28th Annual Conference and Trade Show
The following websites will give you a preview of what to expect when you come to Grand Rapids this summer and perhaps entice you to extend your stay and make west Michigan your summer vacation place!
Starting with the conference site, the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel is truly a world-class hotel, (www.amwaygrand.com) Conde Nasts' Travelers 100 Best of the Best, ranked the Grand Plaza 82nd in the world, and 12th in the US. The pictures at the website don't do justice to the elegance of the hotel – that is gold leaf on the ceilings!
The hotel features several restaurants. For a real treat consider Cygnus located atop the tower on the 26th floor or the classically elegant 1913 Room. GP's is the new sports bar at the hotel and Cornucopia is an international deli featuring pastries, salads, sandwiches, coffee, etc. Other restaurants include The Canal Street Grille, Benthams and Monroe Café.
Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan with a metropolis of more than a half a million people. We earned the nickname "Furniture City" because of the fine furniture that was and continues to be made here. In addition, Grand Rapids is the home of Steelcase a leading maker of office furniture, Herman Miller, Haworth and other furniture manufacturers are also located here in west Michigan. The Chamber of Commerce site, www.grandrapids.org, will give you more information about our city. www.visitgrandrapids.org will also tell you more about our city. There's even a cute little video, "A View of Grand Rapids" that you can run from your computer.
Downtown Grand Rapids has an active nightlife especially after events such as Rampage arena football held at the Van Andel Arena. One favorite nightspot is The BOB (that's Big Old Building) www.thebob.com will give you more information about the four restaurants, comedy club and microbrewery located at the BOB, just a couple of blocks from the hotel.
Other favorite restaurants include San Chez Bistro featuring tapas and other Spanish, Cuban and Latin American cuisine. And for great burgers The Cottage Bar and Restaurant is a favorite on everyone's list. Of course there are many more restaurants available within walking distance from the hotel.
Also located in the downtown area is the historic Heritage Hill neighborhood. Heritage Hill will be part of the Sunday afternoon tour, but you may want to take one of the self-guided walking tours of the area. The homes are beautiful, featuring varying types of architecture. These homes were built in the late 1800's by wealthy Grand Rapidians. (www.heritagehill.gen.mi.us)
One of the vendor-sponsored evenings is an outing to the West Michigan Whitecaps ball game. The Whitecaps are a farm team for the Detroit Tigers. Whitecaps games are a favorite summertime family activity – a great way to enjoy summer evenings in Grand Rapids. There's plenty of fun entertainment to keep even non-sports fans entertained during the game – have you ever seen a "human bowling ball"? For more about the Whitecaps and Old Kent Park check out www.whitecaps-baseball.com.
The Wednesday evening vendor-sponspored event will be held at the Frederik Meijer Gardens. www.meijergardens.org. The Gardens are another wonderful spot for enjoying Michigan summer evenings. The conservatory and gardens are beautiful in themselves, and the gardens also feature a world class sculpture park, including a Rodin sculpture and the whimsical work of Keith Haring.
As for the weather, late July weather tends to be warm and humid. Temperatures should be in the 80's and humidity…who knows? It could be comfortable or very humid. Heat waves in the upper 90's with high humidities are not uncommon. Of course, a cool spell in the 70's is always possible, too. One thing about the weather here in GR, it changes quickly. Remember to bring a light jacket or sweatshirt especially if you plan to do the Friday outing to Saugatuck. It can be cool at the lake after sunset - which isn't until ~9:30pm in late July. Chances are you won't need the jacket, but I can't guarantee it.
If you wish to vacation here in Michigan you won't be disappointed. The beach/Lake Michigan shoreline is a popular destination. Michigan has beautiful, sandy beaches on Lake Michigan, mid-summer water temperatures tend to be in the 70's. The Lake Michigan sand dunes are beautiful. Popular beaches and "beach cities" include, South Haven, Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Pentwater, Cadillac, Traverse City and Harbor Springs. The Leelanau peninsula is a lovely area to visit to enjoy beautiful Michigan. If lighthouses are your passion, why not plan a vacation visiting the Lake Michigan lighthouses? There are 29 lighthouses on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan alone; several with an hour or so of Grand Rapids. (www.wmta.org/lighthouse/). And if you are a golf enthusiast Michigan is where you want to be. (www.wmta.org/golf/) Michigan features over 800 public and resort courses and leads the nation in new course openings.
The following websites will be useful for vacation planning:
www.wmta.org/ (West Michigan Travel Assoc)
www.mlive.com/beachcam/ (The beachcam isn't running just yet, but should be by mid-June, but you can see photos from last summer at this site.
The state parks and other lodging fills quickly so if you are considering extending your stay in Michigan make your reservations ASAP.
Your Michigan hosts hope that this preview has piqued your interest in our state and made you eager for the 2001 NAOSMM conference.