November 29, 2011

Grand Rapids is Grand


Our family getaway to Grand Rapids, Michigan this past weekend was absolutely the best. We got up early Saturday morning and headed on up. It's under a three hour drive from Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland -- just the perfect amount of time with four kids in our little car.


Because the weather was nice enough for outdoor play, we headed straight for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. When we visited last month, we hadn't allowed ourselves enough time to explore the Children's Garden. This time we went there first. And we roamed every square inch! We could easily spend the day there, with the play structures and hideouts and little forts, and the maze!


The Varnum Family log cabin in the Children's Garden was one of the highlights. We had a hard time getting the kids out of there! The vintage folk toys were a big hit. I highly recommend carving out some moments to spend in the cabin playing all the games- especially Skittles. And it's the perfect spot to warm up by a real fire.

Skittles is awesome.

Carter was diligent at capturing photos all weekend with his iPod:

Frederik Meijer Gardens via Carter

After Meijer Gardens, we did a little shopping at Rebel Reclaimed and Eastown Antiques on Lake Drive. Then we headed to The Green Well for a late lunch.


We practically had the restaurant to ourselves and every bite was fabulous. Gray loved the baked goat cheese and the kid's meal portions were quite generous. Ivy and Gray actually shared a meal and they split it on two different plates for us!


We walked across the street to an awesome eco-conscious kids shop (Hopscotch.) I continued with my small business Saturday support and bought a couple things there (and actually ended up ordering a couple things the kids wanted for Christmas when we got home.) 

The kids were SUPER excited to finally check-in to the hotel. It has a pool. And a hot tub. I might have tweeted from it and almost dropped my iPhone but no harm done. And it was worth it. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on Pearl Street in downtown Grand Rapids again and it's quickly become our very favorite. The customer service is outstanding and while this visit was taken care of by Experience Grand Rapids, we are definitely making plans to go up again for a weekend or two, and for sure hope to get our rooms at the Holiday Inn. We're regulars now, you know.

(In case you're wondering, when we travel we are all about the adjoining rooms. Two double beds for the kids and a king suite for Ma & Pa is the way to go.)

Sunday after breakfast at the Pearl Street Grill (in the hotel PS kids eat free!) we walked next door (literally) to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. I just have to say, especially for kids, this has to be one of my favorite museums ever. The Streets of Old Grand Rapids is perfection, and the volunteers are just as charming and entertaining. The kids -- we all -- learned so much! Also, I happened to buy a ton of Christmas gifts in the gift shop!

In the BIG STUFF exhibit (showing through the end of the year) they had a wall at the exit where guests could write on post-it notes and leave suggestions for what they'd like to see curated at the museum for people to see 150 years from now. Some of the notes cracked me up:


1. guys with Justin Bieber hair
2. hand written thank you notes & hand written snail mail love letters (I knew my friends at Hallmark would love that one.)
3. Your Mom

(I wrote down iPhone and Ivy drew a smiley face.)


Gray was inconsolable for a good hour after we checked out - as you can see. His favorite part of Grand Rapids is the hotellllllllllllllllllllll. (Say it with a wail for full effect.)

And, you know, this was just Part One of our mini-vacay. (See Part Two here.) I'll fill you in on all the wonderful holiday activities we got ourselves into for December's post. There is SO much to do year-round in Grand Rapids with big or little kiddos - or no kids at all. The museums! The shopping! The art! The beauty! It's grand.

Our hotel stay, meals, entry to Meijer Gardens and Public Museum, as well as compensation for this post were paid for as part of my relationship with Experience Grand Rapids. We can't wait to go back. xoxo


  1. We need to follow your hotel stay advice. Six of us in a hotel room, even a suite, is too much. Love the adjoining rooms thought. Why didn't I think of that??? Looks like a fabulous time!

  2. I loved reading this. We go to Portland several times a year and do similarly fun activities. The funny part is, my 5 year old son sounds just like Gray. No matter what we do, his favorite part of any trip is (usually) the hotel. He would just hang out in the room, swim, explore and fill ice buckets for an entire weekend if we'd let him. And he is usually wearing a similar face whenever we leave. :)

  3. Makes me want to go check out all these cool places you went to. I'm so glad you have a close vacation spot to go to. The cabin with the games sounded like so much fun and a fireplace to boot! I love Grays expression when you were checking out. Maybe he could manage a Hotel when he grows up.

  4. Have you been to the GR Children's Museum yet? We loooooove it. They do a great job there and the kids get to do so much!

  5. Wow your post makes me want to go back east and just continue on to Grand Rapids. Wouldn't it be fun if we could all go to Grand Rapids together? Another place I'd love to go is Holland, MI during the tulip festival.

  6. It's so fun to read this I lived in GR until I graduated from HS. It's been so long since I lived there, but I still can picture all these places. Apparently, the city is turning into this awesome place.

  7. I LOVE GR!! Such a fun city! It is only an hour 15 min where I live in MI so we go quite often! We have stayed at that Holiday Inn, they did a GREAT job remodeling it! Have you ever taken your kids to yesterdog? It is very popular and it is right outside of GR, my husband and I LOVE that restaurant and it is SUPER cheap!

    LOVE your blog! :)

  8. I love Grand Rapids, too :) I've been a few times and will head back again in January for a scrapbooking weekend with friends!

    It looks like you guys had a great time :)

  9. Looks like a super fun city for families. We almost made it there on our trek across the country, but ended up taking another route.

    We're all about suite-style hotel rooms when we travel. Either that - or renting a vacation home is nice.

    P.S. I love Ivy's hairdo.

  10. Oh the fun!!! I just love it!!! The whole of it!!! Looks like you guys just had such a great time!!!

  11. (can you tell i'm getting caught up on blog reading?) :)

    i love love love this. such a great idea to go not that far but just far enough from home and explore the wonderful places right around our "region" (whatever region that is!).


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