International Wine, Beer and Food Festival 2014

by Lyndsay Israel on October 30, 2014

International Wine, Beer and Food Festival 2014 in Grand Rapids. Photo Courtesy of Show Span.

Photo Courtesy of Show Span

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Cocktails and drinks at Lumber Baron Bar

photo credit: Jeff Denapoli

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 one evening and realized that I was at least ten years older than most of the other women on the dance floor. (Maybe that would also explain why my heels were at least an inch shorter while my skirt was a few inches longer.)

It was clear that I’d outgrown the hot spots inhabited by young hipsters and hotties and needed to look around for some new favorites that would feel welcoming to a slightly more mature crowd.

When you live somewhere for a while it becomes easier to figure out where those places are. It’s not so simple finding those spots when you’re from out of town, though. Sure, Yelp reviews might refer to an “older crowd,” but it can be hard to tell if they’re talking about 30-somethings or 60-somethings. The crowd can change drastically throughout the course of an evening, too. As much fun as it can be to experience a city “like a local,” sometimes when you’re traveling you just want to know you can find a place you’ll have fun and feel comfortable.

So during a recent trip to Grand Rapids, my husband Jon, our friend Jeff and I decided to test out several bars, restaurants and nightspots in the downtown area to determine how friendly they felt to an over-35 crowd. (It was a hard job, but somebody had to do it.)

Here were some of our favorite night spots for tourists and travelers 35 and older:

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Host a Memorable Reunion in Grand Rapids–and We’ll Help

by Kirsetin Morello on October 21, 2014

Good things happen when you gather with far-flung friends, service members, co-workers, or family members for a reunion. It’s the perfect time to reconnect and revisit the past, of course. But it’s also an opportunity to create new memories and build bonds for the future. And Grand Rapids is the perfect place to host your reunion!

Grand Rapids Skyline

Not only is Grand Rapids easily accessible by car, train or plane, but we make it easy on groups of all sizes because of the plethora of activities, venues, hotels, and restaurants we offer. What’s more, Grand Rapids been named one of the best cities to retire in and one of the best places to raise a family for good reason: our city caters to people of all ages.

From our fun-filled Children’s Museum and our stellar GR Art Museum to scenic Meijer Gardens and the lions and tigers and bears at John Ball Zoo, there’s something for everyone. Grand Rapids also features a variety of accommodations in a variety of price ranges both downtown and throughout the Grand Rapids area, including the luxurious JW Marriott and Amway Grand Plaza. If you prefer to be outside of the city, you’ll find plenty of affordable event facilities and lodging within just 10 minutes from downtown. [read more…]

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It doesn’t get much more beautiful than autumn in Grand Rapids. The air is cool and crisp, the city is blanketed in orange, red and yellow foliage, and great cider is never far away.

Don’t miss out on the chance to enjoy some of that cider – or our local apples, pumpkins, farm-made baked goods, and corn-mazes. The wonderful fall flavors of Michigan abound in Kent County.

Apples photo courtesy of Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market

photo courtesy of Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market

If you’re not sure where to start, try one of these local farms:

Ed Dunneback & Girls

My husband and I took our three boys to the Dunneback’s farm, on the northwest side of Grand Rapids, last fall and it didn’t disappoint. Although the kids wanted to head straight for the doughnuts, we opted to try our luck at the corn maze first. We found that there’s nothing like a convoluted path through higher-than-an-elephant’s-eye corn stalks to encourage teamwork among siblings, especially if they’re trying to beat mom and dad out of the maze! This is the Dunneback’s fifth year hosting a corn maze – it’s 5 acres of fun that will test your navigation skills. You’ll make it out no matter what but answering the trivia correctly will get you (or your kids) to the end sooner.

Woman with doughnuts photo courtesy of Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market

photo courtesy of Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market

This third-generation farm also has a pick-your-own pumpkin field and a fantastic bakery/market in their historic barn. After we made it through the maze and chose our pumpkins, we had a hard time choosing our favorites from the array of goodies in the barn. Of course, hot cider and caramel apples are always delicious and a fall-weather specialty, so we all enjoyed those there, then bought some doughnuts to go. Win-win. [read more…]

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Fall in Grand Rapids brings a slew of season-inspired beers and ciders and this year, new transportation options to enjoy libations all over town. As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, the allure of warm breweries and seasonal craft beer grows. Local tap lists have been updated to feature fall flavors like apple, cinnamon, bourbon, and everyone’s fave: pumpkin.

Grab a sweater and a pint of autumn-inspired beer, and leave the car keys behind for a fun and responsible experience. We’ve got you covered in Grand Rapids with terrific breweries and safe transportation options to get to and fro.

GR Beer Tours: Guided Brewery Hop Experience
Brian Haik combines his love for beer and history to create a special experience for thirsty locals and visitors alike. GR Beer Tours – the top activity in Grand Rapids according to TripAdvisor – offers a well-rounded beer-focused outing. On the half day tour, Brian shares information about beer styles, tasting approaches, and local beer lore. Go behind the scenes at a brewery to learn about the process and meet brewers, enjoy 12-16 samples of beer, and get chauffeured in a comfortable 15-passenger van.

GR Beer Tours Owner Bryan Haik in Grand Rapids, Michigan

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7 Activities Your Family Will Love This Fall in Grand Rapids

by Melody VanderWeide on October 7, 2014

Kids playing on haystacks in Grand Rapids, MichiganWith fall colors comes crisp air and the urge to get outside. Now is the time to dig out boots and sweaters and enjoy all that a West Michigan autumn has to offer. The only trouble you’ll have is deciding where to go first!

Here are seven must-do fall family events!

HAYRIDES – Head on out to Post Family Farm (5081 Bauer Rd, Hudsonville) or Sietsema Orchards (2 Mile Rd, Ada) to claim your spot on the hay. Some places charge for hayrides, others offer them for free. Most places offering hayrides also have other fall fun in store- be sure to check out their websites before heading out.

CORN MAZES – If you’re looking to get lost, find yourself a corn maze. Corn mazes range from easy to difficult and most operate during the daytime and after dusk. Most local mazes have themes and many have objectives. For example, at Heidi’s Farmstand (11999 Cascade Rd, Lowell) visitors collect punches to win a prize. Schwallier’s Country Basket  (1185  9 Mile Rd, Sparta) offers a themed maze this year, pitting MSU agains U of M. Mazes do charge admission fees, so call ahead for current rates and ask if they offer child discounts. Hint: You can bring a jogging stroller or baby carrier through most mazes. [read more…]

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Basketball in GR: The Grand Rapids Drive is Shooting for Success

by Kirsetin Morello October 2, 2014

If you’re ready for some great basketball, you’re in the right place at the right time. The Grand Rapids Drive, a new development league (D-League) team for the Detroit Pistons, kicks off their season mid-November, with their first home tip off at 7:00 p.m. on November 26 against the Los Angeles D-Fenders Former college baseball […]

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5 Tips for Families Headed to ArtPrize 2014

by Melody VanderWeide September 30, 2014

Heading to ArtPrize with the family? I’ve been taking my kids to ArtPrize since it started six years ago- and over the years I have come up with a few tips that will help any family headed to Grand Rapids to check out the event:

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An In-Cider Look at Michigan’s Fall Drink of Choice

by Lyndsay Israel September 25, 2014

It’s hard to imagine, but West Michigan is ready for another apple harvest! Michigan farmer’s markets have seen asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, green beans, peaches and corn come and go and now the wait for those first bushels of apples begins. Just about anyone can make (or eat) an apple pie, but 2014 could hold a […]

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Best Places To See Fall Colors Around Grand Rapids

by Howard Meyerson September 18, 2014

By Howard Meyerson Autumn color is always a spectacle in Kent County. The countryside – with its hills and valleys – becomes a living canvas splashed with color. It’s a great time to get out on area roads, rivers and trails and enjoy the view from a bike, kayak, or on foot. Some of the […]

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