Best Places to Live

Grand Rapids, MI

Population: 192,416
LIV
SCORE
620
iStockPhoto/Davel5957

You’ll find museums galore in Grand Rapids, including an art museum, children’s museum, the African-American Museum & Archives, contemporary arts museum, the Gerald Ford presidential museum and more. Plus, theaters, a zoo, an improv spot and the opera make planning a date easy here.

Also, on any given night, live music is providing the soundtrack for this vibrant West Michigan city. Come summer, it’s time to thaw out: nearby beaches are the perfect spot to enjoy warm, lazy days.

Local Obsession: Cheering on the hockey team, the Grand Rapids Griffins

Climate Described in 6 Words Or Less: Summer beach days, frigid winters

Top Industries and Employers: Grand Rapids boasts a diverse economy, with industries that include healthcare, technology, automotive, education and furniture (it was once known as “Furniture City” because the large presence of furniture manufacturing cities). Spectrum Health, Meijer (a grocery chain) and Mercy General Health Partners are among some of the largest employers in West Michigan.

Local Dream Job: Curator at the Gerald R. Ford Museum

Quintessential Meal: The Yahtzee! Sandwich. If you get a Yahtzee! In three rolls or less, your sandwich is on the house at Electric Cheetah. But, you have to yell “Yahtzee” loud and proud to earn this cider-grilled tempeh with melted Gruyere, wild mushrooms and pumpkin aioli that’s topped with arugula and served on sourdough.

Favorite Weekend Activity: Listening to live music. More than 100 venues host bands and songwriters’ nights, and the city has its own “music trail.” In the summer, hangin’ at the beach is the go-to activity.

After-Work Meetup Spot: Downtown Market

Best Brewery/Local Beer: Mitten Brewing, which syncs up craft beer and pizza in a Victorian-era firehouse.

Beloved Bookstore: Book & Mortar, an independent bookstore that rewards readers of all ages with gift cards if they take on the reading challenge.

Free Way to Have Fun: Tuesday days and Thursday nights are free at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

Truly Hidden Gem: Spot the whale at the Spillman Carousel, which is at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. It’s among the 44 hand-carved wooden horses and it was created by the museum staff to mimic a giant whale skeleton that hangs from the museum’s ceiling.

- Brittany Anas

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“Absolutely, my favorite local spot would be the Downtown Market. It’s a great place to go any season and any time of day. Whenever someone I know is visiting Grand Rapids for the first time, this is the place I take them. Inside the market there are a bunch of different local businesses, shops and restaurants. Fish Lads, Old World Olive Oil Co., Social kitchen and bar, and Rak Thai are a few of my favorites! The options are endless, so it’s a great spot to try out if you’re new to the area.”

Samantha Austin
Grand Rapids resident

Grand Rapids, MI Ranking Data

Civic
34
Demographics
64
Economy
62
Education
63
Health
66
Housing
61
Infrastructure
74