside communities of Holland and Grand Haven lie half an hour to the west, with the arty/restaurant/shopping mecca of Saugatuck slightly further, but worth the drive.
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