Do you recommend an extra day to visit Art Prize?
September 7, 2014 6:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning to visit Art Prize 2014 in Grand Rapids, MI, with a friend. We'll be going on weekdays. My schedule is flexible, such that I could spend about a day extra in either Chicago (where I'm flying in/out) or Grand Rapids. I will not have a car for this extra day, but I will for the 1.5 days that my friend will be with me in Grand Rapids. What are the pros/cons of spending my extra time in Chicago or Grand Rapids? Is 1.5 days enough time to see Art Prize?

Additional info:
*The extra day is a Monday.
*I've never been to Grand Rapids and have not been to Chicago since I was a young teenager.
*If I do spend the extra day in Grand Rapids, I'm planning to take Amtrak to get there.
*In any event, I will have at least 1.5 days in Chicago and am planning to visit the Art Institute while there (art themed vacation!).
posted by pril to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One and a half days would be enough I think. Downtown Grand Rapids is not that big, easily walkable, and it should be pretty easy to see everything. When I lived in GR I would walk around downtown during ArtPrize and see a huge chunk of the pieces in a couple hours, however, there was a lot of stuff I was ok with viewing cursorily.
posted by polywomp at 6:42 AM on September 7, 2014

I've never been to Art Prize, but my family lives in Grand Rapids and it is like a Big Deal in that town. So they would probably say yes, stick around! I'm not sure how much time it takes to see all of it, though, and it probably depends on your level of interest in what's on display. As noted, downtown GR really isn't that big.

HOWEVER. Do you need to actually decide in advance? I think you could play it by ear. You can walk around easily if you're staying downtown, and there ARE public buses. Also GR just got Uber, although I'm not sure how reliably it's covered. Better than cabs, though, from what I hear.

The train to Chicago has a very limited schedule and tends to be pretty full. BUT, there is Megabus service running from GR to Chicago a couple of times a day now, and I've recently bought last-minute tickets(like day-of) with no trouble and for a little bit cheaper than the train. It's a 3-hour, non-stop bus ride to Chicago, from just across the street from the Amtrak station inGR to the corner near Union Station. I would just not buy a return trip to Chicago until you get to GR, and see how you feel, say, the day before you go and get a train or bus ticket then. This might be a little more risk than you're comfortable with, though.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 10:53 AM on September 7, 2014

I've never been to Art Prize, but my family lives in Grand Rapids and it is like a Big Deal in that town.

Ditto. I wouldn't be too excited about it, myself. The things my family thinks are SO GREAT about Grand Rapids are just kind of "meh" to me.
posted by Stewriffic at 3:10 PM on September 8, 2014

As a follow up, for any future potential Art Prize goers:
-First of all, I highly recommend this event. I had a blast walking around downtown Grand Rapids, ate at delicious and fun restaurants, drank good coffee, and loved the range and variety in the art entries.
-We spent 3 hours one day, 5 hours the next, and about 2 hours on the third day looking at art entries. We saw maybe 1/3 of the art. But that was okay. On the 5-hour day, I really hit my limit and was ready for a break. If I were going again, I would try to plan for 3 days.
-If you can only go once, I would recommend going the second week, after the finalists have been announced from the initial round of voting. This information helped us focus our efforts toward seeing finalists (though we actually only saw about half of the finalists).
posted by pril at 6:51 PM on December 2, 2014

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