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Finer Things Friday- Grand Rapids (plus a GIVEAWAY!!)

finerthings Do you love where you live? Cause I love where I live. I have lived a lot of places, but I could not be more content with this place I call home. But the fact I can say that would have blown my mind a mere 6 years ago.

I met my hubby in Chicago. After being raised in Iowa, going to school in Illinois and grad school in Philly, I settled in Chicago. I wanted to be in a big city, but wanted to be in the Midwest. And since I was young, I had always loved Chicago. Living there was fabulous. I lived in Lincoln Park not to far from the lake and could walk or take a bus anywhere I wanted to go. It was the perfect single girl’s life. And even after I met and married my hubby, it was the perfect newlywed life. We had a baby, moved a little bit further northward to Evanston, but it was still city-esque. We loved everything the city had to offer and enjoyed every minute of it.

But the hubby always longed for home. And home was Grand Rapids, this foreign place to me. Frankly when we visited it seemed lame. Stretches of chain restaurants and mass suburbia. Way to many mom jeans and mom hair. Wasn’t that nice and judgy of me? But then the tiny condo we could afford in Evanston began to feel insanely cramped once we began to entertain the thought of another child. And my smart, smart hubby started showing me real estate sights for Grand Rapids. And he did so in the summer so I might forget that winter in Michigan is a NIGHTMARE.

I agreed to give Grand Rapids a shot. IF I got to pick the neighborhood and IF I got a “get out of jail free” clause if I really hated it there. We moved with the stipulation that if I hated it, we would move back to Chicago in three years. After one I told him I never wanted to leave.

I love living here. I love that I am 40 minutes from the lake (and by lake I mean the big lake- Michigan, there are little lakes all over, some mere miles away). I love that I am 10 minutes from a great downtown with delicious restaurants, great theatre, top notch museums and an arena that plays hockey nine months out of the year. Ok so that last one makes just my hubby happy. So it is home now and as far as I am concerned home for good.

But I love it when other people fall in love with it. You see Grand Rapids is FILLED with lifers. Seriously, I cannot believe how many people I meet who have never left here. The retention rate for people here in crazy high. So a lot of people I meet forget what a great city they live in and forget to take advantage of all it offers. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of hanging out with some amazing Chicago bloggers as they discovered my fine city thanks to Experience Grand Rapids. As a former Chicago-an it was so fun to watch them become amazed at all my little city had to offer.

And they went to all the right places. The Grand Rapids Art Museum, for a private showing of the amazing Princess Diana exhibit (which also led to a discussion about Art Prize which is one of the most amazing things Grand Rapids does). Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park with its gorgeous sculptures and state of the art Children’s Garden. We were also treated to a spa treatment at the fancy Amway Grand Hotel and meals at two of my absolute favorite restaurants, The Green Well and Sanchez.

I would love to show off my little city to you. Does your family need a little getaway? Experience Grand Rapids will provide one of my readers with an overnight stay for a family of four at Country Inn and Suites in Grand Rapids, tickets for a family of four to to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and a sturdy canvas tote bag containing an iPod shuffle with a podcast about Grand Rapids , The Polar Express DVD (the book is written by a local Grand Rapids author and Grand Rapids is portrayed in the film) and an official Experience Grand Rapids Visitor Guide.

To win the Grand Rapids Family Getaway head over to Experience Grand Rapids and come back and comment letting me know what you’d like to see or do here (besides hanging out with me!!). For extra entries (leave a SEPARATE comment for each):

You will need to get yourself to Grand Rapids to take advantage of this giveaway. Open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be chosen at random and you have until Dec 10th to enter. Several other bloggers are giving away similar packages and I will try and link to them as they go up. Good luck!!

This post is linked up to Finer Things Friday at Amy’s Finer Things

Comments

  1. Yeah for GR – I loved this post and it was truely a great reminder of all this town has to offer. I work in downtown GR, but live in a small town about 20 miles west. Thanks for the “shout out”.

  2. I wish I was allowed to enter! But I probably can’t. Anyway- I WILL BE BACK to hang out with you again!

    Steph
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  3. My girls love the GR Children’s Museum! I’m glad you got to participate in this very cool opportunity! Very fun!
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  4. I follow you on twitter

  5. Subscribed to your RSS
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  6. that sounds like a great weekend you had! I LOVE Grand Rapids too.
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  7. Rebecca says:

    I wish to see Oval Beach

  8. Rebecca says:

    Follow GrandRapidsCVB on Twitter

  9. Rebecca says:

    Follow The Diaper Diaries on Twitter

  10. Rebecca says:

    Subscribe to The Diaper Diaries via email

  11. I want to go shopping at The American Sampler! And see you! And @TwoAdults! Whee!
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  12. i follow you on teh twitterz
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  13. i follow grand rapids on twitter too
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  14. follow you on my google home page!
    samantha jo campen recently posted…I don’t like sand but for this I’d make an exceptionMy Profile

  15. Sign me up! This anglophile is ALL OVER that Diana exhibit, though my husband will roll his eyes BIG TIME. Thanks for another great giveaway, Jill.
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  16. PS…following you on Twitter, m’lady.
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  17. I would love to see the Diana exhibit…but I don’t know that my hubby would go with! :) My kids would love to visit the children’s museum.
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  18. Theresa says:

    O.K. I don’t want to win for a couple of reasons.
    1. I just live on the East side and visit GR occasionally. We actually vacation in the Big Rapids area!
    2. My family is larger than 4!

    Anyway, thanks for the awesome shout out! I am glad you have learned to love the area!

  19. nicolerenae says:

    This may come as a surprise, but we’ve never taken our kids to a Griffins game, so that’s what I want to do sometime soon!
    What a fun package, thanks for the giveaway!

  20. nicolerenae says:

    I subscribe by email!

  21. I would like to go to the art museum!!
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  22. I follow Grand Rapids on Twitter
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  23. I follow you on Twitter
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  24. Bethany says:

    WE love the children’s museum and the public museum!

  25. Bethany says:

    I get your email

  26. I went to the site and was looking through restaurants but think that if I win I will let you tell me which one you would dine at with me! :)
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  27. I am following GrandRapidsCVB on Twitter
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  28. I follow you on Twitter – who doesn’t?
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  29. I wouldn’t dare be caught NOT subscribing to this fabulously funny blog!
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  30. Abbie J says:

    Did I see beach? I’m in. I live in Central IL where we got 6 inches of snow today. So as long as I can come in the summer…:) DH and I would also LOVE to see Artprize. I saw several things about it this summer. It looks awesome!

  31. Abbie J says:

    I’m a diaperdiaries follower on google reader

  32. Miriam says:

    I really want to get over to see the Princess Di exhibit – being Canadian and all! I also love soo very many things about GR and am so glad we have settled here!

  33. We’d definitely hit the local children’s museum.
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  34. I’m following you…
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  35. And I’m following Grand Rapids…

  36. This is awesome!! :) I live in a suburb of GR and have been here all my life, but have just recently discovered how much awesome food is in the city! If there was one thing I would do, it would be explore some of the quaint but fine eateries – thanks for this awesome giveaway…get-away!

  37. I am a diaper diaries follower on twitter [graphic_i]

  38. I am a diaper diaries email subscriber and love it :)

  39. I just tweeted about the contest…http://twitter.com/graphic_i [graphic_i]

  40. I’m not entering, but I totally hear you! I so love where I live and no one here ever wants to leave! Or if they do they find a way to come back!
    Krista recently posted…PSF- Happy Black Friday to UsMy Profile

  41. I cannot even explain how amazing this would be!!! Thank you for offering such an incredible getaway!

    I am a huge history buff- the giant list of historical locations made me very happy. The Princess Diana exhibition looks amazing too.
    Crossing my fingers.

  42. I follow you on twitter!

    @cerenaleigh
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  43. I’d try a local restaurant, maybe one of the ones you named- we love finding gems off the beaten path!

  44. I’d like to go to the John Ball Zoo – my oldest daughter had her very first zoo trip there 13 years ago and it would be great to go again with her and her 6 brothers and sister now too :) I have family that lives in that area so it would be a great time to visit too!

  45. I Follow GrandRapidsCVB on Twitter @momof_alltrades
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  46. I Follow The Diaper Diaries on Twitter @momof_alltrades

  47. I subscribe through Google Reader.
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  48. I would love to take my kids to the children’s museum!

  49. The art museums in Grand Rapids are calling my name! I’d love to also explore all the lovely little shops up that way. Having in Chicagoland all my life it’s a shame I’ve never been!

  50. We’d love to spend a weekend at a hotel in GR – instead of driving back and forth, which we do at least 3x a week – and take the kids to the GRCM! Love that place.
    Katie recently posted…A New SeasonMy Profile

  51. Shalana says:

    Oooh, I would love the Grand Rapids giveaway for my family. We are a military family and move around ALOT! My middle child was born just north of Detroit. Sadly, I don’t think we ever made it over to Grand Rapids during the 2 yrs. we lived in MI. It sounds like we missed out on a very cool city. We are less than a day’s drive from there now & I would love to get to go check it out. The Frederick Miejer Gardens sounds wonderful and the fact that they have a children’s area—even better! Glad you had such fun with your girls’ weekend!
    shalanavaron at gmail dot com.

  52. You made me want to move to GR! Thanks for sharing your little piece of Midwest heaven. Our tiny family loves to take weekend roadtrips & GR would be perfect. I’d love to check out the sculpture garden with my very curious son.

    Thanks for the opportunity!

  53. Ooh! I’d love to win! My hubby & I were already thinking of visiting the Meijer garden when we’re ‘home’ in 2 weeks, and it’d be awesome for a little getaway!

  54. I follow you on twitter, too! (@mandiegirl)

  55. Patricia Tomei says:

    I really want to get over to see the Princess Di exhibit and I’d try a local restaurant.

  56. Following GrandRapidsCVB on Twitter

  57. Following The Diaper Diaries on Twitter

  58. Subscribing to The Diaper Diaries through RSS
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  59. We were in GR Nov 26 with the kiddos to visit friends from Caledonia. We went to the Children’s Museum and Ucellos. It was great. I would LOVE to experience GR sans children, just the two of us, to reconnect. Oh and see the Princess Di exhibit, but we won’t tell my husband that. We’ll tell him it’s a motorcycle exhibit. :)

  60. Nancy says:

    I would love to see Meijer Gardens. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it from people who have been.

  61. Nancy says:

    Following GrandRapidsCVB on Twitter

  62. Nancy says:

    Following The Diaper Diaries on Twitter

  63. I want to leave my kids with my parents, and be whisked away with just my husband for some much needed alone time. You know, act like adults and eat, sleep, play in peace. And oh, take you out to Russ’.
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  64. girl, I follow you on twitter. duh.
    DesignHER Momma recently posted…Where am I And how did I get hereMy Profile

  65. and now I follow GR on twitter too.

  66. and of course I see you in my RSS.

  67. i would go to the Art Museum and a Griffins game.

  68. I follow GrandRapidsCVB on Twitter.
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  69. Ticia says:

    I would love to go to Frederik Meijer gardens

  70. I subscribe, too!

  71. I love so close to GR and yet there is a lot of things I haven’t seen. I would love to take my daughters to the Diana exhibit before it is too late.
    What a great giveaway!
    Smiles!
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  72. I follow you on Twitter!
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  73. I went to Meijer Gardens years ago with my husband and would love to go back now that we have kids! And all of those cute little shops would probably bankrupt me, because I just can’t resist.
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  74. Tina P says:

    I would looooovee to take my little ones there to the gardens and the museum, what a great family trip!

  75. My hubby grew up just 30 minutes from Grand Rapids. I’d love to check out AJ’s Family Fun Center or Higher Ground Rock Climbing Center.

  76. Mary B says:

    I’m only 3 miles from Lake Michigan :) But, I hardly get to Grand Rapids….I’d love to take my girls to the Diana exhibit (the boys will have to find some other fun)

  77. I’ll take a walk in the gardens with YOU. Pretty please.

  78. Follow Them on Twitter
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  79. Follow YOU on Twitter (of course)

  80. RSS FTW
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  81. I’m a GR Lifer! I *think* I’d like to check out Bodies Revealed, but I’m still on the fence. Might be too much for me…
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  82. I follow GrandRapidsCVB on twitter
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  83. I follow you on twitter
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  84. I subscribe via RSS
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  85. I tweeted about the giveaway
    http://twitter.com/SavvyChicSaving/status/12949750907150338

  86. I really want to see a city I’ve never been to before. I’m a Midwestern gal but haven’t been to GR! Hard to pick one, but I really love to go to new art museums.
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  87. I follow you on twitter.