8 Things I DIDN’T See While In Grand Rapids, MI

In early June, I took a quick trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend WordCamp Grand Rapids. WordCamps are local conferences for users and developers of WordPress. I haven’t been to one in about two years and had an itch, so I booked a hotel room at the JW Marriott and headed up for the day.

Grand Rapids is about five and a half hours from Columbus, Ohio. I left early on Saturday morning and got in around 11:30AM. Once I checked into my hotel, I headed straight over to the conference.

Since I was only going to be in town for one night, then leaving the next morning, I didn’t really get to see much of Grand Rapids…which was my mistake, because it looks amazing! I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t what I found in Grand Rapids.

Let me start with my hotel. The JW Marriott Grand Rapids is a 23 story luxury hotel, and the first JW in the midwest.

JW Marriott Grand Rapids

It sits right on the river, and many rooms have views overlooking the river. Mine didn’t, but the overlook at the end of my hallway did, and there was plenty of comfy seating where you could curl up with a drink and just watch the river pass. The JW has an onsite restaurant, two bars, a Starbucks and a patio that runs the length of the hotel on the riverfront, complete with cabanas. While it has an indoor pool, I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to swim while I was there, but it looked quite a bit nicer than the hotel swimming pools I’m used to!

JW Marriott Grand Rapids Cabanas

I’m a sucker for water views and a firepit. I’d love to come back here soon with a group of friends, sitting in one of these cabanas chatting the evening away as the fire keeps us toasty! I imagine it would be particularly nice during fall.

I had a king room all to myself (which was glorious). Along with the huge comfy bed, there was a desk with a leather chair (and as many chargers as a girl could ever want), a big ol’ television, and a soft chaise next to the window. There was a mini-fridge (of course), and a closet stocked with robes from the spa, but I didn’t end up using either.

The best part was the bathroom, though. The shower had an adjustable dual head shower, which for a shorty like me is a gift wrapped in a gift. Dual head showers are amazing, but if you’re short it can mean the spray from one is right in your face. The bathroom ALSO had a separate soaking tub, which was unexpected and made me wish I had stayed for two nights just to use it.

For lunch during the conference, I met up with friends at HopCat. HopCat is a Grand Rapids native brewery and restaurant, famous for something called “Crack Fries.” I didn’t get the memo before I ordered, which was another mistake on my part. I ordered a quesadilla which was great, but my friend Topher let me try his “crack fries.”

Let’s just say they’re worth a trip back to Grand Rapids just for the fries. HopCat, if you’re listening, Columbus, Ohio, please. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’re on their list of expansion cities. Also, all of the people I know in Grand Rapids – THEY are worth a trip back, too!

For dinner we headed over to Atwater Brewery. Atwater was a great place to hold the after-party for the conference. Ample seating, lots of food, vibrant but not so loud that you couldn’t talk to other guests, and of course, lots of beers to sample. I don’t drink, but from the people around me, I gathered that the selection was tasty!

If I Had More Time to Vacation in Grand Rapids, Here’s What I’d Do

My trip was so quick, I really didn’t get to see much in Grand Rapids. Since then, I’ve spent some time looking at a return trip and here are just a few of the places we’d like to visit when we go back:

  1. Meijer Gardens: http://www.meijergardens.org/
  2. Grand Rapids Children’s Museuem: https://www.grcm.org/
  3. The Grand Lady: https://www.grandlady.info/
  4. John Ball Zoo: http://www.jbzoo.org/ Uh, it had a zipline, ropes course and funicular?!
  5. Field and Fire Bakery: http://www.fieldandfire.com/cafemenu/
  6. The B.O.B: http://www.thebob.com/
  7. A trip to nearby Holland, MI (https://www.holland.org/)
  8. Then to Saugatuck: https://www.saugatuck.com

Have you been to Grand Rapids before, or do you live there? What do YOU think we should see while we’re there next time?