It’s that time of the year again! Art Prize, the international art competition located right here in downtown Grand Rapids, begins on Thursday, September 24th, and runs through October 12th.
While exhilarating, the task of navigating through large crowds to view countless art venues can be a tad overwhelming, so we’ve created an easy weekend guide for everything you need to know to make your experience fun and stress-free!
Before starting out, stop by any Grand Rapids Meijer location or Art Prize voting site to purchase 2 bus wristbands for $5. This pass gives you unlimited bus rides for all 19 days of Art Prize and can be used on the Silver Line, DASH, and The Rapid.
Also, be sure to download the updated Art Prize mobile app available for Apple and Android. The new version allows you to create lists of specific pieces you’d like to see and then share them with your friends and family. You can even map out your own routes!
If you’re not already downtown, catch the Silver Line or DASH to Michigan Ave near DeVos Place and check out Art Prize’s West Side and North Monroe route along the Grand River. Enjoy beautiful river views from both the historic 6th Street Bridge and the pedestrian Blue Bridge. Don’t miss the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum or the adjacent Ah-Nab-Awen Park where you can enjoy a break on the lawn and take in the outdoor exhibits.
Stop for dinner at one of the many bustling restaurants downtown, but be sure to call ahead and make reservations if possible. For casual dining in a relaxed setting, check out the JD Reardon’s Bar & Grill at 940 Monroe Ave NW located inside the Boardwalk Condo building. This year, JD Reardon’s is host to four Art Prize entries! For more upscale fare, head over to Cygnus 27, located on the top floor of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Enjoy a unique and delicious dining experience while enjoying the fantastic views of downtown Grand Rapids.
Get an early start to beat the bustling downtown crowd. First, stop at MadCap Coffee at 98 Monroe Center St NW to get your day started with one of their delicious coffee brews or specialty drinks. From there, explore the Art Prize Center City route. Highlights include Kendall College of Art Design, as well as the outdoor exhibits along the river just outside the Public Museum.
Stop for lunch at one of the many outdoor food vendors surrounding the Grand Rapids Art Museum including Woking Taco, What The Truck, and A Moveable Feast. Take your food over to Rosa Parks Circle at the corner of Monroe Ave NW and Monroe Center St NW for an outdoor picnic in the heart of the city!
Hop on a shuttle and take it 1 mile east to the Hillside route. Along this walk, be sure to check out landmark Heritage Hill homes like the Pike House at 230 E. Fulton, the Wallen House at 71 Lafayette NE, and the Dikeman House at 302 East Fulton. Find a complete list of Walking Tour homes here.
Take a break from the crowds and make your way over to the Cherry Hill neighborhood of East Hills, where you can stop for ice cream at the newly opened Furniture City Creamery at 958 Cherry St SE. Get a scoop of one of their dairy or vegan flavors and enjoy it in the nearby garden at the historic ICCF building located 920 Cherry St SE. Spend some time exploring the neighborhood boutiques and antique shops!
Take a bus down to the Rapid Central Station and walk across the street to Founders Brewing Company at 235 Grandville Ave SW. Enjoy drinks in the newly renovated beer garden or order a sandwich and enjoy live music in the large, open beer hall.
Jump-start your morning with a visit to the Grand Rapids Downtown Market located at 435 Ionia Ave SW to explore the indoor market hall, which offers everything from cafés and bakeries to eclectic lunch options. Then walk the Heartside route north to the city center. Along the way, stop at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts located at the corner of Division and Fulton, where you can view temporary Art prize exhibits as well as permanent museum pieces.
Jump on the bus and head east out of downtown to the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park at 1000 East Beltline Ave NE. Admittance to the Art Prize exhibit is free, but for the full Gardens experience you should treat yourself to the expansive and gorgeous outdoor sculpture park as well. Afterwards, stop in the Taste of the Gardens café for a bite to eat before heading home.
For more information about ArtPrize and other events happening in and around Downtown Grand Rapids, please contact SVG Real Estate Firm at (616) 439-1927