Beginning just a few steps south of downtown's busiest intersection, Heartside encompasses art galleries and retail shops along with leading-edge medical facilities and revered spiritual centers. This is where artists come to live and work, where bodies and souls come to heal, and where visitors come to experience a vibrant, diverse community that is rich in history and progressive in spirit.
Heartside Places to Eat
Explore these great eateries in the Heartside neighborhood:
Stroll Avenue for the Arts, a commercial corridor of art galleries and artist's live/work spaces. And be sure to check out these shopping spots!
What to Do in Heartside
Mingle with local artists, artisans, and art patrons at Avenue for the Arts events throughout the year, including:
- First Friday Markets (summer)
- Art.Downtown. (April)
- Free Radical (November)
- Urban Lights Holiday Market (December)
Learn the history of churches in the Heartside (and throughout downtown) while you burn calories. Take a Steeple Chase Running Tour of religious landmarks. Experience these great attractions too!
What to See in Heartside
Treat your eyes to an incredible diversity of visual delights along Avenue for the Arts - from landmark buildings to public art to a wealth of art galleries. Don't miss the trope l'oeil mural by award winning artist Richard Haas in Pekich Park (at the corner of Cherry Street and Division Avenue).
Grand Rapids is known as a "City of Churches" - get a look at four of our most awe-inspiring sacred spaces:
- The gothic splendor of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, which features a 192-foot spire rising over a piazza modeled after Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome.
- The classic Byzantine design of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, with an austere three-domed exterior opening to a richly decorated interior worship space.
- The iconic steeple of LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, which is an uncovered, exposed structural framework meant to represent the unfinished work of Christ.
- The rusticated red sandstone exterior of Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which combines a Byzantine aesthetic with some items of Greek and Roman influence.
Local Heartside Favorites
The Local Epicurean is a beautifully appointed shop offering a huge variety of handmade pastas and sauces, soups, herbs, butters and chocolate truffles. On-site classes teach you how to make from-scratch pasta, butters and truffles.
Sanctuary Folk Art, "the coolest contemporary folk art gallery in the universe," features outsider, pop, minimalist and abstract art. Proprietor Reb Roberts' work can be seen in prominent locations all over the city.
Heartside Gallery and Studio features art made by artists in the neighborhood. Most are without formal training, but the vibrant, colorful images they create reflect their experiences of being marginalized disenfranchised or largely ignored by society.
Heartside Hidden Gems
Cathedral Square, anchored by the 125-year-old Cathedral of Saint Andrew, is an 11.5-acre oasis of quiet, contemplation featuring beautifully landscaped gardens and pedestrian walkways. A bronze statue of Bishop Baraga, who brought Catholicism to Grand Rapids, greets visitors. It's one of a series of " Community Legends" statues around town.
It may seem odd to refer to a sprawling medical complex - including a 344-bed acute-care hospital plus stand-alone cancer, neuroscience, diabetes/endocrinology, and mind-body-spirit centers - but Mercy Health Saint Mary's is tucked in between the Division Avenue commercial corridor and the Heritage Hill district of historic homes. Located here since its founding in 1893, the health care system is a vital part of the Heartside neighborhood and the larger Grand Rapids community. The Mercy Health Saint Mary's campus is adjacent to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Michigan's most comprehensive rehabilitation service provider.
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