Experience Grand Rapids During LaughFest 2013

LaughFest returns to Grand Rapids in just a few short weeks! If you’re heading to town for the event, why not extend your stay and enjoy what else the area has to offer? From award-winning breweries to local restaurants, museums and more, there are plenty of ways to experience Grand Rapids. Today, native Michigander Meagan Francis to fill us in on her picks.

Coming into Grand Rapids for LaughFest? You’re in good company. This annual ten-day celebration of laughter attracted more than 50,000 people in 2012 and is poised for many more laughs in 2013.

Boasting hundreds of events – many of them free – LaughFest offers something for everyone, from kid-friendly concerts to adult R-rated standup. And with its thriving food and beer scene, numerous family attractions, and arts and culture venues, Grand Rapids is the perfect place to spend time before and after the show.

Did you know Grand Rapids was named Beer City USA in 2012? Take a tour of our breweries and you’ll see why. To start, grab a cold Michigan brew at HopCat, recently rated #1 BrewPub in the US by RateBeer and located within walking distance of DeVos Performance Hall, the B.O.B., and the GRCC Ford Fieldhouse. Founders Brewing Company – recently rated #3 brewer in the world by RateBeer– is also nearby and offers brewery tours on Saturdays.

All that laughing can work up an appetite, so be sure to experience Grand Rapids’ diverse selection of restaurants. Whether you’re into ethnic food, burgers and fries, or farm-to-fork dining, Grand Rapids’ culinary scene has it all. In the downtown area, grab Tapas and sip the famous sangria at San Chez Bistro or eat an elegant, local-foods-based dinner at Six.One.Six., just a stone’s throw from DeVos Performance Hall.

Bringing the kids? LaughFest is full of family entertainment like sing-a-longs and squeaky-clean standup, but there are plenty of other kid-friendly activities to check out in Grand Rapids! In March, Butterflies are Blooming at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park: walk among thousands of colorful butterflies inside a 15,000 square foot conservatory. Meijer Gardens also boasts a totally unique, “please touch” children’s garden and interactive farm.

If you’re traveling with little ones, don’t miss a trip to the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, featuring hands-on activities that are almost as fun for Mom and Dad as the kids. Also not to miss: the Grand Rapids Public Library is offering children’s programming all week, including several live readings of Shel Silverstein poetry. Check their calendar for dates and times!

Sports fans will be happy to know that The Grand Rapids Griffins, the American Hockey League’s primary affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, will play three home games during LaughFest. See a schedule and purchase tickets at the Griffins’ website.

From great food and beer to sports and kids’ activities, Grand Rapids offers plenty of action to keep you happy – even while you aren’t chuckling along with the LaughFest acts. Why not tack an extra day or two on to your trip?

As a native Michigander Meagan Francis has lived everywhere from Lansing to Sault Ste. Marie, but is now happy to be a West Michigan resident. You can find out more about her at www.meaganfrancis.com.