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A Day in Grand Rapids

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Planning a vacation to any new city can be both very thrilling and overwhelming, especially when you have just 24 hours in the city. Home to a myriad of beautiful tourist attractions like verdant parks, brimming lakes, wonderfully landscaped botanical gardens, historic sites, diverse cuisine and a vibrant nightlife, the city of Grand Rapids has a lot to explore. It is impossible to visit all the attractions in the city in just one day, however, to make your vacation easier, we have complied a one-day itinerary consisting of all the must-visit places in Grand Rapids.

By Kent county at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Breakfast at 08:00 am

Start your day early in the morning with a hearty breakfast at one of the famous breakfast joints of Grand Rapids. A classic neighborhood joint, Real Food Cafe (2419 Eastern Ave SE) is a favorite in the city. It is known for its traditional American breakfast with daily specials. The Omelette Shoppe (1880 Breton Rd SE, 545 Michigan St NE #100) is another great place for breakfast in the city. As the name suggests, this place is famous for its wide variety of fresh omelets and baked products.

John Ball Zoo at 09:00 am

Situated just a few minutes drive from Downtown Grand Rapids, John Ball Zoo is a lively, fun and adventurous zoo famous for its 2 story rope courses and 300 foot zip lines. The zoo is also home to 1100 animals including some rare ones like grizzly bears, Komodo dragon, lions and chimpanzees. Divided into differently themed habitats like Mokomboso Valley Chimpanzee Exhibit, North American Trek, South American Boardwalk, Living Shores Aquarium, Sting Ray Lagoon and more, each exhibit offers something new and exciting to the guests. In addition to that, the zoo also has other exciting activities like a tram ride, camel rides, boating and more for the kids.

Address: 1300 West Fulton Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49504, United States
Phone: 1 616 336 4301
Timings: 09:00 am to 04:00 pm (Monday to Friday), 09:00 am to 06:00 pm (Saturday and Sunday)
Website: www.jbzoo.org/
Distance from Downtown Grand Rapids: 2.6 miles or 7 minutes drive

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum at 11:00 am

Did you know that Gerald Ford, the 38th President of United States, was raised in the city of Grand Rapids? Named after him, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is renowned for its several permanent and temporary exhibits including the famous replicas of the Oval Office, Watergate Gallery, Cabinet Room, 1976 Bicentennial Display and the Berlin Wall. Each exhibit gives us more insight into the lives of the president and his wife – Betty Ford. Both the president and his wife are buried on museum grounds, at a hillside, which is often visited by followers willing to pay respects.

Address: 303 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504, United States
Phone: 1 616 254 0400
Website: https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/
Distance from John Ball Zoo: 2.6 miles or 8 minutes drive

Grand Rapids Public Museum at 12:00 pm

Founded in the year 1845, Grand Rapids Public Museum is one of the oldest museums in United States. Spread over three floors, the museum is famous for its vast collection of exhibits that represent the rich culture and history of the state. Guests can explore the various exhibits or take a stroll through the streets of the city, that have been re-constructed to resemble the ones during 1890’s or visit the exciting 1928 Spillman carousel. Grand Rapids Public Museum is also home to a 145 street planetarium that features daily shows.

Address: 272 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504, United States
Phone: 1 616 456 3977
Timings: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm (Wednesday to Saturday), 09:00 am to 08:00 pm (Tuesday), 12:00 pm to 05:00 pm (Sunday), Monday Closed
Website: www.grpm.org/
Distance from Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum: 0.1 mile or 3 minutes walk

Lunch at 01:00 pm

Head over to Charley’s Crab (63 Market Ave SW) for a delicious lunch filled with fresh and fragrant seafood in an elegant setting right next to the beautiful Grand River. If you are in a mood for some authentic Italian cuisine, then head towards Tre Cugini (122 Monroe Center St NW). For Thai, Japanese and Chinese fusion, head to XO Asian Cuisine (58 Monroe Center St NW).

Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) at 02:00 pm

Formerly known as the Grand Rapids Art Gallery, GRAM was renovated in the year 2007 to become the world’s first ever LEED certified art museum. Famous for its wide collection of 19th century and 20th century art collections, sculptures, paintings, photographs, decorative arts and prints, the museum is even known for its modern art. GRAM is also an important part of the annual ArtPrize event and holds several exhibits throughout the year.

Address: 101 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, United States
Phone:  1 616 831 1000
Timings: 10:00 am to 05:00 pm (Tuesday to Saturday), 12:00 p to 05:00 pm (Sunday), Monday Closed
Website: http://www.artmuseumgr.org/
Distance from XO Asian Cuisine: 0.1 mile or 3 minutes walk

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park at 03:00 pm

Ranked as one of the top 30 museums in the world, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a must-visit in the city of Grand Rapids. Spread over 132 acres, the museum is known for its exceptional bronze sculptures made by several leading artists. Moreover, the beautiful and colorful botanical gardens outside are surrounded by immense greenery, tall trees, exotic plants, walkways, paths and waterways. Some popular gardens in the park include Japanese Garden, Carnivorous Plant Garden, Arid Garden, Victorian Garden and Seasonal Display Garden. There is also a wonderful cafe - Taste of the Gardens Cafe in the museum.

Address: 1000 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525, United States
Phone: 1 616 957 1580
Timings: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm (Monday to Saturday), 11:00 am to 05:00 pm (Sunday)
Website: www.meijergardens.org/
Distance from Grand Rapids Art Museum: 5.7 miles or 11 minutes drive

Heritage Hill Historic District at 05:00 pm

Art and architecture fanatics would find themselves at home over here! Take a stroll around the Heritage Hill Historic District in the city of Grand Rapids, which is one of the largest urban historic districts in the USA. Consisting of 1300 Prairie Style homes, some of which are as old as the 19th century, they once belonged to legislators, judges, barons and teachers who played an important role in the development of the city. From Greek Revival to Colonia Revival, the district is home to almost every kind of architecture.

Association Address: 126 College Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, United States
Phone: 1 616 459 8950
Website: http://www.heritagehillweb.org/
Distance from Grand Rapids Art Museum: 5.7 miles or 11 minutes drive

Woodland Mall at 06:00 pm

Established in 1968, Woodland Mall is among the superior regional malls in West Michigan. It is managed by Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust and is home to several shops like Sears, Macy’s, Barnes and Nobles, JC Penny, H&M, Gap, Forever 21, Pottery Barn, The North Face, Vera Bradley, Apple and much more. Apart from that, the mall is also home to a cinema theater and a food court along with several sit-down restaurants.

Address: 3195 28th St SE #100, Grand Rapids, MI 49512, United States
Phone: 1 616 949 0012
Timings: 10:00 am to 09:00 pm (Monday to Saturday), 12:00 pm to 06:00 pm (Sunday)
Website: http://shopwoodlandmall.com/
Distance from Heritage Hill Historic District: 6.3 miles or 11 minutes drive

Dinner at 08:00 pm

Woodland Mall has several restaurants and a fantastic food court – Cafe in the Woods. However, if you something more in fine dining, then head towards San Chez A Tapas Bistro (38 Fulton St W) for authentic Spanish cuisine. For Mediterranean cuisine, head to Bistro Bella Vita (44 Grandville Ave SW #100), where each dish is made using only fresh ingredients. Rose's on Reeds Lake (550 Lakeside Dr SE) is another great place for dinner by the lake in Grand Rapids.

Explore Grand Rapids’ Nightlife at 10:00 pm

The B.O.B (20 Monroe Ave NW) is a two in one brewery and nightclub in the city, known for its wide variety of beers and a vibrant nightclub with live entertainment and games. For something old school, head to Meanwhile Bar Inc (1005 Wealthy St SE) famous for its art-decked walls, outdoor patio and an old-fashioned jukebox.

A Complete Map Guide of 24 Hours in Grand Rapids

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