"The West Side is the best side," according to residents and business owners of this venerable neighborhood, which was first connected to downtown Grand Rapids via footbridge in 1842. German, Polish, and Irish immigrants soon populated the area, establishing distinct business districts amidst tree-lined residential streets. Today, a growing Latino population adds to the area’s diversity.

Two West Side business corridors – Bridge Street and Leonard Street – have experienced unprecedented investment in the past few years. Each is home to an expanding network of shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, breweries and other craft beverage providers. Go West!

Where to Eat in the West Side

Take your pick of American, Asian, Hispanic, Italian, Polish or Scandinavian cuisine. Quench your thirst at a brewery, cidery, distillery or coffee shop. Indulge your sweet tooth at a bakery or ice cream parlor. The West Side has something for every taste!

Where to Shop in the West Side

Start your shopping at Bridge Street Market – the first urban supermarket from locally headquartered grocery industry titan Meijer. Then explore specialty shops for everything from bikes and bouquets to hardware and kielbasa.

What to Do on the West Side

Hit the links – The Mines Golf Club is an 18-hole course right around the corner from John Ball Zoo. Built atop old gypsum mines, the rolling terrain makes it a joy (and challenge) to play.

Hike, bike or blade Kent Trails, a 15-mile paved path that follows abandoned railroad lines through wetlands, forests, meadows and city neighborhoods. There’s a trailhead just across from John Ball Zoo.

Wander the Bridge Street Social Zone & Refreshment Area – it’s lined with restaurants offering outdoor seating in every season. Purchase an alcoholic beverage from a participating business and you can enjoy it as you stroll down the street.

Start earning your FREE Beer City Brewsader® t-shirt – visit DeHop’s Brewing Company and Café, Harmony Hall, Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery, The Mitten Brewing Company and New Holland Brewing – The Knickerbocker. Then you only need to hit three more local breweries to become a Brewsader!

Go bowling – Clique Lanes and Wenger’s Bowl have hosted generations of West Side families, and they’re still going strong. 

Go up the Fulton Street hill past John Ball Zoo to explore the “new” West Side – you’ll find housing of more recent vintage, popular restaurants like Mr. Burger and West Side Social, and Siciliano’s Market, once named America’s best beer store. A bit farther down the road, you’ll encounter Standale, a bustling business district that includes such homegrown restaurants as DeHop’s Brewing Company and Café, the Peppermill Grill and Stan Diego Baja Taco Kitchen. You can continue to follow the road through the town of Allendale (home of Grand Valley State University) and all the way to the lakeshore community of Grand Haven.

What to See on the West Side

See nearly 2,000 animals at John Ball Zoo, one of the nation’s oldest surviving urban zoos and Michigan’s fourth most visited cultural attraction.

See a concert at The Iron Well, River City Saloon, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill or Turnstiles, each featuring a diverse range of local, regional and national musicians.

See four majestic Catholic churches erected by the area’s early immigrants. The Germans built St. Mary’s, the Irish built St. James, and the Polish built Sacred Heart and the Basilica of St. Adalbert.

Local West Side Favorites

Westsiders are justly proud of the revitalization of Bridge Street and the first-rate food & drink destinations that line the walkable corridor – including Ando Sushi + Bar, Butcher’s Union, Condado Tacos, Fratelli’s Kitchen & Bar, Harmony Hall, Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery, Morning Belle West Side, New Holland – The Knickerbocker, One Bourbon, O’Toole’s Public House and The Sovengard. They’re all within 3/10ths of a mile of each other.

Westsiders love their coffee – and they’ve got plenty of local coffee shops to perk them up, including The Bitter End Coffee House, Morning Ritual, Rise + Squibb, Roots Brew Shop and Tillie Ruth’s Coffee at Bridge Street Market.

Frank’s Market, Lewandowski’s Market and Leyen & Son Meats have been serving the West Side for many decades. Frank’s and Lewandowski’s offer many German and Polish favorites.

The Mitten Brewing Co., Long Road Distillers and The People’s Cider Co. serve up a fantastic lineup of locally crafted beverages – and they’re located right next door to each other on Leonard Street.

West Side Hidden Gems

Muse GR is an interactive art gallery offering events, classes and workshops.

Bakery Margo offers a delectable selection of authentic Central American goodies, including conchas, cortadas, cubilets, gusanos and more.

Blue Dog Tavern, The Holiday Bar, Monarchs’ Club, Morning Ritual Coffee and Salvatore’s Italian Restaurant & Pizza form a mini Restaurant Row on a two-block stretch of Stocking Avenue.

Dodds Record Shop is the place to shop for old vinyl records, 45s, CDs and cassettes.

Richmond Park is where locals go swim in the summer, sled in the winter and mountain bike all year long.