A Grand Ride: the Art of Tourism

In 2019, Experience Grand Rapids commissioned West Michigan-based artist Joel Schoon-Tanis to create a representative painting of our local tourism landscape.

Utilizing his characteristic whimsical style, Joel depicted some of the area’s most iconic destinations, activities and experiences. The working antique carousel at Grand Rapids Public Museum provided the conceptual framework for the piece and inspired the name, A Grand Ride.

The painting was unveiled at Toast the Town, an annual luncheon event hosted for community stakeholders. Toast the Town 2019 showcased the role of the region’s vibrant arts scene in attracting visitors. A Grand Ride celebrates the work of local artists and art organizations and the unique community that inspires them.

Find the Fun

See if you can identify A Grand Ride elements that represent these local tourism (and resident) amenities:

1928 Spillman Carousel at Grand Rapids Public Museum

This working antique carousel provides the foundation for Joel Schoon-Tanis’ flight of artistic fancy.

Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse

This bright red abstract sculpture was installed in a downtown square in 1969 and has become the symbol of the city’s artistic spirit.


Look for the thumbs up signifying the public vote that determines the winner of this every-other-year competition, which is the world’s largest public art event.

The Blue Bridge

Spanning downtown’s Grand River, The Blue Bridge is an old railroad bridge converted to a pedestrian crossing and community gathering space.

Brewery Vivant

A bright red rooster adorns the logo of this sustainably minded craft brewery located in a refurbished historic funeral home.

Farm-to-Table Dining

Local family farms (and tractor-riding farmers) supply area restaurants with fresh ingredients, contributing to our ranking as America’s #25 Foodie City.

Founders Brewing Company

A retro station wagon bearing a canoe is the illustration used for All Day IPA, one of the most popular selections from the city’s largest and oldest craft brewery.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

A replica of Leonardo’s Horse, a da Vinci sculpture, is one of countless man-made and natural dazzlers at one of the world’s 100 most visited art museums.

The Fruit Ridge

More than 60% of all Michigan apples – and a whole bunch of other fruits and vegetables – are grown atop this land feature carved out by ancient glaciers.

Gerald R. Ford International Airport

A plane soars above the image of this airport, which serves more than three million passengers each year with award-winning hospitality.

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

An astronaut sculpture stands in front of this tribute to the life and times of our 38th President, who was raised in Grand Rapids and is buried on the museum grounds.

Grand Rapids Ballet

Michigan’s only professional ballet company is perhaps best known for its annual presentation of The Nutcracker, reimagined for a new generation.

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

A bubble table is one of many fun, interactive exhibits at this museum that promotes childhood learning through play.

Grand Rapids Griffins

A hockey stick and puck represent this professional hockey team, an AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, which plays in downtown’s Van Andel Arena.

Grand Rapids Symphony

Our Grammy-nominated symphony was established in 1930 and presents more than 400 performances each year.

Grand River

Look closely at the carousel floor – you’ll see the Grand River that flows through downtown and contributes to our ranking as America’s #6 Fishing City.

John Ball Zoo

A tiger is one of more than 2,000 animals at this classic urban zoo, the 4th most attended cultural facility in Michigan.

Lake Michigan

Sailboats are a fixture of this massive lake, which features some of the best beaches in North America – all as close as 30 minutes from downtown GR.

Live Music

Grand Rapids boasts more than 100 live music venues showcasing all genres of music – including guitar-fueled rock.

Meijer Gardens Summer Concert Series

An outdoor amphitheater – looking something like a jukebox here – hosts the biggest names in music each summer.

New Holland Brewing -– The Knickerbocker

Dragon’s Milk is the signature beer brewed by New Holland Brewing - The Knickerbocker, a cornerstone of the Bridge Street entertainment district.

Furniture City

We were named “Furniture City” in the 19th century for our fine wood furniture – today, we’re the global leader in workplace furniture. (Look for the office chair.)

Outdoor Recreation

Hiking, fishing and canoeing are just a few of the activities you can pursue in the Grand Outdoors – a vast natural playground surrounding the city.

West Michigan Whitecaps

This Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers presents professional baseball, family fun and outrageous food in beautiful Fifth Third Ballpark.