Grand Rapids is a bustling city filled with many gems. Visitors, for both business and pleasure, are constantly surprised by what this West Michigan city has to offer. In addition to world-renowned art collections, cultural attractions and museums, and more than 150 restaurants and 80 craft breweries, meeting planners will appreciate having access to a range of meeting spaces. No matter your group size or budget, there’s a venue to host a successful event, conference or annual meeting. When the meetings are over, there are plenty of places to call “home” for a few days, including variety of hotels in the heart of downtown and throughout the region.

The Gerald R. Ford International airport was ranked the number one airport by size in 2016.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Getting here is easy too. The newly renovated Gerald R. Ford International Airport was ranked the best airport in North America, according to 2016's Airports Council International ranking for airports serving 2 to 5 million passengers annually. Air service includes more than 120 nonstop flights a day to more than 20 popular destinations on six major airline carriers. If you’re driving, you can also easily access downtown Grand Rapids thanks to its location at the intersection of two major expressways, and it’s within a day’s drive of half the U.S. population. Major feeder cities like Chicago and Detroit are only a  2 ½ to 3-hour drive away, respectively. Amtrak is an option as well, with connections throughout Michigan and the Midwest. Are you and your team ready to experience Grand Rapids for yourselves? Here are the top reasons to start making your plans.

Grand Rapids' convention campus features the DeVos Place Convention Center.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Venues to Suit Every Need

The heart of the meeting and events landscape in Grand Rapids is the Downtown Convention Campus, anchored by the DeVos Place Convention Center and Van Andel Arena. With more than 240,000 square feet of convention, ballroom and meeting space, DeVos Place can easily accommodate large events. If you need more intimate spaces inside the center, host an event inside the 40,000-sq.-ft. Steelcase Ballroom or the 1,300-sq.-ft. breakout rooms overlooking the Grand River. The convention center is connected by a climate-controlled skywalk to three nearby hotels and the Van Andel Arena, a 12,000-seat multipurpose facility fit for both concerts and sporting events.

Offside meeting spaces abound in Grand Rapids, including the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. The 158-acre main campus showcases internationally-acclaimed sculptures from artists like Auguste Rodin and Ai Weiwei. The park also has 13 indoor event spaces and several outdoor gardens including a Japanese garden. And the park’s dedicated team of audiovisual and certified technical specialists, as well as its catering options and professional event coordinators, will ensure everything runs smoothly. 

Downtown Grand Rapids boats 1,700+ hotel rooms, 1232 connected by an enclosed, climate-controlled skywalk.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Accommodation Options Abound

Downtown Grand Rapids has more than 1,700 hotel rooms across seven hotels, all within walking distance from the DeVos Place Convention Center. Three of these hotels are connected via an indoor, climate-controlled skywalk: The luxurious JW Marriott Grand Rapids, home to elegant rooms outfitted with plush linens, and marble bathrooms; the stately Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, which features The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, one of the top ten wine cellar meeting spaces in the country in 2017; and the elegant Courtyard by Marriott, featuring the business traveler favorite—JW Jack Pack, a charging station for laptops, cell phones and iPods. For a boutique experience, consider the CityFlatsHotel Grand Rapids, where each guest room is uniquely designed and features amenities like eco-friendly luxury bath products and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi. In 2019, additional hotels are expected to open, bringing the total rooms available in the downtown area to more than 2,500.

Attendees will love exploring Grand Rapids' award-winning beer scene.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

After-Hours Fun

After the meetings are done and the deals are made, Grand Rapids is a fantastic city to explore. The downtown area as six museums, including the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives, just to name a few. Or you and your team can choose to follow the Beer City Ale Trail, which has more than 80 craft breweries. To truly earn your beer strips, download the Beer City Brewsader® app, which provides visitors with a virtual Beer City Brewsader Passport. If you check-in and collect passport stamps from eight of 35 breweries listed within the app, you’ll win an exclusive Brewsader T-shirt to commemorate your journey.

While the breweries are absolutely worth sampling, don’t overlook the culinary scene. There are more than 120 restaurants in downtown alone, spanning from Spanish tapas to a classic American chophouse. Instead of a formal dinner, spend one evening wandering among the vendors at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, a 138,000-sq.-ft. food hall where you can even schedule a hands-on teambuilding cooking class, with advanced notice.

Located along the Grand River just north of downtown, Riverside Park offers a boat launch site, disc golf course, baseball fields, soccer fields, and outdoor shelter.

Photo Credit: Brian Kelly Photography

Offsite Adventures

After a long day of meetings, head outside for some fresh air and explore nature doing an outdoor activity. Enjoy a meeting break on the Grand River with a paddling or kayaking excursion with Board Meetings and Grand River Kayak & Canoe. Or cool off at Millennium Park or Riverside Park, two vast urban green spaces. If you have golfers in your group, they can work on their handicaps at dozens of public golf courses within a 30-minute drive from downtown, or your nature enthusiasts can try their luck on a half-day fishing trip on the Muskegon River, where they can fish for trout and smallmouth bass with Werkman Outfitters. To explore more of the Michigan countryside, check out nearby towns like Rockford, a quaint village with an award-winning shopping district. Or visit Sparta along the Fruit Ridge, a 20-mile fruit-growing region filled with farms and markets offering tours and you-pick produce.

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