“In the past 15 years or so Grand Rapids has become a ‘destination’ place for many people to visit.”
- Will you tell the GRKIDS readers a bit about you and your family?
My husband and I are in our second year of retirement and enjoying it immensely! We have 3 married children and 11 fabulous grandchildren. We are fortunate to have all of them living in the West Michigan area. We live in the Garfield Park neighborhood and have been in the same house for 38 years. My husband was born and raised in Grand Rapids but I was born and raised in the Chicago area. We spent a few years in Florida, but moved back here when we decided to start our family.
- What is your favorite thing about living in Grand Rapids?
When I first moved here I thought Grand Rapids was a small town with not a lot going on. In the past 15 years or so Grand Rapids has become a “destination” place for many people to visit.
Downtown growth, great new restaurants and breweries, bike trails, ArtPrize, Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids Symphony, the Civic Theatre, u-pick orchards, etc., have made Grand Rapids a great place to live and raise a family, as well as an exciting place to invite friends and family to visit.
- In your opinion, what makes Grand Rapids a great city for families?
The friendliness of the people, family values, access to cultural as well as athletic events/opportunities that are affordable for families, minor league baseball, hockey and basketball teams, as well as the numerous lakes nearby offer a wide variety of family entertainment.
As grandparents, we particularly like the availability of “Grandparent Passes” we can purchase for visiting John Ball Zoo, Meijer Gardens, as well as the museums – makes it much more affordable to bring our grandkids to as many times as we or they want to.
We also purchase season tickets to the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre – our grandkids pick the productions they want to see with their cousins and it’s a wonderful activity to do together. Grand Rapids also has many choices for schools – public, parochial, charter and private.
- What does the perfect Saturday in GR look like for your family?
Saturdays now look very similar to Saturdays when our own children were growing up – filled with sporting events! Back then we had 3 children to follow whereas now, 9 of our 11 grandkids are involved in a variety of sports all year round. We love attending as many as we can when we are around!
After the games, depending on the season, there are always plenty of things to choose from – biking one of the bike trails, visiting ArtPrize in the fall, and since our son-in-law is part of Sietsema Orchards & Cider Mill with his dad, apple picking, donut eating and cider drinking at the orchard is a popular destination for our family in the fall.
Our grandkids all ski so some afternoons in the winter months are spent watching them at Cannonsburg Ski area. We love being active and try to take advantage of the variety of activities and events happening in our city throughout the year.
- What do you love about where you live?
We loved our neighborhood when we purchased our home and we still love it today. We’ve been blessed with great neighbors from the beginning and still are today! Our children attended Seymour Christian School, where my husband was teaching at the time, they biked up to “the Heights” to go to Modern Pharmacy, the library, grocery store, Southern Little League, Garfield Park, etc.
Some of the business’ in Alger Heights struggled for awhile, but it’s been exciting to watch its rebirth the last few years. Ken’s Grocery Store, Real Food Cafe, The Old Goat Restaurant, Reinspired Treasures, have made the shopping district an exciting place to visit – it keeps getting better and better. To see so many people once again walking the neighborhood with so many places to go is inspiring!
- Any advice for a family new to Grand Rapids about life here?
Get to know your neighbors, join a club or group with people who share your interests, make new friends, find a church that meets your needs, and explore what Grand Rapids has to offer!