Western Michigan City Earns Its Grand Reputation

By Runice, Jacky | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 27, 1999 | Go to article overview

Western Michigan City Earns Its Grand Reputation


Runice, Jacky, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Jacky Runice Daily Herald Correspondent

While exotic trips to Europe and the tropics sound attractive, most of us long for those little trips that enter the family's collective memory as active, easy to arrange and pure fun. Weekend in New York? Love to, darling, but we're taking the kids to Grand Rapids, Mich.

Fortune Magazine named Grand Rapids one of the top 10 best cities for business. Renowned in the early 20th century as the leader in the production of fine furniture, Grand Rapids is wowing the world with modern office furniture at this turn of the century. This family friendly boom town has invested more than $200 million in new cultural, recreational and sports facilities much to the delight of tourists like you, me and the kids.

A 75-foot finback whale skeleton dangling from the ceiling of the Van Andel Museum Center is just a sample of the treasures in the interactive history and science facility. Duck into the dark coolness of the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium for sky shows from "Garfield - A Cat for All Seasons" to "Our Restless Planet." Don't miss a ride on the 1928 carousel that juts out over the Grand River. Through Sept. 19, arachnids rule at the "Spiders!" exhibit, which was organized by the Smithsonian Institution.

Just across the street is the Gerald R. Ford Museum and a terrific exhibition called "The American Century." From now until Oct. 17, see nearly 500 artifacts, costumes, documents and paintings of the century: a field uniform from Vietnam, Mr. Rogers' sweater and sneakers, Wayne Gretzky's hockey stick and JFK's undelivered speech of Nov. 22, 1963, to name a few. Using holographic technology, you can tour 11 rooms of the White House and listen in on a typical day in the Oval Office. The Ford Museum's exhibits are astonishingly clever in their historical re- creations.

I've been to countless children's museums and was impressed with the new roomy, bright and inviting facility in Grand Rapids. …

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