Talk about privacy!
Have you ever wanted to live on an island, all by your lonesome self? Well, these folks found a way! There's a small island on Thornapple River and with a house on it. The only way to get there is by ferry. Your own personal ferry, that is. Coming to think of it, going back & forth for half an hour would make for a good upper body workout. :)
You can see the ferry from Thornapple River Drive. Look for a yellow rope streteched across the river.
Downtown - The Ford...
Downtown - The Ford Presidential Museum, The Grand Rapids Art Museum, Hockey or football at the VanAndel Arena, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Childrens Museum, The Bob, John Ball Park Zoo. I would not recommend the VanAndel Museum Center.
Suburbs - Meijer Gardens in Ada. Shopping at Rivertown Crossings Mall in Grandville, shopping on 28th Street and Woodland Mall. Whitecaps baseball in Comstock Park. Hoops basketball in Walker. Locally, many small colleges have popular basketball programs as well. Golf - there are golf courses literally everywhere.
Lake Michigan - The best beaches are Hoeftmaster State Park in Muskegon, Holland State Park, and Saugatuck beach. Shopping in Grand Haven, Holland and Saugatuck. Saugatuck is definately the most unique. Tulip Time Festival in Holland. Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven. Muskegon, Holland and Grand Haven are 30 minute drives from Downtown GR, Saugatuck is about 40 minutes. All are safe, but stay on the beaten path in Muskegon.
Personally, I think our beaches are the best I have ever visited. They are clean, the sand is soft (not grainy like ocean sand), and there are enough of them that they don't get overly crowded. The water temperature is usually on the chilly side, the best time for swimming is July-August. Hoefmaster State Park in Muskegon also has numerous hiking trails through the dunes and woods.
All of these offer numerous photo opportunities, as well as recreational activities.
Oh those Michigan nights...
Grand Rapids was my first ever real visit to the midwest - and it was great. The people were incredibly nice and I really felt just that much more "American" and at home there. I don't really know how it compares had I seen a lot of other midwest cities, but it was a nice first place to visit.