Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Grand Rapids, a city guide for meeting professionals. A vibrant downtown convention campus, world-renowned culture and arts attractions, exciting outdoor recreation, historic sites, nearby beaches, the downtown Grand River, and an energetic college town vibe all blend to make Grand Rapids a premier Midwest meeting destination. Grand Rapids boasts all the benefits of a big city, while maintaining a friendly, cozy setting situated within minutes of Lake Michigan's white-sand beaches. Meeting delegates relish the city's downtown convention campus, which features a variety of lodging, dining, and entertainment venues all within a short walk of downtown attractions and the DeVos Place Convention Center. Green meetings have a place in Grand Rapids, thanks to the metropolitan area's distinction as the home of more LEED-certified buildings per capita than any other city in the United States. Grand Rapids' walk- and bicycle-friendly downtown serves as the perfect backdrop to any meeting or gathering, thanks to its riverwalks, bridges, unique architecture, and cityscape views, as well as its eclectic nightlife, shopping, and dining.
The state's second-largest city, Grand Rapids is served by the state's second-largest and second-busiest commercial airport, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Serving more than two million passengers each year, Gerald R. Ford International sits about 15 miles outside of downtown Grand Rapids and serves 120 daily scheduled nonstop flights to and from 23 major destinations. Getting around Grand Rapids is a breeze, thanks to the city's fixed-route, energy-efficient public bus system (called The Rapid). Running along 27 routes, The Rapid provides direct weekday service to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport along Route 17 (Woodland Mall/Airport), as well as direct service to DeVos Place along Route 11 (Plainfield).
The centerpiece of Grand Rapids' convention campus, the sprawling DeVos Place offers 240,000 square feet of meeting and event space set along the Grand River. Situated within a 15-minute drive of Gerald R. Ford International Airport, DeVos Place is directly connected to three hotels via enclosed elevated skywalk, including the 682-room, 4 Diamond Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, 337-room 4 Diamond JW Marriott, and 208-room Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown, as well as being within a short walk of clubs, restaurants, museums, and the 12,000-seat Van Andel Arena entertainment center—which also features group event space and suite rentals. DeVos Place's meeting and event spaces include its 162,000-square-foot “Class A” exhibition hall, 32,000 square feet of meeting space spanning 26 meeting rooms, and a 40,000-square-foot ballroom with a banquet capacity of 3,250 guests, as well as a 2,404-seat performance arts theater, home to the Grand Rapids Symphony, Grand Rapids Ballet Company, Opera Grand Rapids, and Broadway Grand Rapids. Both located near DeVos Place, the 175-room, Michigan Green Lodging-certified Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown boasts nearly 2,000 square feet of meeting space, while the 28-room, eco-friendly CityFlatsHotel Grand Rapids blends historic architecture and modern style in its 6,000 square feet of event space.
Aside from the ever-popular DeVos Place, Grand Rapids offers a variety of unique venues, ranging from banquet spaces and ballrooms to theaters and museums. The 132-acre Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park houses the most comprehensive outdoor sculpture collection in the Midwest and largest tropical conservatory in the state, as well as 16 indoor and outdoor event and rental areas. Groups can traverse waterways and walkways while viewing sculpture crafted by such masters as Rodin, Degas, and Lichtenstein, as well as gather in such spaces as the Chihuly-draped Grand Room and Atrium and the Taste of the Gardens Cafe and Terrace. Speaking of a feast for the eyes, the Grand Rapids Art Museum serves as the world's first LEED Gold-certified art museum, as well as a spectacular venue for group events. Home to a permanent collection of more than 6,000 works dating to pre-history, the Grand Rapids Art Museum features such rental spaces as the 4,322-square-foot Wege Pavilion, outdoor terraces, GRAM Cafe, and Cook Auditorium, complete with a solstice star ceiling.
Another Grand Rapids museum-meets-event-venue is the Grand Rapids Public Museum, a showplace of world-class exhibits on history, nature, and cultural heritage. Groups can hold private events amid the museum's many exhibits, which include a 1928 carousel to an 1890s downtown re-creation, as well as in its 75-person boardroom, 100-person cafe, 255-seat Meijer Theater, and 145-seat planetarium. Situated right across the street from the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum welcomes groups to truly participate in history by taking a holographic tour of the Ford White House, and stepping inside the Oval Office and Cabinet Room, among other interactive activities. Groups can reserve private tours of the museum, as well as hold gatherings in its 254-seat auditorium, 750-square-foot Michigan Room, and 2,200-square-foot Main Lobby. A historic performance space and host to chamber music and jazz series, the downtown St. Cecilia Music Center offers a variety of rental spaces, ranging from the 650-seat, barrier-free Royce Auditorium to 75-person, cozy Mika Music Library, graced with oak-paneled walls, parquet flooring, a grand piano, and a fireplace.