Lakeshore and Travel & Tourism

Grand Rapids and Gold Coast rank as No. 1 'travel destination' in US

December 10, 2013
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Great Lakes Kite Festival flies over Grand Haven
The Great Lakes Kite Festival is held at Grand Haven State Park. Photo via

West Michigan residents already know that Lake Michigan beaches can hold their own against any beach — but now an international travel publisher is making sure everyone knows it.

BBC-owned Lonely Planet has named Grand Rapids and the West Michigan lakeshore, known as the Gold Coast, to the No. 1 spot on its ranking of the “Top 10 U.S. travel destinations for 2014.”

In addition to highlighting the region’s 300 miles of pristine beaches and fun beach towns, Lonely Planet also points to Grand Rapids’ Beer City, U.S.A. title and the city’s extensive art offerings as reasons to take a vacation in West Michigan.

“In addition to the impressive blooms and Rodin sculptures in the Frederik Meijer Gardens and the excellent Grand Rapids Art Museum housed in a cool LEED Gold-certified building, Grand Rapids is home to the world’s largest art competition, ArtPrize, in which more than 1,700 creatives display their masterpieces,” according to Lonely Planet.

The ranking also gives a shout out to Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co. as its top-pick alehouse and Saugatuck’s Oval Beach for its smooth sands.

“Grand Rapids continues to evolve as a city that is being recognized as a destination that caters to a wide range of visitor interests,” said Doug Small, president and CEO of Experience Grand Rapids.

Small noted that the recognition West Michigan received from Lonely Planet is typically reserved for much larger cities.

“Top 10 U.S. travel destinations for 2014”

1. Grand Rapids and Lake Michigan Gold Coast

2. Yosemite National Park, Calif.

3. Boston

4. Central Coast, Calif.

5. Jersey Shore, N.J.

6. Kansas City, Mo.

7. Cumberland Island, Ga.

8. Las Vegas

9. Sun Valley, Idaho

10. Lana’i, Hawaii

Source: Lonely Planet, 2013

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