6 Fun Ways to Toast the New Year in Grand Rapids

by Kirsetin Morello on December 18, 2014

Although we don’t have snow on the ground yet, New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. Whether you want to dress up and celebrate in style, go casual and toast 2015 with a craft beer, or you’re looking for something kid-friendly, Grand Rapids delivers New Year’s Eve fun.

Here’s a sampling of a few local options:

It’s Sort of Like Summer Camp for Kids…on NYE!

YMCA New Year's Eve Camp Maniutou-Lin

Happy Campers at Camp Manitou-Lin’s New Year’s Eve Overnight Bash

If your children are between the ages of 8-15 and like the idea of spending New Year’s Eve braving the high ropes, shooting archery, and wearing party hats at a sleepover bonanza, check out Camp Manitou-Lin’s New Year’s Bash/Sleepover. The cost is $55 for members or $65 for non-members.  Included in the price is bus service that will deliver and return your kids by bus from either the SE YMCA or the downtown David D. Hunting YMCA. Separate parties for boys and girls; click here for more info and to register.

Party Like It’s 8PM…wait, it is 8PM.
Parents with younger kids won’t want to miss the chance to celebrate New Year’s Eve early with them at the Children’s Museum. You’ll dance and play while sipping sparkling juice and noshing on treats from Foodesign. Best of all, you’ll get to holler Happy New Year several hours early—the kid-friendly ball drop happens at 7:30 p.m. The cost is $10 – $12 and registration is required. Call (616) 235-4726 or visit the Children’s Museum for tickets. Click here for more info. [read more…]

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Guest writer Amy Allen Clark is creator of the website MomAdvice.com

Last year our family decided that, in lieu of gifts under our tree,  each year we will take a vacation together as a family Christmas gift.

When we came up with this tradition last holiday season, we had little time to plan or book flights. We live in Indiana and have always enjoyed our Michigan excursions, so we thought we would head to Grand Rapids to explore the town for a fun winter getaway.

It was our first time exploring Grand Rapids as a family and we were overwhelmed with all of the great options for things to see and do while we were there. Our only regret was not booking more time for our visit.

As first time visitors, here are our recommendations for a winter Grand Rapids excursion: [read more…]

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Keeping Fit on the Road in Grand Rapids

by Amy Busse on December 4, 2014

Photo courtesy of Core Pilates and Barre Studio

Photo courtesy of Core Pilates and Barre Studio

The holidays bring friends, food, travel and sometimes a few extra pounds. If you are planning a trip to Grand Rapids this December – or beyond – don’t let a change of venue lead to a change of workout routines. From Pilates and Barre to CrossFit and even some ideas outside the gym, we’ve rounded up some of the hottest fitness experiences in the area to help you keep your fitness on track this holiday season.

Kim McDonough, owner/trainer of Core Pilates & Barre Studio said they love out of town Pilates and Barre clients noting they are fun, motivated and easy to work with! One reason the clients are so fun could be a results of the relaxed and friendly feel to their studio.

“The holidays can be one of the hardest time to stay motivated with all the hustle/bustle and stress,” McDonough said. “We applaud those who make it a point to keep active.” [read more…]

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Miles Hanley shows off a nice steelhead he hooked while fishing the Kalamazoo River downstream from the Allegan Dam. Photo by Howard Meyerson

Miles Hanley shows off a nice steelhead he hooked while fishing the Kalamazoo River downstream from the Allegan Dam. Photo by Howard Meyerson.

They hit hard, leap high, and run like a freight train when hooked, which is why hundreds of anglers converge each fall on rivers in the Grand Rapids-area hoping to hook a steelhead. Muscular and feisty, the chrome-colored fish begin running up Lake Michigan tributaries in late October and spend most of the winter in them feeding, very often waiting until spring to spawn.

Anglers know they are readily catchable. An assortment of lures: spawn sacks, plugs, and flies, all work. In Grand Rapids, anglers regularly gather downtown to fish the Grand River, just downstream from the Sixth Street Dam, where access is easy from Fish Ladder Park, on the west bank, and from Sixth Street Bridge Park on the east bank.

The downtown fall fishery is often a spectacle, one of shoulder-to-shoulder anglers wading in the river’s shallows and boils. Lucky onlookers observing from the banks, or from Fish Ladder Park, often can see the torpedo-like fish trying to jump the nine-foot dam, or working their way up the fish ladder.

“We typically have good fishable numbers starting the first week in November,” notes Jay Wesley, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, southwest Michigan fisheries supervisor. “It’s good fishing all winter if people can withstand the cold.

“We don’t know the size of the run, but it is thousands of fish – and they average six to seven pounds, though we also get 10- and 12-pound steelheads.” [read more…]

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Antiquing in Grand Rapids: So Many Choices!

by Kirsetin Morello on November 27, 2014

Christmas tree with vintage ornaments at Century Antiques

Christmas tree with vintage ornaments; photo courtesy of Century Antiques

Whether you love the thrill of the hunt or find beauty in treasures passed down through generations, the Grand Rapids area is chock-full of antique stores and markets you can search to find that perfect something.

“Three weeks ago I went looking for old scrabble pieces, so I could make place cards for the table,” says Kyle VandenBosch, who frequents Grand Rapids area antique shops with her daughter, Lori Essex. Essex has unearthed treasures like a large, galvanized bucket she uses at the base of her Christmas tree and old apple bushel baskets that house flowering mums in the fall. Although Essex home décor style doesn’t favor antique furnishings, she likes interspersing the gems she finds at antique stores with her other things. “It’s fun to look on Pinterest and get ideas for how to mix antiques in,” she says.

At this time of year, local antique stores and markets are brimming with unique pieces you can mix in with your own décor or give as gifts. “I have 18 different dealers in my store and we have a large variety of items,” says Jim Murray, owner of Century Antiques, which carries furniture, jewelry, books glassware, holiday ornaments, and more. [read more…]

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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 can be entirely sourced from West Michigan; from the turkey, to root vegetables, to apple pie. This year, we look to a few local culinary experts to inspire our Turkey day spread. Read on for three recipes perfect for the upcoming holiday and perhaps look back at last year’s post for my Cran-Apple Sauce and Creamed Onions recipes.

Butternut Squash Caponata from Kangaroo Kitchen & Catering
Chef Roman is known for his excellent catering services and bright, visually appealing, flavorful cuisine. On Roman’s Thanksgiving table you won’t find marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, but you will find this, a seasonal, salty-sweet caponata. This cooked vegetable salad can be served in a polenta cup. To make it more akin to the classic, add diced grilled eggplant. Amp up the polenta with sun-dried tomatoes, chopped herbs, or blue cheese. Good thing we can count on Roman, an Aussie, to do Thanksgiving a little differently.

Caponata - Thanksgiving in Grand Rapids, MI [read more…]

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

by Amy Busse November 13, 2014

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 children’s book author and East Grand Rapids native Chris Van Allsburg (author of The Polar Express, among many others) involved in the […]

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Go Green: Cycle For Environmental Health In The Climate Ride

by Amy Busse November 6, 2014

  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 its growing list of attributes. And it’s easy for you to take part as well! The non-profit group Climate Ride organizes charitable events focused on […]

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International Wine, Beer and Food Festival 2014

by Lyndsay Israel October 30, 2014

Grand Rapids is pleased to welcome back the 7th annual International Wine, Beer and Food Festival at the DeVos Place November 20-22.  It’s a triple threat: Any event that serves wine, beer and food (and cider, spirits and mead too!) in one place is guaranteed to be lively, and this festival is no exception. If you’ve […]

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35+ Nightlife in Grand Rapids: Where To Go When You Aren’t 22 Anymore

by Meagan Francis October 23, 2014

I’m not sure how it happened, but it seems like one day I suddenly went from being “wrapping up my 20s” to “well into my 30s.” Sure, the passage of years makes getting older inevitable, but it still came as a bit of a rude awakening when I looked around me at a favorite night spot […]

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