1. Everyone’s Favorite Beer Is At Founders’
Source: Founders’ Taproom Facebook
You can understand why Grand Rapids has repeatedly been voted Beer City, USA after you’ve tried some of the Founders’ Taproom concoctions, with the Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale being my personal favorite. It’s no surprise that Founders' routinely ranks among the best breweries on the planet.
2. GVSU Football Games Are More Important Than Everything
Source: Grand Valley State Football Facebook
Yes, it’s Division II Football, but that doesn’t make GVSU’s recent run of success any less impressive. With four National Championships earned since 2001, along with the distinction of being the winningest football program in NCAA history, the Lakers football program is truly elite, and fans in the Grand Rapids area have every reason to be proud.
3. Whitecaps Fans Are Always Proud
Source: West Michigan Whitecaps Facebook
While fans of the Detroit Tigers are still lamenting a World Series drought that has persisted since 1984, Whitecaps fans have watched the Tigers Grand Rapids-based minor league affiliate win five Midwest League championships since 1996.
4. Grand Rapids Growls For The Griffins
Source: Grand Rapids Griffins Facebook
The team that supplies Hockeytown with much of its talent won its first Calder Cup Championship in 2013. It’s nice to see what the team can do when the Wings are swiping all its talent before the playoffs start.
5. Yes, Everyone Is Still Proud Of All That Big Furniture
Source: Flickr user Rachel Kramer
Grand Rapids still reigns supreme as “Furniture City” since it’s still home to the headquarters of five of the world’s leading furniture companies.
6. A Day On The Lake Is Never Far Away
Source: Flickr user Michael Sprague
One advantage to living in Grand Rapids is the easy access to Lake Michigan without having to wade through all of the development found along the waterfront on Chicago’s side of the lake. Trips to the beautiful beaches on Michigan’s west coast are a part of the regular routine of Grand Rapids residents.
7. Everybody’s Going Dutch
Source: Tulip Time Festival Facebook
No place in the U.S. has a closer affiliation with Dutch culture than Grand Rapids and its surrounding cities. Dutch-descended Grand Rapids residents wishing to celebrate their culture can make a quick jaunt over to nearby Holland any time of the year to visit a wooden shoe factory (I’m not kidding), a Dutch village and a garden with a 250-year-old working windmill. And if those year-round offerings don’t help you get your fill of Dutchness, there’s always the world famous Tulip Time Festival each fall.
8. You’ll See Amway Everywhere, And That’s Just The Way They Like It
Source: Amway US Facebook
The Grand Rapids area is practically a monument to Amway, and if the fact that Amway’s massive headquarters sits just outside of Grand Rapids isn’t enough to convince you of this, the downtown presence of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel just might. And if you’re still not impressed, consider that the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, DeVos Performance Hall, DeVos Place Convention Center, DeVos Center for Arts and Worship, Van Andel Arena, Van Andel Institute and Van Andel Global Trade Center are all named after the original Amway owners.
9. Everyone Has The Chance To Be A Champion In Grand Rapids
Source: State Games of Michigan Facebook
The Meijer State Games of Michigan provide an opportunity for amateur athletes to make their Olympic dreams come true. Thousands of Michigan athletes compete in more than a dozen different Grand Rapids venues in hopes of leaving with gold medals and the distinction of being crowned “Meijer State Games of Michigan Champions.”
10. A Burger At Stella’s Lounge Will Blow Your Mind
Source: Stella’s Lounge Facebook
Almost every town in America claims to have a restaurant that serves the best burgers, but Stella’s giant stuffed burgers were literally named “Best in America” by GQ Magazine in 2012. That’s a tough act for any other burger joint to follow.
11. Everyone Gets Buzzed At MadCap Coffee
Source: Madcap Coffee Facebook
When you see that MadCap has been named one of the 21 best coffee shops in the country, and that its founder is the 3rd ranked barista in the entire nation, can there be any questioning why the folks of Grand Rapids prefer to buy their morning buzzes straight from this local coffee juggernaut?
12. The Snow Is For Playing, Not Fighting
Source: Winter State Games of Michigan Facebook
Last year, Grand Rapids earned the distinction of being one of the ten snowiest cities in the U.S. While getting more than 100 inches of the white stuff dumped on you may not be everyone’s idea of a great time, it provided plenty of opportunities for the many skiing and snowmobiling enthusiasts of West Michigan to enjoy the winter wonderland of their dreams.
13. You Can Go The Distance At The Fifth Third River Bank Run
Source: Fifth Third River Bank Run Facebook
With 22,000 participants, it is the largest 25K run in the country and is also recognized as the U.S. championship at that distance. Grand Rapids people are just that badass.
14. LaughFest Can Cheer Anyone Up
Source: Flickr user A Healthier Michigan
Grand Rapids’ LaughFest is a ten-day, laugh-for-the-sake-of-your-health festival that attracts more than 50,000 people to West Michigan each year. Considering the headliners for the event have included Jay Leno, Chris Tucker, Sinbad and Lily Tomlin, there’s no question the audience members leave with smiles on their faces.
15. There’s No Need To Stress About The Perfect Halloween Costume
Source: Halloween on Ionia Facebook
Halloween in Grand Rapids requires an additional layer (or two) of clothing for children going trick-or-treating, and even grown ups headed out for adult parties are generally inclined to shy away from some of the skimpy outfits since the cold makes it unbearable to expose bare skin.
16. Getting Hopped Up On Hops At HopCat
Source: HopCat Facebook
Having twice been featured on CraftBeer.com’s list of Great American Beer Bars, including a second place finish last year, HopCat is just one more reason why Grand Rapids is the top beer-drinking destination in the country.
17. Two-Wheeling Is The Way To Go
Source: Flickr user Steven Depolo
Grand Rapids boasts that it is one of the few cities that include mountain biking in their transportation plans, and Bicycling.com ranked it among the nation’s 50 most bike-friendly cities. I’m guessing it was the 120-plus miles of biking trails that got their attention.
18. The Sand Dunes Are Everyone’s Favorite Vacation
Source: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Heading up the Sleeping Bear Dunes is a Michigan rite of passage, and almost every West Michigan family has made regular trips up the Lake Michigan coastline to go playing in the sand.
19. Everyone Loves A Michigan’s Adventure
Source: Michigan’s Adventure Facebook
A combination of Michigan’s largest water park and an amusement park featuring seven roller coasters is a recipe that gives Grand Rapids residents no real incentive to skip town and head to Cedar Point in Ohio, unlike their Detroit-area brethren.
20. These Aren’t Your Mother’s Museums
Source: Grand Rapids Public Museum Facebook
If you are in Grand Rapids with five days budgeted for museum visits, there are five museums downtown within easy walking distance of each other. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum and Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts all provide ideal field trip destinations and memorable learning experiences for students and knowledge enthusiasts.
21. You Can Make All New Friends At John Ball Zoo
John Ball Zoo has the only aquarium in Michigan, and if that’s not enough to motivate you to visit, activities like camel riding and animal feeding interspersed with zip line riding and an obstacle course make for a thoroughly interactive, family friendly experience.
22. All The Cool Kids Groove At The Grand Rapids Jazz Festival
Source: GRandJazzFest Facebook
Grand Rapids may not have a reputation as a stronghold for jazz music, but three consecutive successful GRandJazzFest events are rapidly changing that line of thinking. This annual, free, two-day event has attracted tens of thousands of jazz enthusiasts to Rosa Parks Circle and introduced a new generation of fans to the magic of musical improvisation.
What do you think is great about living in Grand Rapids? Tell us in the comments below!