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10 Easy Day Trips from Grand Rapids

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Packing, unpacking, painting, breaking down boxes – it takes a toll. House hunting and selling your property can be both physically and mentally exhausting and sometimes, you just need to take a quick day trip or one-nighter away from home. Don’t know where to go? We’ve listed ten of the best trips from the Grand Rapids area.

Frederik Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids: In May 2009 it was listed as one of the “30 Must-See Museums” in the world in 1,000 Places to See before You Die. It is the second-largest Michigander tourist attraction and is a featured venue of ArtPrize, which is the largest artistic competition whose winners are decided by public vote. One of the nation’s most significant sculpture and botanic experiences, Meijer Gardens includes Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; five indoor theme gardens; outdoor gardens, nature trails and boardwalk; sculpture galleries and permanent sculpture collection; library; cafe; gift shop; education center; and meeting rooms.

Traverse City, Michigan: Just two hours north of Grand Rapids, Traverse City features miles of sugar-sand shoreline including the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with romantic lighthouses and coastal villages. The glacier-sculpted landscape of orchards and vineyards includes 16 golf courses. Swimming, sailing, paddling, hiking and fishing are favorite warm weather activities, while winter turns the region into a playground for skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoers.

Pentwater, Michigan: A quaint, small village right along the lake shore is full of local flair, shops, restaurants and events. Whether it’s a seasonal farmers market, craft fair or winery tour, you’ll immerse your family into a simple, easier lifestyle. The area features the gorgeous Sable Point Lighthouse, junior sailing lessons, many natural trails, golfing, dune rides and so much more. 

Shelby, Michigan: You’ve never seen anything quite like this before. Venture to Cherry Point Farm & Market in Shelby to explore their massive lavender labyrinth, which is just as magical as it sounds. Pursue row after row of fragrant lavender and bask in the gorgeous purple atmosphere that surrounds you. 

Lansing, Michigan: The Michigan state capitol, it’s full of historic and rich family fun. For an educational family trip, tour the state capitol building, visit Impression 5 Science Center, or learn about our state’s history at the Michigan Historical Museum – and every Sunday is free day at the Michigan History Center.

Detroit, Michigan, Belle Isle: Who doesn’t love a good aquarium? Luckily for us, Michigan is actually home to the oldest aquarium in the country! Venture to Belle Isle and check out all the sights, including the Whitcomb Conservatory. But nothing compares to the fascinating beauty of the aquarium, where you’ll observe sea creatures from the Great Lakes and across the world in a stunning historic building. 

Chicago, Illinois: Just a three hour drive from our nook of the world, an easy day-trip or one-nighter in Chicago is more than possible. Be sure to visit the iconic Cloud Gate (aka: the Bean) in Millennium Park, grab a Chicago Dog and enjoy an afternoon at the Shedd Aquarium. If you’re looking for more to do, the Art Institute of Chicago is outstanding, as well as the Navy Pier which is made up of 50 acres of gardens, attractions, shops, restaurants, concert venues, and parks. There is a 150′ ferris wheel and an historic carousel in Navy Pier Park. Visitors can also watch a film at the 3D Imax Theater, watch actors perform the classics at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, or visit Crystal Gardens, a one-acre, six-story, indoor botanical garden. Also located here is the Chicago Children’s Museum, which is worth an afternoon visit all in itself. 

South Bend, Indiana: You’ll arrive in South Bent in just under three hours in the car. Arriving in a city full of rich heritage featuring the Shakespeare Festival, Notre Dame Stadium and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. If you’re a family that’s into art, The Snite Museum of Art has a permanent collection of over 28,000 artworks and 10 to 12 special exhibitions a year – and admission is free.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: An easy ferry ride from Muskegon, you’ll be in Milwaukee within a matter of hours. While you’re there, enjoy a friendly, vibrant city filled with things to explore. Visit the flying art museum, discover the birthplace of Harley-Davidson, sip a locally-brewed cup of coffee or enjoy a beer tour. Plus, the city offers numerous free attractions to places like the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin: Another easy ferry ride (or about five hours in the car) you will arrive in a place filled with fun for all ages. The Dells features the iconic Great Wolf Lodge, skiing, zip-lining, Noah’s Ark Water Park, Mirror Lake state park and much more. 

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