Fall travel plans: Beer, nature, & art in Grand Rapids

Fall is my most favorite time of year, weather-wise and travel-wise. I prefer to travel once summer ends and the kids are back in school. The weather typically is milder and the crowds, generally, are smaller. Not surprising, then, that I’ve got some travel plans lined up for this fall. What is surprising, though, is that I will be traveling solo. That’s right. No husband and no kids. Just me, myself, and I. The last several weeks have been rather insane as the entire family adjusts to a whole new routine with Lucia starting kindergarten. I’ve been under an unusual amount of pressure at home and at work, and, admittedly self-imposed, here with the blog and my other writing endeavors. So, I made the decision to spend a few days on my own, away from the insanity and routines, to relax and regroup.

I’m not going to be traveling very far for this much-needed “me time”. In fact, I’m not even leaving the Midwest. I’ll be just a few hours from home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, decompressing at the Amway Grand Plaza hotel. Despite being the second largest city in Michigan, Grand Rapids boasts myriad outdoor recreational opportunities. I fully intend on spending some time with Mother Nature while still enjoying the urban vibe. Most of all, I plan to gain an intimate knowledge of the award-winning craft beer scene in Grand Rapids.

Fly fishing Grand River | Grand Rapids

Fly fishing in downtown Grand Rapids

I remember my first visit to Grand Rapids; I was a teenager. We were there with my brother’s hockey team for a tournament. Back then, I thought, “Yeah, this is a cool place.” Then I went to college in Michigan and made friends who called Grand Rapids home. I visited the city with them on several occasions during and even after college. Most recently, we’ve visited Grand Rapids as a family for arts, education, and culture. The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is one of the best I’ve visited in my five short years of parenthood. But the big draw is ArtPrize, the “radically open, independently organized international art competition” that uses three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids as its gallery. ArtPrize 2014 runs September 24 to October 12, is open to the public, and is completely free. My family and I made ArtPrize an annual tradition until recent years when I was either pregnant or just getting back to work after maternity leave. So, even though ArtPrize officially will be over by the time I get to Grand Rapids, much of the art will still be on display throughout downtown. I cannot even tell you how happy that makes me.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Thousand Suns by Libby Hodges | ArtPrize 2011

I’m not the only one who thinks Grand Rapids is pretty awesome. According to Lonely Planet, it’s one of 2014’s top ten U.S. travel destinations. Expect to see and read more from me about Grand Rapids as my trip approaches, while I’m there, and of course after I return home!

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18 Responses to Fall travel plans: Beer, nature, & art in Grand Rapids

  1. Traveling Ted September 20, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    I am interested in hearing about your experiences as I would never even think of Grand Rapids as a destination, so I am curious to see how your trip unfolds.
    Traveling Ted recently posted…White River State Park museums, zoos, and hoopsMy Profile

    • Francesca October 3, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

      I think you’d like Grand Rapids a lot, Tedward. Nice mix of outdoor recreation and excellent beer. Hopefully my coverage will encourage you to visit!

  2. jennifer September 21, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    I never had any clue Grand Rapids was in the top ten!
    jennifer recently posted…Hong Kong, China: Chi Lin NunneryMy Profile

    • Francesca October 3, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

      Yep, top 10 places in U.S. according to Lonely Planet. Grand Rapids also consistently ranks in the top tiers of “best beer cities” lists.

  3. Lance | Trips By Lance September 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    I didn’t realize all of this about Grand Rapids. Wish we would have known and had the time to stop in for just a few hours last week on our way back from Traverse City. Sounds like a good trip.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted…Discovering Traverse City Family FunMy Profile

    • Francesca October 3, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

      Maybe you and Stacey will like what you see of Grand Rapids through my visit and plan your own up there in the near future!

  4. Jenny | A Thing For Wor(l)ds September 22, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    I think it’s great that “The Working Mom’s Travels” includes traveling without the kids once in a while. Enjoy! I’ve never thought much about going to Michigan but us Californians are much too short-sighted when it comes to U.S. destinations. Thanks to talking some sense into us.
    Jenny | A Thing For Wor(l)ds recently posted…Ushering in Motherhood at a Spanish DaycareMy Profile

    • Francesca October 3, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

      Ha ha, yeah you Californians and a lot of other coastal Americans consider this region (the Midwest) to be flyover country. There’s so much going on here – so much to offer – that it’s a shame more people don’t visit places like Michigan. That’s where I come in 🙂

  5. Susan September 23, 2014 at 4:02 am #

    Grand Rapids is on my list now!!
    Susan recently posted…A Bit of Bucks County: My Top Five FarmsMy Profile

    • Francesca October 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm #


  6. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer September 23, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    I had no idea Grand Rapids was such a popular destination! I would love to visit it one day! Can’t wait to read your suggestions and enjoy your ‘me’ time 😀
    Chanel | Cultural Xplorer recently posted…A Love Story and a Day-Trip to VeronaMy Profile

    • Francesca October 3, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

      Thanks, Chanel. I am so looking forward to my “me” time!!

  7. Pola (Jetting Around) September 27, 2014 at 4:19 am #

    You know I love Michigan, but as far as Grand Rapids, I’ve only driven by. Curious to see what you discover there! Looking forward to the coverage. Have a fun trip!
    Pola (Jetting Around) recently posted…City Guide: Ljubljana, SloveniaMy Profile

    • Francesca October 3, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

      Thanks, Pola! I think you’d like Grand Rapids, too. Smaller city but enough culture and cafes to suit you 🙂

  8. Adrienne Veglia Mazeau September 27, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    Solo travel after an insane start of the school year – oh so jealous! Enjoy!
    Adrienne Veglia Mazeau recently posted…Visiting Boston’s U.S.S. Constitution Museum with KidsMy Profile

    • Francesca October 3, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

      I know, I lucked out with this one!

  9. Ryan Zieman September 28, 2014 at 4:10 am #

    Everyone needs a little time solo to refresh and recharge. Grand Rapids sounds like a nice place to do so! Can’t wait to hear all about it.
    Ryan Zieman recently posted…Gladiators in Spain?My Profile

    • Francesca October 3, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

      Thanks, Ryan!

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