From a great city the to the great lake, Grand Rapids is only 25 miles from Lake Michigan.
Photo by Experience Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan with a population of about 199,000 in the city and a bit more than one 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.
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 Life Sciences, Food Manufacturing, 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: 10,300
Downtown total hotel rooms – 2,566
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.
These two facilities are connected via climate-controlled skywalk to three excellent hotels: the Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton, JW Marriott Grand Rapids and Downtown Courtyard by Marriott, which together offer 78,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and 1,210 guest rooms. Eleven additional downtown hotels (1,300+ rooms) – including such brands as AC by Marriott, Canopy by Hilton, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Hyatt Place and Residence Inn – are located within an easy walk (or free bus ride) of the convention center.
DeVos Place puts visitors right in the middle of everything happening in downtown Grand Rapids. This multi-purpose facility is unequaled in service and support. Its management team of SMG provides the same high caliber of meeting and…
Located in the heart of Grand Rapids, Van Andel Arena provides the perfect balance of cosmopolitan flair and Midwest hospitality. This state-of-the-art 12,000-plus seating capacity arena is managed by SMG, the world leader in facility and…
The Gerald R. Ford International airport offers more than 140 daily nonstop flights to and from 37 major market destinations.
Photo by Experience Grand Rapids
Gerald R. Ford International Airport, (616) 233-6000 or www.grr.org, is the second largest airport in Michigan. The airport offers more than 140 daily nonstop flights to and from 37 major market destinations: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore/Washington, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago-O’Hare, Chicago-Midway, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Destin/Fort Walton, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale (seasonal), Fort Meyers (seasonal), Houston, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, New York-Newark, Orlando International, Orlando-Sanford, Philadelphia, Phoenix-Mesa, Phoenix- Sky Harbor International (seasonal), Portland, Punta Gorda, Rapid City, Sarasota/Bradenton (seasonal), Savannah/Hilton Head (seasonal), St. Petersburg-Clearwater International, Tampa International, Washington-Dulles, Washington-Reagan.
Airlines include Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.
Grand Rapids holds the title Beer City USA, awarded by a national vote, and it’s a three-time winner in USA Today’s best beer city poll. Our Beer City Ale Trail boasts more than 40 breweries, with several hailed among the world’s finest. USA Today also named our city the Craft Beverage Capital of the US, thanks to the quality and ever-increasing number of our cideries, distilleries, meaderies, wineries and coffee roasters.
Discover the art of dining in Grand Rapids. Two unique factors help distinguish 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. Visitors can choose from hundreds of restaurants to fit any taste and budget.
15 colleges and affiliate colleges located in Grand Rapids: