Summer in the city: your guide to summer art, music and recreation in GR

Samantha Butcher

Whether you’re working, taking classes or interning in the Grand
Rapids area, chances are you’ll have some down time in the city. Spend it wisely with the Lanthorn’s guide to Grand Rapids.


Take advantage of all this art-friendly city has to offer in the summer, when the crowds are out and free time is abundant. Grand Rapids’
annual Festival of Arts, on June 1, 2 and 3, showcases the city’s talent and lets patrons purchase the wares of local artists. Expect to see jewelry, pottery, clothing, artwork and more while street vendors and local musicians fill the air with the scents and sounds of summer.

If you’d prefer to take in the art indoors, visit one (or all) of the city’s museums. Catch the Rauschenberg exhibit at the Grand Rapids Art Museum before it leaves on May 20, clearing the way for exhibits showcasing local artist Joey Ruiter and exploring the idea of Cities in Transition, both of which will be up in the museum from June through August. The GRAM charges $7 for student tickets with ID, but you can visit for free on Tuesdays from 1 to 5 p.m.

Theater lovers will have a variety of performances to choose from this summer, including “The Addams Family” from Broadway Grand Rapids; “Cabaret,” “Escanaba in Da Moonlight” and “Hair” from Circle Theatre; Pulitzer Prize-winning “August: Osage County” from Actors Theatre and Greek classic “Medea” from Heritage Theatre.


Summer is prime concert season in Grand Rapids, so look for big names like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the B-52’s to grace local stages as well as smaller acts. In addition to concerts — check the Lanthorn’s summer music preview at www.lanthorn. com/arts for some highlights from every genre — the summer is filled with music festivals.

In June, music lovers 21 and up can celebrate beer and music at Founders Fest 2012, an outdoor festival at Grandville Ave. SW on June 23. Live music starts at 3 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m. Patrons can listen to music from artists like Soulive, Toubab Krewe, That 1 Guy, The Crane Wives and others while enjoying food from local vendors and one of Founders’ signature crafted brews. If you arrive early, make sure to drink responsibly. Electronica fans can get their fill in August, when the City Lights Music Festival takes over Calder Plaza on the 17th and 18th. Earlier that month, Rock the Rapids, the city’s largest music festival, comes to town. The festival, which starts Aug. 6, has yet to announce a lineup but typically draws big-name national artists. Last year’s lineup featured Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Stone TemplePilots, Willie Nelson, Alice Cooper, Blake Shelton and Ludacris.


Eating downtown doesn’t have to break the bank. Stop into these restaurants for affordablefood that hits the spot.

Grand Rapids’ ultimate cheap eats spot is Yesterdog, a hot dog joint on Wealthy Street. The award-winning restaurant is open late — until 2:30 a.m. — six days a week and only closes for holidays. But the best part is the menu — the most expensive item will only cost you $2.50.

If pizza is more your style, visit Georgio’s Pizza on Ionia. Another late night-friendly option, the restaurant offers more than 60 varieties of gourmet pizza by the slice, with options ranging
from traditional toppings to eggplant parmesan, gyro, mac and cheese and nacho. Even the most expensive choices, slices of stuffed or deep dish pizza, will only cost you $4.25. Full-sized pies are available, and Georgio’s will even deliver to Grand Rapids addresses.

When you need food freaky fast, look no further than Jimmy John’s. The chain has eight Grand Rapids locations and offers super speedy gourmet sandwiches that start at $4.50. Jimmy John’s drivers will even deliver your food to you for a reasonable $0.50 per item, so you won’t have to stray from your summer adventures if you can’t find cheap eats nearby.

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