The founding of medical-research facility Van Andel Institute in 1996 jump-started a multi-billion dollar investment along Michigan Street just northwest of downtown. Today, this area is known as the Medical Mile and it is renowned as a world-class healthcare destination. The clinical, research and academic institutions that now line the Mile have attracted medical professionals from around the world. Their influx has spurred new retail and residential developments, transforming this once sleepy neighborhood into a bustling center of activity.
El Barrio Mexican Grill serves traditional Mexican cuisine with a fresh, modern flair, while Grand Coney is a classic diner serving traditional breakfasts, custom coney dogs and classic comfort foods.
Flat Lander's Barstillery offers a "hillbilly-chic" menu along with locally distilled spirits, hard ciders and microbrews in a raw, rustic old sawmill building.
Urban Mill Café offers "healthy food, local flavor" with a variety of made-to-order espresso drinks, sandwiches and salads.
Birch Lodge and Bob's Sports Bar are friendly neighborhood hangouts featuring great food and drink along with plenty of TVs for sports fans. Logan's Alley offers a wide variety of foods that pair well with its 23 beers on tap and 200+-bottle beer list.
Where to Shop:
Sallie Bender Guild Gift Shop at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is filled with colorful, smile-inducing gifts, games and goodies. The Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital Gift Shop is stocked with cards, flowers and unique gifts. Both are open to the general public.
Rylee's Ace Hardware, a Grand Rapids institution since 1955, is the kind of well-stocked, full-service hardware you rarely see these days.
What to Do:
Stroll the streets of Heritage Hill, adjacent to the Medical Mile. One of the nation's largest and best-preserved urban historic districts, Heritage Hill encompasses 1,300 homes representing more than 60 architectural styles, dating back to the 1840's. Get inside houses during the annual Heritage Hill Homes Tour, held the third weekend of May.
What to See:
Crane your head skyward to appreciate Medical Mile's impact on the Grand Rapids skyline - from the dramatic stepped silhouette of Van Andel Institute to the gleaming glass tower of Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and beyond.
Walk a few blocks north of the Mile to Belknap Lookout for stunning views of the city skyline and river valley. The historic Belknap Hill neighborhood also features the city's only original true field cobblestone streets.
Bagel Beanery is a locally owned and operated quick-service bagel bakery and gourmet coffee shop serving the area since 1996.
Logan's Alley is one of the city's favorite neighborhood pubs, with 23 beers on tap and an ever-evolving bottle list exceeding 200 selections plus a creative menu of "forkin' good food."
Balk Café at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital dishes up some of the area's best pizza - handmade, gourmet and stone hearth-baked. The Café also features a salad station, ice cream counter and coffee kiosk.
Pickleball courts at Belknap Park host practitioners of this unique paddle sport combining elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Free lessons on Saturday mornings!