One of The New York Times 52 Places to Go in 2016. The #1 U.S. travel destination in 2014. Beer City USA. Home to one of the globe's top five festivals. Grand Rapids, Michigan is all of this and so much more - a city that will constantly surprise and delight you with authentic and unforgettable world-class experiences made easy, affordable and friendly.
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 innovation. Grand Rapids offers all the big-city excitement with the small-town sense of community pride and closeness which brings all residents together for grand events such as ArtPrize, Restaurant Week, Cool Brews. Hot Eats. and more.
Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan with a population of about 192,000 in the city and about a million in the Metro Grand Rapids area.
Grand Rapids is located on the banks of the Grand River that winds its way through downtown. Grand Rapids gets its name from the Grand River and the rapids that used to help the local furniture industry with the transport of logs. In the early 1900s flood walls were installed in the river to remove the rapids in order to help manage flooding. The Grand Rapids WhiteWater Project is now in the works to restore the river and the rapids.
Grand Rapids is only 25 miles east of Lake Michigan and the lakeshore communities of Holland, Muskegon and Grand Haven.
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. The burial site for Gerald and Betty Ford is located on the Museum grounds. The Ford Museum was most recently updated in 2016 with the addition of an education center and renovation of the exhibits.
West Michigan's major employment industries are Retail Trade, Construction, Professional/Scientific/Technical Services, Manufacturing, and Health Care and Social Assistance.
Grand Rapids' top employers include Spectrum Health, Meijer Inc., Mercy Health and Amway Corporation.
Total hotel rooms- 9,231
Downtown total hotel rooms- 2,253
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 250,000 square feet of 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, Curio Collection by Hilton, the JW Marriott Grand Rapids and Downtown Courtyard by Marriott 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.
Gerald R. Ford International Airport, (616) 233-6000 or www.grr.org, is the second largest airport in Michigan. The airport offers more than 120 nonstop daily flights to and from 29 major market destinations. Destinations include: Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington, Charlotte, Chicago-O’Hare, Chicago, Midway, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale (seasonal), Fort Meyers (seasonal), Houston, Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, New York-LaGuardia, New York-Newark, Orlando International, Orlando-Sanford, Philadelphia, Phoenix-Mesa, Phoenix- Sky Harbor International (seasonal), Punta Gorda, Sarasota/Bradenton (seasonal), Savannah/Hilton Head (seasonal), St. Petersburg-Clearwater International, Tampa, Tampa/St. Petersburg- Clearwater, Washington-Dulles.
Airlines include: Allegiant, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.
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.
More information on food in Grand Rapids can be found at: http://www.experiencegr.com/restaurants/
15 colleges and affiliate colleges located in Grand Rapids: