Big Rapids: Just what is there to do here?

Activities and places to go in your new hometown

“Middle of nowhere:” A phrase not unfamiliar with talk of Big Rapids–though none of those who say so have ever been here. So, just what is there to do in this supposed “middle of nowhere?”

Big Rapids may be a small town distant from its more populous brethren, but it is also a town of numerous hidden treasures. Like a good program or a good career, this town’s greatest traits often reveal themselves to those with a go-getter attitude willing to work for their entertainment.

That said, who’s to say a little guidance is out of the question? To save valuable space, we’ve put together a few short (yet descriptive) lists of things that could get one out of that dorm room or apartment. Think of this as a Big Rapids resident starter guide.

Food & Drink: For when you prefer some snacks with that caffeine –or just a stronger drink.

Old Pioneer Store and Emporium/Kilwin’s
An award-winning ice cream/candy shop and gift store. Where better to indulge that sweet tooth?

Pizzeria Vivo
Students love pizza. Everybody loves pizza. Here, you can get great pizza.

Pepper’s Cafe
“A pleasant downtown cafe;” a simple description, yet an incredibly effective one.

Pizza King
Literally steps away from campus, it’s a pizza place, and it’s above a pub. My work is done.

A & W
An exception is being made to the no-big-franchises rule because I didn’t know these still existed.

This is another exception due to proximity to campus, vegetarian options and the fact that I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy Qdoba.

Schuberg’s Bar
A place downtown for food and drink with a good reputation for a great atmosphere.

Shooter’s Bar
This place is also downtown, though its reputation is a bit more colorful.

All About Health & Wellness
It’s more than just a simple health food store.

Snyder’s Market
This is the place for meat lovers.

Coffee: The fuel for humanity.

Mere steps away from campus.

Are American cities allowed to not have a Starbucks anymore? You know what you’re getting here–as long as you’re willing to enter a building with the imposing name of Interdisciplinary Resource Center (IRC), the place to find the on-campus location.

Outdoors: Have you seen the area around Big Rapids?

You’ve likely already been told you simply must go tubing (especially on the part of the river between the park and High Banks). Many folks come to Big Rapids for that reason alone, and no one’s stay is complete until giving tubing at least a try (one note: Bring shoes).

There are a number of great places; simply go where the tubers aren’t, such as the area between Paris Park and Big Rapids.

The Riverwalk
A riverwalk is always worth checking out; this one is an excellent place for walking, biking, and skating (oh my, three more excellent outdoors activities).

Entertainment: Because even when there is no free time, time is needed to unwind.

The Gate
Rumors of The Gate’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. It’s still there on Perry Avenue, providing both bar and grill, live music in various forms, bowling, an arcade and many more special events.

Roller Rink
Located at a rather nondescript location at 325 N. Michigan Ave., the roller rink offers typical roller rink forms of entertainment. Who doesn’t enjoy fun at the expense of comically uncoordinated friends (this writer included)?

Carmike 4 Cinemas
While unlikely to show the next films by Malick or Cronenberg, this theater is more than serviceable if you’d like to see superhero fisticuffs or Liam Neeson beating up kidnappers and wolves alike.

Area 51
The place for gaming and Internet; if you don’t enjoy games or Internet, I’m not sure you’re human.

Studio M
Another theater, but this one has plays.

Quinn’s Music
The requisite music store for a town with a school with numerous music programs and skilled students.

The wonderful thing about a number of these in-town places is that they have an eager willingness to set up music events, whether acoustic, full-band, DJ or whatever else one may have in mind. These opportunities need only be inquired after. Which leads to the final point:

The most important thing to know about Big Rapids is that the inhabitants, both short- and long-term, will get out of the town what they put into it. The community loves the Ferris students and provides every opportunity for students to do things and to create something wonderful. The best thing any student looking to get something out of his new home can do is to embrace this new home and to work with it, rather than to hide away in a residence hall room and yearn for larger towns.