Offsite conferences already shake up the routine and lend themselves to new ideas and discussion. But sometimes it's good to get attendees out of the hotel conference rooms and into your host city for even more inspiration.
We've already collected a list of walkable restaurants and breweries that can accommodate group meetings, but Grand Rapids has several other downtown locations ideal for meeting planners to schedule offsite events, including entertainment venues, escape rooms, museums and theaters. And they are all within a 10-to-15-minute walk of the convention campus – that means no special transportation and minimal travel time.
Here are few suggestions to get your search started:
Like many off-site meeting facilities in downtown Grand Rapids, 20 Monroe Live offers space that can accommodate a variety of group sizes. Photo courtesy of 20 Monroe Live, photo taken by Ryan Forbes
This entertainment venue managed by Live Nation, is a 6-minute walk from the convention campus and has space for a small meeting of 25 people all the way up to large gatherings of 2,600 people, depending on the format of your event. Take advantage of the two-level music hall and combine your gathering with a private concert or performance.
The B.O.B. – an acronym for Big Old Building – features four stories of space dedicated to food and entertainment at restaurants, bars, a brewery and a posh nightclub. It also has meeting space to accommodate anywhere from 20 to 2,000 people.
This recently remodeled venue with 26-foot ceilings is found in the city’s first high-rise building. The initial four-stories were built in 1915. The last two stories were added in the 1940s, making the 18-story building the tallest at that time between Detroit and Chicago. The ballroom occupies a former bank space and has the elegant marble décor to prove it. It’s ideal for corporate or social events.
The “escape room” concept is a wonderful way to combine business and pleasure. It’s a proven team-building exercise and the downtown location of The Ruse makes it ideal for an offsite meeting-excursion combo. The conference room has full audio-visual capabilities and the facility can accommodate a reception for up to 45 people.
Van Andel Arena at night. Photo courtesy of Brian Kelly Photography
Planning something big? The Van Andel Area accommodates nearly 12,500 in theater style and 1,000 for a reception. It's also connected to the downtown skywalk.
There is a lot to choose from at the market. It features meeting rooms for up to 12, a banquet room for up to 180 seated or 250 for cocktails, a greenhouse that seats 80 in banquet style or 150 for cocktails plus a teaching kitchen and rooftop terraces. The market has exclusive catering options, or you can turn guests loose to choose from the several options in the market hall.
At the Waldron Public House, your options include renting out your own bar in addition to traditional meeting spaces. With venues on three floors, it can accommodate 50-500 people.
Plan your meeting against a backdrop of history at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. The venue can accommodate lectures, meetings or receptions along with great information about 38th President of the United States.
What could be more inspiring than a permanent collection of more than 6,000 pieces of art plus additional exhibits that change throughout the year? The GRAM, which is the first LEED Gold Certified art museum in the world, has galleries, auditoriums or the entire space available for rent.
Hold your event under Finny the whale at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Museum
Shouldn’t all meeting spaces have carousels? The Grand Rapids Public Museum has one overlooking the Grand River with a great view of the city. The venue features spaces and rooms for gatherings of 12 to 1,200, including an auditorium and theater – all surrounded by historic artifacts from the city and region.
The downtown museum offers a variety of modern, urban spaces for rent surrounded by contemporary art. With conference rooms, galleries, a theater and a rooftop space, the facility can accommodate a few people or a few hundred. It also features a studio for more interactive occasions.
Featuring the recently renovated Royce Auditorium, the facility can accommodate up to 650 for theater-style meetings or 250 for receptions in the ballroom. Smaller spaces are available, too.
This home to community theater is housed across four historic buildings, including the Meijer Majestic Theater, which holds 777 people. The facility can also accommodate a banquet for up to 100.
Want to search for other venues? Visit the facility search page at the Experience Grand Rapids website.