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"The West Side is the best side," according to the residents and business owners of this venerable neighborhood, which was first connected to downtown Grand Rapids via footbridge in 1842. German, Polish, and Irish immigrants soon populated the area, establishing distinct business districts amidst tree-lined residential streets. Today, the West Side is experiencing a major revitalization, as new buildings and new businesses cater to an incresingly diverse population.
Where to Eat:
The Bitter End, voted best coffeehouse by Grand Rapids magazine readers, is located in a restored century-old bank building. Craft-roasted coffees, teas, smoothies, and more.
Blue Dog Tavern is a new eatery in a 100 year-old building with a storied restaurant past. Come for the food and drink, linger for the historic touches and neighborhood vibe.
El Granjero Mexican Grill serves delicious authentic dishes - including tacos, quesadillas, grilled cactus and wonderful desserts - with a farm-fresh focus.
Maggie's Kitchen is an unpretentious yet award-winning cafe specializing in authentic cuisine from the Michocan region of Mexico.
Mitten Brewing Co. is a vintage baseball-themed microbrewery and gourmet pizzeria located in a Victorian-era firehouse.
O'Toole's Public House is an Irish pub offering delicious, outrageously-topped gourmet burgers and sandwiches plus multiple Michigan beers on tap and daily drink specials.
Salvatore's Italian Restaurant and Pizza is a multi-generation family restaurant serving authentic old-world recipes. Winner of a People's Choice Best Pizza award.
Where to Shop:
Ball Park Floral & Gifts is your source for fresh-cut flowers, arrangements and creative gifts for every occasion. Serving Grand Rapids since 1904.
DENYM is an upscale jean shop geared to men and women seeking casual wardrobe options that fit both the office and a night out.
The Conscious Collective Consignment offers gently used men's and women's fashions, plus home decor items and new products handmade by local artisans.
Rylee's Ace Hardware stocks hard-to-find hardware items plus housewares and garden goods along with good old-fashioned neighborhood-store service.
Freewheeler Bike Shop has been supplying new bikes and excellent bike service to Grand Rapids cyclists since 1978.
What to Do:
Hit the links- the Mines Golf Club is an 18-hole course right around the corner from John Ball Zoo. Built atop old gypsum mines, the rolling terrain makes it a joy to play. One of Golf Digest's "Best New Public Courses Under $75" in 2006.
Hike, bike, or blade Kent Trails, a 15-mile paved pathway that follows abandoned rail lines through wetlands, forests, meadows and city neighborhoods. John Ball Park is an access point.
Experience the West Side-style nightlife at neighborhood bars and clubs:
What to See:
See more than 2,000 animals at John Ball Zoo, one of the nation's oldest surviving urban zoos and Michigan's fourth most popular cultural attraction. There are many rides and activities to choose from, and you can picnic in the adjacent park. (Bring bread to feed the ducks!)
Visit three majestic Catholic churches erected by the area's early immigrants. The Germans build St. Mary's, the Irish built St. James, and the Polish build St. Adalbert, all within a few blocks of each other. Another Polish church, Sacred Heart, towers over John Ball Park.
Arnie's Bakery & Restaurant is a West Side institution with roots dating back 100 years. Rebuilt after a 2009 fire, the restaurant serves hearty breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, plus swoon-worthy desserts.
Brann's Steakhouse & Sports Grille is a casual restaurant masquerading as a sports bar. Home of the "legendary sizzling steak," it boasts more TVs than just about any restaurant in town - and it's run by one of the town's favorite restauranteurs.
Ferris Coffee and Nut House has been a Grand Rapids staple since 1924, offering the very best coffee, nuts, and gourmet treats made right here.
Scrumptious Cupcakes and Sweetery serves up mouthwatering gourmet and cocktail cupcakes plus a variety of other goodies.
To find all of the other places to see, eat, and visit in this neighborhood, use the drop down menu below.
North of Pearl Street, adjacent to Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum along the banks of the Grand River, downtown MORE >>
This family restaurant, a Michigan tradition since 1936, offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ohhh Boy! MORE >>
At Brann's, we've combined our legendary food with an unparalleled sports atmosphere – a combination you simply can’t find anywhere else. Our menu boasts a huge selection of unique flavors while staying true to our roots and the item that made us famous, the 8oz. Sizzling Sirloin Steak. Our premiere sports bar and our dining rooms house more HDTVs and projection screen than any restaurant or even sports bar can compete with. MORE >>
The DeltaPlex Arena and Conference Center is a sports, entertainment, concert, tradeshow and convention facility conveniently located minutes from downtown Grand Rapids with ample parking adjacent to the building. MORE >>
The DeltaPlex is a comfortable venue that can accommodate a variety of events, from professional sports to major concerts to any type of private or public convention or exposition. The arena is even capable of holding a three-ring circus! Its two exhibition halls and arena provide a variety of arrangements for trade show booths. All rooms are adjoining and can be used together or separately. Ample parking is located onsite, making the DeltaPlex the perfect venue to host any event. MORE >>
El Granjero Mexican Grill serves Authentic Mexican food with fresh, local ingredients and a friendly service. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dine-in, take-outs and catering! El Granjero has been in business for almost 6 years and has received several dinning awards including "Best Mexican/Caribbean Restaurant 2012," "One of the Best Restaurants in Grand Rapids 2013" by the Grand Rapids Magazine. Proud members of the West Michigan Hispanic & the Grand Rapids Area Chambers of Commerce. MORE >>
A roaster and distributor of specialty coffees and gourmet nuts since 1924. Tours available upon request. This 62,000 square-foot facility includes production, retail shop and training center. Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Closed Saturday and Sunday. MORE >>
Local roaster and regional distributor of specialty coffees and gourmet nuts since 1924. Ferris offers educational tours showing the growing and processing of coffee and nuts. MORE >>
Built along the Grand River in 1974 by artist Joseph Kinnebrew, the Fish Ladder was created to aid spawning fish in their struggle to swim upstream. MORE >>
This newly revitalized hotel features genuine hospitality with an earth friendly focus nestled in the heart of downtown. Complimentary parking and WIFI, 32” HDTV, spa-like pool/whirlpool and fitness room. Michigan Green Lodging certified. Experience our passion for service and quality at a great price! MORE >>
Just steps away from John Ball Zoo, John Ball Park includes picnic areas, playgrounds, biking, hiking/walking, access point for Kent Trails, and duck pond. Picnic area reservations can be done online www.jbzoo.org. MORE >>
Over 2,000 animals and more animal touching exhibits than any other zoo in Michigan; stingrays & sharks, 2 petting corrals, wallabies, camels and budgies. Chimpanzees - lions - grizzly bear - otters - snow leopards - Komodo dragon - and many large and small primates. Indoor and outdoor viewing. Full concessions and gift shop. Featuring 300-foot ZIPline, 4-story Ropes Adventure Course, Swan Boats. New 2012: Funicular (tram). MORE >>
Located in the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown, the Pearl Street Express is a convenience store with "Grab and Go" items for guests & local individuals. Your fast track to fresh coffee, ice cream, cold drinks. salads, sandwiches, toiletries, and a variety of newspapers. MORE >>
Pearl Street Grill features West Michigan's most popular dishes in a casual setting with the most affordable prices. Menu selections include gourmet pizzas, steaks, delectable pastas, sandwiches, soups and fresh made salads. Featuring West Michigan Micro-brews on tap & Michigan wines. MORE >>
Presenting spectacular and educational multi-media sky shows and laser light shows for all ages in its Digistar theater. Shows change several times a year. Admission charged. MORE >>