I don’t know about you, but I love nothing more than taking my dog out on a date. My partner, Eric, and I love to grab dinner or a drink on a patio that welcomes our best bud, Walter. He’s the best boy and deserves a night out occasionally too. 

We have checked out many dog-friendly places around town, but most recently went in search of a few bars and restaurants in downtown Grand Rapids that have patios and might welcome pups too.   

Lucky for us Grand Rapids has an outdoor refreshment area that spans the Downtown area and extends into other outlying hip neighborhoods, like the West Side and Monroe North. These spaces offer up outdoor seating where you can wander from one establishment to another with drink in hand. Many of these spots also have dog-friendly outdoor spaces.

Check out this downloadable map of the Downtown Refreshment Area.  

Outdoor Dining with the Whole Family and Friends

Everyone, but especially the pups, enjoyed the outdoor space along the Riverwalk in the Monroe North neighborhood.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

We know that the North Monroe neighborhood is home to City Built Brewing and heard that their outdoor space is welcoming to our K9 friends, so we stopped by to check it out.  We quickly learned that City Built is most definitely a hopping doggy destination (also very close to Fido & Stitch – a well-known groomer and shop for toys, treats and more). At one point we were outnumbered on the dog to human ratio while meandering along the sidewalk outside (hey, that’s pretty fun to be honest!). 

We were immediately greeted by friendly staff through a service window where beverages can be purchased in to-go cups. And they offered Walter a treat before even getting to our orders, which was really nice. 

We hung out on their picnic tables for a while and watched the sun start to set over the Grand River and historic Sixth Street Bridge across the street. We also met a few new friends while we were there who were also looking for dog-friendly destinations. 

Lauren Westerman who lives nearby had her 10-year-old pug Bruno in tow and the duo was out on a mission to find a seltzer and take a walk along the riverbank.

“I love these refreshment areas,” she said as she sipped her seltzer with a smile. “It has been great to meet new friends and explore the city.  Bruno loves the treats along the way, and I love being able to wander with a drink,” she added.   

Our friend Erica had her pup Dexter along for the adventure too.  So we all decided to take our drinks across the street to the Sixth Street Bridge Park and give the boys a quick walk along the river before heading to our next destination for dinner. 

Outdoor Dining with Dog in Downtown Grand Rapids, 2021

Uccello's made for an easy and delicious Downtown dinner stop for everyone in the fam.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

We finished up our drinks and packed up the pups for a quick ride to Monroe Center area. We had heard that Uccello’s Ristorante’s patio is dog friendly, and as a bonus their patio extends along the long brick road that is pleasantly positioned directly across from Rosa Parks Circle and the Grand Rapids Art Museum

The staff at Uccello’s ensured us their patio is dog friendly and greeted us with a fresh bowl of water for Walter and Dexter. Eric and I decided on cocktails and went straight for a couple of our favorite appetizers – pizza puffs and the spinach and artichoke dip. 

If you’re looking for authentic Italian food that is high quality and yet affordable, we always recommend Uccello’s.

We also split a specialty pizza with pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, and onions – something Uccello’s is well-known for. They have gluten-free and cauliflower crust options as well. Believe me, you’d never even know you are eating cauliflower. 

Walter was getting a little tired after all the attention he was getting from passerby’s and restaurantgoers, so we had to make it a night after packing up our leftovers.

Walking by Sixth Street Bridge with dogs.

Enjoying a craft beverage while strolling along with your pups is a pretty great way to spend an evening.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

One word of advice: If you’re looking for a night out with your pup, I highly recommend calling ahead as every restaurant has a slightly different policy on dogs in outdoor spaces.  And we also learned that some outdoor patios are not always open during business hours depending on weather, staffing, etc.  So when in doubt, make a quick call first.