By R.J. Weick
Take a look at some of the great places to play, stay, dine, and unwind in the greater Grand Rapids area in The Golf Explorer’s first golfing tour series.
Fueled by an industrious and creative momentum, Grand Rapids has become a vibrant and booming metropolis in recent years to now be considered among the top destinations in the country. With recent accolades by The New York Times as one of the “52 Places to Go in 2016,” and as the #1 U.S. Travel Destination in 2014, Grand Rapids provides visitors with a robust social, cultural, and recreational experience
The metropolitan area has been recognized as a destination for the arts, wine, food, festivals, golf, and of course, craft beer; which has led to its nickname as Beer City U.S.A. There are more than 28 public golf courses within close proximity of the iconic downtown skyline.
It is also home to Gerald R. Ford International Airport, which is the second largest airport in the state offering 120 nonstop flights to nearly 23 major market destinations. The award-winning airport is conveniently located less than 15 miles of downtown Grand Rapids and has also been recognized by the Airports Council International-North America for its environmental stewardship and for providing first-class travel experience.
From runway to fairway, Grand Rapids offers a myriad of possibilities for the avid golfer and enthusiast alike during their stay. Whether planning a visit for leisure or business, Grand Rapids is a great destination for golfing and exploring the sights. The following are just a few notable selections of places to unwind:
Gun Lake Casino
1123 129th Ave., Wayland
When the final work on its recent $76 million expansion project is completed this summer, Gun Lake Casino will open its doors a space that is almost twice its current size and increase its total number of gaming machines to 2,050 and table games to 42. The nearly 156,000-square-foot gaming entertainment venue will also feature a new premier multi-station buffet restaurant, a high limit and high stakes gaming room, and a stage twice the size of the previous venue to accommodate regional and local musicians.
From slot and video machines to Blackjack, Craps, and Roulette, Gun Lake Casino offers long-time favorites and unique spins on old classics to offer a myriad of gaming and entertaining options for guests. Gun Lake Casino is owned by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians and is operated by MPM Enterprises LLC.
From local treasure to national spotlight, the Grand Rapids Ballet has become a highly respected and renowned professional ballet company under the leadership of Artistic Director Patricia Barker. Now in its 46th season, the Grand Rapids Ballet once again captivated audiences with its performance of The Nutcracker, which was re-imagined by Polar Express author Chris Van Allsburg and featured choreography by Val Caniparoli.
The 2016-2017 season also features a contemporary telling of the classic story of Swan Lake in its “Black & White: Swan Lake” and a world premiere of “Alice in Wonderland” in late April and early May at the Peter Martin Wege Theatre.
Grand Rapids Ballet consists of 24 professional dancers from across the country and throughout the world, and also draws well-known choreographers and set designers.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
1000 E. Beltline Ave. N.E., Grand Rapids
The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is truly a top horticulture and sculpture destination and experience. Established in 1995, the park features the state’s largest tropical conservatory, indoor and outdoor gardens, natural trails and boardwalk, temporary sculpture galleries and a 300-work permanent sculpture collection, library, café, gift shop, and event space.
The nearly 158-acre botanical gardens and sculpture park offers visitors a chance to stroll among fig trees from India, orchids from Central and South America, Asiatic bamboo, and waterfalls in the five-story Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory; or the opportunity to stop and smell the flowers in newly added eight-acre Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden designed by Hoichi Kurisu.
Each spring, more than 6,000 tropical butterflies can be viewed during the Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition; while permanent sculpture works by Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Alexander Calder, or Louise Bourgeois can be found all year-round.
Other notable Unwinds
September – October, Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids Public Museum
272 Pearl St. N.W., Grand Rapids
Broadway Grand Rapids
DeVos Performance Hall
Grand Rapids Symphony
DeVos Performance Hall
Van Andel Arena
130 Fulton St. W., Grand Rapids
DeVos Place Convention Center
303 Monroe Ave. N.W., Grand Rapids
The Spa & Salon at the Amway Grand Plaza
187 Monroe Ave. N.W., Grand Rapids