By Caitlin Phelan
Grand Rapids is known for its lively downtown, award winning restaurants and beer, and excellent museums that attract thousands of tourists. There is so much to do and see in Grand Rapids and its surrounding areas, it can sometimes be overwhelming to decide where to go, especially for college students who are on a budget and short on time. The Collegiate asked students from the Grand Rapids area to share their favorite places to go that don’t break the bank.
West Michigan is known for its beautiful beaches. Saugatuck Dunes State Park is about 40 minutes from Grand Rapids and is known for its beautiful view of Lake Michigan’s coast. Kaden Boock, a 21-year-old multimedia journalism major said, “Saugatuck has some of my favorite beaches to go to in Michigan.” Boock is from Jenison and has lived in the West Michigan area for over four years. Saugatuck is also known for its coastal dunes, some of which are over 200 feet tall. You can ride the dunes at Saugatuck Dune Rides for $25.
If you are a nature lover, there are many trails hidden right outside of Grand Rapids. Provin Trails, located off 4 Mile Rd between Dean Lake Ave and the East Beltline, is heavily wooded and largely underdeveloped. It is surrounded by tall trees that provide shade on hot days. “I love going hiking there,” says Rediate Slager, a 21-year-old psychology major from Hudsonville.
Lookout Park is a popular park to visit in downtown Grand Rapids. Classified as a mini park, it has a bird’s-eye view of Grand Rapids. It is great to watch a sunset, do yoga, have a picnic, or meet with friends. Gabby Pope, a 21-year-old early education major from Grand Rapids said, “Lookout Park is my favorite place to watch the sunset.”.
Fulton Street Farmers Market hosts multiple farmers downtown on Fulton Street every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Farmers come from all over to sell their fresh produce in the spring through the fall season. Nearly 200 different businesses attend, providing an assortment of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, and other hand-crafted food products. The market also accepts several food assistance programs. “I loved it there, they had amazing plants for sale,” Slager said.
Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery is a local, family owned farm. The most popular time to visit is in the fall. Boock said fall is his “favorite time of the year to visit.” Known for their apple cider and cinnamon doughnuts, Boock said, “Robinettes has amazing doughnuts.” They also have a cider mill, winery, restaurant and a bakery. In the fall there are corn mazes and hayrides.
About 30 minutes from Grand Rapids is the Veldheer Tulip Garden in Holland, Michigan. They are known by Michiganders because of their beautiful garden filled with hundreds of colorful tulips. The garden is open from the springtime to the fall,when the flowers are visible. Tickets are $5 to enter the garden.
John Ball Zoo, located on Fulton street, just two miles from the center of Grand Rapids is a great place to visit if you love animals and wildlife. The zoo has over 2,000 animals including bears, chimps, and tigers. They also offer cool experiences such as zip lining and camel rides. The entry fee is free with a GoPass and RaiderCard. “I love all the animals they have. Their bird exhibit is my favorite,” Slager said.
Frederik Meijer Gardens is a famous spot to visit in Grand Rapids. Known as a botanical garden with sculptures, indoor art exhibits & outdoor summer concerts. Shannon Russell, a 19-year-old business major from Grand Rapids said, “Frederik Meijer Gardens is one of my favorite places in Grand Rapids.They have a butterfly room which is a cool experience.” “It is very affordable.” To enter, a ticket costs $13.50 with a student ID.
Grand Rapids is also known for its many museums. One highly recommended museum is the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Russell says, “.. it’s the best museum in Grand Rapids in my opinion, it has lots of different rooms to tour. It’s perfect for all ages.” Entry is free with a GoPass and Raidercard.
The Grand Rapids Art Museum is another museum to visit. It is located in downtown Grand Rapids, on Monroe Ave. The museum houses a broad range of art spanning from the Renaissance period all the way to contemporary art. They have about 5,000 items on display. Entry is free with a GoPass and RaiderCard. “There is beautiful artwork everywhere. It’s one of my favorite spots in Grand Rapids to visit,” Slager said.