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Grand Rapids Insider

Grand Rapids Insider

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Caponata - Thanksgiving in Grand Rapids, MI

Thanksgiving Inspiration from a Caterer, a Culinary Educator & a Baker!

Bright Autumn leaves, jack-o-lanterns, and mums are giving way to one of the best days of the year: Thanksgiving. Last year, I wrote about a locally-sourced from scratch Thanksgiving. Your cornucopia ...more

Posted November 20, 2014

Downtown Grand Rapids

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. logoExperience big-city excitement without the big-city hassle! Downtown Grand Rapids offers a huge range of entertainment, dining, shopping and sightseeing opportunities, all within a 10-minute walk.You'll encounter clean, safe streets and friendly people - beginning with our roving Safety Ambassadors, who traverse downtown on foot, bicycle, and Segway. Just flag one down if you need assistance, directions, a map or anything else. Look for the bright teal and blue uniforms! 

Where to Eat:

Choose from more than 100 dining options, across all cuisines and price ranges. We've listed a few favorites below, but you can view them all here - just select downtown as your location.

The B.O.B. (Big Old Building) is home to seven different restaurants and bars, including a steakhouse and a brewery. Come for dinner, stay for the nightlife!

The Cottage Bar & Restaurant serves what USA Today calls "The Best Burger in Michigan." On the other hand, GQ magazine calls the Stella Blue at Stella's Lounge "America's Best Burger." Try 'em both and decide for yourself. 

Cygnus 27 is the pinnacle of downtown dining - it sits at the top of the glass tower in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Stunning views and a trend-setting menu. 

The Downtown Market offers a variety of delectable dining and snacking options, including Rak Thai, Tacos El Cunado, Sweetie-Licious Bake Shoppe, Love's Ice Cream, and Dorothy & Tony's Gourmet Kettle Corn

San Chez, a Tapas Bistro & Cafe specializes in the cuisine of Spain with a Latin and Cuban flair. Named one of America's Top 50 Hispanic restaurants.

Where to Shop:

Browse the artisan shops and farm vendors at the Downtown Market. The Indoor Market Hall includes 20+ fine-food purveyors, including Fish Lads, Montello Meat Market, Old World Olive Co., Spice Merchants, and Thornburg & Company (fruit preserves, syrups, and more). The Outdoor Market offers a seasonal selection of local produce, herb, flowers, honey, eggs, jams, beef and more, plus live entertainment. 

Check out the creative spaces at MoDiv, a "retail incubator" housing clothing boutiques, a personal-care apothecary, ice-cream shop, florist and the official store for the Grand Rapids Drive basketball team.

Pursue your particular passion at GrandLan Gaming Center, Reynolds & Sons Sporting Goods or Vault of Midnight comics shop.

Visit the shops at the Amway Grand Plaza and JW Marriott hotels for men's and women's clothing, art, and unique gifts.

What to Do:

Visit five first-class museums, all within a few blocks of each other: Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids Children's Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum, and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts.

Dance, skate or listen to music under the stars at Rosa Parks Circle, a unique combination of public park and sculpture in the center of town.

Share a pint at Grand Rapids Brewing Co. (Michigan's only certified organic brewery) or Hopcat (America's Best Brewpub).

Head to the Downtown Market for a cooking class, yoga instruction, Friday fish fry or Sunday brunch.

Cheer on the Grand Rapids Griffins, our championship hockey team, at Van Andel Arena - it was named the best place in America to watch a minor-league hockey game.

Attend one of downtown's many community events, including ArtPrize (September - October), Blues on the Mall (June - September), Festival of the Arts (June), GRandJazzFest (August), the Santa Parade (November) and Hot New Year's Eve Party (December 31).

What to See:

See public art virtually everywhere you look. Download the Outdoor Arts Inspirations tour map for a guide to 27 prominent downtown sculptures and historic buildings. Or take a smartphone-guided GR Tag Tour of "Art Around the Corner."

See a concert, play, musical ballet or opera at Actors' Theater, DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, The Intersection, The Pyramid Scheme, or Van Andel Arena.

Stroll the riverwalk winding alongside the Grand River to see plenty of evidence for the city's ranking as America's 6th best fishing city. Head just a little bit farther north to see salmon, steelhead and carp leap up the Fish Ladder, a functional sculpture.

See the city from a different perspective in the climate-controlled skywalk that connects DeVos Place Convention Center with three hotels and assorted other buildings. Perfect for hot summer or cold winter days.

Local Favorites:

Founders Brewing Company is a local favorite that's also a global sensation - it's been ranked the world's 3rd best brewery and its Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) was voted the world's best beer.

La Grande Vitesse is a 43-foot-tall, 42-ton, bright red Alexander Calder Sculpture that has come to symbolize the creative vitality of Grand Rapids. It sits outside City Hall- and it's pictured on street signs throughout the city.

Hidden Gems:

The Blue Bridge, one of Michigan's longest truss bridges, is easy to miss if you're not looking for it. It's behind the JW Marriott Hotel - and it's a convenient pedestrian footpath from the city center to Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Public Museum on the west side of the Grand River.

Kendall College of Art and Design, a leading visual-arts school, is situated downtown amidst office buildings and retail establishments. The Fed Galleries at KCAD present student work as well as traveling exhibitions of nationally and internationally recognized artists. Open to the public.

LGBT visitors will feel right at home at The Apartment Lounge pub and Diversions dance lounge. 

 

Insider's Guide to Grand Rapids

view all posts
Caponata - Thanksgiving in Grand Rapids, MI

Thanksgiving Inspiration from a Caterer, a Culinary Educator & a Baker!

Bright Autumn leaves, jack-o-lanterns, and mums are giving way to one of the best days of the year: Thanksgiving. Last year, I wrote about a locally-sourced from scratch Thanksgiving. Your cornucopia ...more

Posted November 20, 2014
The Nutcracker - Image Courtesy of Grand Rapids Ballet

Grand Rapids Ballet and Chris Van Allsburg Put New Spin on The Nutcracker

The Grand Rapids Ballet production of The Nutcracker is a tradition for many in and around West Michigan during the holiday season. This year, the classic gets a fresh take with none other than famed ...more

Posted November 13, 2014
GGRBC riders enjoying a break on Climate Ride Midwest. Photo courtesy of Justine Burdette

Go Green: Cycle For Environmental Health In The Climate Ride

  From its recent placement on the top 50 cities bike-friendly cities by Bicycling® magazine to becoming part of a national environmental fundraising effort, Grand Rapids is adding “green” to ...more

Posted November 6, 2014