Grand Rapids for the Outdoor Explorer

Grand Rapids, Michigan has a burgeoning outdoor scene. This city boasts an excellent urban atmosphere with incredible restaurants, attractions and live music, but underneath it all is a rapidly-growing outdoors scene. Here are a few ways to catch some fresh air and get the most out of this awesome city!
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This article was created in partnership with Experience Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Bike to beer

Grand Rapids is known for their killer craft beer scene. I mean, they’re known as the ‘Beer City’ for a reason! Founders Brewing is one of the city’s biggest and most prominent breweries, though there are plenty of other equally amazing suds spots. If you crave funky sour beers, then you’ll be delighted to know that Jolly Pumpkin has a location within the city. The best way to explore the breweries? Definitely on two wheels! The city is super biker-friendly, and you can rent bikes through Pedego Electric Bikes, a national outfitter with a location in Grand Rapids!


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Sand dunes on the ocean… I mean lake!

Get on the banks of Lake Michigan with a short drive from downtown Grand Rapids. Rosy Mound Natural Area is an easy destination to enjoy the waters of the Great Lakes. From the parking lot, the less-than-a-mile trail wanders through a lush, wooded forest to massive sand dunes on the shores of the lake. Of course, since this is one of the Great Lakes, you’ll feel like your on the edge of the ocean with waves rolling in and no land on the horizon. Accordingly, pack a picnic, wander up the beach, or swim at your own risk. Rosy Mound is an easy and scenic escape from the city limits.

Paddle, paddle, paddle!

Perhaps the most unique outdoor experience in Grand Rapids is the mellow kayak ride down the Grand River. Imagine pushing off the banks just before sunset. The river is calm and the colors of the sky just bounce right off the water. As the sun makes its final descent, you’ll be greeted with reflections of the city lights in the distance. The owner and guide, Jeff, attaches lanterns to the backs of the kayaks to ensure that everyone is still illuminated. While kayaking through wilderness has its own appeal, there is something equally special about kayaking through this city. Grand Rapids Paddling makes the whole experience easy: from pick up and drop off at your hotel, to snacks and beverages on the river. This outfitter also offers other unique kayaking experiences in the Grand Rapids area, some including picnic and dining experiences.


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Art + horticulture walk

You could spend anywhere from a couple hours to days exploring the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. A comprehensive collection of sculpture art is scattered throughout the park, surrounded by equally magnificent gardens. Artists and horticulturists consider which plants grow where and how they are trimmed, maintaining the harmony between the gardens and the sculptures. One of my favorite examples of this is the sculpture, Eve by Auguste Rodin. The statue depicts a girl covering her body, standing off-balance. Additionally, the trees lining the path to her sculpture are perfectly symmetrical, lending an interesting juxtaposition to this complete work of art. The Japanese Garden is a wonderful, tranquil place to explore as well. Many waterfalls trickle down, and thoughtfully shaped docks make you stop and appreciate the gardens around you.

Other Places & Experiences

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