Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

When I’m not out and about in Grand Rapids, you can generally find me working at The Mitten Brewing Company, a local pizzeria and brew pub that opened in 2012.  From a server/beertender point of view?  Beer tourism has exploded over the past five years!  Grand Rapids has dozens of reasons to attract craft beverage enthusiasts, which was part of the driving force behind Experience GR’s Ale Trail Map, published in 2014.  Local lodging locations have helpfully joined in the enthusiast’s trend, with many downtown and area hotels offering inclusive beer packages that makes your weekend beer tour even more fun.  If you’re getting ready to plan a beercation in the near future, check out a few of these hotels to enjoy the benefits.

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Amway Grand Plaza and JW Marriott Grand Rapids [read more…]

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Dave Engbers, Founders Brewing Company President

July is “Craft Beer Month” in Michigan, and there can be no better way of acknowledging this occasion than by interviewing Dave Engbers, one of the key figures responsible for Michigan’s ascension to America’s craft brewery mountaintop.

When Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens founded the Canal Street Brewing Company in the mid 1990s, they could not have know they were laying the cornerstone to what would become a West Michigan craft brewing dynasty. As we all know, the Canal Street Brewing Company eventually morphed into Founders Brewing Company, and the overall brewery regularly ranks as one of the best in the world, with many of its individual beers also ranking among the world’s best.

Inspired to a great extent by the tremendous success of West Michigan breweries like Founders, New Holland Brewing in Holland and Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, several other high-quality craft breweries have emerged across the Michigan landscape in the hopes of experiencing similar success. While some craft breweries, like the Dark Horse Brewing Company in Marshall, have proven to be quality driven breweries in the same vein as Founders, others have fallen by the wayside.

Fortunately, Dave’s experiences creating a successful craft brewery have also developed a makeshift set of guidelines to craft brewing success. And, over the course of a 30-minute conversation, he revealed almost everything an aspiring craft brewer would need to know about establishing a successful brewery in West Michigan, or anywhere else for that matter. What we present here, in Dave’s own words, are 18 essential rules, steps, and considerations that would-be brewers should take into account if they want to replicate Founders’ success. [read more…]

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My Grand Rapids Art Outdoor Artist Profile: Alex Gilford

by Kirsetin Morello on June 30, 2015

Earlier this month, Experience Grand Rapids announced the names of 5 artists whose works will be featured on billboards around the state this summer. A juried panel selected their artwork from over 25 submissions in response to a campaign to help inspire art enthusiasts to visit Grand Rapids by creating art for the their “Art Outdoor” project.

Alex Gilford at work

Alex Gilford at work

Over the next few weeks, we’ll profile each of these artists so you can learn a little bit more about the artists behind the billboards. Meet our first artist:

Alex Gilford: “Modern Window Cleaners” [read more…]

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Restaurant Week 2015

by Lyndsay Israel on June 25, 2015

Summer has officially arrived and it’s obvious that it’s here as the farmer’s markets swell with more stalls and colorful produce.  There’s something to be said about eating during this time of year- drinks taste more refreshing, desserts taste more indulgent, and every course in between leaves you feeling content.  August 12th-23rd, locals and visitors can capitalize on this summer foodie phenomenon as Grand Rapids celebrates the 6th annual Restaurant Week GR.

With sixty participating chefs and restaurants participating, there’s no finer place to be than in eating in Grand Rapids…for twelve days straight.

Chefs cooking at Grove restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Essence Restaurant Group

This year, Experience Grand Rapids has challenged chefs to help customers “Taste the City”.  Since mid-August coincides with a lot of West Michigan harvest seasons, this could mean that the menus include tomatoes, Lake Michigan perch, beets, peaches, local beef, or artisan green beans, just to name a few.  Gordon Food Services, founded in Michigan, will be this year’s Food Service Major Partner.

[read more…]

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Man and teen boy on golf course in Grand Rapids, MI

Photo courtesy of Octagon Events and Hospitality

The second annual Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft returns to Grand Rapids July 21-26. Whether you plan to watch professional golf at its finest at Blythefield Country Club, or enjoy events in Grand Rapids once the links close for the day, the Meijer LPGA Classic offers  plenty of fun for everyone.

“Each of the week’s festivities will benefit the Meijer Simply Give program which has helped keep local food pantries stocked with food since November 2008,” said Libby Peacock, senior account executive for Octagon Events & Hospitality Division. “Last year the inaugural Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft raised $600,000 for the Simply Give program to feed those in need.”

In keeping with the food theme, Top Chef judge and culinary expert Gail Simmons along with celebrity chef Mario Batali will be at the Grand Rapids Public Museum 6:30 p.m. July 24 hosting the Celebrity Chef Cook-off.

“Both Batali and Simmons will prepare an appetizer and main course while interacting with guests throughout the evening,” said Libby Peacock, senior account executive for Octagon Events & Hospitality Division. “The event will also feature local pastry fare that will be voted on by the guests.” [read more…]

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Great Kid-Friendly Hotels In Grand Rapids

by Meagan Francis on June 18, 2015

Children in the pool at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids

The pool area at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

Though my family lives just over an hour from downtown Grand Rapids and can easily make day trips, we like to stay overnight whenever we can. Grand Rapids offers a great variety of family-friendly hotels close to attractions and transportation, and the kids get even more excited about a trip when they know it’ll involve pool time and a hotel bed.

Here are some of my go-to hotels when I’m visiting Grand Rapids with the kids:

Amway Grand Plaza
[read more…]

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Omihachiman, Japan: Grand Rapids’ First Sister City!

by Amy Busse June 16, 2015

As Harper Lee wrote in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family.” Luckily, however, you can pick your sister city. And Grand Rapids has selected five, its oldest sisterhood being with Omihachiman, Japan, established in July of 1986. Sister Cities International was founded in 1956 by Dwight Eisenhower […]

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10 Ways You (Yes, You!) Can Win Gold At The Meijer State Games Of Michigan

by Ian Douglass June 11, 2015

With roughly 10,000 athletes participating in its winter and summer events, the Meijer State Games of Michigan is the largest sports festival in the Great Lakes State. The upcoming Summer Games will take place on June 25th through 28th, and for athletes in several sports, the events provide an opportunity to compete for the most […]

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Announcing The Artists Selected To Represent Grand Rapids in the Art Outdoor Campaign!

by Kirsetin Morello June 9, 2015

Grand Rapids is undeniably an art destination. Residents and visitors experience art when we tour Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and ArtPrize, but there’s more to art here than exhibits and competitions. The city also showcases an impressive collection of public art, including La Grande Vitesse by Alexander Calder, and is home […]

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A Dog Friendly Guide to Grand Rapids

by Amy Busse June 4, 2015

Visitors hesitant to leave their fur-babies at home can cast those worries aside and bring them along for a fun weekend in Grand Rapids. Michigan’s West Coast has always been known for being friendly and welcoming and that reputation is extending to the four-legged crowd as well. Many hotels in Grand Rapids are opening their […]

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