Thursday, December 02, 2010

Grand Rapids, Michigan Family Getaway Giveaway!

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In late November, I was invited to spend a weekend in Grand Rapids, Michigan as part of a blogger Familiarization (FAM) Trip. These trips are typically offered to travel journalists, but smart Convention and Visitors Bureaus know that reaching out to bloggers is a smart move. Even smarter is hiring a blogger to assist in planning the event and helping the CVB staff understand the difference between working with bloggers and journalists. In this case, the blogger was Michigan native, Meagan Francis; in Galena's case, it was MomImpact.

We pulled off the highway and headed into downtown Grand Rapids. "Wow, there's tall office buildings and everything!" I exclaimed. Heading from Chicago to Detroit, I'd only bypassed the roads leading to Grand Rapids in the past. I expected it to be some rinky-dink small town. It's not!

Grand Rapids has a newly thriving downtown and is home to many large companies like Amway, Meijer (grocery stores) and Steelcase. In addition, Herman Miller is nearby. In 2008, Fast Company named Grand Rapids the "greenest" city in the US based, in part, on its number of LEED-certified buildings. Who knew?

Kate Wiltzer and Janet Korn, the team from Experience Grand Rapids, wined and dined us from the start, quite literally via the Grand Rapids International Food and Wine Festival, where we enjoyed a delectable pairing dinner from the folks at the 1913 Room.

Venison Loin sous vide with lingonberry and a most delicious butternut squash puree

The next day we took in several of the town's main attractions. First stop, the GRAM, or Grand Rapids Art Museum, where we were treated to a private showing of the Princess Diana exhibit.

.

With another royal wedding just months away, it was fascinating--and bittersweet--to tour this exhibit which GRAM is hosting through mid-February. It's fascinating that one of the best-known humanitarians of our time had a rather lackluster life prior to marrying Prince Charles. She seemed neither an outstanding student nor an outstanding worker. Yet, she went on to touch so many lives before her own got cut short.

In addition to hosting travel exhibits such as this, GRAM hosts Saturday family programs and an outdoor ice rink in season (click for a coupon). Of course, they have a lot of art for adults, too, including the winner of Art Prize 2010, Chris LaPorte's, Cavalry.


This 8 x 4.4 piece was done in Number 2 pencil. Really.

ArtPrize is a new tradition in Grand Rapids. It's a "radically open" art competition. As noted on their site, Art Prize is, "Open to any artist in the world who can find space. Open to anybody in Grand Rapids, Michigan who wants to create a venue. Open to a vote from anyone who attends."
In 2010, nearly 200 venues hosted close to 2,000 works of art for this event.

Later in the day our group visited the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. The park has a pleasing blend of horticulture and sculpture. They have indoor gardens representing different biomes and the plants that grow within them. A busy little boy who might not want to stop and smell the flowers might be taken in by the carnivorous plants (though not literally!).


Check out those "fangs" on the Pitcher Plant and the Venus Fly Trap

The building is currently hosting a "Holidays Around the World" event, similar to the one hosted at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry each year. That is, traditionally and beautifully decorated trees representing different countries, cultures and religions are on display throughout the building. (Yes, there's a shout-out to Chanukah and Eid, as well.)

The main building's architecture is delightfully reminiscent of a forest.



And the Children's Garden? Granted, it wasn't looking its best on a cold November Day. Yet it's clear this garden is a destination for children of all ages in all seasons. It has an accessible and engaging sensory garden where children can (in season) smell, see, hear, touch and even taste.
It boasts a wooded wetlands area with a child-sized beaver lodge, a treehouse village for running and climbing and a log cabin for warming up and playing old-fashioned games.

In warmer weather guests of all ages can enjoy the Great Lakes Garden and other features of the children's area. This garden offers an amazing blend of education and fun.

And here's where your fun comes in! Experience Grand Rapids will provide one of my readers with:
  • tickets for a family of four to to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
As well as a sturdy canvas tote bag containing:
  • an iPod shuffle with a podcast about Grand Rapids
  • The Polar Express DVD (Grand Rapids is portrayed in the film)
  • an official Experience Grand Rapids Visitor Guide
To win the Grand Rapids Family Getaway:

Hop on over to Experience Grand Rapids and then come back and comment here letting me know what else you'd like to see or do there, or where you'd like to eat on your Getaway.

Comment prior to 1 AM, Tuesday, December 14, 2010 to be entered to win.

Extra entries

Tweet about this contest and come back and let me know about it for an extra entry.
Sample tweet: Win a #GrandRapids Getaway from @KimMoldofsky & @GrandRapidsCVB http://bit.ly/hOOhMK

Share this giveaway with a link back on Facebook and comment here to let me know.
Open to U.S. residents only.
I must have a way to contact you based on the comment.
Winner will be chose via Random.org based on the total number of comments.


Edited to add: You can also enter:

Stephanie's Grand Rapids giveaway at Adventures in Babywearing
Julie's is up at Dutch Being Me

This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to @MarketingMommy, our winner
Turns our that our first winner already won a GR getaway on another blog, so she graciously declined my prize.
The new winner is @McMama!

72 comments:

Jen @ BigBinder said...

OK I live here so I am not entering... I just love GR - my blog is about all of the awesome stuff to do with kids here. I'm so glad you had a good time! Very proud of my town :)

Erin said...

My husband and I went to meijer gardens ages ago, but now that we have two boys, I'd LOVE to go again.

Freelance Writer & Corporate Blogger said...

Totally tweeted! What a great destination for a family ... and I bet the geocaching there is awesome.

DrLori71 said...

The Grand Rapids Children's Museum would be on our list of things to do!

Farrah said...

One of my dearest friends lives in GR but we have only been up there once. I would LOVE to go for a visit. :) I have heard that the John Ball Zoo is fabulous and the GR Childrens' Museum too. Those would be on our list.
Thanks Kim! Cool Giveaway!

Farrah said...

Posted a link of the DupageMamas FB page!

Farrah said...

Tweeted about it too! :)

Heather said...

Oh we LOVE Grand Rapids! We love the Gardens and we would probably also make a stop over at Jersey Junction for icecream. We'd also get in some good visits with our best friends who are up there. Next year I have to make it there for ArtPrize. We keep missing it. Sounds amazing.

Thanks for this giveaway!

Heather said...

I FB's & Tweeted this. :)

Michelle said...

Ooooo I'd love to go to the Bentham's Riverfront Restaurant. You knew I'd choose where to eat knowing me, right? ;)

Rachel (Hounds in the Kitchen) said...

I am interested in the B.O.B. restaurant complex that includes a microbrewery. Thanks for the getaway giveaway!

Marketing Mommy said...

Wow, I'm surprised at how MANY restaurants there are in Grand Rapids and such diversity (they're not all Applebee's...although there are plenty of those listed too). If I'm a winner, I'd definitely try San Chez Tapas Bistro. And I'd toast Kim Moldofsky with my pitcher of sangria.

Jessica Ashley/Sassafrass said...

What a great getaway! I know my boy and I would love to hike those trails or take some photos of each other just TRYING to get a snowboard on our feet. Plus, looking at the lake is always soothing, even if it's frigid outside.

Sara (from Saving for Someday) said...

The only thing I knew about Grand Rapids is that Gerald Ford was from there. As such, I'd probably want to check out his Presidential Museum as well as the Children's Museum. So glad you got to have this experience, Kim. Knowing more about our country can be so enriching.

Debbie P. said...

Oh, so many choices of what to do! We would definitely want to visit the children's museum and stop off to eat at Robinette's Apple Haus!!

persephoneskitchen said...

We'd like to check out Meijer Gardens. Another trip - sans little one - might include the chef's tasting menu at the 1913 Room. Sounds amazing!

MJ Tam said...

Too bad I missed this event. What a great giveaway, Kim!!!

Plotnik Family said...

Hey Kim - I have spent my entire life travelling to Detroit to visit family and I have never visited Grand Rapids. Looks like a place for a great family getaway! Thanks for posting.

Lisa said...

Cheers Good Time Saloon sounds like a great place to go!!!

Lisa said...

tweeted http://twitter.com/#!/lisanoel03/status/10729655409573888

McMama said...

Funny thing: I grew up about 45 minutes from Grand Rapids, yet I've never done a lot of the cool stuff there! I live in Illinois now, and my family would love an overnight in GR and a trip to Meijer Gardens! And I don't know when this prize is good for but holy cow, we'd also love to go to the beach! :)

McMama said...

tweeted! http://twitter.com/#!/mcmama/status/10734692827398144

McMama said...

and Facebooked.

Stacey says... said...

My girls love the Children's Museum in Grand Rapids! I'm glad you had a good time checking everything out!

love said...

would love to explore the vintage & antique shops there & meijer gardens!

Katie at A List Maker's Life said...

Having grown up in GR I am so excited to hear that you were able to see all there is to love about it! Were you able to go to the VanAndel museum/planetarium? That's a family favorite for us. GR is also home to a pretty amazing medical facility. We are looking forward to touring the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital tomorrow!

3 Boys and an Old Lady said...

I would love to take the boys to visit the water wheel and Grist & Cider Mill at Bowen Mills Bridge

Laura (@chambanalaura) said...

I would eat at Osta's Lebanese restaurant and go antique shopping.

Mrs. Sara said...

I would love to visit the Grand Rapids Children's Museum with my babies! I think they would love it. :)

Cassie said...

I cannot tell you how much I would love a beach right now!

Mrs. Sara said...

I tweeted about the giveaway!
http://twitter.com/saharagreen/status/10763537093758976

Mrs. Sara said...

I posted a link on Facebook too. saharagreen at gmail dot com

Laura (@chambanalaura) said...

I tweeted too! Thanks Kim!

melanie said...

i went to the john ball park zoo all the time when i was growing up...i would love to take my kids there.

i would have to take my kids to yesterdog's too for a great hot dog like i had in college...

Windy City Pin-up said...

I have also never been to Grand Rapids which seems so silly having lived in Chicagoland for most of my life! I've heard great things about the art scene of Grand Rapids in the museums (particularly the Museum of Contemporary Art) as well as throughout the city itself so that's top on my list.

allysmama said...

We would love to win this...we are trying to figure out where to road trip this summer and Grand Rapids looks awesome! I know we'd visit the Children's Museum and Meijer Gardens! Thanks
bleatham*at*gmail.com

allysmama said...

Tweeted!
http://twitter.com/#!/sleatham1/statuses/10772559532400640
bleatham*at*gmail.com

allysmama said...

posted on facebook too!
http://www.facebook.com/#!/sleatham1/posts/164809640223915
bleatham*at*gmail.com

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

We'd love to win this! I'm thinking a seafood restaurant would be great for my family. Maybe Charley's? Hopefully WHEN I win (heh heh) someone will suggest a good seafood restaurant!

Brandie said...

Sounds like a fun trip for sure!! I've followed ArtPrize and think it's so fabulous! I want to go see it in person some day and not just pictures and hearing others talk about it!
On a related note, on of my fav podcasters to listen to is from the Grand Rapids area!

Anne Y said...

I would love to visit Grand Rapids! In addition to the sculpture garden I would love to take my kids to the Grand Rapids Children's Museum because we love to visit children's museums every where we travel.

Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

@Anne54304
annegyounger(at)gmail(dot)com

Anne Y said...

I tweeted
http://twitter.com/Anne54304/status/10993062964629504

@Anne54304
annegyounger(at)gmail(dot)com

Anne Y said...

I shared this on Facebook.

@Anne54304
annegyounger(at)gmail(dot)com

3inunder3 said...

I lived there for 4 years, 4 years ago. I'd love to go back and see all the stuff that I miss, especially my friends and shopping at Meijer!

adrienne said...

I cannot think of visiting Grand Rapids without a trip to the great independent bookseller Schuler's Books.

The Children's Museum would be next on my agenda.

Joanna said...

I'd try a local restaurant- we love finding gems off the beaten path!

Jessica - Mom of all Trades said...

I would visit John Ball Zoo where my daughter went to the zoo for the first time 13 years ago and also would visit my brother and sister that live in the area!

jessica (at) mom-of-all-trades (dot) com

Jessica - Mom of all Trades said...

I tweeted http://twitter.com/momof_alltrades/statuses/11804912790798336

shalana said...

Oooh, I would love the Grand Rapids giveaway for my family. We are a military family and move around ALOT! My middle child was born just north of Detroit. Sadly, I don't think we ever made it over to Grand Rapids during the 2 yrs. we lived in MI. It sounds like we missed out on a very cool city. We are less than a day's drive from there now & I would love to get to go check it out. Glad you had such fun with your girls' weekend!
shalanavaron at gmail dot com.

Jess said...

Ooooo, yes please! Being an avid roadtripper, visiting GR with my little family would be so fun. I'd love to take my curious son to the children's garden at the Meijer Gardens. Thanks for the opportunity!

jess.gustin@yahoo.com

Nichole said...

Would love to try a new place to eat and do! :) Princess Di exhibit too! :)

nfphotography at frontier dot com

designHER Momma said...

my parents live in Holland, only about a 1/2 hour from GR. I would ditch the kids, grab my husband, and hit the town. I've only been to meijers gardens once (right when it opened) and I know my hubs has never been. We would go there first...

Aimee said...

This would be an AWESOME get-away for hubby and me! However, if we did bring the kiddos, I'd say we'd go to the Children's Museum. If not, I'd love to his the gardens, see the Diana exhibit and head to the pPresidential Museum.

Aimee said...

http://twitter.com/nocentsmama/status/11959465263767552

Anonymous said...

The Grand Rapids Children's museum would be awesome!!!

Ticia
howell3@mchsi.com

Mary Catherine said...

How exciting! We love to visit Michigan; absolutely beautiful any time of the year!

Jennifer said...

Great Giveaway! I love eating at Rose's on Reeds Lake when I am in GR. It would be so fun to take my 3 daughters to see FM Gardens.
Smiles!

Stephanie said...

My hubby grew up just 30 minutes from Grand Rapids. I’d love to check out AJ’s Family Fun Center or Higher Ground Rock Climbing Center.

Megryansmom said...

Dec 14th is our wedding anniversary. We usually go to Vegas, but the funds are dried up this year :( I'd love to go anywhere but here! A nice hotel room, some wine, just me and my hubby, oh sorry, this is a family blog isn't it....

megryansmom@sbcglobal.net

Tech Savvy Mama said...

I've never been to Michigan before and loved learning about the many historic sites on their Experience Grand Rapids page. There's something for everyone...I'd be interested in going to the Ford Presidential Museum and my train and fire engine loving kids would love Engine House #5, the Fire Barn Museum, and Coopersville Historical Museum!

tech savvy mama {at} g mail {dot} com

Tech Savvy Mama said...

Tweeted: http://twitter.com/techsavvymama/status/12879805666041856

Tech Savvy Mama said...

Shared on my Facebook wall and linked it to you!

Lisa @thebeadgirl said...

I live here too...and as an artist I am PROUD of the way our city is embracing the arts! AND my jewelry is carried in the Grand Rapids Art Museum! WOOT! glad you enjoyed your stay!

Anonymous said...

We'd love to go to the Grand Rapids Children's museum. Sounds like a great trip.

Anonymous said...

We want to go to the Grand Rapids Children's museum.

Miss_Lori said...

I am such a Mom because everything I am attracted to, the Children's museum, the Fun center etc is perfect for my kids. LOL! But it would be really nice to get away somewhere with my kids that didn't involve me working. That would be refreshing.

SMILE!

ML

Kevin Bell said...

I noticed the site mentioned "Craig's Cruisers". We've been to Grand Rapids for conferences with the kids and they always love going there! The indoor go-karts are their favorites! The food in the buffet area is also great!

Barbara Manatee said...

I love Grand Rapids (I'm on the East side of the state). We took our kids to the Grand Rapids Children's Museum and the Gardens this summer - but we crammed too much into a short day and wished we had more time!

Carolyn G said...

i would love to visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. I love sculpture parks,

Carolyn G said...

tweeted http://twitter.com/carogonza/status/14164781019701248

Shari said...

We love Country Inns and Suites. They are very family-friendly hotels. Also, a friend went to the Meijer Gardens this summer for the Chihuly exhibit and said it was a "must see" garden. She's a landscape architect, so I always take her advice on these things.

Kalee said...

I would totally go see the Hackley and Hume Historic site with the two huge Queen Anne houses. So pretty!

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