10 Things to do in West Michigan

Trust me. I myself have googled "Things to Do in West Michigan" and have not come up with very much. I know that to the rest of the world, this area probably doesn't sound very interesting. (Have you ever heard, "Dude, I'm going to West Michigan for Spring break" ? Neither have I.) So, I thought I'd make my own little list of what's good here, accompanied by photos that prove that I have actually been to all of the places I'm suggesting:

Muskegon Beach
In Michigan, we wear winter coats at the beach.
 
1. The beach. Holland and Grand Haven have parks for access to public beaches. Angel prefers to go when there's a storm and no one else is out there.

Art Prize 2012
In Michigan, we use the term "art" loosely, and I love it.
 
2. ArtPrize. A yearly art festival that takes over downtown Grand Rapids for 2 weeks during late September and early October. Seriously, ya'll, there's art everywhere, from the tops of buildings to inside restaurants to street corners to bridges.

Grand Rapids Original Swing Society
In Michigan, we ring in the New Year with line dancing.
 
3. Grand Rapids Original Swing Society. For a $5 entry fee, you can dance every Tuesday night all year-round, sometimes at indoor venues, sometimes outdoor.

Frederick Meijer Gardens
In Michigan, we have cacti--shocker!
 
4. Frederick Meijer Gardens. Expensive, but beautiful, with indoor and outdoor gardens, sculpture, and traveling art exhibits, and concerts in the summer.

Michigan's Adventure
In Michigan, Rachel wears a swimsuit. Scandal alert!
 
5. Michigan's Adventure. Waterpark/Amusement Park. Doesn't compare to an amusement park on the scale of Cedar Point, but then, it's significantly cheaper too.

Hager Park
In Michigan, we make out in playgrounds. This just keeps getting worse and worse.
 
6. Hager Park. I've been to plenty of public parks in my day, and thus far, none have been as awe-inspiring as Hager Park, with it's hide-and-seek friendly gigantic wooden castle. There's also a lawn that has been turned into a map of the U.S.A. which is fairly impressive.

Tulip Time 2013
In Michigan, we consider flowers a reason to party.
 
7. Tulip Time in May, in Holland. A festival celebrating Dutch culture and pretty flowers. There's usually plenty of food, a craft show, and performances including traditional dances and concerts.

Gilmore Car Museum
In Michigan, we love our cars.
 
8. Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo. When we went there, I was rather angry because they neglected to tell us that the two exhibits Angel and I most wanted to see were closed for the winter, yet they still charged full admission. In spite of my bitterness, I admit that they have some really awesome cars. But go in the summer.

And our green and yellow tractors. My shirt says "I make dirt look good."
 
9. Riverbend Steam and Gas Show. Every year in mid- to late-July, folks get together to show off their antique tractors and steam engines and other farm-related paraphernalia. It's a culture all it's own, but it can be fun, with traditions like pie and ice cream always available, and threshing and sawmill demonstrations, a tractor pull, miniature airplane show, and a blacksmith at work (who makes the most gorgeous iron roses--I wish I owned one).

Grand Rapids Public Museum
In Michigan, grown men have tea parties at the Public Museum. Limited time exhibit.
 
10. Grand Rapids Museums. There's a bunch to choose from: Public Museum, Art Museum, Children's Museum, Gerald R. Ford Museum. During ArtPrize, some of these offer free admission, which makes them even more enticing.

*Clearly, by "West Michigan" I mean more specifically "Southwest Michigan"...but we all seem to refer to ourselves as West Michigan...

Locals, anything I missed? Anything I haven't done yet? Because if there is, I ought to do it soon! How many readers have been here or plan to go one day?

47 comments:

  1. Scandelous, wearing a swimming costume AND making out in the park!? I mean, there's even a kid in the playground with you two! Oh dear!
    Looks like there's some cool stuff going on... I had family in that area somewhere but I think they moved.

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  2. LOL that last pic of the guys and the tea party. hilarious.

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  3. Now I know where to plan our next vacation. ;) Looks like fun!

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  4. Nice article, and you both seems so much in love all the time!

    http://ladyparisienne.blogspot.fr/

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  5. I love your captions! And all of these places sound great. I really want to go to a great-lake beach this summer at some point. Also, there was a huge wooden castle playground at a park within walking distance from our apartment, but they tore it down! I am so sad!

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  6. This is such a great list! Way to represent for your area! The Tulip Time festival looks so wonderful. Makes me want to check out our local gardens here in D.C. :)

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  7. At Art Prize, is that a life size version of the old kid toy? The one that had flat pins that you could sculpt around your face/hand/whatever? If so, that is unbelievably cool! The Frederick Meijer Gardens look really fun :) I love cacti!

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  8. Look at all the cool stuff in your city! I need to get out more!

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  9. I'm not big into art but an art festival seriously sounds legit and fun!

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  10. Interesting! Going to West Michigan is kind of like coming to Lubbock...everyone thinks it's going to be a drag, but there' actually some really amazing attractions. I'm actually surprised to see a cactus in Michigan!

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  11. Well, you're just making me want to visit Michigan :)

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  12. Oooh I am so with you on #1...and Tulip Time is soo beautiful, I haven't been to that in years.
    I loved the Gerald Ford museum when I last went with my family...I was most impressed with the giant piece of the Berlin Wall they had in there. Western Michigan definitely has a lot of wonderful things to offer, great post Rachel:)

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  13. 11th thing to do. VISIT YOU! And yes I will go visit a flower garden full of TULIPS! Love!

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  14. I admit, Michigan is one of those states that I tend to forget exists. It's sort of like North and South Dakota. You look at a map and are like "hey, I forgot all about that state." But thanks to your list, if by any odd chance I happen to be in Michigan, at least I'll have a handy list of things to do!

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  15. I have to be honest, I don't think I've ever been to Michigan. Your post definitely makes it look like fun. There really isn't much to do in the city we live in....although now you have my wheels spinning. There are a few things, but nothing like yours. :)

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  16. We have vacationed in western michigan many times. It's an easy drive from indianapolis. The beaches are fantastic, the dunes are fun to traverse. There are plenty of parks for hiking and bike riding. There are plenty of little towns with their special local places, like ice cream shops and old movie theaters. We 've also been to many of the places you mentioned. I highly recommend a vacation in the area.

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  17. Ha ha! I like Angel's "Put me out of my Missouri" shirt.

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  18. I love this post! There really are so many fun things to explore in your area, no matter where you live. I must say, I've only driven through Michigan, but I don't think I've stopped to do anything there, ever!!

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  19. If we ever travel that way, we are meeting up! It looks like ya'll both have so much fun together... Also, Angels face it TOO close to that cactus...ha. Hope you have a great weekend friend!!
    xo-Britt

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  20. Oooh, a Michigan post and a WEST Michigan post at that! LOVE IT. :)

    Also, did you know that Grand Rapids is Lonely Planet's 2014 Destination of the Year? So, look out for more of those non-existent people coming to vacation in West Michigan! ;)

    -- Erika from America

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  21. I've never been there... one day!! Now, I have a list of things to check out!

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  22. I was born in Indiana and by family used to go to Michigan to camp occasionally, but sadly I have no memory of it at all! x

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  23. See Michigan isn't that boring after all ;-)

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  24. This is a great list... I'll have to keep it in mind, should I ever randomly travel to West Michigan, LOL. :-)

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  25. Seriously cool post - I love the diversity of the entries on this list. It wholeheartedly makes me want to put together a similar post of my own one day for our corner of British Columbia. Thank you for the great inspiration, if I ever create such a post, I will be sure to link back to this one.

    Big hugs & tons of joyful weekend wishes,
    <3 Jessica

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  26. Thanks for the list! My husband served and LDS mission in Michigan and I'm hopeful that we can make it out there to visit in the not-too-distant-future... this will definitely come in handy :)

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  27. I've never been to Michigan (though I do at least have the excuse of being British) but you've sold it to me on sense of humour alone! :)

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  28. I've never visited Michigan, so this was an interesting read! Never would have guessed you have cacti there! :)

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  29. Funny because I'm thinking of writing a similar post that would showcase my hometown's pride when I go home next week. A lot of my friends here in the "big city" would say "oh so there's an airport in your province?" I mean seriously, we're not even a province, we're a middle-sized and progressive city. Not that I'm saying there's something wrong with the provinces though :) So I love that you're writing this. I've never been to US though, LOL. Looks like there are a lot of kid-friendly places to visit. I love parks and museums!

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  30. Angel's Missouri shirt!! LOL! We obviously drive through the state quite often and we always said that must be how they named the state. I should do a post like this about Joplin ;)

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  31. I hadn't planned on it but hey if work ever takes me there now I have a reference to figure out where to go. Nice photos.

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  32. Hi Rachel and you're as cute as can be.and it's so nice to meet you! I've never been to Michigan but now I know what to do when I get there! :) Thank you so much for popping in to see my olden Pyrex! Hope you'll come back for another visit sometimes.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

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  33. I'm from Holland! Gotta love Tulip Time :) You really can't beat West Michigan in the summer.. the beaches are like a little slice of heaven!

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  34. How fun! I love reading locals' lists of cool activities and places :] You know you're getting the real deal!

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  35. Hey, Rachel! It's Courtney from The Brown Girl with Long Hair blog...EXCELLENT post! We live here in Michigan, not West Michigan, though -- we're in Metro Detroit. I'm from Michigan, born and raised, and *still* learned so much from this post. I've bookmarked it for future reference. Thank you!! :-)

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  36. Love these ideas! Can't wait to try them out next time we visit the area =)

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  37. Great pics! There is a bed and breakfast in Western Michigan (Castles in the Country). I'm definitely going to book myself a long weekend there...someday! It's near Lake Michigan and looks like a lovely place for a visit. :) T. http://tickledpinkwoman.blogspot.com

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  38. art and gardens and dancing and the beach? sounds like a good time to me -- maybe i'll road trip it? oh gosh, that might be a lot farther than it sounds, huh? minnesota to michigan.. ? anyway, i love love that white dress with the multi-colored dots!

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  39. Great tips! Now I have ideas of what to do whenever I'm in Michigan:)

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  40. These all look great! That cactus is HUGE!!

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  41. I have never been to Michigan, but judging by the looks of it, you could make any state in this country fun! :)

    Amanda @ Paving the Rugged Path
    www.pavingtheruggedpath.com

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  42. You have made it an attraction by your words and photos. I guess many people would start planning to visit West Michigan. Thanks to you!

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  43. How did I miss that you lived in Michigan, Rachel? I lived there for a long time. MI is quite nice and there is actually a lot to do (if you dig). West Michigan is so cute. Grand Rapids alone is filled with so many nice museums. I truly enjoyed this post and will keep it as a guide to myself, next time I visit Michigan and my family.

    Hope you had a great weekend. (Let me know where in West Michigan do you live?)

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  44. I can't believe you let your husband wear a Missouri shirt in a post about Michigan! What were you thinking??

    LOL!!

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