Lonely Planet named Grand Rapids and Lake Michigan’s Gold Coast the #1 U.S. travel destination for 2014 – and summer is a perfect time to explore the reasons why.
Quench your summer thirst with a cold beer from any of 30+ local craft breweries. Grand Rapids earned the title of “Beer City USA” in two nationwide votes, and the city was also named a “Top 10 Vacation City for Beer Lovers.”
There’s plenty of beer on tap at Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps – a Detroit Tigers affiliate engaged in America’s favorite summer pastime. You can also expect lots of fun food and family-friendly promotions.
Family-friendly summer fun extends well beyond the ballpark. Kids will love the new Tigers of the Realm exhibit at John Ball Zoo, the Dream It Build It LEGO® exhibit at Grand Rapids Public Museum and the hands-on art-making activities on Family Saturdays at Grand Rapids Art Museum.
The Children’s Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park offers a host of special summer activities each week. Adults will be fascinated by David Nash: From Kew Gardens to Meijer Gardens, an exclusive exhibition organized by London’s Royal Botanic Garden in conjunction with Meijer Gardens.
Meijer Gardens is also host to the Fifth Third Bank Summer Concert Series – 30 concerts by such diverse acts as Jennifer Nettles, Pat Metheny, Tegan and Sara, and KC and the Sunshine Band.
It’s just one of many outdoor concert series taking place this summer. John Ball Zoo is home to free Jazz at the Zoo concerts on Mondays. Downtown’s Rosa Parks Circle offers free Blues on the Mall concerts every Wednesday. GRandJazzFest brings new and notable talent to town for free concerts August 16-17. The Grand Rapids Symphony takes to the grassy slopes of Cannonsburg Ski Area for eight Picnic Pops concerts in July.
Feeling hungry? You can sample the summer harvest at one of our many local farm markets, which offer just-picked fruits and vegetables along with a selection of fresh meat, dairy products and more. Downtown Market Grand Rapids includes a massive outdoor market along with an indoor market hall featuring 20 artisan food vendors.
There are also many farm-to-fork restaurants that use locally grown ingredients in their dishes. Restaurant Week (August 13-24) is a great opportunity to taste their creative concoctions – at amazing prices.
There’s also great food to be had at area festivals – including Festival of the Arts (June 6-8), Founders Fest at Founders Brewing Company (June 21), Celebration on the Grand (July 4-5) and Taste of Grand Rapids (July 25-26).
Here’s one of the very best things about Grand Rapids in summer: it’s just 30 minutes or so from the picture-perfect beaches of Lake Michigan’s Gold Coast. Drive west to soak up the sun, swim in crystal-clear waters, climb sand dunes and more – then head back to Grand Rapids for some big-city excitement.
A day at the beach, a night on the town – that’s the essence of summer in Grand Rapids!