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Grand Rapids Makes Outside Magazine’s ‘Best Towns Ever 2017’ List

Janna/ 97.9 WGRD
Janna/ 97.9 WGRD

Outside Magazine, a mag about travel, adventure, health, and getting outdoors and having fun, has put together a list of the best towns in America.

Grand Rapids made it into the 25 Best Towns of 2017!

To put together their list, Outside says they poured over three decades of coverage from the magazine and created a special advisory council to nominate places “that are great for kids, have drool-worthy food and drink scenes, are welcoming to people of any background, and have all the bike lanes and singletrack you could possibly want.”

They named Grand Rapids “Best River Town”.

The magazine has praise for Grand Rapids Medical Mile, parks, breweries, and Mayor Bliss’ plans to make the city more sustainable:

Not so long ago, Michigan’s economy was in the dumps. “Downtown Grand Rapids had a TGI Fridays and a fancy hotel,” recalls Rachel Posthumus, who grew up here and now owns Switchback Gear Exchange. “You didn’t want to spend any time there. We were all excited to get out after high school.”

But the entire state is on the rebound, and no city offers better proof of that than Grand Rapids. The Medical Mile—which includes research insti­tutes, a Michigan State University campus, and hospitals—injected bil­lions of dollars into the economy and created thousands of high-­paying jobs. Today, Grand Rapids is a “little big city,” as the locals like to say. It has great food and even bet­ter beer—the brewer Founders began here in 1997, and now there are almost 40 craft breweries.

The city itself also has more than 70 parks. (The surrounding county has an additional 38.) Sandy trails loop through a dense pine forest in Provin Trails Park, and there are ten mountain biking trails within 45 minutes of downtown. Lake Michigan is just 30 miles away, or 45 miles via bike path. For weekend backpacking, the Huron-Manistee National Forest is a little over two hours north.

The new mayor, Rosalynn Bliss, hopes to make the town more sustainable, too. Bliss wants all public buildings to be completely powered by renewable energy by 2025. The city planted 2,000 trees last year, with the goal of 40 percent tree cover citywide. (Right now it’s at 35 percent—more than Portland, Ore­gon.) Bliss plans to add 100 miles of bike lanes to city streets by the end of the year.


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