Located along the Grand River, Grand Rapids—the county seat of Kent County—is a little-known gem in the Heartland, often unfortunately playing little sibling to mid-size cities in the region like Ann Arbor, Michigan and Madison, Wisconsin. Yet the depth of cultural options is just as rich, in part because it is home to several universities and colleges and a sizeable student population.
People who live in Grand Rapids like to soak up the outdoors in the region, whether it’s a winter getaway to “da U.P.,” as the Upper Peninsula is affectionately called (for fishing, skiing or snowmobiling) or driving west for an hour to the shores of Lake Michigan during summer for lake swims or sailing. But even in town there is a lot to do, with a world-class art museum, a presidential-history museum, a children’s museum and half a dozen performing-arts groups that make it possible to see opera and ballet without driving to Detroit or Chicago.
Hosting four seasons that are vibrant and expressive, from stunning autumn foliage to green rolling hills, no matter when you take the time to explore Grand Rapids you’re sure to have a good time. Locals are friendly too: mostly because they are extremely proud of their city. Don’t be surprised if someone approaches you while you are scrutinizing a street map. It’s just another example of friendly Michigan.