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  • Destination
    Neighborhoods
  • Downtown
    Enjoy a huge range of entertainment, dining, shopping and sightseeing opportunities, all within an easy, eye-catching 10-minute walk.
    West Side
    From tigers and coffee to meat markets and Mexican restaurants, the West Side is a fascinating mix of old-school and up-and-coming.
    Heartside
    Grit, growth and creativity characterize this downtown neighborhood, which boasts unique galleries, clever dining spots and many pleasant…
    Heritage Hill
    One of the nation’s top old-house neighborhoods – with 1,300 buildings dating back to 1844 – is just a five-minute walk from downtown.
    Medical Mile
    This world-class health-sciences corridor is spurring new retail and residential developments well beyond its namesake mile.
    North Quarter
    The city’s largest park, tiniest burger joint, oldest sweet shop and newest best-bar winner are just a few of the pleasures that await visitors.…
    Southtown
    Diversity is the hallmark of Southtown, with numerous ethnic groups contributing to a vibrant mix of restaurants, shops and events.
    Uptown
    An eclectic mix of specialty shops, galleries, restaurants and entertainment venues reflect this area’s friendly, funky, fabulous character.
    Choose from our curated Personas.

    GR Fact Sheet

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
    Stephanie Kotschevar
    Phone: 616.233.3577
    E-mail: PR@ExperienceGR.com

    Printable Version

    The Grand Rapids experience is cosmopolitan and cultured, fun and family friendly, environmental and outdoorsy. Grand Rapids was named "One of America's coolest towns" by Men's Journal in April 2010. Whether you are a meeting planner or a visitor, Grand Rapids exceeds expectations in every way- in the quantity and quality of our activities and attractions, in the warmth of our hospitality and in the power of our imagination. Grand Rapids offers all the big-city excitement you'd expect from a million-resident metropolis but the sense of community pride and closeness brings all residents together for such grand events as ArtPrize, Restaurant Week, the Grand Rapids LipDub, Beer City USA and more. Grand Rapids is an award-winning city and these accolades and news stories speak for themselves. 

    LOCATION: Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan, the heart of Kent County, and the largest city in West Michigan. Grand Rapids is located on the banks of the Grand River that winds its way through downtown. It's the gateway to West Michigan Beach Towns, about 25 miles east of Lake Michigan and the lakeshore communities of Holland, Muskegon and Grand Haven. Kent County coordinates are latitude 43.24 and longitude 85.73, elevation 800 feet. Topography is characterized by rolling foothills, agricultural valleys and the Grand River (the largest river in Michigan), in addition to 180 lakes and 54 streams. Grand Rapids is easily accessible from the east and west via Interstate Highway 96, and from the north and south via Interstate Highway 196 and U.S. Highway 131. Kent County encompasses 856 square miles.

    AREA INFORMATION:
    Time Zone- Eastern
    Population- Seven County CSA- 1,343,686, Kent County - 608,453, Grand Rapids - 189, 815
    Climate- Average temperatures (F): Spring 47°, Summer 70°, Fall 51°, Winter 26°
    Annual precipitation- 37.13 inches of rain, 71.9 inches of snow

    Mileage from selected cities-

    Lansing 68

    Traverse City 139

    Detroit 157

    Chicago 184

    Toledo 186

    Milwaukee 270

    Indianapolis 255

    Cleveland 300

    Columbus 333

    Cincinnati 358

    Toronto 361

    Pittsburgh 416

    HISTORY: Originally occupied 2,000 years ago by Hopewell Indians, the Grand River Valley also was inhabited by Ottawa Indians in the early 1700s. Later, Kent County was settled by European immigrants (beginning with fur traders, who set up trading posts along the Grand River) in the 1820s and became self-governing in 1836. The county is named after James Kent, attorney and author of "Commentaries on American Law." Grand Rapids became a village in 1838 and a city in 1850. Grand Rapids was a center for craftsmen, carpenters and woodworkers during the lumber boom of the 1880s, and became known as "America's Furniture Capital." At the height of the lumber boom, Grand Rapids was home to 44 furniture companies. Gerald R. Ford, 38th president of the United States, was raised in Grand Rapids and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is located here.

     

    INDUSTRIES:  West Michigan's major employment industries are manufacturing, health care, retail trade, admin./support/waste mgt./remediation services and government. Grand Rapids' top employers are Spectrum Health, Axios Inc., Meijer Inc., Spartan Stores Inc. and Amway Corporation.

    LODGING: Kent County offers approximately 7,250 hotel rooms, 1,439 in downtown Grand Rapids and a majority spread throughout the southeast corner of Grand Rapids near the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Lodging options include chain hotels, quaint bed-and-breakfasts, the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel which is a Four-Star, Four-Diamond historic hotel and the JW Marriott, the luxury brand of the Marriott family and the first in the Midwest.

    MEETINGS & CONVENTIONS: Grand Rapids is one of the Midwest's hottest convention cities, hosting groups of all kinds from all areas of the country. Grand Rapids has an infrastructure of a much larger city, offering a convention campus just 20 minutes from Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The campus includes a state-of-the-art convention center located in the heart of downtown, DeVos Place Convention Center, which offers over 272,000 square feet of meeting space on a 13-acre riverfront site. There is a 162,000 square foot "Class A" exhibition hall, 40,000 square foot ballroom, 35,000 square feet of sub-dividable meeting space and 75-foot-high Grand Gallery pre-function space. Also included in the campus is Van Andel Arena, a $75 million entertainment venue downtown Grand Rapids which is home to the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team and seats 12,000 for events, concerts, family shows, ice performances, seminars and conferences. Between these two facilities lay the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, the JW Marriott Grand Rapids and Courtyard by Marriott Downtown which combined boast 78,000 square feet of meeting space and 1,236 guest rooms. An enclosed, climate-controlled skywalk connects all of the above. 

    AIRPORT: Gerald R. Ford International Airport, (616) 233-6000 or www.grr.org, is the second-busiest commercial airport in Michigan. The airport is served by five passenger airlines with 120 daily scheduled nonstop flights to and from 22 major market destinations. Destinations include: Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington, Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare, Cincinnati, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Fort Meyers, Houston, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New York-LaGuardia, New York-Newark, Orlando, Orlando-Sanford, Philadelphia, Phoenix-Mesa, St. Louis, Tampa, Tampa/St. Petersburg- Clearwater and Washington-Dulles. Airlines include: Allegiant Air, American Eagle, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. 

    DINING: Discover the art of dining in Grand Rapids. Two unique factors attribute to the culinary scene in Grand Rapids, we're located in the middle of one of the world's best growing regions and we're home to one of America's finest culinary schools, the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College. Grand Rapids is surrounded by hundreds of family farms that harvest everything from apples to sweet corn and many local restaurants have been purchasing fresh produce, meats and dairy products for years. With over 75 restaurants in downtown Grand Rapids alone, visitors may choose from tapas bistros, contemporary seafood houses, ethnic specialty restaurants, specialty bakeries and more.

    ATTRACTIONS:

    ArtPrize

    LaughFest

    Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

    Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

    Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM)

    Grand Rapids Public Museum

    Voigt House Victorian Museum

    Heritage Hill Historic District

    Frank Lloyd Wright Meyer May House

    Grand Rapids Children's Museum

    Urban Institute of Contemporary Art (UICA)

    John Ball Zoo

    Robinette's Apple Haus & Gift Barn

    IMAX® Theatre at Celebration! Cinema

    Blanford Nature Center

    Downtown Market Grand Rapids

    Fifth Third Ballpark

    PERFORMING ARTS:

    Grand Rapids Symphony

    Circle Theatre

    Grand Rapids Ballet Company

    Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

    Master Arts Theatre

    Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids

    Broadway Grand Rapids

    Spectrum Theatre Grand Rapids

    Opera Grand Rapids

    West Michigan Savoyards

    Wealthy Theatre

    Peter Martin Wege Theatre

    SPORT TEAMS: Grand Rapids Griffins - AHL primary affiliate of the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings; playing in Van Andel Arena. West Michigan Whitecaps - Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers; playing April through September at Fifth Third Ballpark.

    COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES

    Aquinas College

    Calvin College

    Central Michigan University

    Cooley Law School

    Cornerstone University

    Davenport University

    Ferris State University

    Grace Bible College

    Grand Rapids Community College

    Grand Valley State University

    Kendall College of Art & Design

    Kuyper College

    Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

    Secchia Institute for Culinary Education

    Western Michigan University