Deer Park / Michigan's Adventure
This park is actually located in Muskegon, Michigan, but as it was part of my lift when I lived in Grand Rapids, and not really When I was a child, this was a fairly small amusement park with a train ride and a few scattered small rides. It was a place to spend a summer afternoon, but could not hold a candle to the big amusement parks in Ohio or Indiana or on the way to Chicago.
However, before my family left Michigan for Oregon, a few changes had been made. As one example, the train was originally a fairly short and uninteresting loop around the rides area. By 1978, the train was making an entire loop around the entire amusement park land, including a vast area that was undeveloped forest.
At that time, the majority of the park land was undeveloped forest, and the train ride really felt like you were going somewhere due to the forest through which the train traveled - quite distant from the rest of the developed part of the park.
Today, if you read the Wikipedia entry for this amusement park, you will find that the place has vastly changed - which you can expect after 30 years. Among other things, it is now the biggest amusement park in Michigan. The lake in the forest where people used to fish from docks has been replaced by a whole development of water park rides.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Theme Park Trips
Blanford Nature Center
I remember this nature center as having trails scattered through the woods, and an interpretive center that allowed children to learn about wild places. Long before it was in style elsewhere in the USA, Grand Rapids had a place for children to learn of nature.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Frank Lloyd Wright - Meyer May House
If you like art and architecture then surely don't miss out on a visit to Meyer May House.
This is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed house which was built in 1908. You can have a tour of this wonderful home.Related to:
Sparta Town & Country days THIRD WEEK OF JULY
Located just 15 minutes north of Grand Rapids, by taking main roads, the Village of Sparta holds their annual town and country days celebration every year the 3rd week of July.
Attractions include a huge book sale, art exhibit, nature camp, second best sales, a kids carnival put on by the boy scouts, a regular carnival with rides and games, a pig roast, craft projects for kids, concerts, food bake-offs and contests, health fair, museum tours (we have an old schoolhouse museum and a railroad depot museum), watermelon social, a 5K run, a children's fun run, an obstacle course (for the whole family!), volleyball and basketball tournaments, a bubble show, a children's entertainer, face painting, pony rides, a tractor show, a huge car show, a big wheel truck show, a french toast breakfast, a cattle show, 2 parades (one a children's parade the other a large parade through town), a cattle show, a pet show, beer tent, bale (hay) tossing competition, texas hold-em tournament, clowns, karoke and much much more!!! Also the local shops have specials on shopping and hold drawings and contests, and the local neighborhoods are filled with garage sales....
it's a great place to be the 3rd week of July!!! We're having a party, and you're invited, so come on out and see the Village of Sparta, what a neighborhood should be!!!!Related to:
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
3 Big Frogs
The gardens also include meandering trails and a boardwalk along a marshy area.
Even here you will see the sculptures that reflect the wildlife that inhabits the area.
These are the three biggest frogs I've ever seen in a swamp!
Recalling the outbuildings
I enjoyed walking around looking at the different small buildings on the farm at Meijer gardens. I remembered the milkhouse my father had and the big milkcans. I still have one for a remembrance.
We also had a smokehouse made from brick and a chicken house, a pig sty and a huge wooden carriage barn. There was also a corn crib, a silo of course and for folks who lived there in the "olden days" an outhouse.
A three holer if I remember correctly.
This farmhouse at the gardens had all of the things we had.
Visit a Michigan Farm and Farmhouse
This 1880's farmhouse was built to 3/4 scale of Lena Rader Meijer's childhood home.
The Michigan farm display is reminiscent of a 1930's family farm. The wrap-around front porch has rocking chairs to sit and rest and to escape the summer heat. Even though there is no entry to the house, near the porch there are toilets and drinking fountains.
The barn was moved from its original site and received the "2005 Barn Award" of the year. Around the outside of the barn are different sculptures of animals in their pens.
A great way to see the animals and not have to keep up their care or bother with their smell.
Petra exhibit at Calvin College
The final stop on the US tour of Petra: Lost City of Stone is at Calvin College in Grand Rapids running through August 15, 2005. This exhibit was as well laid out and comprehensive as an exhibit that we would see at the Field Museum in Chicago on a similar subject and is worth a stop should you be in the area.
The exhibit features 200 artifacts from Jordan and US collections, a short movie on the history and importance of Petra as a trading post and it's decline. There is also a collection of more modern photographs and Jordanian clothing.
There's a nice little gift shop accompanying the exhibit (I did have to laugh at the inclusion of Jordan almonds) and there is a cafe where you can try middle eastern dishes.
Closed on Sunday
John Ball Park Zoo
One of the largest zoos in Michigan, with over a 1,000 animals. It's cageless exhibits and the tons of trees make the park/zoo a nice place to spend an afternoon. Open daily 10-6 May-Labor Day. 10-4 rest of the year. Admission $3.50. Free Dec-FebRelated to:
- Family Travel
The Van Andel Museum
Well-laid out and comprehensive museum of regional history for Western Michigan, with special focus on its forests and its industrial development. Lots of displays about the development of the furniture industry, once very important here. (Grand Rapids is still headquarters of Steelcase, the leading office furntiture manufacturer.)Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
The Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum
Originally appointed by Richard Nixon to fill in the Vice-Presidency after Spiro Agnew was forced to resign, Gerald Ford stepped into the responsibilites of the Oval Office after Nixon's own Watergate-related resignation in July 1974. His political roots were in Western Michigan, and he represented Grand Rapids in the Congress for a number of years. His Presidential Library and Museum is quite user friendly and is full of interesting stuff from the mid-1970s. Coming here is a good way to recapture the spirit of bell-bottom pants, the "Whip Inflation Now" Campaign, and the American Bicentennial Celebrations of 1976.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Grand Rapids Symphony
The Grand Rapids Symphony was organized in the late 1920s and is recognized as one of America's leading regional orchestras. The Symphony employs 49 salaried and 31 part-time musicians and has earned national praise for musical excellence. Called "a model for a middle-sized city's aspirations" by The Philadelphia Inquirer, the orchestra has earned the esteem of both audiences and peers. The number of concert series subscriptions has tripled since 1980, and so has the number of contributors. The Grand Rapids Symphony budget has grown in the last decade from $1.5 million to $6.9 million.
The orchestra offers a number of series targeted at a wide variety of people. The Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series in DeVos Performance Hall features "Upbeat," pre-concert conversations with orchestra musicians and guest artists. The Pops Series highlights big name entertainers and offers a mix of musical favorites, including the Fifth Third Holiday Pops concerts. The Casual Classics Series is offered in Grand Rapids and Holland. Coffee Classics are one-hour morning performances. People of all ages continue to be entertained by Lollipop concerts sponsored by Target Stores and the Family Series concerts. The Bank One Picnic Pops provides great music in the great outdoors for everyone.
The picnic pops are quite a show! Artists are invited for the performance and its a pretty relaxed environment.
Van Andle Arena
The arena vitalized GR's downtown. The 12,000 plus capacity arena was named the #1 midsize facility in the nation (Amusement Business 3 years in a row).
In the arena you can find concerts, bull riding, ice skating, boxing, you name it... Since marking its Grand Entrance on October 8, 1996, Van Andel Arena has attracted the biggest names in family shows, concerts and sporting events. Acts such as Neil Diamond, Disney on Ice, NCAA Hockey West Region Finals, the AHL Arena Bowl XV game and Elton John have demonstrated the Arena?s versatility.
If you will be in Grand Rapids check out what the arena has scheduled.
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.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Celebration on the Grand is...
Celebration on the Grand is held every year on an early September weekend at Ah-Nab-Awen Park. Fireworks kick off the celebration on Friday evening and free outdoor concerts are offered during the weekend. The festivities draw crowds from every age range and are definitely worth the hassles of getting there.
Grand Rapids Hotels
If you don't plan to spend the $200+/night to stay here it is definitely worth walking into. The...more
Located aross the street from a vacent lot in a bad part of town. Staff extremly unfriendly. Beds...more
If you like seeing bed bugs crawling on your sheets (and dead in your dresser drawers), please don't...more
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