December 6, 2010

A Grand Giveaway: Grand Rapids Family Getaway

diana's crown

As you know, a couple weeks ago I was treated to a girls weekend getaway in Grand Rapids, Michigan, courtesy of
Experience Grand Rapids. I never really gave the run-down of what all we actually did, so here goes!

Our first night there we attended the
International Food & Wine Festival downtown at Devos Place connected to our hotel, the luxurious Amway Grand Plaza.

(It was my first time having Tower Club card access- meaning I could go to this secret floor for free drinks and appetizers and ooh la la!) (Ok, it's the little things.)


We ate dinner at the fest at the 1913 Room. It was pretty incredible. I'm not going to tell you what I ate because it is so very not vegan and I have to keep up the appearances, right? But it was really delicious.

Saturday we met early for breakfast at the hotel and then were off to the
Grand Rapids Art Museum across the street- which- had our weekend paused or even ended there I would have been completely satisfied. I loved the "GRAM" and everything about it- from its unique origins to their participation with Art Prize to the amazing Princess Diana exhibit: Diana, A Celebration.


princess diana


(It's there until February 16, 2011. Bring tissues.)


art prize- cavalry
art prize winner- all done with eighty #2 pencils

But, the time came that we were all hungry and we were off to The Green Well- the kind of menu I love to see-
ingredients from local farmers, quinoa! soups! fresh salads, and unique sandwiches. Loved. I ordered the tomato bisque and a Michigan Harvest salad, with an iced tea and a hot apple cider. Because I know you wanted to know that.

After lunch it was shopping time! We actually had time allotted for SHOPPING. So, we shopped. Tons of neat boutiques, a natural baby & kids store, antiques, consignment, all in one great swoop.
I bought a mirror with a moustache painted on it from Rebel Reclaimed, a place that repurposes and reclaims old antiques and adorable retro pretties. It hangs above my kitchen sink and I love it.


rebel reclaimed
shop owner, he was so nice to play along

We stopped for coffee and then had a short drive over to
Frederik Meijer Gardens. I would love to take the kids here. We had a wonderful tour through the gardens and sculptures- and seriously the sculptures alone are worth it.


Meijer Gardens "trees"
the indoor structures are like trees. loved.

THEN there is a whole children's garden there, too. This and the GRAM are absolutely on my list when we take the kids. They will love it. And I am already imagining all the pictures I will take...



some sort of carniverous plant
some kind of carnivorous plant that can eat birds and stuff. really.

We headed back to our hotel and I got a pumpkin facial at the
hotel spa Vasaio. For real. It was fabulous and what I call a sneaky pampering because you really get an arm massage, foot massage, and shoulder massage along with a heavenly facial. I like.

We had some free time to chill, visit the Tower Club, then walk over to
San Chez for dinner- an experience! We had a great time ordering all sorts of tapas to pass around (yes the first thing I ordered was the roasted garlic. I could eat that like candy!) (Hubs totally noticed when I came home.)

The place was packed but you felt like you were in a room all to yourself. If you know what I mean? Maybe I was just having so much fun not even worrying about the kids, and just letting go. Who knows.
It was a great time. I want to go back.

So, it worked, city of Grand Rapids! You won me over.


You can be won over, too. Be a fan on Facebook and follow along on Twitter if that's your cup of hot calming tea.

Anyway. Get to the point! I know!


Win! Experience Grand Rapids is giving away an overnight stay at the Hilton Grand Rapids +
a family package of tickets to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park,
iPod shuffle with Grand Rapids podcast,
The Polar Express movie (did you know Grand Rapids is in the movie??),
Official Experience Grand Rapids Visitor Guide
(visit must be scheduled by November 22, 2011)

Leave a comment to enter- anything will do. Have you been to Grand Rapids? Where do you like to go for a quick getaway? What is most important to see when you go on a family overnight trip? Or like I said, enter however you wish, just be sure to leave your contact info with your comment- I must know how to reach you if you win!

I will choose a winner at random sometime after 11:59 PM (CST) Tuesday 12/14.
Check out these other blogs for even more chances to win:
Winner has been chosen: congrats to Lisa of Heaven Sent!

Disclosure... Experience Grand Rapids paid all my expenses during my weekend getaway, and is also providing this giveaway. I was not paid nor even asked to write this review of my weekend in Grand Rapids (but they did ask if I wanted to do a giveaway and I said yes). These are my real thoughts and feelings! Yay!


132 comments:

  1. Oh my! We love doing getaways to somewhat-nearby cities- Bloomington (IN), Columbus (IN), Cincinnati, Chicago, South Bend- Grand Rapids would be an excellent addition to our list!

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  2. Oh! I love Grand Rapids! My husband and I went there before we were married for a concert and have never been able to make it back. I would love to go again and take the boys!

    soozenw at gmail dot com. :)

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  3. I had no idea something so very, very cool was so close to home.
    I want to go into tht recycle store int he worst way.

    Seeing how Mr. CE and I never had a honeymoon, or that we never, ever go on vacations...I'm thinking Grand Rapids would be a good destination...

    I'm so very glad you had such a great time!

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  4. A local get away sounds PERFECT right about now!

    trishabluhm@gmail.com

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  5. How exciting for you to be able to go away, yet still be so close to home!

    I recently reconnected with my brother who moved to Grand Rapids a few weeks ago! How exciting it would be to not only win but to be in his "stomping grounds" and be able to re-build a brotherly/sisterly relationship!

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  6. As a native of Michigan, I have to give this the thumbs up!! Grand Rapids is almost the 1/2 point between me and home, so it's a great place for me to go to meet my parents and friends!

    Glad you enjoyed my home state! I'd love to follow in your footsteps. ;-)

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  8. I would love to go anywhere right now, I want to se more of the country, I have lived here 5 years and seen nothing.

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  9. That's great! I have a brother that lives in Grand Rapids and a sister just north of there and we plan to go for a weekend next summer, would be great to have a place to stay and not bombard them with my big clan lol.

    jessica (at) mom-of-all-trades (dot) com

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  10. I'm from Grand Rapids and my family still lives there (I'm in Minneapolis - the greatest place on earth - now), but I've never been to the Amway or the GRAM. Isn't it weird how you never play tourist in your own home town?
    cheatingpiggies at hotmail dot com

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  11. What a fun giveaway! I would love to take my people on a trip.

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  12. I love Michigan. I would love to visit that Rebel Reclaimed store- amazing. when we go on a little get away, it's important to me that we do something fun/relaxing for each of us- and not overplan.

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  13. Glad to hear you had such a wonderful get-away! the restaurants, the facial, shopping, museums...all sounds fabulous!

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  14. Sounds like a blissfully relaxing experience sans the kiddos! Ahhhhh!!

    My husband and I like to do little getaways in our home state of WA. We've visited Leavenworth (A litle bavarian inspired town), we've also gone out to the ocean and to an island in the San Juans. I love going to B & B's. Sadly we haven't done much of that since kids! :)

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  15. I could totally use a weekend away after this semester!!

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  16. I want to go back to Meijer gardens... and go shopping!
    (The last time I went to Grand Rapids was with my in-laws... I need a do over!)

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  17. What a fabulous experience for you! I would die for the facial alone!!! And boy could we use a family getaway, especially one that is FREE and close to home. Thanks for sharing!

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  18. This looks like SUCH a great trip!!! Would love to win this!!

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  19. I'm jealous of your weekend getaway! I'm not sure if I'd rather have the facial time or time to eat snacks and have drinks on a secret floor! Sounds like you had a blast! I've never been up North but would love to come on up there and give lots of "Hey ya'll's!" :)

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  21. How fantastic for you! I would love to go to Grand Rapids. I'm sort of obsessed with traveling with the kids, which explains why we made an impromptu road trip last weekend to Indiana from Texas at 37 weeks pregnant!

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  22. I can't believe I've never taken the time to visit Grand Rapids! I fell in love with that little shop when I first saw your photos and would love to go get lost in there! The Contemporary Art museum there has also been on my list of places I'd love to visit!

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  23. I am so glad that you enjoyed your time in GR. I have so many great high school memories of traipsing around the places you mentioned in your post. We are taking the kids out of school this Friday to visit the Christmas trees as the Meijer garden. We buy the grandparents annual passes that they can use to take the kids anytime they want. Love.

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  24. I have never been to Grand Rapids but have always wanted to go! I always hear such nice things about that lovely town! It is so nice to try new places on a tank of gas!

    sugardipes1 at aol dot com

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  25. I love going to chicago for a getaway but I really need a little getaway now with everything i have been dealing and I would love to experience Grand Rapids

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  26. We've never been on a family overnight trip that wasn't to visit family. We'de love to go to Grand rapids!

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  27. Oooh, I would love the Grand Rapids giveaway for my family. We are a military family and move around ALOT! My middle child was born just north of Detroit. Sadly, I don't think we ever made it over to Grand Rapids during the 2 yrs. we lived in MI. It sounds like we missed out on a very cool city. We are less than a day's drive from there now & I would love to get to go check it out. Glad you had such fun with your girls' weekend!
    shalanavaron at gmail dot com.

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  28. My little family & I LOVE to take road trips for quick getaways! Last year we took in Chicago twice & took a jaunt over to N. Carolina. We'd love to add Grand Rapids of our list of 'seen' cities! Thanks for the opportunity!

    jess.gustin@yahoo.com

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  31. Never been to Grand Rapids and would love to go! All of Michigan is somewhat mysterious to me... not sure why since it is so close. k dot kmitta at gmail dot com

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  32. Lived in Holland (MI) for a summer after graduating from Michigan State and I love Grand Rapids, but I have never done the fancy schmancy things and would love to go back with my boys. Sounds like you had a fabulous visit!
    orangetriangle2 AT yahoo DOT com

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  33. I'd SO love to win this! I call Muskegon 'home', so I've been to GR several times, but this would be a great time to visit as I'll be 'home' in 2 weeks & would LOVe a fun little getaway while we're visiting!

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  34. Oh good grief, I wish I could even tell you how bad we need a road trip! Sounds like fun, sounds like relaxation, I would adore it!!
    heidi b.

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  35. Okay the plant that can eat birds really scares me a bit.

    Also, I have never been to Grand Rapids, but I have always wanted to go.

    Sounds like a great little getaway not too far from Ohio.

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  36. I would love an overnight get away. I have never been to Grand Rapids, MI. It sounds like so much fun. I would love to visit that shop you went to. I could get lost in there.

    nikkitomei@hotmail.com

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  37. A ton of my high school friends ended up in Grand Rapids!

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  38. Oh your making me home sick with all the Grand Rapids talk! I love the 1913 Room, and Frederick Meijer Gardens.

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  39. We love visiting Grand Rapids! We did some camping near there and I love to explore new places!

    ljsuroviak (at) hotmail (dot) com

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  40. Sounds like you had lots of fun, how cool to getaway with the girls!

    i've never been to Grand Rapids, it would be a super cool getaway, we could certainly use it!

    thanks!

    mommyinstincts AT comcast DOT net

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  41. Sure, I could handle going to Grand Rapids!

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  42. One of my best friends lives in Grand Rapids and all my in laws live less than two hours from there. I'm a Yooper Girl, so of course we've visited!

    whitney [dot] saunders [at] gmail.com

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  43. We just were there last weekend with the kiddos. We drove past the Amway and I said "OH! A blogger was just there!" And my husband said "Oh, you're internets friends!" Ha! It would be so nice to get up there sans children and just enjoy each other.

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  44. AH! I forgot! nfphotography at frontier dot com. Or Nichole Frank on Facebook :)

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  45. I've only been to Grand Rapids once for a day trip when a friends daughter was going to college there. I'd love to go again and spend some time like you did and get your wonderful experience. It would be a fun thing to do over Christmas break from school. You could give me a great birthday present and you are drawing on my mom's birthday. I'm feeling lucky!

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  46. We LOVE doing little weekend getaways with the kids, Short drives plus not too many days away from the norm = Perfect! :-)

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  47. Wow!! That's one heck of a getaway....I would SO love this. It would cross an item off my bucket list - a REAL vacation!! Even if it's only a day, it would so work *lol*

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  48. I'm so glad you liked Grand Rapids! It's so funny to read a blog post all about where I live from the perspective of someone who does not live here. I looove the Meijer Gardens and my daughter loves their children's garden. When you were there you were less than a block from the high school where I teach!! :)

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  49. We either "getaway" to Lake of the Ozarks, MO or downtown St. Louis...both close but not too far away fro a weekend trip.

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  50. Oh, I have been waiting for you to post about your trip to good 'ol GR! I live here...and love it! You absolutely need to bring your family up for ArtPrize in September...so cool!

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  51. I have not been there before. Family is near though so this could be a fun overnight trip when we are visiting next year. Awesome!

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  52. Grand Rapids is such a great city! We went during the summer, beautiful and peaceful. Would love to check it out decked out winter-wonderland style!

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  53. I love Grand Rapids! The river area is so beautiful! I will definitely check out the shop you talked about. I love antiques!

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  54. I am from just North of Grand Rapids and would LOVE to head "home" for a vacation1 I haven't been home to Michigan in almost 4 years :(

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  55. Wow! Sounds like a great time! We don't get to do a whole lot of getaways (we own our own business which is quite time consuming!) but we would LOVE to go to Grand Rapids! We're from NC and neither my hubs nor I have ever been to Michigan!

    heidiray42 at gmail dot com

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  56. Never been to Grand Rapids, sounds fun!!

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  57. This would be the perfect little getaway before baby #3 comes this winter!

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  58. I've been contemplating a trip to Grand Rapids... I really want to visit and see the big Art Prize event they put on. Loved hearing about what you did while there. Looks like so much fun. Viva la Midwest!

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  59. I would love to take my kids on a vacation. More importantly j would love a vacation!

    Email is kamberdawn at gmail dot com

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  60. I've been trying to figure out a way to visit Mars Hill (where Rob Bell is a teaching pastor) just outside of Grand Rapids. I had no idea there was so much other fun stuff to do their for families. So glad you had a great time and thank you for sharing it with us. Blessings!

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  61. I have family in Traverse City, so up until now, Grand Rapids has been a place to drive through on the away to somewhere.It looks like a fun stop!

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  62. I have never been but would love to go! Thanks, Steph!

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  63. I'm not entering the giveaway because it's a family getaway, but I think this would be such a fun girlfriend getaway. I'm going to keep it in mind if my gals and I ever need to get out of Chicago for a couple days :)

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  64. my parents live less than an hour from GR. Can't decide if I would take my husband or Casey. I know, that's bad.

    I would love to go back to the meijer gardens, I was there about 10 years ago when they opened but have never been back since.

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  65. Oh,wow. I am so, so far away from there, down here in Texas, but would really love, love, love to get a chance for a vacation! Neither my husband, I, or children have ever been anywhere near there, so it would be a new adventure for us.

    tanalynn66@gmail.com

    Thanks!!!!

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  66. We haven't been, but it sounds right up our alley! We are IL transplants (originally from the west coast) so we are just beginning to explore this part of the world.
    menumom(at)gmail(dot)com

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  67. Hi!!! You had me at 'As you know,"! Grand Rapids sounds like the perfect getaway for those that know how to get the most of it!! I'm glad you were able to find the time to treat yourself! You deserve it. It's always great to read up on your many excursions...Happy Holidays!
    PS. So how do you look with a mustache?

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  68. Shoot, yeah. I've been "through" Grand Rapids and would love the chance to spend more than an hour there. Count me in!

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  69. Greg and I are finally getting married soon, so winning this trip would be a chance for us to get away.

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  70. I love GR! They also have an awsome piano bar!
    Katrina kgreca@gmail.com

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  71. dying to go to all those little shops! so fun!

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  72. One of my favorite weekend places to go is Bloomington Indiana because my husband and I both went to college there and it's fun to revisit the memories.

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  73. Loved your post! Thanks! We like the dells off-season! We love to do things off season. Since we homeschool, we can take advantage of the low prices and the even lower wait times!
    Thanks
    Tami
    mahnsiam@yahool.com

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  74. That sounds awesome, Steph. And not too far from us! We're looking for more fun stuff to do with our girls now that they're older.

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  75. We live in Ohio, so a Michigan trip would be great--something new and fun, but not too long of a car ride with two little ones!

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  76. I would love to win this getaway and give it to my son and his wife who work very hard and need some time away.

    milkarmatuska@gmail.com

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  77. I'm in.
    Can a Girl's Weekend be solo? I could use 48 hours of silence, on occasion.

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  78. I would love for my family to get away. Grand Rapids is such a lovely place that I have driven through or nearby for years on the way to our favorite getaway. Would be nice to actually stop there.

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  79. Hubby and I SOOOOO NEED this! ;) Thanks for the heads-up! :)

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  80. This sounds lovely and I think it would be wonderful getaway from the Texas heat!

    Thanks for the chance to win. :-)

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  81. I've never been to Grand Rapids, and to be honest, never wanted to go until I read this. Also, I could use a vacation like WHOA.

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  82. Yes, I have been to GR. In fact I live near it. But I would love a getaway for some time to recharge and relax.

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  83. Wow lots of entries already! I believe I already mentioned this, but I LOVE GD Rapids-especially Founders brewery! :) Would LOVE to win this :)

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  84. i can't believe you did ALL that in one weekend. what fun! i love to dress up every now and then and get all fancy, but the opportunity does come around very often (or ever, really). :) so glad you were able to get away. i would love, love to have a small family vacation with my new family of four. :)

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  85. ooh ooh ooh pleeeaseee! :)

    kindra2222 at yahoo.com

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  86. We live in TX so a "quick" getaway for us (about 3 hours away) is to Galveston. We've never been to Grand Rapids or to Michigan. (I did know that it was in Polar Express though!) I'd love to use our frequent flyer miles for a random trip up north this summer when it's so hot down here!

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  87. We would love a getaway!!! We need a getaway!!!

    Ticia
    howell3@mchsi.com

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  88. Wonderful pictures. It looks like such a nice weekend. I've never been to Grand Rapids, but my in-laws love it there.

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  89. Winning a family getaway would be the coolest thing and I would be the coolest mom! Michigan is so beautiful!

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  91. We live a few hours North of Grand Rapids and the city holds a dear place in my heart. An overnight getaway sounds delightful!

    dianaguiney(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  92. Would love a local getaway (though my dd really wants to go to Hawaii- maybe for your next giveaway lol??!!)

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  93. This looks fabulous. I have never been to Grand Rapids! What a fun way to surprise my hubby for our anniversary!! Great giveaway!

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  94. I have never been to Grand Rapids, but your blog entry has definitely made me want to go. :)
    jenniferrenee(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  95. wow how fun! I've never been to Michigan but would totally love to. Weekend trip would be such a treat... please pick me!

    hannah dot skeeters at gmail dot com

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  96. Thats so neat my hubby and I really could use a vaca things are kinda rough right now. family / married time is a hard balance with 4 kids 5yrs and under!

    cnrjc36926@aol.com

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  97. How exciting! We live west of GR but love eating there. Rose's on Reeds Lake is my favorite. It would be such a fun little get-away to take my girls to FMG!
    Smiles!

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  98. I have never been to Grand Rapids, but it sounds delightful! I'd love to go and check out the art museum.

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  99. I would LOVE to win this! We are in Seattle but my parents live in MI, we would really enjoy visiting Grand Rapids on our next trip!

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  100. What an excellent review, Steph! Sounds lik you had a great time.

    I've never been to Grand Rapids, so would love to win this. Thanks! :)

    Bri

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  101. Sounds like you had great fun. I live about an hour away and have taken my kids to the zoo & FM gardens, but I have never done the fancy grown up stuff.

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  102. Oh, Grand Rapids sounds wonderful and it is just a couple of horus from my house! We love quick getaways and our favorites so far (since moving to South Bend) are Traverse City & New Buffalo! We have yet to experience Grand Rapids. Enter me please ;)

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  103. Gotta say GR is an awesome place!! I have lived in MI all my life, and 20 some years in GR and this summer was the first time I was in the GRAM for Art Prize. Glad you came to visit my home town!

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  104. You've definitely made the city enticing! I'll have to add it to my list of "cities to visit." :)

    Also - that carnivorous plant gives me the creeps. Weird.

    stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

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  105. I so want to take my littles, it looks like a fantastic trip!

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  106. Wow! What a great getaway! My hubby grew up only 30 minutes from Grand Rapids. This would be a great getaway for us!

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  107. My corporate offices used to be out of Ann Arbor, I would love to get a chance to see Grand Rapids (and @DiaperDiaries)

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  108. This is AWESOME! I live in Holland and work in Grand Rapids...you went to some very fun places...some of our favorites! We LOVE San Chez and the Green Well...and we are hoping to get to the GRAM to see the Princess Di exhibit (we are going to the Van Andel museum this weekend to see the Bodies Revealed exhibit that has been touring the country).

    ksluiter@hotmail.com

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  109. I live in Holland and we hardly ever get to enjoy Grand Rapids. I'd love to take my daughters to the Diana exhibit!

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  110. I've been to Grand Rapids, I was there overnight, I checked into a hotel, woke up, went to an 8 hour meeting and then left.

    I need another chance. k?

    And that store? I MUST GO NOW.

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  111. A weekend getaway would be awesome. Thanks for the opportunity!

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  112. I do love a good getaway. Even a close to home one. Refresh and Regroup!

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  113. This sounds like a really family-friendly place to go. We like exploring Midwest cities. Last year we went to Columbus for vacation and people laughed :-)

    Laura (at) chambanamoms (dot) com

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  114. I have never been to Grand Rapids, but it sounds like a "Great" getaway!

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  115. I would LOVE to get away! We haven't had a vacation since our wedding 11 years ago!

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  116. I would love a getaway with our family! Most of the time, we "getaway" to see our extended family, down south. This sounds like so much fun--a new place to explore and so many great things to do together!!

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  117. So yes, I live here, but I've never been to or done even half of the fun things you got to do on your trip! Sigh.

    I'm entering this - mainly because we never get to go away, and even a getaway in our own backyard would be an amazingly fun experience. Plus, I so want to take my girls to Meijer Gardens! After 2+ years of unemployment and belt-tightening, we just can't make it there on our own.

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  118. Oh wow, what an awesome giveaway! This sounds like SO much fun!

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  119. I have never been to Grand Rapids but it sounds fabulous! Would love a little getaway.

    lotsofsheep at sio dot midco dot net

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  120. I have never been to Grand Rapids but it sounds fabulous! Would love a little getaway.

    lotsofsheep at sio dot midco dot net

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  121. Ohhh a getaway to Grand Rapids would be awesome! It would be like getting away but still only being a few hours from home :-)

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  122. I love Grand Rapids! My Aunt and Uncle live there and we love to visit. SOO much to do. We made a really quick trip (only about an hour's time) visit to the Meijer Gardens this summer with our kids and it was not nearly enough time. We need to devote a whole day there!!

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  123. I've never been to Grand Rapids, but honestly, it's been so long since we've taken a vacation ANYWHERE, so this sounds like heaven!

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  124. I meant to enter this earlier. I have a couple friends who live in Michigan and this would be the perfect opportunity to get together with them!

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  125. Why not? Sounds like a lovely prize. :-)

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  126. We have some good friends who live in GR who we hardly get to see. We hear they have a fabulous chilren's museum there! :) Would love to win!

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  127. Sounds like so much fun! We've never been to Grand Rapids for a getaway, but we'd love to visit when we visit my hubby's family's cabin in Paw Paw. How cool!

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  128. I've never been to Grand Rapids but I would love to! Our family loves South Haven and visits a couple times every year. Thanks for hosting this!

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  129. After my year of cancer treatments, a getaway to Grand Rapids sounds heavenly! I am finally in remission and am looking forward to a cancer free 2011. Love to travel, can't wait to do it again!

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  130. My wife and I went to Grand Rapids last year and thoroughly enjoyed our time. The Meijer Gardens were so nice I included a picture I took there on my photoblog www.snapshotsamurai.com


    I'd love to go back and take some more pics of the city of Grand Rapids.

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  131. My husband and I found the Meijer Sculpture Gardens absolutely magical when they had the Chihuly exhibit there this summer. We've been saying we can't wait to go back with the kids and share the magic with them too.

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