Grand Rapids, Michigan Review – A Delightful Surprise

The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel from the Public Museum, Photo: Marcia Ferstenfeld

My trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan came about because  of its location, between Chicago and Detroit.  It seemed a good spot for two couples, one from Detroit and the other from Chicago to come together for  rest and recreation.  This location proved to offer a relaxed environment, and then, so much more than we expected.  Of course, our experience was greatly enhanced with the opportunity to spend two nights at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

From our room

Arriving there we found that we were in the perfect spot to relax in our fabulous rooms, to enjoy the hotel’s amenities, and to also enjoy the delights downtown Grand Rapids offered.  These included three museums, charming restaurants, a Polish Festival located in Rosa Parks' Park (in front of the art museum) and a lovely river walk.  All of these were unexpected discoveries, and they delighted us.  Another surprise was the eight weddings we saw or heard about and the activities we observed around set ups for receptions in two of the museums. We could easily walk everywhere and noted colorful flowers wherever we looked.

 

Another surprise was learning about a special event that takes place on September 23rd, known as the Art Prize. “The world's largest art prize will be awarded for the seventh year in Grand Rapids from Sept. 23-Oct. 11, 2015.” Should you want to vote check the artprizewebsite.

 

Pantlind Hotel Entrance

We found our rooms perfect for our needs, spacious with fabulous bathrooms and views that were both breathtaking and calming.  The hotel is old and new and historic. Once the Pantlind hotel (Pantlind history), its current mission is "To be the most admired hotel company by delivering quality experiences for our guests and employees." 

 

The Riverwalk

 

Detroit and Chicago met in Grand Rapids at the hotel late in the afternoon.  Our rooms were so lovely; we relished time there before heading out for an early dinner.  The concierge suggested a restaurant, which was about 5 blocks away through downtown.  We were surprised when we entered Stella’s Lounge .  It was fun and funky. The food was pleasant and, most unexpectedly, they serve some of the best single malt Scotch we have seen in a restaurant.

 

Settling in our rooms we noticed the lights from a merry-go-round on the other side of the river and decided to explore that the next day.  On our walk to dinner we passed San Chez Bistro and it looked so interesting we chose to head there for breakfast. Good choice.  Food and service were great.  From the San Chez Bistro website “Welcome to the most unique dining and entertainment venue in Grand Rapids. San Chez Bistro offers a blend of authentic European and Mediterranean cuisine in a fun, laid-back, and artful atmosphere. Welcome to the most unique dining and entertainment venue in Grand Rapids. San Chez Bistro offers a blend of authentic European and Mediterranean cuisine in a fun, laid-back, and artful atmosphere.”

Grand Rapids Public Museum

 

In the afternoon, we determined that we didn’t have the time for the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum, also across the river, but we were really curious about the merry-go-round.  Crossing the bridge over the river, we found ourselves at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, (272 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504, 616-929-1700) Grand Rapids Public Museum website.

 

Grand Rapids Public Museum - main hall

We were charmed by many of the exhibitions and displays.  Grand Rapid’s importance as a manufacturing center for cars and furniture was presented in various displays.  We enjoyed walking the streets of old Grand Rapids and sitting on the penny-farthing.  And we did have a chance to ride on the merry-go-round, as did a newly married couple whose wedding reception was being set up at the museum.

 

Grand Rapids Public Museum- merry-go-round

There is an outstanding King Tut exhibition at this time but our time ran out and we did not see it.  Later, a friend of mine who volunteers at the Field Museum in Chicago said that some of the docents from the Field had come to Grand Rapids especially to see the King Tut exhibition and were very impressed with it.

 

A-Z at the and Rapids Public Museum

We had walked past the Grand Rapids Art Museum several times and did not want to leave without exploring it.   It is lovely and the architecture offers excellent display area.  Some of the works were very unique and impressive and we enjoyed our time there.  And when we left the first floor was all ready for a wedding reception.  We also enjoyed the gift shop.  This is the museum oversees the Art Prize. Grand Rapids Art Museum website

Tre Cugini

 

That night, looking for a restaurant appropriate for celebration, we chose Tre Cougini, which claims to be “The best of Italy in the heart of Grand Rapids”.  We were pleased with our choice. The ambiance was pleasant, the food was delicious and the service was prompt and helpful. 

 

Dahlia display at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

But wait, there was more.  Before heading our separate ways on our last day, we enjoyed time together at the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, which is celebrating its 20th year and the opening of their Japanese Garden. This was the perfect ending to our time together.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park -Japanese Garden

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park - Japanese Garden

Photos: B. Keer unless otherwise specified

 

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