Maybe you read about ArtPrize in Time Magazine, which named ArtPrize as one of five festive events not to miss in 2013. Or perhaps you have friends or relatives who've raved about their experience viewing the art competition, which takes place throughout the city from museums and hotels to sidewalks and, even--try to imagine this--in the river!

Perhaps you just want the chance to vote on the art you like best, and help decide which artist will take home the $200,000 grand prize.

Whatever the reason, if you're ready for your own inaugural visit to ArtPrize, now is the perfect time to start thinking about your trip. ArtPrize 2013 runs from September 18 October 6 with prizes awarded on October 4. To get the most from your trip, start here:

1. Think Sleep. No, it's not too early--now is a great time to book your hotel, because you'll have more of a choice in where you stay. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that hotels will fill up. You'll still be able to find a room, but it might not be in the particular area, or have the amenities, you're hoping for.

Things to consider:

  • Do you prefer to be in the busy hub of things downtown? Would you like to be close to lots of exhibits and great local restaurants?

If so take a look at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, JW Marriott, Courtyard (by Marriott), Holiday Inn, and City Flats Hotel.

  • Or, would you prefer to be outside of the city center, where you'll have free parking and be near Target and Meijer, so you can grab whatever you forgot to pack?

In that case, consider the area near the airport, which is only about 15-20 minutes from downtown. Hotels abound in that area. A few to check out are Hampton Inn, Country Inn & Suites, SpringHill Suites, and Hilton.

Note: These hotels offer easy access to the highway, but 28th Street is currently under construction, which can make it more difficult depending on the time of day. Be sure to check back in the August--our post will include an update on the state of the 28th Street construction. If it's causing lots of traffic by the on-ramp, we'll share a better route to get downtown.

2. Consider Timing. If you're coming to Grand Rapids, do you want to take an extra day or two to visit the lakeshore? If so, plan to spend as much time as you can visiting ArtPrize, then tack on a couple of days to relax in a lakeshore town: Grand Haven, Saugatuck, Pentwater, and Ludington are all great options. Go ahead and book your room for the lakeshore now, too.

3. Celebrate Nature. Consider joining your joining local arboretum or horticulture garden. You can enjoy getting back to nature this summer and may be able to score a discount at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids--a 2013 ArtPrize venue. Many arboretums have reciprocal privileges, and, after you view the art at Meijer Gardens (you don't have to pay admission to see the ArtPrize exhibits), you can take a short break and enjoy the rest of the gardens. (If you have young kids, the Children's Garden is a don't miss.)

4. Prep the kids. Or your spouse. Or yourself! For anyone who hasn't been to ArtPrize, the concept is a bit radical. You can see the 2013 ArtPrize entries online, but you might want to wait and feel the impact when you see them in person. Either way, spend a little time reading and talking about how ArtPrize works. Keep in mind, too, that some entries are more appropriate for kids than others. Last year, GRKids provided a great guide for parents keep your eye out for a new version this year.

5. Map It. You may want to take a peek at last years venue map, so you have a general idea of how far and wide you'll find art, particularly if you're bringing kids. When ArtPrize draws closer, well post some tips from locals about how to narrow and navigate the many venues.

6. Get Legit. One of the best things about ArtPrize is that YOU are one of the judges. But in order to vote, you need a drivers license, state ID or passport. Make sure yours is up-to-date now so you can be a part of what happens in September!

Click here for the second post in our "Get Ready for ArtPrize" series.

Click here for the third, and final, post in our "Get Ready for ArtPrize" series.