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  1. What you need to know to visit the area.

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    Historic Sites for the History Buff

    The recorded history of Grand Rapids extends back some 2,000 years to Native Americans that settled the Grand River Valley. Tucked away off Interstate 96, within the boundaries of Millennium Park, stand a series of burial mounds containing artifacts from these Hopewell peoples. The Norton Mound National Historic Landmark is currently closed to the public, but artifacts from these mounds can be seen at Grand Rapids Public Museum.

    Another notable burial site in Grand Rapids is that of the 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford. President Ford wasn't born in Grand Rapids - but he was raised here and represented the city in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1949-1973. Richard Nixon selected him to replace Spiro Agnew as Vice President in 1973, and Ford assumed the Presidency less than a year later in the wake of Nixon's resignation.

    All of this and more is brought to engaging life at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in downtown Grand Rapids. The President and Mrs. Ford are buried on the grounds of the Museum, on a hillside spot that attracts a steady stream of people paying their respects to our native son and his dear wife.

    More recent Grand Rapids history is on display throughout the region:


    From picturesque covered bridges to storied urban bridges.

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    Historic Homes

    Including Heritage Hill, named the best old-house neighborhood in Michigan by This Old House magazine.…

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    Dutch Heritage

    Large numbers of Dutch immigrants settled here beginning in the early 19th century and the region is still associated with Dutch American culture.…

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    Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state, and some of the best are just a short drive from Grand Rapids.…

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    Maritime History

    Museums, festivals and events keep the rich maritime history of nearby Lake Michigan alive.

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    Explore art, history, horticulture, a President's legacy and more

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    History Around the Corner Walking Tour

    Discover 11 of these historical snippets located on a short walk around downtown.

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    Take an Interactive Tour of Grand Rapids Civil History

    Students at Kent Innovation High, a project-based learning high school located on the campus of the Kent Intermediate School District, took their learning to the street. Literally.  This year, sophomores in the KIH American Studies class taught by Mike Kaechele created an interactive Grand Rapids Civil Rights Tour. With twelve stops and corresponding student-read podcasts, the historical tour takes participants around Grand Rapids providing insight into the city’s history. Kaechele said he felt many thought the Civil Rights Movement was something that happened “down south” and wanted his students to learn about events in their hometown and compare it to the national Civil Rights Movement. With that goal in mind, the collaborative project was born. Students researched a variety of events before choosing the featured twelve. Kaechele stated an integral part of the project was working with Tim Gleisner, head of Special Collections at the Grand Rapids Public Library who helped find relevant articles and books for the students to study.…

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    Explore these historic sites around the area:

    Port City Princess Cruise Boat

    • 560 Mart St
    • Muskegon, MI 49440
    • (231) 903-0669
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    Brewery Vivant

    • 925 Cherry St. SE
    • Grand Rapids, MI 49506
    • (616) 719-1604
      • Local-first
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    The Cottage Bar & Restaurant

    • 18 LaGrave Ave. SE
    • Grand Rapids, MI 49503
    • (616) 454-9088
      • Local-first
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    The Grand Lady Riverboat

    • 825 Taylor Street
    • Jenison, MI 49428
    • (616) 457-4837 | (616) 457-4837
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    Grand Rapids Brewing Company

    • 1 Ionia Ave. SW
    • Grand Rapids, MI 49503
    • (616) 458-7000
      • Local-first
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    Lowell Area Historical Museum

    • 325 W. Main St.
    • Lowell, MI 49331
    • (616) 897-7688
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    Meyer May House

    • 450 Madison Ave. SE
    • Grand Rapids, MI 49503
    • (616) 246-4821
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    Nelis' Dutch Village

    • 12350 James St.
    • Holland, MI 49424
    • (616) 396-1475
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    Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the Grand Rapids Public Museum

    • 272 Pearl St. NW
    • Grand Rapids, MI 49504
    • (616) 929-1700
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    Windmill Island Gardens

    • 1 Lincoln Ave.
    • Holland, MI 49423
    • (616) 355-1030
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