So, what destination could possibly top Lana’i, Hawaii, the stunning Central California Coast, and Yosemite National Park as a top 2014 travel destination? That would be Grand Rapids, Michigan. That’s right – Grand Rapids topped the list of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 US Travel Destinations for 2014. So what makes Grand Rapids so special? And why should you consider renting an apartment there?
The natural beauty of the landscape is inspiring. Straddling the Grand River, arched bridges connect the two sides of the city and in the evening, the downtown lights shimmer on the river’s surface. In fall, the lush landscape erupts into a dazzling display of color, painting a brilliant scenery of deep reds and vibrant oranges. In summer, sandy white beaches and the crystal clear water of nearby Lake Michigan competes with the lush greens of riverfront parks while sailboats dot the waterways. Winter is truly a wonderland with snow-covered hills and iced-over ponds – a paradise for skiers, snow-boarders, and ice-skaters. In spring, colorful blooms will inspire you to explore the hundreds of miles of wilderness trails – most of which are paved – or to hit the golf course and enjoy the cool spring temperatures.
Grand Rapids has a vibrant art scene, as well. Downtown Grand Rapids has an assortment of art galleries, and the Fulton Street ARTisans Market takes place every Sunday from July through September. Spend time at the Grand Rapids Art Museum or the Grand Valley State University Art Gallery and appreciate the variety of exhibitions and programs. Check out the amazing art displayed during ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition. Stroll through the Frederik Meijer Gardens and catch a live music performance at the Sculpture Park Amphitheater. A variety of theaters and music venues round out the vast selection of art in Grand Rapids – be sure to visit Broadway Grand Rapids or catch a performance of the Grand Rapids Symphonic Band. The DeVos Performance Hall hosts symphonies, ballets, operas, and Broadway shows.
The beauty of Grand Rapids is also in its historic sites. Gorgeous covered bridges, historic homes, and lighthouses are located in or a short drive from Grand Rapids. If you are considering Grand Rapids apartments, be sure to check out Heritage Hill – it is a National Historic District (one of the country’s largest urban historic districts) and it was Grand Rapids’ first neighborhood. The collection of 1,300 homes dates back to 1844 and represents a dizzying array of architectural styles.
If you enjoy shopping for antiques, Grand Rapids hosts an unusual monthly market – the Vintage Street Market, held downtown the second Sunday each month. From antique furniture to vintage clothing, this market has it all. Speaking of downtown and shopping, Downtown Market is a terrific indoor/outdoor, mixed-use facility. Stroll through the indoor market hall, or check out the farmers and artisans than utilize the outdoor farmer’s market shed. The Market is the first LEED-certified market in the country, complete with a green roof, live walls, and rain gardens. It also has the country’s first demonstration kitchen for children.
Just a short drive from Grand Rapids, you’ll fall in love with Lake Michigan’s Gold Coast. These gorgeous beaches launched it to the top of Lonely Planet’s “best” list, beating out the beaches of Hawaii and California. Picture dazzling fresh water (with waves you can actually surf), sugar-sand beaches, and amazing sunsets. And Lonely Planet isn’t the only travel site to label Michigan’s beaches as the best – Conde Nast Traveler and even MTV also rank these beaches above all others.
And finally – beer. Grand Rapids is famous for its craft beer and local breweries – so much so that it was named BeerCity USA in 2012 and 2013. There are 15 breweries in Grand Rapids, and even more in surrounding cities and towns. Take a self-guided beer tour and see why Grand Rapids is the place for beer lovers. Founders Brewing Company hosts an annual beer street festival, Founders Fest, which features live music and plenty of beer. The Summer Craft Beer Fest, held in July at John Ball Park, includes more than 100 craft beers, live music, food, and vendors. There is also an Annual Winter Beer Festival – an outdoor beer fest that takes place in February as the grand finale of the week-long GR Beer Week. And while an outdoor festival in February (in Michigan!) may sound a little crazy – the Annual Winter Beer Festival is a sell-out event every year.
Want to be a part of this rapidly-growing city of beauty, beaches, and beer? Check out Apartment Finder’s list of places to rent in Grand Rapids and you’ll soon be a part of this dynamic, action-packed community.