Grand Rapids is a burgeoning city located east of Lake Michigan. Fittingly enough, the Grand River runs through its center. Old industrial roots can be seen in the city’s architecture, which often features original brick, steel, wood beams, and hardwoods. Sculpture gardens, tropical conservatories and art museums provide some of the area’s entertainment. Known for its local breweries, the city also boasts a delicious local beer selection. Folks who appreciate the four seasons will love the scenic beauty that can be found here and choosing a down-to-Earth wedding locale has never been easier. These are the top 25 places to tie the knot in Grand Rapids. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.


1.Clearwater Place Event Venue

Clearwater Place Event Venue
© Clearwater Place Event Venue

Airy and bright, this wedding venue features stunning architecture. Sky-high ceilings are formed by a network of exposed, black iron beams and bolts, which follow an A-frame roof design. Ivory walls and a row of upper windows along the periphery soften the industrial feel of the space. A glass enclosed mezzanine adds dimension and a balcony overlook. The open-concept staircase gives the bride a chic opportunity to make her grand entrance. Drum chandeliers, market lights, mid-century modern fixtures, and vintage furniture play into the boho vibe. A herringbone dance floor and custom bar feature superb craftsmanship. A bridal suite is provided. The venue has audio visual capabilities and fee parking. A catering kitchen is available for use.

1430 Monroe Avenue Northwest, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-913-2234

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2.Eberhard Center

Eberhard Center
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Located on the Grand Valley State campus, this venue is situated among downtown’s hotel and restaurant scene. The iconic, royal blue footbridge gives the bride and groom a memorable photo opportunity, with city views. A wedding specialist assists couples in planning and personalizing packages to their taste and price point. Delicious menu options are designed by the venue’s in-house catering team. The banquet hall has recessed ceilings, brick walls, neutral carpeting, and a dance floor. A baby grand piano sits ready to be played. There is a bridal party suite and free parking, to boot.

301 West Fulton Street, 210 Eberhard Center, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-331-6620

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3.Eve at The B.O.B.

Eve at The B.O.B.
© Steven/stock.adobe.com

Located in the heart of downtown, this posh venue has loft appeal. Smoky black ceilings, gold drum pendant lights, grey brick walls and polished flooring set the tone. A midcentury-style, island bar is accessible by all four corners of the room. The lounge area features art deco carpeting. Modern leather furniture in ivory and teal is modulated to create intimate coves and places to gather. Art installations form wave-like wall partitions. The space, which seats up to 125 people, is simply, chic. Catering and menu design are provided. This venue is LGBT friendly.

20 Monroe Avenue Northwest, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-356-2627 x116

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4.Wedding Venues Near Me: Gallery Divani

Wedding Venues Near Me: Gallery Divani
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Centrally located, this venue has access to several hotels and downtown nightlife. The restaurant’s interior has an urban, steakhouse feel. Wood floors, tan brick walls, and exposed ventilation treatments structure the look of the private banquet room. The space seats up to 100 guests and can accommodate 160 attendees for a strolling reception. A creative menu of fine American favorites will leave guests happily satiated. The bride and groom will appreciate the local beer selection and craft cocktail bar, not to mention wines pulled from the temperature controlled wine cellar. For package details, couples may contact the establishment’s event manager.

15 Ionia Southwest, Suite 130, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-774-9463

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5.Grand Rapids Wedding Venues: Goei Center

Grand Rapids Wedding Venues: Goei Center
© artem_goncharov/stock.adobe.com


Just a ten minutes’ drive from downtown, this 15,000 square foot venue is both rustic and romantic. Exposed rafters and studs, tan brick walls, and hardwood floors create the design feel. Delicate, candle chandeliers twinkle, adding a touch of femininity. Couples may also choose to incorporate the warm amber glow of market lights. The space is versatile, and easily personalized to taste. Chiavari seating and tables are provided. For capacity inquiries, the venue may be contacted directly. The bride and groom may choose their caterer of choice, as well as any other necessary vendors. Complimentary parking is included, and couples may choose to upgrade to valet, for a fee.

818 Butterworth Street Southwest, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-949-2421

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6.Places to Get Married: Grand Rapids Art Museum

Places to Get Married: Grand Rapids Art Museum
© Yura Yarema/stock.adobe.com


The ultra-modern architectural design of the museum showcases concrete and glass construction, and an immense waterfall installation at its entry. Couples who share a taste for minimalism will love the sleek design of the venue’s versatile spaces. Sky-high ceilings, all-glass walls, and light pebble hues create the look. An absolutely stunning, multi-level lobby staircase features a translucent baluster; a marvelous choice for presentation of the bride and groom at the reception dinner. The terrace, with its colossal columns, is a posh location for cocktails. Additional spaces include an onsite park and auditorium. A wedding event specialist assists in planning every detail. All alcohol is served by the museum. A list of preferred caterers is supplied.

101 Monroe Center Street Northwest, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-831-2916

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7.Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Grand Rapids Downtown Market
© Grand Rapids Downtown Market

A fairytale setting, couples may wed in the market’s greenhouse, surrounded by tropical botanicals. Seating accommodates up to 180 guests for ceremony, and up to 80 guests for a reception dinner. A smaller greenhouse, the Garden Room, is available for additional seating. The banquet room is larger, seating 180 guests, or 250 strolling. Floor to ceiling windows reveal the city scape. Harwood floors, a soft white palette, and wood slat accent walls create a clean, crisp look. The venue provides a well-balanced list of exclusive catering options. Full service staff is provided, and the event team ensures every detail is executed with precision. A full audio visual system is provided.

435 Ionia Avenue Southwest, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-805-5308

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8.Grand Rapids Wedding Venues: New Vintage Place

Grand Rapids Wedding Venues: New Vintage Place
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A landmark of the west side, the old factory still dons its legendary, 150-foot smokestack. The interior features miles of vertical space, towering industrial windows, and washed brick. Exposed black steel framing, coal accent walls, and amber market lights add to the historic feel. A cable-wire staircase extends up to the mezzanine, which overlooks the bar and cocktail lounge. Couples may host both the ceremony and reception in the main room. With so much square footage, the bride and groom have room to play with fantastical décor. An outdoor amphitheater and courtyard offer additional locations. Up to 300 guests sit down to a tantalizing dinner, prepared by the venue’s exclusive catering partner. Free parking is provided.

889 Broadway Avenue Northwest, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-774-4400

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9.Grand Rapids Wedding Venues: Noto's Old World

Grand Rapids Wedding Venues: Noto's Old World
© ctvvelve/stock.adobe.com

Couples who have a love for all things “Italy” will appreciate what this venue has to offer. The ballroom is awe-inspiring. Intricately designed tin ceilings and massive teardrop chandeliers command attention. Floor to ceiling, multi pane windows create an entire wall of sunlit views. A grand staircase with marble steps descends elegantly into the ballroom. A snuggly sized attic loft features ceiling arches built of brick; a fairytale location for photos of the bride and groom. Smaller weddings may be hosted in one of the restaurant’s private dining rooms, or even in the herb garden. Mouthwatering reception menus and decadent cakes are sure to please. Guests will delight in the venue’s selection of imported wines.

6600 28th Street, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-493-6686

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10.Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids, MI: Paddock Place

Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids, MI: Paddock Place
© LElik83/stock.adobe.com

A 19th century mansion, this historic venue features rich hardwood floors, wood paneled walls, intricate woodwork, and bronze inlays. Recessed ceilings, interior archways, etched glass, and lamp chandeliers add to the old-world charm. There are five entertainment spaces to choose from, each with its own character. The estate has everything from crisply tailored, early-American design, to Irish pub-like dining rooms. Seating can accommodate between 30-55 guests, depending on the space. For larger sized weddings, a tent pavilion may be set up in the grassy lawn, upon the red brick patio. Seating can accommodate up to 150 guests outside. The catering menu offers inventive preparation of choice-cut meats and sumptuous seafood fare.

1033 Lake Drive Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-742-0600

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11.Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids: Quail Ridge

Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids: Quail Ridge
© antonpavlin/stock.adobe.com

The clubhouse is an excellent choice for a casual, summertime wedding. The golf course is located in Ada, just minutes outside of downtown. Rolling green fairways, leafy trees, and several areas of wetland create the backdrop. Couples wed beneath an arbor, overlooking the pond. The reception dinner may be held in a tent pavilion, with a concrete patio underfoot, and twinkle lights overhead. Should the bride and groom prefer, they may reserve the restaurant. A neutral color palette, blonde wood furniture, and a fully equipped bar structure the space. Up to 200 guests may be seated. A customizable dinner menu is cooked by the site’s catering staff.

8375 36th Street Southeast, Ada, MI, Phone: 616-676-2000

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12.Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids: Revel Center

Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids: Revel Center
© Julianna Olah/stock.adobe.com

Sophisticated and rustic, this venue offers a beautiful setting and unique entertainment amenities. The ballroom features a gorgeous, herringbone hardwood floor. Washed brick and noire wall panels enclose the space. Large arched picture windows feature multi-paned design. Exposed rafters are lined with neat rows delicately sized bulbs. Gold scones and bulb chandeliers emit an amber glow. Couples may choose from the venue’s list of preferred caterers and bar vendors. No kitchen is available. Special perks include a retro arcade and photo booth. A projector and audio visual system is provided. Free parking is available onsite. The venue offers set up and take down services as part of the rental. Capacity is 200 guests for sit down dinner.

1535 Monroe Avenue Northwest, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-202-6524

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13.Indoor Wedding Venues Near Me: St. George Banquet Conference Center

Indoor Wedding Venues Near Me: St. George Banquet Conference Center
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Located near several downtown churches, this reception space provides couples with convenience. The event ballroom is circular in shape, ensuring that every guest has a good view of the celebration. Two levels of windows, etched columns, recessed ceilings, and crystal drum chandeliers design the space. The wall color is icy white, ethereal in appearance. A stage and retractable projection screen are provided. Couples will appreciate the all-inclusivity of the venue, which offers complete wedding planning services. The famed West Michigan Caterer partners with the venue to prepare a mouthwatering menu. Florals, décor, and entertainment are all handled by the event staff. Free parking adds ease to wedding day transitions.

334 La Grave Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-235-2550

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14.Wedding Venues Near Me: Studio D2D Event Center

Wedding Venues Near Me: Studio D2D Event Center
© Studio D2D Event Center

Situated downtown, this venue boasts modern-industrial style and sparkling city views. Tan brick, polished concrete flooring, hardwoods, and square-cut support studs structure the space. Great expanses of multi-pane windows flood the two-level loft with light. Shimmering chandeliers add a touch of glamour. This venue is a one-stop-shop, providing all wedding planning and design services. Seating, serving, linens, florals, DJ services, and compilation of a photo montage are provided. The bride and groom are given the option to choose from a list of preferred caterers and vendors. Between the building’s two, free-flowing entertainment spaces, up to 300 guests may be seated.

401 Hall Street Southwest, Box 80, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-466-0061

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15.Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids, MI: The Ballroom at McKay

Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids, MI: The Ballroom at McKay
© The Ballroom at McKay


A luxurious wedding location, the interior features Victorian era design. Coffered ceilings that reach the sky, powerful stone columns, rotund chandeliers, and opulent drapery create the look. A bold palette of deep emerald, silver, crème, and black color the ballroom. The space is simply, luxurious. Couples choose from a list of preferred caterers. Full bar service is provided by the venue. Seating is provided for up to 200 guests, although capacity may be greater. Professional lighting allows the bride and groom to choose the mood of their ceremony and reception dinner. Audio visual capabilities are present. Couples receive assistance from both an event coordinator, and a venue coordinator.

146 Monroe Center Street Northwest, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-951-1078

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16.Places to Get Married: The Bissell Tree House at John Ball Zoo

Places to Get Married: The Bissell Tree House at John Ball Zoo
© Lana Winter/stock.adobe.com


The zoo’s private ballroom is located in an emerald green-roofed pavilion, with a wrap-around porch. Couples may choose to wed on the veranda. The interior is simple, with white walls and tan carpeting. The zoo supplies no-frills tables and seating, and linens must be ordered offsite. Décor must be approved by the zoo, as well as any outside vendors. Caterers must be chosen by the zoo’s list of partners, and the zoo provides a multitude of bar packages. For couples who want to add a bit of whimsy to their celebration, they can hire use of a few strolling animals during reception.

1300 West Fulton Street, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-336-4300

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17.The Bluff Banquet and Conference Center

The Bluff Banquet and Conference Center
© The Bluff Banquet and Conference Center


An elegant and affordable venue located in Grand Central Plaza; this banquet hall features contemporary design. Neutral gray hues, a brick accent wall, large mirrors, and tiered chandeliers adorn the space. A long stretch of windows boasts panoramic views of green golf course fairways. Seating, linens, and china are supplied. The venue’s in-house catering team designs a dinner menu to taste. All alcohol must be served by a bar service vendor of the couple’s choosing. A list of preferred partners is encouraged. A permanent bar area, dance floor, and projection screen are provided. Seating can accommodate up to 350 attendees in the space.

2035 28th Street Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-243-3313

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18.Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids: The Cheney Place

Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids: The Cheney Place
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An urban boutique event space, this venue features polished concrete floors, hardwoods, and original brick walls. Frosted warehouse windows and a freight elevator add to the historical feel. The space is open and versatile, seating up to 225 for ceremony and 350 for reception dinner. A bridal suite and groom’s lounge are set to entertain. Free parking and attendants are provided. A catering prep kitchen, ice, and refrigeration is supplied. Couples may choose their own vendors. A projector screen is available for use. The venue offers set up and tear down services. A friendly, attentive, and focused staff make this the area’s “must have” wedding locale. Couples should be aware; weddings book up to two years in advance.

1600 Monroe Northwest, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-304-6261

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19.Indoor Wedding Venues Near Me: The Harris Building

Indoor Wedding Venues Near Me: The Harris Building
© IVASHstudio/stock.adobe.com


Built in 1892, this former brewery has all the bells and whistles of a spectacular wedding venue. The brick n’ wood ballroom is located on the second floor and features a domed, 18-foot ceiling. Amber bulbs line the contours of exposed steel beams and a large moon-like installation that centers the ceiling. The multi-level architecture of the building gives way to cheeky mezzanines. A third-floor skylight illuminated hallway offers a dashing location for photos. Planning services, seating, and linens are provided. Extra perks include a DJ, photography, videography, and valet parking. The venue also offers vintage furniture rental. Capacity limits are between 225-300, for ceremony and reception. A preferred catering list is provided for food and bar service.

111 Division Ave South, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-256-2535

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20.Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids: The Waddell Center

Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids: The Waddell Center
© AS Photo Project/stock.adobe.com


Just one of three establishments owned by a local catering group, this venue is nestled in downtown near Belknap Park. Wood beaming, original brick, and strands of glowing lights create a warm and rustic design feel. Large in size, the ballroom seats up to 300 guests for ceremony and dinner reception. Menu options feature seafood fare, choice cut filets, classic American favorites, and homestyle dishes. The catering group also offers several bar packages. A list of partnered vendors is available for florals, décor, linens, and the like. Impeccable service is hallmark of this entertainment group. Free downtown parking is an added perk.

1115 Taylor Avenue North, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-538-4384

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21.Places to Get Married: University Club of Grand Rapids

Places to Get Married: University Club of Grand Rapids
© University Club of Grand Rapids


Founded in 1923, this private club caters to business leaders and local residents. The banquet hall has a contemporary design feel. Yellow gold wallpaper, crisp white ceilings, candle chandeliers, and a glowing fireplace complete the look. An entire wall of floor-to-ceiling windows boasts panoramic views of the twinkling cityscape. There is a full bar and lounge adjacent to the main banquet hall. A dance floor may be set up upon request. The club offers wedding planning services and handles event set-up and take-down. All seating and linens are provided. Features of the menu include fine American cuisine and fresh local catch. Free parking is provided. Couples may contact the club for capacity limits and additional information.

111 Lyon Street Northwest, Suite 1025, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-456-8623

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22.Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids, Michigan: Venue3Two

Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids, Michigan: Venue3Two
© Ekaterina/stock.adobe.com


An exquisitely renovated mansion, built in 1925, rests upon 700 acres of a working equine therapy ranch. The exterior features winter-white stone and a gorgeously carved, arched enclave around the front doorway; just one of many iconic locations for photos of the bride and groom. Marble floors, spiral staircases, dark wood wall paneling, and Victorian style fireplaces, and vintage fixtures create a sultry mood. A gourmet kitchen is available for use. Entertainment areas include a formal dining room, great room and bar area, and a courtyard patio. A conservatory is also available for use. Seating accommodates up to 200 guests. Bridal and groomsman suites are gorgeously appointed. Day-of coordinators assist the couple’s choice of caterer and vendors.

3232 Shaffer Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-719-0006

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23.Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids, Michigan: Watermark Country Club

Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids, Michigan: Watermark Country Club
© mirage_studio/stock.adobe.com

The country club rests upon acres of sprawling golf course green and specializes in outdoor weddings. Couples may choose to wed beneath an arbor at any of the course’s several, stunning backdrops. A tent pavilion may be set up for reception dinner, fully equipped with romantic lighting and a dance floor. Should the bride and groom prefer, an indoor reception may be held in one of the seven, newly renovated banquet halls. Each hall is painted in soft crème and features a tastefully varied accent color. Lofty ceilings, circular rooms, wall lengths of floor to ceiling windows, and drum pendant lights create the look. The club’s executive chef designs a mouthwatering menu. Seating accommodates between 40-400 guests.

5500 Cascade Road Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI, Phone: 616-949-0570

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23 Best Wedding Venues in Grand Rapids, Michigan



Attraction Spotlight: John Ball Zoo

In 2016, John Ball Zoo celebrated its 125th year with 11 exhibits and unique zoo experiences. In many ways, the zoo's history is a reflection of most American zoos that were established in the Victorian era. Prior to this time in history, exotic animals were seen by the very wealthy during their travels. But when cities started constructing their own zoos in the late nineteenth century, people from all walks of life could partake in the varied and vast animal kingdom.

The evolution of zoos since the Victorian era can be characterized by what we have learned about how to care for exotic animals and the design of all exhibits. Visitor education became a major consideration, naturalistic design became a driving force, and animal conservation became the mission. The John Ball Zoo reflects that evolution and calls to mind its founder, John Ball. More Fun Things to Do in Michigan

John Ball was a founding father of Grand Rapids and author of Born to Wander, a recounting of his travels from his New Hampshire birthplace to Oregon, to Tahiti, to South America and finally, Grand Rapids.

Ball was born in New Hampshire in 1794. He had a passion for traveling and after several careers, he joined the third expedition to Oregon when he was 39. He traveled on horseback across the country and to the Oregon Trail and landed at Fort Vancouver, where he was the first non-native American farmer and the first non-native American schoolteacher.

He arrived in 1836 in Grand Rapids to buy and sell property for those in the East. Among his pursuits after he settled here was to open a law office, serve as a state legislator, be on the first school board, and assist in establishing the public museum. He married Mary Webster, a young school teacher, and they had 10 children. When Ball was 77, his last child was born in Europe. This was where Ball brought his family for a few years so they could experience other cultures and other lands.

John Ball died in 1884 and in his will left 40 acres of land for public use to City of Grand Rapids. This gift was originally a park that led to the birth of a zoo.

If historians look back to 1891, they will see references to animals finding homes at "Ball 40," the name the locals gave to the park grounds Ball donated. A local newspaper reports that there was a small menagerie. Two aldermen purchased a pair of deer. That deer and buck were the beginning of a herd of deer that called the park home.

In Crawford Tigers of the Realm, the largest of the feline predators evokes awe. This solitary hunter roams the forests and you can see them right here on lower and upper realm of the tigers, as well as the trail system between. Their whereabouts might surprise you; you never know where they lurk.

At the Van Andel Living Shores Aquarium, visitors can see clearly into the lives of creatures that live in a stream in Michigan, on the Patagonia coast and your own northwest coast. Stingray Lagoon is just outside. Here, you may touch white spotted bamboo sharks and cow nose stingrays. (Outdoor conditions determine the hours of this exhibit.)

Pelican Pier is the first exhibit to be seen as you enter the zoo. View American White Pelicans and a pair of Bald Eagles.

In Treasure of the Tropics, visitors will come face to face with the vast diversity of amphibians and reptiles as well as small primates.

The Far Side of the World Trail is a wooded trail that features enticements for children, like pretending to ride on the raft of a pirate or ride on a barrel horse.(Seasonal dates of operation, dependent upon outdoor temperatures).

Red's Hobby Farm is an interactive children's zoo that features birds and domestic animals and is open for hands-on experiences daily June-Early September.

In Africa, you will find birds, mammals, and primates. In Mokomboso Valley, there are seven chimpanzees that roam 3.5 acres, one of the largest exhibits of its kind in the country. Bissell's Lions reside next door in Lake Manyara, another exhibit that is among the largest in the country. Catch a glimpse of the ground hornbill, Guinea baboon, warthog and others. Camel rides are also available.

North America is home to any number of beautiful creatures including grizzly bears and mountain lions.

On the other side of the equator, in South America, you'll see the Chilean flamingos, capybaras, saki monkeys, tapir and maned wolves.

Imagine an exhibit devoted to Frogs, where you'll see some50 toads, frogs, and salamanders covering 15 species.

The Idema Forest Realm can be accessed on foot orby the Idema Funicular. This is a gorgeous nature walk in the woods that winds through the back area of the John Ball Zoo to see the grizzly bears and maned wolves, and is home to the Crawford Tigers of the Realm. Visitors are encouraged to walk the entire trail to get the most from the experience, which includes TreeTops Outpost and Children's Nature Play Zones. You'll be rewarded at the end of the trail with a grand view of downtown.

Among the experiences at the zoo are the zipline, Sky Trail Ropes Course, funicular, camel rides, petting coral, Budgie Aviary, and Stingray Lagoon. All experiences are generally open during the summer, and visitors are encouraged to call after September 1 regarding hours of operation.

There are concession stands located throughout the zoo. Monkey Island Cafe provides snacks and lunch-inside or outside. Choices include hot dogs, burgers, chicken tenders, chicken wraps, and salad.

The Whistle Stop Cafe is across from the Petting Zoo. Enjoy premium hand-dipped ice cream in 15 flavors. And there are panini sandwiches with kettle chips.

Tiger Paws Pizza is situated just across from Tiger Exhibit and the Lion's Den is across from the Lion Exhibit.

1300 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI 49504, Phone: 616 336-4301

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Attraction Spotlight: Grand Rapids Children's Museum

The Grand Rapids Children's Museum provides a fun environment that allows children to strengthen their minds through play. The museum believes that play can benefit people of all ages, has the power to transform the mind, and is necessary for healthy development. A variety of daily programs are offered for children and their families, including messy art, creating costumes, storytime, planting seeds, and many others. Each day features something different.

There are a number of interactive exhibits at the Grand Rapid's Children's Museum; for example, in Diagnosis: FUN, children can discover what it's like to be a medical technician, doctor, surgeon, or nurse as they learn about the health sciences. In Amazing Dinosaurs, kids can examine dinosaur habitats, perform a dinosaur puppet show, dig up fossils, try to make T. rex sounds, see their favorite dinosaurs face to face, and more.

The Bubbles exhibit gives children the opportunity to see what the world looks like from inside a huge bubble or inside a bubble tower. They can also create bubbles in all sorts of shapes and sizes at the bubble tables, possibly even creating a bubble inside a bubble. The Classics exhibit provides tools, such as Lego and Lincoln logs, for kids to build whatever they desire and children can also explore how everyday items work in the Discovery Studio, an interactive STEM series.

The Little Grand Rapids exhibit at the children's museum is a way for kids to explore the big city in way designed for someone their size. The exhibit features a dental office, PakMail mailing center, a Meijer grocery store, Bistro Bell Vita Jr., Chemical Bank, and Fox Motors auto service, among other places. In Just Playing Around, all kinds of music can be explored and played. Here is where children can create their own music on a variety of instruments constructed from some unusual items. Kids can also try playing music on the "Whale Drum," or play a song on a piano.

The favorites at the Grand Rapids Children's Museum offer a variety of different opportunities that let children decide how they want to play. They may want to create a picture with light, act like a bee after watching the museum's live Honey Bee hive, watch discs fly at the Spin Table, or try climbing the exhibit's mountain. The Wee Discover exhibit is designed for children aged 5 and under. Toddlers can test motor skills on the Toddler Climber, create a meal in the exhibit's kitchen, and roll colorful balls down ramps to fill a rainbow. There are many different ways in the exhibit for toddlers to explore colors, textures, and shapes. The Tummy Time Play area is great for children who haven't learned to crawl yet.

The Grand Rapids Children's Museum also has several programs that are offered during specific days of the week. Messy Play for Growing Minds offers messy sensory play on Wednesdays and Fridays, featuring water, slime, mud, and more. Toddler Time, offered every Tuesday, features art, sensory play, and music among other activities designed for toddlers.

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11 Sheldon Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503, Phone: 616-235-4726

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Attraction Spotlight: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, MI opened in 1981 and is part of the National Archives and Records Administration's presidential libraries system. The heart of the museum is a permanent exhibit that explores the highlights of the lives of President Ford and his family. There are also changing temporary exhibits that contain artifacts from other museums throughout the United States. In addition, the museum offers an assortment of family-friendly lectures and events on a regular basis, which aren’t associated with the exhibits.

The Ford Museum displays, preserves, and collects a variety of historical artifacts that tell the story of the life and times of President Gerald R. Ford. Currently, the museum possesses about 19,000 historical items, including items related to Ford's presidential campaign in 1976, the Whip Inflation Now (WIN) campaign, and the Ford family. Other items in the collection were gifts, including American bicentennial and head of state gifts Gerald Ford received while he was president.

One part of the permanent exhibit focuses on the life and career of Gerald R. Ford and the objects in this exhibit illustrate a lifetime committed to public service, from a boy scout to President of the United States. They reflect the personality, accomplishments, challenges, and struggles that made Ford so endearing to many people. From his days in school through college, to Ford's U.S. Navy service, to 25 years as a U.S. Representative, to being selected as vice president, to being President of the United States, and finally to his retirement, almost all of Gerald R. Ford's life is showcased in the exhibit through a broad variety of historical items.

Another aspect of the permanent exhibit at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum are the Presidential Footballs. Ford is ranked as one of the most athletic U.S. presidents, and athletics played a large role in his life. He excelled in basketball, tennis, swimming, golf, baseball, downhill skiing, and football. Ford abilities in football led to him receive city and state honors during high school, MVP status in college, and being coveted by NFL teams. Although he pursued a career in law and public service, he still loved football and his fondness for the sport led him to take on coaching opportunities in law school and while serving in the U.S. Navy. Every Presidential Museum includes at least one artifact collection unique to that president's experiences. The Ford Museum preserves an interesting collection of footballs, some representative of Ford's days as a player and others of his period as a coach.

Head of State Gifts are significant to the administration of any president, and the Head of State Gifts Given to the President area of the Ford Museum's permanent collection displays the gifts given to President Ford. A formal exchange of gifts is often dictated when leaders of different countries meet for diplomatic relations. While also accompanied by other diplomatic measures, different types of gifts help preserve peace, express admiration, bridge disparate cultures, and cool tempers. These gifts are often created from precious metals by extremely skilled artisans.

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303 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504, Phone: 616-254-0386

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