The bayous and creeks flowing into the Grand River form an inviting home for wildlife, including eagles that nest in the trees along the shoreline. Perched in their aeries, the birds study the water's surface. Spotting a disturbance, an eagle lifts off and glides toward the water, opening its talons to pluck the prey suspended just beneath the surface.
The team at Lakeshore Kayak Rental lends their kayaks—inspected and certified by the DNR—and other watercraft to help visitors stumble upon sights such as these throughout the gentle Grand River and its connecting waterways. The staff, which includes instructors claiming certifications from the American Canoe Association, provides lessons for beginner kayakers, canoeists, and paddleboarders, and recommends areas for more experienced outdoorsmen to explore. With advanced notice, Lakeshore's crew can also arrange transportation to and from some area lodgings and farther-away launch points. To encourage camaraderie throughout the kayaking community, Lakeshore's team hosts the annual Grand River Kayak Race.
The 39 holes at Loeschner's Village Green Family-Style Miniature Golf lead putt-putters on a serpentine path through verdant landscaping framed by charming white picket fences. The challenging course zigzags past gnarled trees and around thick shrubs, even burrowing through rocky outcroppings that resemble scaled-down versions of the tunnels common to mountainous regions. In addition to upkeeping the sprawling course, the staff encourages guests to keep the competition going at the on-site arcade or by instigating a soft-drink-chugging contest at the snack bar.
A nonprofit movie house, The Harbor Theater offers cinefiles a welcome reprieve from stale screen fillers by stocking its theater with rich, artistic, and fresh independent and foreign films. Sharpen subtitle-reading skills by catching an upcoming screening of The Illusionist (coming soon), an animated feature from the French filmmakers behind The Triplets of Belleville. Or brush up on American history with Made in Dageham, a period drama exploring sexual discrimination during a 1968 walkout at the Ford Dageham plant.
Approaching its 50th anniversary and under new ownership, Cannonsburg Ski and Ride Area livens up winter with plentiful runs that invite skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels to fly safely down the slopes or develop their technique. Roughly 15 miles from Grand Rapids, a network of meticulously designed parks challenges sports folk with half a dozen jumps and more than 50 terrain features, and a newly overhauled snowmaking system keeps the tracks covered in fresh snow from brand-new snow guns along with a brand new ski run.
Guests of all ages can hone their skills under the watchful eyes of instructors before hitting the mountain's 20 runs, which are served by ten lifts, including one magic carpet. After relishing rushes of downhill velocity, visitors can peruse the well-stocked shop or refresh themselves with treats from the Cedar Lounge restaurant.
The Muskegon Lumberjacks continue to mow down their United States Hockey League competition with a brand of fast and physical hockey that draws on their student athletes’ strengths and prepares them for the breakneck speeds of college or the NHL. Head Coach Kevin Patrick draws on his experience as an assistant with the University of Wisconsin’s 2006 NCAA championship team to ensure that the squad stays one skate ahead of its opponents, forcing his players to practice with their skates covered in half-dried maple syrup. The Jacks will certainly have a leg up on defense, as Minnesota Wild draftee Nick Seeler freezes oncoming forwards with frequent stick slaps and Army recruit Christian Pomarico awaits enemies in his snow-camouflage coveralls.
Riverview Athletic Club gets hearts pumping inside an expansive facility that includes fitness studios, a cardio theater, and court space for tennis, basketball, and volleyball. A schedule of nearly 40 weekly classes offers such high-energy sessions as Zumba and cycling, as well as muscle-toning Pilates and boot-camp workouts. Parents can drop off tykes in the Kids Zone while they exercise or indulge in a massage to release pent-up stress incurred from being in charge of children.