6 Reasons Grand Rapids is Lonely Planet’s Pick for Top 2014 Travel Destination

As you begin to plan your travels for the new year ahead, here are six reasons why Grand Rapids is Lonely’s Planet’s Top 2014 travel destination from Experience Grand Rapids

When Lonely Planet named Grand Rapids the #1 travel destination of 2014, citing its natural beauty and beaches, ArtPrize, and the local craft beer scene as a winning combination, West Michigan residents weren’t surprised. They already knew that Grand Rapids is a gem just waiting to be discovered by the rest of the world – and here’s why:

The art.

Grand Rapids has been home to the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park for almost 20 years. The park houses rotating exhibits, as well as its own collection, and continues to expand. In 2007, Grand Rapids kicked its commitment to art up a notch with the opening of the new $75 million Grand Rapids Art Museum, the first art museum in the world whose entire facility is built to LEED standards.

Of course, the event making the biggest splash today is ArtPrize. Named one of the Five Festivals You Won’t Want to Miss in 2013 by Time magazine, this open art competition with prize money totaling $350,000, attracts artists and visitors from across the globe.

The beach.

Just 30 minutes from 300 miles of Lake Michigan coastline, the beach is never out of reach for those who live and play in Grand Rapids. And not just any beach, but a stretch of white-sand shoreline featuring expansive blue waters and a portion of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, named “The Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America.

The beer.

From its designation as “Beer City USA” for the past two years running, to individual awards granted to some half a dozen if its breweries, Grand Rapids has earned its reputation as a beer-lover’s paradise. New breweries, focused on sustainability and crafting that just-right-draft open regularly, and what was formerly a little neighborhood spot, Founders Brewing Co., has grown up, expanded, and taken its place in the international spotlight.

The food.

Grand Rapids’ restaurant scene is flourishing. A farm-to-table scene rivaling that of a major metropolis; innovative partnerships between brewers, winemakers, and chefs; the long-established Fulton Street Market; and the new Downtown Market – a culinary treasure trove – all mean that local foodies never have to look far for fresh ingredients, inspiration, and a world-class meal.

Performances aplenty.

Looking for live music? Check out one of Grand Rapids’ venues featuring local, regional and national talent both established and up-and-coming, take in a performance from the top-notch Grand Rapids Symphony, or experience a production from the Grand Rapids Opera. If live theatre is your passion, you can see touring Broadway productions or watch a play staged by one of several local professional theatre companies or the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, one of the largest community theatres in the country.

The scenery.

Despite all Grand Rapids has to offer, while in the city you’ll never be far from the rolling hills and abundant trees and wildlife of Western Michigan. Nature lovers can quickly get out of the city and enjoy the lush greenery surrounding its borders, but even right downtown, nature is always within sight – and within grasp.

With all that waiting for you in beautiful West Michigan, now’s the time to take the Lonely Planet’s advice and plan your trip! See you in Grand Rapids.

Established in 1927, Experience Grand Rapids (EXGR) leads the marketing of Grand Rapids/Kent County as a premier convention & visitor destination providing a significant positive impact to the West Michigan economy. Previously named the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau, EXGR represents the second largest city in Michigan with over one million residents.

5 Fun Photos from ArtPrize 2013 in Grand Rapids

ArtPrize 2013 is well underway in Downtown Grand Rapids! Through October 6th 2013, the city of Grand Rapids is transformed into an art gallery where artists and visitors come to display and view over 1,500 pieces of artwork. So far, we’ve seen some very striking photographs of the artwork at this year’s competition. Below is a roundup of some fun ArtPrize photos shared with us by Experience Grand Rapids. 

A colorful view of Grand Rapids during ArtPrize 2013 [Photo courtesy of eightWest]:ArtPrize in Grand Rapids 2013

Artists and visitors enjoy a beautiful day viewing the many displays of unique artwork:ArtPrize 2013 in Grand Rapids

A cool shot of a dragon on display at ArtPrize 2013 from Instagram user @sleepymonkey629:A piece of artwork on display at ArtPrize 2013

The Grand Rapids Public Museum  pays tribute to Grandmothers from around the world with this photography exhibit, Grandmother Power:Grandmother Power

ArtPrize visitors stop to marvel at an artist’s work:Viewing an artists work at ArtPrize 2013

ArtPrize 2013 runs through October 6th. Have you been to ArtPrize this year? What was your favorite display? 

Six Steps to Making the Most of ArtPrize 2013

If you’ve never explored the unique buildings or graced the diverse streets of Grand Rapids during ArtPrize, you may be wondering where to start. No worries, there are few simple things you can do to make visiting the world’s largest art competition simple, fun and inspiring. Todd Herring, Director of Communications for ArtPrize, shares these steps with us below.

Step 1 – Get Inspired – Visit artprize.org click “FIND ART.” Artists from all over the world will be showing at ArtPrize 2013.  Their work and their stories are inspiring, challenging and beautiful.  Browsing 1524 artist entries might seem daunting, but you can filter your search by choosing specific venues, types of artwork and descriptive tags like “music” and “photography.”  When you find artwork that you’d like to see, simply click the button marked “Add to Collection.”  This feature allows you to create multiple collections or “lists” that you can reference when you visit.

Step 2 – VOTE! – Voting takes you from passive observer to active participant.   There are two ways to register.  If you have an iOS (apple) or Android smart phone, simply open the ArtPrize mobile app while you’re in the ArtPrize district and you’ll be registered to vote in a snap.  Or you can check in at any ArtPrize voting site.  When you check in, you’ll get your free ArtPrize map, be registered to vote and able to purchase the complete ArtPrize event guide and transportation wristbands. All that’s left to do is GO SEE ART!  Cast your votes on the ArtPrize mobile app, online at artprize.org, or via text.  Go to artprize.org/visit to learn more!

Step 3 – Keep Moving – Here at ArtPrize, we’re all about experiencing ArtPrize in the most active way possible. Take the bus, ride a bike, or walk the ArtPrize district! This year we have five walking path options, all roughly 1-2 miles in length. They all begin at Rosa Parks Circle and will take you into our local neighborhoods: City Center, Heartside, Westside, Monroe North, and Hillside. Each neighborhood brings it’s own perspective to the ArtPrize event–eclectic, historic, natural, cultural, near the water or right in the heart of it all. Each walking path will help you explore the city and sample everything ArtPrize has to offer.

A display from ArtPrize 2012.

Step 4 – Stay in the know – Every morning ArtPrize will publish a Daily that kicks out the news, daily schedule of events, major announcements and an Epic Events recap of the day before. The Daily can be found at www.artprize.org/daily. You can even contribute to the Daily with your very own Epic Events video clips by downloading the Epic Events app from the Apple App Store. Checking out @ArtPrize for daily interactions and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will also keep you up to date on all things ArtPrize.

Step 5 – Attend ArtPrize Events – From ArtFitness bike tours to Grand Prize Jury panels to Internet Cat Video Festivals, there is something for everyone. For a full list of events, visit artprize.org/events.

Step 6 – Make it Your Own. – Whatever you’re in the mood for, there’s a perfect starting point to plan your own adventure. You choose the views, how much art you want to see or how long to linger.  ArtPrize is not the creation of one individual or team, it is the culmination of hundreds of thousands of independent voices, ideas and perspectives. It is art, creativity, culture and adventure, and it’s all waiting for you at ArtPrize.

Will you be checking out ArtPrize in Grand Rapids? Tell us in the comments section below!

Todd Herring is the Director of Communications for ArtPrize, an international art competition that annually draws more than 400,000 visitors to Grand Rapids, Michigan. With a background in product development and innovation, Todd now specializes in crowd sourced engagement models and speaks regularly on collaborative design, urban engagement and arts management.