Anchored on one end by the burgeoning downtown campus of Grand Valley State University and on the other by historic John Ball Zoo, West Fulton is located directly across the Grand River from downtown Grand Rapids. This stretch of road evolved into one of the main business hubs for Polish immigrants who settled here in the 1800s. Today, it’s home to a diverse, multi-ethnic community and a mix of new and longstanding businesses that attract visitors from all over the city. Most businesses offer free parking and there’s ample non-metered parking along home-lined side streets, too.

Art & Culture

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GVSU Campus Devos From Above Drone Photography 2019

Roam the halls of one of GVSU's many buildings that showcase their extensive art collection.

Photo by Experience GR

Grand Valley State University

The downtown campus of Michigan’s fourth largest university (by enrollment) spans multiple academic facilities, student housing and event spaces. It’s known as the Pew campus in honor of Robert C. Pew, former chairman of office furniture company Steelcase, which donated the land for the campus. The campus boasts a significant collection of artworks, most of which are on public view. Click here to explore art in and around GVSU buildings downtown. 401 W Fulton St. The original Allendale campus of GVSU is 20 minutes due west of the Pew campus.

John Ball Zoo

The fourth most visited cultural facility in Michigan, John Ball Zoo is home to more than 2,000 different animals representing 200+ species, and more animal-touching exhibits than any other zoo in the state. Captivating habitats like the Aquarium and Wild Way Trail, behind-the-scenes guided tours and animal encounters are a great way to learn about the creatures we share the planet with and the Zoo’s efforts to conserve wildlife and wild places. Open daily March-Nov. 1300 W. Fulton St.

Family Fun

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Family at the John Ball ZooPlay Their Way 2023
Family at the John Ball ZooPlay Their Way 2023

With 2,000 different animals, John Ball Zoo is a perfect place to spend the day exploring with your family.

Photo by Aly Zuiderveen for Experience GR

John Ball Zoo

In addition to a wide variety of animal encounters, John Ball Zoo offers kid-friendly camel rides, a virtual realty experience, zip line, sky trails ropes course, gem sluicing, face painting and more. Visitors can take a funicular to the top of the Zoo to explore the Forest Realm Trail and enjoy breathtaking views of downtown Grand Rapids. Open daily March-Nov. 1300 W. Fulton St.

John Ball Park

This greenspace just outside John Ball Zoo has four individual playgrounds, including a universally designed playspace that incorporates features for kids of all abilities. There are also three tennis courts and many picnic tables throughout John Ball Park. 1300 W. Fulton St.

The Mines Golf Club

Around the southeast corner of John Ball Park is a golf course built 150 feet above historic gypsum mines. The Mines incorporated features of the mines and the mining process in its construction, and the water used to irrigate the course is pumped directly from the mines. It offers four sets of tees for different skill levels and is quite hilly. It’s also “pure fun,” says golf website 330 Covell Ave. SW.


Food & Drink

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Every donut (and other baked good) at Rise is gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free.

Every baked good at Rise is gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience GR

Midnight Express Café

Midnight Express Café offers an extensive menu of food choices, including fresh-daily bakery bagels, paninis, toasts, wraps, flatbreads, smoothies, acai bowls and overnight oats along with a large espresso and tea menu. The modern, European-inspired interior design provides a comfortable environment for customers to enjoy their meals, study, or socialize throughout the day and night. 7am-1am daily. 616 W Fulton St.

Adobe In & Out

One of the area’s first Mexican restaurants, opened in 1969, the Adobe continues to thrill fans with its affordably priced wet & dry burritos, tacos, tostados, enchiladas and more. Be sure to try the homemade tortilla chips and dips. Dining room is open 10:30-8pm Mon-Sat; drive-thru is open until 10pm Mon-Sat. 617 W Fulton St.

Vito’s Pizza

Immortalized in the 2010 movie “30 Minutes or Less,” filmed right here with Jesse Eisenberg and Nick Swardson, Vito’s Pizza has been serving Grand Rapids since 1979. Its countless pizza possibilities, two dozen oven-baked sub sandwich options, pasta dishes and more are affordably priced and available for dine-in, carryout or delivery. If you get a hankering for a late-night pizza, Vito’s is your place: it’s open 10am-3am Mon-Thu, 10am-4am Fri, 11am-4am Saturday and noon-3am Sun. 658 W. Fulton.

Bitter End Coffeehouse

The Bitter End Coffeehouse is reminiscent of 1920s-era European coffeehouses: warm, cozy, comfortable and unhurried.  Since 2000, the Bitter End has been roasting high, shade-grown, single-origin beans in small, carefully controlled batches to ensure the freshest, finest espressos, lattes and frozen coffee drinks. Teas, smoothies and a variety of cool drink specialties are also on the menu along with a selection of fresh bagels, baked goods and corn dogs. Open 24 hours a day. 752 W Fulton St.

Fulton Street Pub & Grill

This casual, come-as-you-are bar & restaurant offers daily food and drink specials, a large selection of craft beers and nightly entertainment including karaoke on Thu, Fri and Sat. Opened in 1964, the Fulton Street Pub & Grill continues to reign as one of the West Side’s favorite food and drink destinations. 3pm-midnight Tue-Thu, 3pm-2am Fri-Sat and 3pm-midnight Sun. 801 W Fulton St.

Spad’s Twisters

The only Grand Rapids location of this Michigan-owned ice cream chain serves a broad assortment of soft-serve ice cream cones, sundaes, shakes, smoothies, flurries and more. Spad’s Twisters is open seasonally from 2-9pm Mon-Fri, 3-10pm Sat and 2-10pm. 956 W Fulton St.

La Fonda Supermercado y Antojitos Mexicanos

This unassuming grocery store and taquiera offers some of the best Mexican food in Grand Rapids according to its devoted fans. La Fonda serves up authentic and affordable tacos, quesadillas, chimichangas, empanadas, enchiladas, sopas, garnachas, huaraches, tortas, tostados and more, including daily specials. There’s a kid’s menu, too. 9am-9pm daily. 1000 W Fulton St.

Joey’s Tavern

Joey’s Tavern bills itself as a “second home to anyone and everyone in search of a good time and a strong drink.” Small and intimate, it’s a great place to meet up with old friends and make new ones. The food menu emphasizes standard bar fare but there’s nothing standard about the taste – everything is satisfyingly delicious. Joey’s features TVs tuned to sports games and a popular outdoor patio. 11am-1am Sun-Wed and 11am-1:30am Thu-Sat. 1125 W Fulton St.

Putt Putt’s Bar

The food menu at this neighborhood bar includes a few nods to the West Side’s Polish heritage, including a Kielbasa Plate and a Pulaski Burger and Pulaski Dog topped with kapusta, a Polish cabbage creation. Additional burgers, hot dogs, soups and “all-day fried foods” comprise the bulk of the menu, and you can get just about any drink you can imagine. Putt Putt’s Bar has an outside patio and often offers live music and trivia. 11am-midnight Mon-Thu, 11am-2am Fri-Sat and noon-midnight Sun. 1148 W Fulton St. 

Mercadito Mexican Eats & Treats

Mercadito is a casual restaurant serving fun and creative snacks and desserts inspired by Mexican street food. Enjoy tamales, tacos, tortas, flautas, burritos, mini pancakes, conchitas, yogurt con fruta, ice cream and more for dine-in or carryout. 11am-8pm Sun-Thu and 11am-9pm Fri-Sat. 1202 W Fulton St.

Rise Authentic Baking Co.

Rise Authentic Baking Co. is an entirely gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free bakery, free from all artificial flavors and colors. The regular menu includes a few toasts, sandwiches and “breakfast-ish” items, and there are new cupcakes, brownies, donuts and other sweets introduced all the time. (Follow Rise on Instagram or Facebook for “flavors of the day.) Rise partners with local coffee roaster Squibb Coffee to provide fresh coffee, tea and espresso beverages. 7am-5pm Mon-Fri and 8am-4pm Sat-Sun. 1220 W. Fulton St.

West Fulton Outdoor Refreshment Area

The 1100 block of W. Fulton St, from Marion Ave to Garfield Ave, is an Outdoor Refreshment Area. Visitors can buy alcohol in specially labelled cups from Joey’s Tavern and Putt Putt’s Bar to drink anywhere within the commons area, which includes the sidewalks along Fulton Street.

This stretch of Fulton St also includes Little Caesars Pizza, Subway and McDonald’s locations.


Music & More

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Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill

Less than a half mile south of Fulton St, the Tip Top features local, regional and national performers in concert at least three times a week. Enjoy delicious burgers before performances. Head due south from Fulton on Straight Ave SW to 760 Butterworth St. SW.

Fulton St. Pub & Grill and Putt Putt’s Bar also offer occasional live music performances.

FlannelJax’s Axe Throwing

Unleash your inner lumberjack at FlannelJax’s, just two-tenths of a mile off Fulton St. You can play seven different axe throwing games, try your hand at crosscut sawing and use a hatchet to drive a nail into a stump (Thump the Stump). Enjoy a selection of canned beer, cider and hard seltzer during your adventure. 11am-10pm Wed, 11am-11pm Thu-Sat and 11am-8pm Sun. Head due north from Fulton on Seward Ave NW to 601 Lake Michigan Dr NW.

Outdoor Adventure

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Millennium Park
Millennium Park

Millennium Park offeres beaches, boating, and splashpads.

Photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR

Kent Trails

Just across the street from the southwest end of John Ball Park is an entrance to Kent Trails, a 15-mile paved trail following abandoned railroad lines, surface streets and easements through Grand Rapids and four suburban communities. You can follow it all the way from John Ball Park to Byron Center. The trail is predominantly level, with no sharp turns, so it’s a great place to build up roller blading and cross-country skiing skills. Kent Trails is also accessible to people with disabilities.

Millennium Park

Enter Kent Trails across from John Ball Zoo and veer right to enter Millennium Park, one of the nation’s largest urban greenspaces. Its 1,400 acres encompass nearly 18 miles of trails, a six-acre sandy beach, swimming and boating lakes, and one of America’s Top 10 Splashpads. The beach, lakes and playground are about two miles from the Kent Trails entrance. Alternatively, you can drive to Millennium from John Ball Par: go west on Butterworth St. SW to Maynard Ave. SW, and then south to the park’s main entrance.

Frank’s Market

Serving West Michigan since 1933, family-owned Frank’s Market carries a variety of homemade sausages, custom-cut premium meats, deli items, imported products and groceries – including Polish kielbasa and German wieners. 8am-6pm Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm Saturday and 9am-2pm Sunday. 1021 Fulton St. W.

Great Lakes Ace Hardware

Just a few doors down from Frank’s Market, Great Lakes Ace Hardware is filled to the brim with household tools, garden supplies, home décor and  just about anything you need for your DIY project. 8am-8pm Monday-Saturday and 9am-6pm Sunday.1205 Fulton St. W.

Ball Park Floral & Gifts

In business since 1904, Ball Park Floral & Gifts offers a curated selection of handmade jewelry, candles, scarves, purses, bath & body products, wind chimes, artistic home accessories and garden accents in addition to creating breathtaking floral arrangements for any occasion. 9am-5:30pm Monday-Friday and 9am-2pm Saturday. 8 Valley Ave. NW (right next door to Great Lakes Ace Hardware).

2024 Grand Rapids Lantern Festival at John Ball Zoo

Beautiful lanterns light up the night at John Ball Zoo.

Photo by Bryan Esler for Experience GR


Each May, John Ball Park hosts a weekend of carnival rides and attractions, games and food for WestFest. It’s fun for the whole family!

Pulaski Days

Founded in 1973 to share Polish culture with the entire Grand Rapids community, Pulaski Days invites visitors to experience authentic food and entertainment in the West Side’s Polish social clubs for one weekend each October (Oct 4-6 in 2024). Polish Falcons, at 957 W Fulton St, is one of those clubs.

John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo hosts a series of special events throughout its season, including themed animal and conservation days for kids, and Rock, Roar + Pour nights for adults. The Zoo also stages one or two special exhibits each year – such 2024’s Grand Rapids Lantern Festival (April 10-June 16) and Dino Adventures (July 15-Nov 10).