Downtown Grand Rapids is walkable – one of the top 14 walkable destinations in the U.S., according to Trips to Discover. Attendees at meetings and events held at any of the city’s downtown venues have everything they could need within a few short blocks. Take a look:
There are 13 hotels (2400+ rooms) within a half-mile walk of our convention center. The JW Marriott Grand Rapids, Downtown Courtyard by Marriott and Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton are connected to the convention center by the city’s climate-controlled indoor skywalk system, so you can leave your umbrella behind.
A 14th hotel, the Hampton Inn & Suites Grand Rapids Downtown, is a mile walk up a somewhat steep hill – perfect for working the glutes, hamstrings and calves, if you’re so inclined. Check out our Hotels page to browse even more accommodations.
You don't have to walk far to find a place to eat and drink near the convention center, including The Corner Bar at the Amway Grand Hotel.
Photo by Nathaniel Steve Fischer
Grand Rapids has been named Michigan’s Food City by Thrillist. It’s a matter of both quality and quantity: there are 130+ restaurants of all cuisines and price points within a 10-minute walk of the convention center. Whether you have a taste for a latte, a lunch, a craft brew, a quick bite or an elegant dining experience, they're all just steps away. Many restaurants are located in the downtown Refreshment Area and offer comfortable outdoor dining – in every season!
Head to the Grand Rapids Downtown Market where attendees can enjoy several dining options under one roof – tacos, charcuterie, sushi, ice cream and more. The DASH North, Grand Rapids' free downtown bus service, stops next to the market.
Grand Rapids museums host many permanent and temporary exhibits. Check out ArtPrize in the fall.
Photo by Photo: Experience Grand Rapids
Want to take in a bit of culture between seminars? Take your pick from six downtown museums: Grand Rapids Art Museum, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Grand Rapids Public Museum (with a planetarium), Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and – just in case you want to indulge your inner child – the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.
Local bands frequent downtown music venues like GLC Live at 20 Monroe.
Photo by Experience Grand Rapids
Live music is easily found at 35+ downtown venues, large and small. Van Andel Arena features megastars like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, while GLC Live at 20 Monroe, Listening Room, The Intersection and The Pyramid Scheme draw well-known names to more intimate environs. Downtown bars, restaurants and clubs feature local and regional musicians, while the performance hall connected to our convention center hosts musical events from Broadway Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Ballet, Grand Rapids Symphony and Opera Grand Rapids.
More Downtown Strolls
If attendees would like to explore even more of the city by foot, here are a few more options:
- Purchase an alcoholic beverage from a participating bar/brewery/restaurant and enjoy it while walking around the Downtown Refreshment Area.
- Follow the Riverwalk along the Grand River just behind our convention center – the “loop” trail traverses the original rapids for which the city is named and passes by some of the area’s most notable attractions (including the historic Sixth Street Bridge).
- Cross the iconic Blue Bridge, a few blocks due south of the convention center, to view an impressive collection of outdoor public art on the downtown campus of Grand Valley State University.
- Download the free GR Walks app to access self-guided walking tours exploring downtown art, culture, history, neighborhoods and more.
That's just a partial list. There are also a variety of stores and boutiques for shopping, theater venues for a show, and parks and greenspaces for peaceful relaxation, all within walking distance of your event site. And if you don’t feel like walking back after your stroll, just hop on a free DASH bus to the convention center or your hotel!