One of the coolest things about Grand Rapids is that all our big-city amenities – art & culture, nightlife, the Beer City Ale Trail and more – are just minutes away from breathtaking natural scenery and exciting agritourism experiences.

Spend the day touring gorgeous gardens, exploring picturesque country towns, shopping for just-picked produce, getting up close with animals, checking out diverse farm attractions and more – then spend the night on the town. 

Tour 1: Country in the City

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Fulton Street Farmers Market 2018

Fulton Street Farmers Market is the oldest in the area, and boasts hundreds of different kinds of produce, snacks and handmade art on their market days.

Photo by Paul Jendrasiak for Experience GR

You can explore the rich agricultural legacy of Grand Rapids without ever leaving the city limits. There’s so much country in the city to experience that you could extend this into a 2-3 day tour:

Fulton Street Farmers Market

Start your tour at Fulton Street Farmers Market, just two miles east of downtown, to browse and buy the bounty of our countryside. Local family farmers come here to offer their fresh-picked fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat products, homemade snacks and desserts, and handmade arts and crafts. The Market operates in two 6-month seasons: a Main Season (May-October) that hosts Wednesday, Friday and Saturday markets from 8am-2pm; and a Second Season (November-April) that features a weekly market on Saturdays from 10am-1pm.

Established in 1922, Fulton Street is the oldest and largest of the area’s many farm markets.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Head four miles further east to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, named America’s #2 Botanical Gardens (and #1 Sculpture Park). One of the attractions on the 158-acre campus is a Michigan Farm Garden complete with an 1880s farmhouse, barn, vegetable gardens, flower beds and bronze sculptures of farm animals.

The farmhouse is a three-quarter-scale model of the childhood home of Lena Rader Meijer, who with her husband Frederik (Fred) built a multistate supermarket chain and made many significant philanthropic contributions to this area.

You can also wander a Japanese garden, English perennial garden, woodland shade garden, tropical garden, and more, then enjoy lunch in the on-site café.

Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery

Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery is five minutes north of Meijer Gardens. This century-old family farm offers hayrides and hiking/biking trails around its 125-acre fruit orchard, which includes apricot, cherry, peach, nectarine, pear and apple trees. Sample wines and ciders made on the premises from fruit picked right here; purchase fresh-baked donuts, pies and breads; enjoy a fresh-made meal at the Lunch Counter, and join in all sorts of family-friendly fall harvest activities, including u-pick apples, horse-drawn wagon rides, a petting zoo, corn maze and more.

Robinette’s is open year-round – and it welcomes dogs on leashes in outdoor areas.

Grand Ideas Garden

If you’re interested in gardening, consider a 10-minute drive to the Grand Ideas Garden. Operated by the Kent County Michigan State University Extension Office, it’s designed to inspire and educate gardeners of all ages and backgrounds – though you certainly don’t need a green thumb to appreciate its beauty.

Through colorful signage and themed planting displays, you’ll learn about interesting flora and proven gardening techniques you can replicate at home. 

Blandford Nature Center

Blandford Nature Center is about 15 minutes northwest of the Grand Ideas Garden. Here, you can hike, bird watch, say hello to outdoor wildlife and family farm ambassadors, or just enjoy the peaceful solace of nature on 8+ miles of trails through woods and meadows.

Blandford also offers a wide variety of experiences for all ages throughout the year, from hands-on workshops to guided tours to outdoor yoga and annual festivals.

Tour 2: The Fruit Ridge

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Pink Barrel Cellars at Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm - Front Entrance

The family-owned Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm is open all year long, with many different events and activities throughout the seasons.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience GR

The Fruit Ridge is a unique topographical feature 10 minutes north of downtown Grand Rapids. The area’s fertile clay loam soils, elevation above 800 ft. and proximity to Lake Michigan create one of the world’s best fruit-growing regions. Here are some fun ways to explore this 8-mile wide by 20-mile long area:

Fruit Ridge Markets

Orchards and farms on The Fruit Ridge grow an array of apples, asparagus, peaches, nectarines, pears, plums, pumpkins, strawberries, squash, sweet cherries and more. More than two dozen Fruit Ridge Markets offer these and other products during the growing season, typically from May through late October. Some let you pick your own fruits and vegetables. Come fall harvest time, many of the Markets offer an expanded range of family-friendly activities, including hayrides, corn mazes, petting zoos, playgrounds and interactive games.

Explore the Fruit Ridge Country Market Guide and see which produce is typically available when in Michigan.

Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm

Many Fruit Ridge Markets are open seasonally, but Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm is open year-round. The growing season here is jam-packed with activities and events, from blueberry festivals and sunflower fests to craft shows and outdoor concerts. Throughout the year, visitors can enjoy delicious meals (including breakfast!), listen to live music, shop the farm market and relax with a handcrafted beer, hard cider, seltzer or wine made right here at the farm’s Pink Barrel Cellars.


A quintessential American small town, Sparta is about 10 miles from Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm. The walkable downtown is lined with family-owned shops and restaurants, the town square hosts a wide variety of family-friendly events, and parks and greenspaces are as abundant as the smiles on residents’ faces. 

Tour 3: North Country

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Rockford Dam Overlook, 2023

With many eateries, trails and parks nearby, there is much to do in the charming riverbank town of Rockford.

Photo by Alina Albin for Experience GR

Head “up north” from Grand Rapids to enjoy a mix of classic small-town Americana and outdoor adventure. From sweets shops and toy stores to petting zoos and swimming lakes, this is a tour your kids will love!


Rockford is a charming small town 20 minutes northeast of downtown Grand Rapids. A compact and nostalgic downtown situated on the banks of the scenic (and salmon-rich) Rogue River is lined with unique shops and restaurants, including Aunt Candy’s Toy Company, Pinball Land, Rocky’s Dairy Depot and The Sweet Tooth.

Close-by trails, lakes, parks and golf courses provide abundant recreation opportunities. 

Follow the Rogue River Nature Trail, a boardwalk along the river from downtown, for a beautiful quarter-mile walk. The Merrell Trail, named for one of the brands owned by local footwear giant Wolverine World Wide, is one of the area’s premier mountain biking destinations. (Shop the Rockford Footwear Depot for deals on all of Wolverine’s shoe and lifestyle brands.) The Merrell Trail is less than one mile from the Meijer Sports Complex, where you can watch local, regional and national softball and baseball tournaments.

There are many wonderful eateries in town, including Herman’s Boy, a smokehouse, bakery, deli, coffee roastery, and candy and fudge shop that Taste of Home named Michigan’s Best Small Town Restaurant.

Myers Lake Park

About five miles east of downtown Rockford, Myers Lake Park offers great fishing, swimming, playing and picnicking. You can catch sunfish and crappies from the shoreline, the swim beach has a sandy area and changing facility, there are 15-20 picnic tables available on a first-come, first-served basis and two playgrounds structures are located just 50 yards off the main parking lot. Open Memorial Day-Labor Day.

Deer Tracks Junction Adventure Park

Deer Tracks Junction is a family adventure park where you can get up close to adorable farm animals – pigs, goats, bunnies, donkeys, camels, alpacas and more – and even feed them a snack. The park is also home to Site 57 Safari, a drive-thru trail featuring giraffes, fallow deer, llamas, bison and black bears. Just five minutes north of Myers Lake Park, it’s open May-October.

Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve

One of West Michigan’s flagship natural areas, Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve offers 2.1 miles of meandering trails through oak-hickory and maple-beech forests, hardwood swamps and vernal pools, sphagnum bogs and tallgrass prairies. Overlooks and boardwalks provide impressive views of the bog and other wetlands, and frequent glimpses of the wildlife they contain. About 20 minutes southeast of Deer Tracks Junction.

Pickerel Lake Park

Ten minutes east of Saul Lake Bog, Pickerel Lake Park is a great setting for fishing, wildlife observation and scenic hikes. Follow the 900-foot long barrier-free boardwalk that crosses part of the lake just south of the trailhead to access a two-mile main loop around the lake. There are also ungroomed trail totaling more than four miles. In the winter, the trails are open for cross-country skiing.

Bostwick Lake Inn

You’ve probably worked up quite an appetite by now. You’re three minutes away from the Bostwick Lake Inn, which occupies the site of a 1910-era beach house and pavilion. Sit on the four-season deck and enjoy the eatery’s creative takes on American cuisine while you admire the lake view.

Tour 4: Out East

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North Country Trail in Lowell

Explore Lowell's gorgeous countryside on the North Country Trail, the longest National Scenic Trail in America!

Photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR

Two small towns, two picturesque covered bridges and a 4,800-mile trail are among the tour stops on this tour:

Ada Covered Bridge

The Ada Covered Bridge is about 11 miles from downtown Grand Rapids. Originally constructed in 1867, it’s a 125-foot pedestrian bridge connecting the Village of Ada on one side of the Thornapple River with Leonard Park on the other side. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s a very popular photographic spot – even more so when it’s decorated with colorful lights for the year-end holidays.

While the covered bridge is a journey into the past, Ada Village is focused firmly on the future. Over the past decade, the 200-year-old downtown has been transformed into a modern community hub with shops, restaurants, events and beautiful greenspaces. Take some time to stroll the compact area before you head to your next destination.


Eight or so miles east of Ada is historic downtown Lowell, which spans six city blocks alongside the scenic Flat River. Take a walking tour of Main Street, guided by interpretive signage, and shop antique stores and art galleries filled with unique treasures. Stroll the riverwalk to see the Lowell Showboat, a recreation of a 1931 Mississippi-style riverboat that once traversed the river. The now stationary boat is the backdrop for many community events, including a summer concert series.

If you’re hungry, the outdoor patio at the Flat River Grill offers a clear view of the Showboat along with hearty American cuisine. Additional restaurants and breweries are a short walk away along Main Street.

Fallasburg Covered Bridge

One of only three covered bridges open to vehicle traffic in Michigan, the Fallasburg Covered Bridge is about 10 minutes north of downtown Lowell. The bridge was built over the Flat River in 1871 and is 100 feet long. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

The bridge is located in beautiful Fallasburg Park, which is dotted with signs providing historic details on the park (which dates to 1928) and the surrounding area. There are several historic buildings on the east side of the bridge that have been preserved from the original Fallasburg Village, which was founded in the 1830s.

North Country Trail

A trailhead for the North Country Trail, which extends for 4,800 miles from North Dakota to Vermont, is located five minutes east of Fallasburg Park. You can follow a 10.7-mile (or less) out-and-back route through the gorgeous Lowell countryside. The trail is unpaved but well-marked and is considered moderately challenging.

Red Barn Market

Finish your tour with a stop at the Red Barn Market, less than 10 minutes northwest of Fallasburg Park. Open year ‘round, it’s a café, ice cream parlor, bakery, farm store and gift barn. It’s also a tasting room for Painted Turtle Hard Cider, crafted from apples grown right here from apples grown on the farm. In fall, go Beyond the Barn onto the farm with a variety of family-friendly activities. You can pick your own apples, too!