Hotel at a Glance: Ramada Plaza Hotel Grand Rapids
This Ramada hotel is a family-friendly enclave located just 8 miles from downtown Grand Rapids, an up-and-coming burg on the west coast of Michigan. The hotel's Castaway Bay Water Park keeps little ones entertained no matter the season, with a game room and a 180-foot-long, three-story-tall water slide that plunges into the indoor pool.
- In-room amenities: TV with HBO and Nintendo, coffeemaker, and complimentary WiFi
- Choose from 110 beers at the onsite Old Chicago restaurant, which also serves pizza, pasta, and other entrees.
- Go for a dip in the jacuzzi at the Tiki Hut Spa.
- A free 24-hour shuttle brings guests to and from Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR), just 4 miles away.
Grand Rapids, Michigan: Scenic River Walk and Thriving Arts Scene
Four Great Lakes surround Michigan, so most places in the mitten-shaped state aren't very far from water. This is certainly true of Grand Rapids, the state’s second-largest city, which sits about 30 minutes from Lake Michigan; it takes its name from the free-flowing Grand River that cuts through town. The river helped put Grand Rapids on the map as a transportation center. Over the years, though, the city has reinvented itself; there’s now a lively downtown area with gleaming office buildings, shopping boutiques, and a scenic river walk.
The city has worked to emphasize its arts-and-culture scene. The Grand Rapids Art Museum was relocated to a sleek, eco-friendly building in 2007. Inside, the museum has an extensive collection of 19th- and 20th-century paintings, sculptures, and furniture pieces. The Grand Rapids Public Museum is also worth a visit; it has a wide range of exhibits, including a re-creation of 1890s Grand Rapids and an early 20th-century carousel dubbed one of America’s Best by Travel + Leisure. The brilliantly painted carousel is one of only three of its style ever made. It sits within a glass building that juts out over a river.