Fall is a season of inspiration and sustenance in Grand Rapids. Named one of America’s safest cities for LGBTQ singles in 2021, it’s a place to relax, unwind and replenish your body and soul. See art from all over the world, everywhere you look. Taste the bounty of the fall harvest in restaurants, breweries, cideries and distilleries. Spend the day communing with nature and the night on the town. Take a side trip to Saugatuck, the Lake Michigan beach town that’s home to the Midwest’s largest LBGTQ+ resort – it’s just a short drive from downtown Grand Rapids. And don’t miss these fall highlights:
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. The world’s #1 sculpture park (LuxuryColumnist, 2020) dazzles the eye with a combination of natural and manmade art. Chrysanthemums & More! (Sep. 17-Oct. 31) features thousands of fall’s signature flowers in bloom across 158 sprawling acres, set among a collection of nearly 300 significant sculptural works from the likes of Rodin, Degas, Calder and Serra. A Japanese Garden, Michigan Farm Garden and Japanese Garden manifest a kaleidoscope of fall colors and you can ward off the fall chill with a step inside Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory.
ArtPrize. The world’s most attended public art event (Sep. 16-Oct. 3) fills downtown Grand Rapids with art of all kinds. Artists from around the globe display their work in public spaces – sidewalks, alleys, parks, rooftops, balconies, windows, parks and more – and public vote determines the grand prize winner. For the first time this year, visitors can use an app to award cash and emotional rewards directly to artists, and to bid on and purchase artwork. ArtPrize coincides with a host of other community festivals, including the Confluence Sensory Festival, Bourbon Fest, Oktoberfest, Global Water Festival and African American Arts & Music Festival, so check the dates and plan your stay accordingly. Even if you can’t make it for ArtPrize, you can see and abundance of public art – including past ArtPrize entries – all over downtown, every day of the year.
Grand Rapids Downtown Market. Grand Rapids is Michigan’s Best Food City (Thrillist, 2019) – and this local foods emporium is a great place to experience the region’s culinary prowess. The Market Hall is filled with artisan cuisine, local grocery items and specialty food products – more than 20 restaurants and vendors that emphasize freshly harvested and freshly prepared foods. The Market also offers a packed schedule of delectable events – and it’s an ArtPrize venue, to boot!
MDRD. One of the city’s newest dining destinations – pronounced “Madrid” – is a “lavishly Spanish” restaurant that serves up expressive entrées, tantalizing shareables, decadent desserts and lush libations along with a captivating view. Perched atop the 27th floor of the AAA Four Diamond Amway Grand Plaza hotel, MDRD offers panoramic views of the Grand River that flows through downtown. It’s one of 130+ restaurants within a 10-minute walk of downtown hotels, museums and nightlife.