A furniture-making city champions urban renewal and art.
The early 20th-century furniture companies Herman Miller and Steelcase established a creative community in central Michigan’s Grand Rapids, one now flourishing thanks to a confluence of urban revival and arts funding. The 138,000-square-foot food hall Grand Rapids Downtown Market, built using repurposed materials from the dilapidated buildings it replaced, earned LEED-gold certification in 2014, and enticed a branch of Detroit-famedSlows Bar-B-Q to open last summer alongside bakers and other food-focused start-ups. For three weeks each fall, the city’s contemporary art competitionArtPrize attracts more than 1,500 works and awards $500,000 in prizes. Artists from Auguste Rodin to Ai Weiwei stake the 158-acre Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, which recently added a Japanese garden with works by Anish Kapoor and Jenny Holzer. Don’t leave thirsty; over 40 craft breweries line the city’s ale trail.