Sunday, May 29, 2011

Grand Rapids getaway

"Going anywhere for Memorial Day?"
"We're headed to Grand Rapids for a couple of days."

I must have had this conversation a half-dozen times in the last week. Apparently Grand Rapids, Michigan, isn't exactly known for being a vacation destination. But I'd won a 1-night getaway via a blog contest and I wasn't going to let a free hotel night and a fistful of attraction passes go unused. We initially planned on staying a second night, but both of the girls woke up on the wrong side of the bed Friday morning and were absolute pills on the way to GR, so before we'd checked in, we agreed to make the most of a shorter (and entirely free) stay.

Our first stop was the Grand Rapids Public Museum, which is kind of a like a mini-Smithsonian with a wide-ranging collection that throws together natural science, local history and cases full of curiosities. The girls loved the room of 500 dolls, the exhibit of immigrants to the area and the restored carousel, while I lingered in the most elaborate exhibit: Furniture City (Grand Rapids was built on the furniture industry).

But as interesting as the museum was, for a 6 and 3 year old, nothing beats the thrill of checking into a hotel. The Country Inn and Suites was Z's dream come true: free Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, a library shelf full of books you could borrow, a heated indoor pool (which we had all to ourselves) and an extensive breakfast buffet with a juice dispenser and DIY waffles.

"Mom is mad"
The following day we packed in two breakfasts (one at the hotel and one at a place reputed to offer "the best breakfast in Western Michigan) and visits to the awe-inspiring Fredrik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park and the so-fun-we-had-to-drag-them-out Grand Rapids Children's Museum before heading out of town. On the way home we stopped for a very late lunch and cherry crisp at a Crane's Pie Pantry, which we've been visiting for their homestyle food and bottomless glasses of apple cider since I was 4 months pregnant with Z. Before we piled into the car, we let the girls run around the apple orchard. And they were perfect angels for the 2+ hour drive home in the pouring rain (although the DVD player running Lilo and Stitch probably had something to do with that).

Want to know more about what we ate? Read Josh's food blog. More pictures can be seen here.

Z took this picture