Scenic Drives & Spots
Bring your camera - you'll find lots of photo ops in Grand Rapids!
Start with an early-morning stroll along downtown's Grand River boardwalk - great views of the river stretching as far as the eye can see in both directions. Head north to Sixth Street Dam to view salmon and steelhead leaping up the sculptural Fish Ladder.
Download the Outdoor Arts Inspirations map for a guide to downtown's historic buildings and public art. They're all worthy of photo or two.
It's a five-minute walk from downtown to the Heritage Hill Historic District, which includes 1,300 lovingly preserved homes and mansions dating back to 1843.
Take a car or cab about 1 mile north to Belknap Lookout, rising about 160 feet over downtown's northern tip. Or travel 1.5 miles west to John Ball Zoo and ride the funicular up to the Bissell Tree House. Both spots offers spectacular views of the city.
Drive 10 minutes east to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park for a breathtaking combination of natural beauty and man-made art. Tour indoor gardens and more than 100 acres of outdoor plantings lined with trails and more than 160 works of art.
It's another 10 minutes north to lunch at Blue Water Grill, a farm-to-fork restaurant with a spectacular tiered deck offering wonderful views of cruising boats and pontoons on Versluis Lake and the Grand River.
Or opt for lunch at Robinette's Apple Haus, just five minutes from Meijer Gardens. This century-old farm is picture-perfect in any season, but especially when acres of apple trees are in bloom.
Make your way to a park or hiking/biking trail - you're never more than a mile or two away - and marvel at the variety of our landscape : lush forests, rolling prairies, and abundant lakes and rivers.
Bring your camera and your clubs to Thousand Oaks, a beautiful golf course carved out of an oak tree forest, featuring a rolling terrain with plenty of valleys and plateaus.
A number of historic covered bridges are located in picturesque locations just a short drive from the city.
The city of Rockford, 20 minutes north of Grand Rapids, offers a quaint, photo-friendly downtown plus lots of natural splendor along the Rogue River.
The Lake Michigan shoreline, 30-40 minutes west of Grand Rapids, boasts some of the country's most spectacular scenery - sugar-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and dazzling sunsets. Don't miss:
- "Big Red" Lighthouse in Holland - one of Michigan's most photographed treasures.
- Chinook Pier in Grand Haven - home to a historic lighthouse at the end of a 2.5-mile lakeside boardwalk.
- Oval Beach in Saugatuck/Douglas - named one of the top five beaches in the U.S. by MTV.
- P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon - featuring over three miles of shoreline at the base of towering sand dunes.
Tell us what other scenic wonders you'd add to this self-guided tour!
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