With COVID-19 putting a halt to many pride celebrations around the world, Grand Rapids included, you may be looking for creative ways to celebrate June as Pride Month. Grand Rapids is home to many locally owned and operated LGBTQ+ businesses, and many of them have had their doors closed for months due to the global pandemic. There is no greater time to support a local business than now, including the many LGBTQ+ options around town.  

Grand Rapids is becoming a destination to live and work for people of all ages and identities as more inclusive businesses open within walking distance of the urban core. You’ll notice many bars, restaurants, and businesses around town showing support by flying a pride flag in their storefronts during the month of June. It’s a welcome feeling of acceptance for the community here and visitors too. 

My partner and I call Grand Rapids home and enjoy visiting many of the local establishments listed here. And if you are like me and enjoy pairing your shopping and dining with art, I've added suggestions of some of the places I like to visit as a local, too.

You’ll find welcoming, inclusive destinations all across the city. Downtown is home to the Apartment Lounge, Michigan’s oldest gay bar. You can also check out the Uptown neighborhood for trendy shopping, the up-and-coming West Side which continues to grow, or Southtown for diverse dining options.

The following are just a few of the city’s LGBTQ+ owned and operated businesses that you should check out next time you're in town. Keep in mind that even though Covid-related limitations lift July 1, individual businesses may have their own protocols in place. It's always a good idea to check with a location before you go.

Side view of the exterior of Apartment Lounge at 33 Sheldon in Grand Rapids, MI
The Rainbow Road street mural on Sheldon Ave NE in Grand Rapids.

The Apartment Lounge is the oldest gay bar in Michigan. It's also right next to the mural Rainbow Road by Joey Salamon.

Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids


Drinks & Entertainment

The Apartment Lounge

As Michigan’s oldest gay bar, The Apartment Lounge serves up a chill vibe with rotating specials throughout the week. The bar currently has limited indoor capacity due to its small footprint but has an outdoor patio that is dog friendly that sits along Joey Salamon's street mural Rainbow Road and across from Veteran’s Memorial Park.  Inside you’ll find marble counter tops with beautiful inlaid wood craftmanship. Check out the Apartment’s Facebook page for hours of operation and patio availability.

Basalt

Basalt is a new lunch and brunch spot along Wealthy Street that delivers a blend of Texmex and Midwestern cuisine. A few of their menu items include a variety of tacos, quesadillas, bowls, tortas and more.  All accompanied with a house made limeade, Brix Soda or Sparrows Coffee.   

Basalt got its start serving breakfast tacos, tortas, and seasonal limeades at the Fulton Street Farmers Market, but most recently opened a brick-and-mortar shop in the Uptown neighborhood.  Food is currently available via pickup, curbside, or delivery, with future plans for indoor and outdoor seating. 

Hamburger Mary’s

Grand Rapids is one of the newest cities to have its own Hamburger Mary’s restaurant just a hop, skip and a jump from downtown. If you have never been, it’s an awesome option for groups, parties or just a fun night out with a few friends. 

Located on 28th St., it is just a quick drive from downtown, you’ll find food, fun and all sorts of events featuring some of the city’s hottest drag on tap almost every night of the week. Weekly events include Sunday brunch, Star Search on Tuesdays, Drag Bingo on Wednesdays and Dining with Divas on the weekends. Reservations for specific shows are highly recommended.    

Maggie's - Exterior

Maggie's is a neighborhood cocktail bar near the Medical Mile and has become a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Maggie’s Bar

Maggie’s, a neighborhood cocktail bar along Michigan Street just down the road from the Medical Mile, is another LGBTQ+ hotspot in Grand Rapids. You’ll find a mixed crowd of regulars young and old alike on weeknights, while weekends are really hopping. In addition to friendly staff and tasty drinks, Maggie’s boasts a full food menu that promises not to disappoint, many ingredients even locally sourced, including meat from Grand Butchers located next door. The bar rail offers plenty of comfy seating with multiple seating areas for larger groups, a dart board, jukebox, a covered patio overlooking Michigan Street, plenty of dedicated parking, and floor to ceiling windows that bring in plenty of sunshine.   

Maggie’s is owned by a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and while not officially categorized as a gay bar, it is a comfortable safe space for the community and allies.

Rumors Night Club

As the only gay nightclub in Grand Rapids to offer dancing, Rumors is a great stop to consider later in the evening. The bar offers a variety of entertainment including drag shows, karaoke, rotating DJs, and a dance floor that’s always kicking. Stay tuned on Rumors' social media for updates about when they'll be back open. 

Exterior of entrance to SteelCat Bar.

Steel Cat Bar is a comfortable safe space for the LGBTQ+ community and allies.

Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids


Steel Cat Bar

Steel Cat Bar is a newer addition to the Bridge Street corridor, conveniently located on the hustling and bustling West Side. Steel Cat has a unique ice-topped bar that keeps your drinks frosty cold. There are even toy dump trucks and front-end loaders on the ice rail if you feel the need to connect to your inner child. 

Steel Cat is owned by a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and while not officially categorized as a gay bar, it is a comfortable safe space for the community and allies.

Woosah's Erica Lang at work
Artisan Erica Lang of Woosah

The name of the store, "Woosah," is meant to bring a sense of inner peace, calmness, and stillness when said aloud. Owner and artisan Erica Lang finds Woosah in making her art and being immersed in nature.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Coffee, Shopping & Treats

The Cakabakery 

The Cakabakery offers creative and uniquely delicious baked goods for occasions ranging from weddings and large events to a single cupcake or cookie on the go.  Owner and chef Jason T. Kakabaker prides himself on using only fresh and local ingredients and offers an impressive selection of cookies, tarts, cupcakes, cakes, and more with options for vegan and gluten-free connoisseurs as well. 

The front of Fox Naturals' shop in Grand Rapids, which has a large design of a fox in the window.
A wall display of wares for sale at Fox Naturals in Grand Rapids

Fox Naturals aims to provide customers with healthy and affordable beauty products.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Fox Naturals 

Right across the street from Outside Coffee Co., Fox Naturals offers high quality, natural body care solutions available in Grand Rapids. The products not only smell wonderful but also let the natural properties of simple ingredients shine through. This locally-owned shop works to assist in transitioning out of big-box retailer products (full of harsh irritants, synthetic ingredients, and chemicals) and into a healthier, holistic alternative.

Fox Naturals is owned, operated, and created by Patrick Stoffel. He and his staff make the majority of the products themselves from a variety of natural products.

Lost and Found

A destination itself, Lost & Found will have you lost among antiques and other amazing finds from the past. This iconic antique store is located in the historic Sleigh Building just down the road from Founder’s Brewing Co. You will find an eclectic mix of vintage furniture, knickknacks, odd and ends and even some retro clothing. Every visit is different as items come and go by the week, month and season. Pro tip: make an afternoon out of it as Lost and Found is located between two other amazing antique shops – Century Antiques and Warehouse One Antiques and Collectables

Getting coffee at Outside Coffee Co

Outside Coffee Co.'s unique outdoor atmosphere accommodates for all seasons.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Outside Coffee Company 

This year-round outdoor coffee experience is one of a kind, offering a variety of specialty coffees day and night with unique seating options. Outside Coffee Company remains open in the winter with “igloos” called geo domes and heaters for guests to gather around.

Guests order beverages from a camper that is permanently on-site and can choose from many items on the menu that are vegan and gluten-free. The dog-friendly cafe is an extension of Woosah and is owned by Kelly McPhee. 

As we continue to look for things to do while keeping social distancing in mind, Outside Coffee Company is a great option with fresh open air and room to spread out.

Exterior front view of Rebel in Grand Rapids, MI
Pride Stickers for sale at Rebel in Grand Rapids, MI

Rebel is a great shop for unique, locally made gifts, greeting cards, jewelry, and much more.

Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids


Rebel

Rebel offers a variety of unique gifts, paper goods, plants, and home accessories that you will not likely find elsewhere. The collection of sassy gifts and cards, as well as other one-of-a-kind wares, are hand-selected by the owners and are exactly the gift you need for any occasion. Prepare to be blown away by the variety and attention to detail this shop offers.

Rebel is owned and operated by Dan Boyles and Chip Minor. You’ll see them staffing the store on most days, so be sure to say hi when you stop in. The couple also recently opened an additional location called Commune GR, so stop by if you’re looking for a unique treasure.

Spirit Dreams

Another unique spot to check out is Spirit Dreams, a staple of the Uptown neighborhood that has been in business for decades.  Spirit Dreams specializes in unique gifts, gemstones, jewelry, natural aromatherapy and body products, candles, books, music, cards, incense, art and more.  The store is open for in-person shopping, but products are also available for curbside pickup or can be bought online and shipped directly to your home.

Transfigure Printing Company

Transfigure Printing Company has been creating LGBTQ+ centered, screen printed apparel as a business since 2017, with roots going back to when founder Bailey Sell first pressed wood block carving to paper in 2016.  If your company needs t-shirts or any other screen printed apparel, give Transfigure Printing a call.  All of their screen printing is done by hand, in-house, by owner Baily Sell with impeccable detail that shines through in all of their work (check out some of their most recent prints). 

Windsor Cottage 

Windsor Cottage prides itself on its home furnishings, interior design, and, above all else, customer service. The store has been in business for more than 32 years and provides a variety of services at both its Cherry Street and Thornapple locations. Windsor Cottage is owned and operated by Rick Santamaria, a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Woosah 

An art and apparel brand inspired by nature that features the artwork of founder and owner, Erica Lang, Woosah is not to be missed. The designs and drive behind Woosah revolve largely around woodcuts and the outdoors. Each design and product is handcrafted in Grand Rapids with limited edition runs. All apparel at Woosah is unisex and is intended for anyone of any gender to wear and enjoy it.

Drag Brunch GR at The Commons

Tickets to drag shows are some of the hottest in town, so plan ahead.

Photo Credit: Eric Zuniga for Experience Grand Rapids


Drag Performance Companies 

Grand Rapids is home to a few locally owned drag performance companies such as Michigan Drag Brunch and Beauty Beyond Drag. These companies feature professional queens who werk the runway while providing an incredible experience. 

Michigan Drag Brunch

My partner Eric and I have gone to many of the Michigan Drag Brunch performances around town and are close friends with the owner Trevor Straub. His crew of brunchettes are top notch queens that will rock your socks off and make you laugh endlessly while sipping on champagne (or whatever your favorite brunch bevvy is). Their shows sell out quickly, so it's best to buy tickets as far in advance as possible. They visit a variety of different restaurants around town, so check out their schedule of upcoming shows sometime soon! 

Beauty Beyond Drag Productions

Beauty Beyond Drag is another local drag performance company that puts on a variety of different shows around town. During Pride Month they have a Drag Story Time, Drag Bingo and a gauntlet of other shows on the books. Their team likes to reinforce the fact that they are about an all-inclusive environment and like to focus on the beauty that is BEYOND the art of drag. Owners Bradley Haas and his mom, Sue, take their shows on the road quite frequently, and many sell out quickly as well. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming opportunities to see their crew in action!    .  

A Quick Trip

The Dunes Resort

The Dunes is a Midwest destination for the LGBTQ+ community and boasts a poolside bar, on-site accommodations for overnight stays, live music and DJs, drag shows, and more. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Grand Rapids and a short distance from downtown Saugatuck and Douglas. Both are extremely LGBTQ+ friendly towns with a variety of dining options, shops, and more.

The Dunes Resort originally opened under the ownership of Danny Esterline and Greg Tryzbinski who started visiting what was then called The Douglas Dunes. They met their now-business partner, Mike Jones, at the Dunes and quickly became friends. Danny, Greg, and Mike all operate the Dunes Resort in partnership now as one of the largest LGBTQ resorts and entertainment complexes in the Midwest.

Oval Beach

Grand Rapids is the perfect spot to stay if you’re also interested in exploring Lake Michigan – including Saugatuck/Douglas, home to one of America’s top LGBTQ+ resorts. My partner and I love taking a day trip to Saugatuck to check out the many shops and restaurants after a day on Oval Beach. It’s just under an hour drive from downtown Grand Rapids. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but rather a guide to a few of Grand Rapids’ prominent LGBTQ+ owned and operated businesses and cultural destinations. 

Did we miss something?

Let us know what your favorite LGBTQ+ travel destinations are in the region by leaving a comment. 

Updated June 14, 2021

Never miss a post!
Sign-up for the Insider Experience blog.