Grand Rapids adds new downtown walking tours

Recently launched walking tours centered on downtown history give residents and visitors an excuse to take a stroll through Grand Rapids this summer.

Last month, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and GR Walks launched a self-guided walking tour highlighting black history in the city, while tourism organization Discovering Michigan launched an historical walking tour aimed at sharing the events and individuals who “transformed the city.”

Black History Tour

Narrated by Grand Rapids City Commissioner Joe Jones, the Black History Tour of Downtown Grand Rapids starts at Lyon Square and traverses two miles of downtown, stopping at 11 points of interest along the way. The tour features historical information about local African American leadership, culture and community.

Local history experts including Gordon Olson, city historian, George Bayard, Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives executive director, Victoria Upton, Women’s Lifestyle Magazine publisher, and Kim Rush, a local blues historian, helped in developing the tour.

The tour is free and available via smart phone app GR Walks, which also offers a Grand River tour, a tour of Grand Rapids’ beer history and Heritage Hill and Roosevelt Park neighborhood tours.

Discovering Grand Rapids

Discovering Grand Rapids is a two-mile walking tour led by a trained guide who will share information on the people and events that transformed Grand Rapids. The tour promises to provide information that even longtime Grand Rapids residents haven’t heard before.

The two-hour tour begins at the Arthur VandenBerg statue, located outside of the Biggby Coffee in McKay Tower, 146 Monroe Center St. NW. It includes 15 stops.

Carrie Kolehouse, senior marketing manager at AHC+Hospitality, which owns hotels Amway Grand Plaza, JW Marriott and Courtyard Marriott, said the new Discovering Grand Rapids tour is “a fun way to learn about the history and unique stories here from a guide who loves talking about it.”

“As a hotel, this is a great resource for our guests to learn more about the city and encourage them to return,” she said.

Discovering Grand Rapids tours are offered Monday through Friday at 10:30 a.m. and at 6 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tours can also be scheduled at alternate times. The tours are wheelchair and stroller friendly when needed. Tickets are $22.99 for adults and $9.99 for children. They can be purchased at Discovering Michigan. Discovering Michigan also offers beer, wine and fishing tours.

*Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids.

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