Discover hidden treasures of Grand Rapids

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Comprising no more than 2 acres and an array of benches, Lookout Park offers stunning views of the city. Photo by Johnny Quirin

Editor’s note: This letter, which originally appeared in the April issue of Grand Rapids Magazine, was written before the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to follow social distancing guidelines and discover these hidden treasures when it is safe to do so.

Grand Rapids is full of tucked-away places and cool history, and this month, we uncover some great destinations that typically fly under the radar. From diners and ethnic eateries to check out to local parks and downtown hidden gardens worth the walk, as well as some cool artifacts hidden among our local museums’ collections. If your family is on spring break, you might make a week of visiting some of these places for the first time — or save this article for a lazy summer day when you’re looking for something fun to do.

Spring is in the air, and that often means time to undergo renovation projects around the house. We talk with two local families that purchased century-old homes and transformed them into functional modern-day escapes they can’t wait to return to. Even the most dilapidated house can become the perfect family oasis.

Since Earth Day is April 22, we decided to check in with the folks at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council to talk about the environmental impact of urban water runoff on neighborhood streams and rivers. If you want to celebrate Earth Day, we also compiled a guide of some environmentally and socially conscious retailers and a few activities you can take part in to help the planet.

One cool mom in Ada is making a difference and empowering girls. Becky Vandenbroek created Girlpalooza, a beauty brand aimed at tweens and teens that uses nontoxic ingredients and is a safer alternative to many of the products on the market. Vandenbroek uses empowering messaging to help girls feel good about themselves while having fun with bath bombs, lip glosses and more.

If you’ve ever thought about lacing up your sneakers and joining the hordes of runners who take over the streets for the many different 5Ks, half-marathons and marathons that take place over the warmer months, our wellness column is the perfect place to start. We talk with a YMCA running trainer about training for your first race, and we check in with Shelley Irwin, of WGVU and Community Connection, who is an avid runner, about how she tackles training, where she has raced and more.

Enjoy the spring weather!

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