From world-class attractions and outdoor recreation, to nationally ranked food and craft beverage scenes, our city is filled with unexpected surprises. This city has many venues and attractions that may have slipped your notice. From art to history to landscapes to food and drink, Grand Rapids has something for everyone! Keep reading to learn more about the fun facts and hidden gems of this city.
Grand Rapids History
We found some interesting history about this area to share with you! The Hopewell peoples occupied this region more than 2,000 years ago and built great earthen mounds – some of which are still preserved today. Around 1700 AD the Ottawa (Odawa), Chippewa (Ojibwa), and Potawatomi Indians established villages around the Grand River. French-Canadian Joseph La Framboise and his wife Magdalene, who was of mixed Ottawa and French descent, established the first fur-trading post here in 1806. In 1825, Detroit-born Louis Campau, the official founder of Grand Rapids, built a trading post, blacksmith shop and cabin on the banks of the Grand River. Grand Rapids became a village in 1838 and a city in 1850.
Grand Rapids Nickname
Situated along the Grand River approximately 25 miles east of Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids is the economic and cultural hub of West Michigan, as well as one of the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest. A historic furniture manufacturing center, Grand Rapids is home to five of the world’s leading office furniture companies and is nicknamed “Furniture City”.
America’s Best Beer City
Yes, for ten years in a row Grand Rapids has enjoyed that honor. There are more than 40 craft breweries within a 30-minute drive. Atwater Brewery, Grand Rapids Brewing Company, and Brewery Vivant are some of the top watering holes pouring excellent beers for all tastes.
The Hidden Gems of Grand Rapids
- As you tour the Grand Rapids streets, you will see a plethora of outdoor works of art from local and international artisans. Discover a number of Instagram-worthy painted murals in every neighborhood, perfect for a spur of the moment photo session!
- Ebony Road Players is a local theater company with a mission to “inspire, educate and engage cultures of our community with high-quality theater productions focused on the Black experience.” There are year-round performances.
- Grand Rapids is also home to one of the world’s 100 most visited art museums, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, a must-see venue.
- The Grand Rapids Art Museum offers three floors of history in an ex-flour mill plus exhibits, a 1928 carousel, and planetarium. In a tribute to the city’s past, “The Streets of Old Grand Rapids,” exhibit shows off a prosperous past with historic items and 11 shops modeled on 19th-century businesses.
- The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum is home to many of the 38th president’s most-prized possessions and honors.
- The Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archive has homespun exhibits honoring the history of the local Black community.
- There is something for every musical taste in Grand Rapids’ 100-plus live music venues. Mainstream and local acts and bands perform in arenas, nightclubs, intimate coffeehouses, and outdoor settings. Rumors Nightclub, Metro Grand Rapids, and Mulligan’s Pub are good venues for music and beverages.
- Some great restaurants to try are Butcher’s Union, The Electric Cheetah, and The Green Well.
And of course we would love to see you at Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery. We’re open all year ’round, so stop in today and see all that we have to offer!