Once known as the furniture capital of the world, Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan and home to five of the world's leading office furniture companies. Grand Rapids is located on the Grand River, 25 miles east of Lake Michigan. The city has a population of around 194,000 with a surrounding metropolitan population of more than 1,000,000. Grand Rapids is home to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, has hundreds of miles of cycling trails and has more LEED-certified buildings per capita than any other city in the US, making Grand Rapids one of America's Greenest Cities. To top it off, Forbes Magazine recently rated Grand Rapids as the Best Place to Raise a Family.
Grand Rapids History
Grand Rapids was settled in 1826, by French fur traders. The city’s name comes from the Grand River, Michigan’s largest inland river. With ample timber and access to the Great Lakes shipping trade, Grand Rapids became a major lumbering center and the premier furniture manufacturing city during the latter half of the 19th century. In 1876, an international exhibition showcased the furniture manufacturing of Grand Rapids, leading to worldwide recognition as fine furniture manufacturers and earning the nickname "Furniture City." The Austin Automobile Company opened in Grand Rapids in 1901, and manufactured touring cars until they ceased operations in 1921. Stout Air Services began regularly scheduled flights between Grand Rapids and Detroit in 1926, making Grand Rapids home to one of the first passenger airlines. Today, Grand Rapids continues its "Furniture City" tradition as the headquarters to several premiere office furniture manufacturers.
Grand Rapids Weather
Grand Rapids is known for warm and somewhat humid summers and cold, snowy winters. The city receives an average amount of rainfall and 75 inches of snow per year with the heaviest snowfall in December, January and February. Average summertime temperatures range between 60 °F and 80 °F and average winter temperatures range between 20 °F and 32 °F.
Grand Rapids Transportation
The Rapid (Interurban Transit Partnership) provides a variety of public transportation services for the Grand Rapids metro area and beyond. The Rapid operates fixed route bus service and demand-response services for people with disabilities and those living outside the fixed-route area. Every Rapid bus is equipped with bicycle racks, so even cyclists can ride the Rapid! The Gerald R. Ford International Airport is served by five major carriers offering direct flights to numerous popular destinations, including Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and New York City.
Cost of Living in Grand Rapids
You might not expect a highly livable city like Grand Rapids to also have a low cost of living, but at 15% below the national average, it’s true! The cost of housing is particularly affordable, making home buying in Grand Rapids an attractive option.
Grand Rapids Schools
Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) is Michigan’s fourth largest public school district, serving more than 17,000 students with 4,000 employees, including 1,400 dedicated teachers. Grand Rapids is also home to several charter schools and the headquarters of National Heritage Academies, a charter school management organization.
Grand Rapids Hospitals
The top-ranked hospital in Grand Rapids is Mercy Health St. Mary’s Hospital. This facility provides general medical services but is also well-known for its high performance in specialties such as pulmonology, nephrology, neurology, and urology. If you’re planning a move to Grand Rapids, it’s a good idea to know what medical resources are available to you.
Grand Rapids Real Estate
If you are shopping for a home in Grand Rapids, you will be pleased to find that about 50% of the market is priced in the $100-$200k range, giving buyers in the market plenty of options.
Grand Rapids Hotels
You will find comfort and convenience when you need a place to stay in Grand Rapids. The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids features luxurious guest rooms and suites, two fine dining restaurants, a sports bar and a family style restaurant. The City Flats Hotel is a boutique style accommodation with modern style and eco-friendly design. The Leonard at Logan House is a seven room bed and breakfast in Heritage Hill; just one block from the Frank Lloyd Wright designed May House. Explore more great places to stay with these links.
Grand Rapids Restaurants
If you love burgers, save your appetite for Grand Rapids! Stella’s Lounge serves America’s Best Burger, according to GQ Magazine. Then again, USA Today says the Cottage Burger at the Cottage Bar is Michigan’s best. Try both, and decide for yourself. If you are looking for "fresh from the farm" cuisine, Grand Rapids has dozens of choices. Electric Cheetah serves imaginative and affordable cuisine with a flair for comfort, and Amore Trattoria Italiana prepares authentic Italian food using locally sourced meats, eggs, cheeses, produce and more.
Things to do in Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids hosts an active arts scene. Downtown alone contains five museums within a few blocks, including the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum and the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts. The nearby Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park features one of two da Vinci-designed Equestrian sculptures and a Dale Chihuly chandelier. If you are looking for fresh air, stroll the Heritage Hills Historic District or cycle on the hundreds of cycling trails that surround Grand Rapids. If you like to swing the clubs, 28 golf courses are within fifteen minutes of Grand Rapids with courses to challenge every skill level.