Our Family Loves Being Downtown

We love being downtown in Grand Rapids, we love the art, we love the walks…

The city has art on virtually every corner! We decided over Spring Break to recreate the love with our walking shoes on, and take a GRTag Tour!

Two interactive tours are offered; History, and Art Around the Corner. Each has the goal of entertaining and educating visitors and residents about our great city and what it has to offer!

You may have seen the signs up around the city. On each one is a scannable barcode, accessible by any smartphone with a QR Code Reader. Upon scanning the code, you will receive facts about the location, a gallery of photos and more!

We chose to do the Art Around the Corner Tour. And shhhhh…we broke the rules and did it out of order! After taking a peek at the map, I decided to park at the Gerald R. Ford Museum and make our way to the red button first (officially stop “I”). The kids quickly turned themselves into needles with thread and climbed on and through the red beauty.

We learned all about the design while they played as well as some interesting facts. For instance, did you know that the everyday wear and tear on the sculpture makes it the city’s most expensive public work to maintain?

Big Red Button Grand Rapids

It was not an easy task convincing them to leave, but when I did, I smiled watching them run on the hills along the river, taking in the sunshine and the great view. From there we went “backwards” on the tour, across the Gillette Bridge to their second favorite stop, the giant tire swing, while ‘tagging’ other locations along the way.

If you haven’t been to the tire swing, you MUST go, TagTour or not! Although it takes some muscle to get it going, you won’t regret putting in the extra elbow grease: my 4-year old hasn’t laughed that hard in a long time!

We continued on the tour past the Calder, through Rosa Parks Circle, and back over the Blue Bridge toward our final destination.

Calder Grand Rapids

For the most part, the route was pretty stroller friendly. There were times we had to walk a little out of our way to find a ramp, but they were always available. We did have a hard time finding a quick way to the Calder and ended up in the city building where the kind employees directed us to an elevator. Although it wasn’t in the plans to go there, we discovered a cool model of the city and many vintage Festival of the Arts posters on display…who knew?

The entire walk (minus one stop that we totally missed) took us about two hours. However, because you can start and stop as you wish, there is the potential to shorten the journey as desired.

The stops included on the Art Around the Corner tour include:

  • Motu Viget (the giant tire swing)
  • La Grande Vitesse (the Calder)
  • Rosa Parks Statue
  • Ecliptic (Rosa Parks Circle)
  • Steel Water (blue sculpture outside the J.W. Marriott hotel)
  • River’s Edge Environmental Sculpture (My old lunch spot. This rock facade on the river is closed in the offseason but you can view it from above.)
  • The River’s Edge (white fish behind the Public Museum)
  • Spirit of Solidarity (fountain in Ah-Nab-Awen Park)
  • Lorries Button (the red button)

Although we have visited many of the spots on the tour before, the facts, fun and sights of the city kept the kids unusually content!

For more information and adorable downloadable maps, visit www.grtagtour.org.

Now, TAG–You’re it!  Take a tour and let us know how it goes!