Cool Brews. Hot Eats Returns to Grand Rapids

by Amy Busse on January 27, 2015

Brews Web Header 2015

It’s hard to think of a better way to escape the chilly Michigan weather than coming inside for a hot meal and a cool brew. The third annual Cool Brews Hot Eats (CBHE) kicks-off Monday, February 16 through Saturday, February 28 and features over 50 restaurant partners that have created a special menu item for the event.

“Grand Rapids is enthusiastic about beer,” said Kate Herron, Community Development Manager, for Experience Grand Rapids. “For those who can’t get a ticket to the Winter Beer Festival, or who prefer to be inside and enjoy beer, Experience Grand Rapids created CBHE. Now everyone can join in on the fun and celebrate local beer, even if they aren’t attending the festival.”

Food styled photos 2

[read more…]


Winter in West Michigan means falling temperatures and snow and comfort food! Fortunately, the thriving restaurant scene in Grand Rapids also means you have plenty of options to choose from—we have lots of places that serve great food and drinks and feature a cozy fireplace (or two!) to help take the edge off the cold outside.

Grand Woods Lounge

photo courtesy of Grand Woods Lounge

Grand Woods Lounge
Downtown at Grand Woods Lounge, a huge brick fireplace warms the room, adding to the restaurant’s already friendly vibe.

Grand Woods Lounge

photo courtesy of Grand Woods Lounge

Decorated in the rustic, outdoorsy style of the Pacific Northwest, Grand Woods is the kind of place you can enjoy a hearty meal (like their tasty BBQ pulled pork sandwich or Back Woods Stew) and relax—unless it’s one of the nights they’re featuring a live band. In that case, it’s still the kind of place where you can get a great meal, but you’ll be having too much fun to just sit and relax.

In addition to the gorgeous indoor fireplace, Grand Woods also has a 4-season porch with another fireplace and radiant heat. [read more…]


February Fun and Charity in Grand Rapids: Experience Pink 2015

by Kirsetin Morello on January 15, 2015

From February 1 – February 28th, you’ll be seeing a lot of pink in Grand Rapids…and not just because of Valentine’s Day!

Experience Pink logo

Local hotels, businesses, and restaurants have designed packages and events for Experience Pink, the 4th annual month-long effort to support Susan G. Komen West Michigan’s fight against breast cancer. The result is a win-win: you can enjoy lots of fun events, great packages, and drink and food specials while helping raise funds and awareness for Susan G. Komen West Michigan. The annual event has raised over $12,000 since its inception, which directly benefits our community. “75% of every dollar raised stays in West Michigan,” says Nakia Kyler, Community Events Coordinator for Susan G. Komen West Michigan. “Those funds help pay for services like breast screenings, mammograms, and breast care services for men and women in the area who are underserved. The other 25% goes towards research to find a cure for breast cancer.” [read more…]


People snowshoeing in Hoffmaster State Park

A group enjoys a guided snowshoe hike at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park where wooden snowshoes can be rented. Photo credit: Dave Kenyon, Michigan DNR

When the snow piles up and the winter woods grow quiet, there is no better time to get out on snowshoes. Designed to keep hikers from sinking deep, and let them walk at an easy pace, snowshoes can open up a winter landscape filled with natural wonder.

“We’ve seen where animals bed down and a few weeks ago we saw a snowy owl,” says Elizabeth Brockwell-Tillman, interpreter at the Gillette Nature Center located at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon. The park is one of a few places near Grand Rapids where guided snowshoe hikes and/or snowshoe rentals are offered.

“We usually go off the beaten path and cover two to three miles, but we go slow enough to cater to everyone,” Tillman said. “We’ll walk the entire base of Mt. Baldy and into a really pretty hemlock grove where sound is really buffered and often we see wildlife. We encourage people to bring snacks and hot chocolate, but we also have it waiting for them when we get back.”

Several guided hikes are planned this winter at the 1,200 acre, park in the forested sand dunes along Lake Michigan. Snowshoes rent for $5 a pair and need to be reserved in advance. The park has 50 pairs available. Hikers who have their own are welcome on the hikes for no charge. [read more…]


Ribs at Two Scotts Barbecue Photo courtesy of Two Scotts

Ribs at Two Scotts Barbecue
Photo courtesy of Two Scotts

There is nothing like a good barbecue, especially if you aren’t cooking!  Early 2015, some new restaurants are joining Memphis Smokehouse, located downtown on Monroe, and bringing barbecue back to Grand Rapids.

Two Scotts Barbecue logo

Two Scotts Barbecue logo

Two Scotts Barbecue, located at 536 Leonard Street NW, is slated to open late January/early February. According to Scott Luecht, one of the Scott’s, the Wealthy Street corridor was saturated with about a half dozen barbecue “joints” smoking, grilling, and saucing meat just a decade ago.

“This resurgence of barbecue in the Grand Rapids area is quite exciting,” Luecht said. “And we are ecstatic to be representing the West Side.”

While many might pair barbecue with summer, Luecht begs to differ.

“From walking into our small shop and the smell of smoked meat hitting your nose, to the friendly service and the satiating feeling after eating a deliciously cared for pulled pork sandwich, barbecue is a great winter food,” said Luecht. “The time and care it takes to produce a quality product automatically qualifies it to be comfort food, which is perfect for winter and anytime!”

Barbeque dish Photo courtesy of Two Scotts

Photo courtesy of Two Scotts

Two Scotts Barbecue plans to open late January/early February offering traditional barbecue fare such as pulled pork, pulled chicken sandwiches, sausages, and of course ribs. The menu will also include non-meat items including homemade tater tots, pimento mac and cheese and coleslaw.

“Everywhere we go, we tell people about our barbecue, and they come to the realization that there is virtually NO barbecue in GR,” Luecht said. “So the timing is right for a barbecue resurgence.”

“Like” them on Facebook so you can be first in line when they open.

Barbeque dish Photo courtesy of Slows Bar BQ

Photo courtesy of Slows Bar BQ

Slows Bar BQ, originally from the east side of the state, brings unique all dry-rubbed barbecue served with their proprietary blend sauces on the side this spring. Founded in 2005 in the Corktown District in Detroit, the restaurant has been featured on the Travel Channel‘s Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America as well as the New York Times and Bon Appetit.

“Grand Rapids is a vibrant and thriving city that we have long thought would be a great fit for our style of food and hospitality,” said Brian Perrone, Executive Chef/Owner of Slows Bar BQ and SlowsToGo. “When we were approached by the Downtown Market, we decided to make the leap and are extremely excited to be involved in the Downtown Market.”

Burger Photo courtesy of Slows Bar BQ

Photo courtesy of Slows Bar BQ

Located in the Market’s southeast side, at the corner of Ionia and Logan streets, Slows will have its own entrance allowing the restaurant to keep hours separate from the market featuring dine-in eating with communal tables, outdoor seating and carryout. The bar will serve wine, liquor and roughly 40 beer taps, including several Michigan beers. Meat served at Slows Bar BQ is all natural and sustainably raised without hormones or antibiotics. In addition, non-meat eaters won’t leave with an empty stomach since the menu also features vegetarian items. Perrone noted Slows Bar BQ Grand Rapids would focus on regularly creating specials that feature locally grown food.

“Barbecue is the perfect all year round food because it tastes great any time,” Perrone said. “We can’t wait to get the operation up and running over on the west side.”

From the group that brought you Hopcat and Stella’s Lounge  comes The Shrunken Head, a BBQ and tiki joint coming to Grand Rapids summer 2015. BarFly Ventures, the group behind The Shrunken Head, says the 5,000 square foot space will include an outdoor beer garden, in-house slow smoked barbecue and a fun “tiki lounge” setting like no other in Grand Rapids.

Designed by Bamboo Ben, a California based tiki bar designer who designed singer Todd Rundgren’s tiki bar in Hawaii, the restaurant will be sure to combine a unique dining setting with unforgettable food. Visit them on Facebook for more information on the opening date.

So be ready to brave the cold for some warm barbecue this spring. You won’t regret it!




GRAND Rapids: Looking Forward to 2015!

by Lyndsay Israel on January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!  Although I can’t believe 2014 has come and gone, there are plenty of things to look forward to in 2015.  Particularly in Grand Rapids!  While you can always check out the calendar of events here, make sure you mark these ten in your brand new planner now.  Here are the Grand events you just can’t miss this year.

  1. ArtPrize 2015

The 7th annual open art competition will sweep the city from September 23rd- October 11th.  Plan your trip now and ask your hotel if they offer any package deals; many get into the spirit of the competition!  Bring your camera, good walking shoes, and plan to download the app.  You can create your own walking tour based on the art you consider as must-see!

  1. Laughfest

In 2011, Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids launched Laughfest as a way to celebrate laughter as it relates to our health.  It has now grown to expect upwards of 50,000 attendees and attracts comedic talent from all over the world.  In 2015, join us in Grand Rapids from March 5th-15th for ten days of laughter and goodwill.  If you can’t make it, keep up on social media with #smileselfie.  Some tickets must be purchased in advance so check out the events for Laughfest 2015 here.

ArtPrize art entry

Photo Courtesy of ArtPrize

  1. DisArt

[read more…]


Winter Fun in Grand Rapids: What To Do When The Weather Is Cold!

by Meagan Francis December 24, 2014

Winter is officially here, but that doesn’t mean fun is on hold. There’s so much to do in Grand Rapids all winter long, you may find that it’s your favorite time of year! Here are some suggestions: Take In A Show.  From dance and theatre to live music and comedy, Grand Rapids offers a wide variety of […]

Read the full article →

6 Fun Ways to Toast the New Year in Grand Rapids

by Kirsetin Morello 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 […]

Read the full article →

Winter Magic: Our First-Time Family Excursion To Grand Rapids!

by admin December 11, 2014

Guest writer Amy Allen Clark is creator of the website  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. […]

Read the full article →

Keeping Fit on the Road in Grand Rapids

by Amy Busse December 4, 2014

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 […]

Read the full article →