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.
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.
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!