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About Grand Rapids

Among many other things, you can thank Grand Rapids for, yes, whiter and healthier teeth. In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first city in the United States to add fluoride to its drinking water. Speaking of water, residents of Grand Rapids are rarely farther than four miles from a body of water, leading the city to be named America’s 6th Best Fishing City by Field & Stream.

Water, as one might expect from a city with “rapids” in its name, was critical to the city’s founding, as much early settlement took place along the Grand River. The city’s official founder, Louis Campau, built his cabin and trading post on the east bank of the river; he later owned what became much of the current downtown business district.

Downtown bills itself as “the cultural and entertainment center of West Michigan.” Hungry? Try some Moroccan delicacies or Irish stew. GQ said Stella’s Lounge has America’s Best Burger; USA Today said the same thing about the burgers at Cottage Bar. Need some goods? Stop in at unique art galleries, one-of-a-kind boutiques, and furniture shops serving up the region’s unique handcrafts. Thirsty? Grand Rapids didn’t recently win the coveted Beer City USA title because it’s dry. (Try Hopcat or the baseball-themed Mitten Brewing Company.)

Living downtown has become a hot option, with refurbished flats and new lofts ready for renting or purchase. Of course, the suburbs are teeming with life as well, with leafy, established neighborhoods and modern, upscale properties in crisp new developments. You can find some attractive starter homes, mid-range colonials for your family, or palatial establishments for lots of entertaining.

If learning is important to you, you’ll find plenty of institutions to teach you – and your children – what you’re looking to know. Starting with the kids: The Grand Rapids Public Schools systems is the state’s fourth-largest district and offers an array of options for all children. You’ll find theme schools – including global studies, math/science/technology, environmental, and creative arts, to name a few – alongside Centers of Innovation focusing on construction, health science, or entrepreneurship. The school system was recently written up by a major Michigan publication as a model urban school district, not only for the student successes, but thanks to its sound fiscal policies. For adults, choose from Aquinas College or Calvin College. Cooley Law School, Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, an outpost of Ferris State University, and an outpost of Western Michigan University are all located in Grand Rapids. Grand Valley State University, with its national championship (Division II) football team, is located in nearby Allendale.

The economic climate of Grand Rapids is diverse. One of the city’s largest industries is furniture manufacturing; furniture creation has been a stalwart of the region for over 140 years. Other large industries that boom in Grand Rapids include grocery stores, Christian publishing, aerospace, and automobiles. Fruit farming (particularly apples, peaches, and blueberries) is plentiful in the region surrounding the city proper.

If you’re not going to school or working, you’ll find that Grand Rapids is draped in things to do. ArtPrize, one of the world’s largest and most popular art competitions, happens every autumn. Bike races are abundant; for solo biking, you’ll find old railroad lines converted into trails. 5K walks and runs are standard each spring and summer weekend. If you’re feeling a little crazy, join America’s largest 25K road race with 21,000 of your friends. In the warm months, enjoy one of 18 Lake Michigan beaches within miles of the city, or find your fun at the in-town beach. In the mood to hit? Try your hand at any of the 28 local golf courses. In the winter, go ice skating downtown. Out of town, take a spin on some snowmobile trails or cross-country skiing trails. Need a breather? Stop at the Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum and attend a White House State Dinner in the hometown of the country’s 38th president. And yes, there’s music too: The Grand Rapids Symphony; plenty of live jazz, blues, and rock downtown; and some of the nation’s biggest acts at Van Andel Arena.

With its prime location near Lake Michigan, things to do year-round, and robust economy, Grand Rapids is a hotbed of activity for anyone looking for success, fun, and opportunities.

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