When Grand Rapids was named America’s Jolliest City, it was with good reason. Generous residents and plentiful jobs coupled with lots of holiday events, tree farms, and craft beer make for a jolly city indeed. 

It’s also gorgeous during this season. Dressed up with beautifully decorated storefronts and thousands of twinkling lights that adorn buildings and trees throughout the city, Grand Rapids truly becomes a winter wonderland.

The city center is especially beautiful at night, when you get the full impact of all of the lights. There are many ways to explore all of the downtown holiday decor, and any of these stops are great on their own if the long walk isn’t an option. 

If you want to see as many holiday lights as possible, here’s one suggested route to help you hit the highlights.

Ellis Parking ramp illuminated with holiday lights.
Holiday lights on an Ellis Parking ramp that read "Merry Christmas" and show ice skaters and Santa's sleigh.

Ellis Parking Ramp is decorated with a waving Santa, ice skaters, and Santa's sleigh.

Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Ellis Parking Lot: Start here 

Park in or near the Ellis Parking lot at the Monroe Street/Lyon Street intersection. The waving Santa on the Ellis Parking Ramp building and lighted trees in the parking lot will start your evening off with a smile. (The Pearl Street side of the building is also decorated with lights and sparkling ice skaters.)

DeVos Place Convention Center

As you stand at the corner of Lyon and Monroe, glance to your right (or take a short walk north on Monroe) to see the front of the DeVos Place Convention Center, bright and twinkling with hundreds of white lights.

Fence decorated with bows and garland for the holidays.

Downtown is aglow with the lights and cheer of the holidays.

Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Bull’s Head Tavern

Head south on Monroe. On your left, you’ll see the pretty trees and lights in front of the Bull’s Head Tavern.

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Pantlind entrance 

Across the street, on your right, the front of the Amway Grand Plaza is elegantly outfitted. The decorated balcony of the IDC speakeasy-themed bar on the second floor is especially pretty, with the glow of the outdoor firepit in the background.

Monroe Center Holiday Lights

With lit tress on both sides of the road, Monroe Center is dazzling.

Photo Credit: Melody VanderWeide

Monroe Center 

At the light, cross Pearl Street to get to the diagonal Monroe Center Street NW, where you’ll find more than 50 trees and lampposts glimmering with hundreds of miniature white lights. The scene creates a wonderful small-town feel in the middle of the city.

Rosa Parks Circle and Christmas tree at dusk.
The heart of the Ecliptic becomes an ice skating rink in the wintertime.

Stop to ice skate and see the 41-foot-tall Christmas tree at Rosa Parks Circle

Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Rosa Parks Circle

Spend some time gazing at the magnificent 41-foot-tall tree, glimmering with 40,000 multicolored lights, that sits between the Grand Rapids Art Museum and Rosa Parks Circle – it’s a great photo op!

Then take a minute to revel, or join, in the fun of the ice skaters, making merry in the cold. If you need to warm up, you’ll find Madcap Coffee just down the block, as well as Biggby Coffee and Kilwin’s

Holiday decorations outside Leo's in downtown Grand Rapids.

You'll find multiple decorated Christmas tress inside and outside Leo's.

Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Leo’s Seafood Restaurant & Bar

Continue down Monroe Center Street towards Ottawa Avenue. The trees that line the street are aglow with tiny white lights, making the walk especially bright. Turn right (southwest) on Ottawa Avenue and walk a block to Leo’s, on the corner of Louis Street and Ottawa Avenue. Stop in to warm up and check out the beautifully decorated trees, especially the large one in the lobby.

Giant bow across the front of Van Andel Arena.

Its red bow makes Van Andel Arena look like a giant present during the holiday season.

Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Van Andel Arena

Continue on Ottawa Avenue towards Fulton Street to see Van Andel Arena, all dressed up for the holidays with a huge, lighted bow across the entire front of the building.

Plaza Tower Apartments

Turn right on Fulton and walk one block west to the corner of Fulton and Monroe. There, you’ll see the twinkling lights on the Plaza Tower apartments’ trees. As you stroll northeast up Monroe, don’t miss the pretty white lines outlining the top of the new AC Hotel (on your right).

Holiday lights on Amway skywalk in downtown Grand Rapids

Each holiday season, Amway's skywalk is covered in blue lights.

Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, skywalk 

As you continue north on Monroe, look left at the Pearl St. intersection and you’ll see the Amway Grand Plaza’s skywalk, wearing its beautiful winter coat of shiny blue lights.

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, south entrance

Walk west (left) on Pearl and to see the Amway Grand Plaza’s south entrance draped with hundreds of lights in a display that will make your heart smile.

Head inside the Amway Grand Plaza and take in the exquisite decorations and towering Christmas tree in the lobby. Then put your feet up in the Lumber Baron Bar and raise a toast to the wonder and merriment of downtown Grand Rapids during the holidays.

Amway Grand Plaza lobby with a large decorated Christmas tree.
Garland with lights in it at the Amway Grand Plaza hotel.

Inside the Amway Grand Plaza's lobby, you'll find more holiday decor and a magnificent Christmas tree.

Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel Lobby

Cross through the hotel, making your way to the entrance of the Amway Grand Plaza. Inside the lobby, you’ll find the exquisite decorations and towering Christmas tree. 

If you have the code (hint: check their website and join the mailing list!), head upstairs to grab a drink at IDC. The view from their heated balcony, which you saw near the beginning of your walk, is exceptionally merry! 

Turn left out of the Amway’s lobby entrance, head north on Monroe, and then right onto Lyon St, and you’ll end up back at the parking lot on Lyon Street, noticeably cheerier than before!

We’d love to know: What’s your favorite decorated area of Grand Rapids during the holidays? Leave us a note in the comments.

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