Enjoy a beer or cocktail as you stroll around Grand Rapids in the city’s Refreshment Areas (aka Social Districts) in Grand Rapids. There are nine districts in all, more than any other city in Michigan. Each district is located in a walkable neighborhood where multiple businesses offer unique food, beverage and social experiences, and shared seating areas for relaxing and socializing.
Just purchase your beverage from a participating business, and stay within the clearly designated areas as you roam. It’s a great way to see the sights and soak up some Vitamin D while you sample the luscious libations of America’s Craft Beverage Capital.
The refreshment area in Grand Rapids is a great place to meet up with friends!
Photo by Experience Grand Rapids
The Downtown Refreshment Area encompasses nearly three square miles of the city center (see map). Purchase a beverage in a specially marked container from a participating vendor and you can carry the drink with you most anywhere you go downtown – even across the Grand River to the Bridge St. Entertainment District. More than 50 downtown restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues are offering beverages to enjoy on the go.
Many of these businesses – and scores more throughout the city – add to the vibrant social atmosphere by delivering full-fledged outdoor dining experiences, in all four seasons. Explore a list of fresh-air food and drink destinations in downtown and beyond.
What types of alcohol beverage can I purchase to carry around the designated Refreshment Areas?
Beer, wine, and liquor are all allowable drinks when served in a designated container. Drinks must be purchased inside a participating business.
Can I walk anywhere with my drink?
No. Patrons must stay within the designated Refreshment Area boundaries. Leaving a Refreshment Area with an alcoholic beverage violates State and local law.
Can I take Refreshments between Refreshment Areas?
When you purchase a beverage in a specially marked container from a participating vendor, you can carry the drink with you most anywhere you go downtown – even across the Grand River to the Bridge St. Entertainment District. If you're traveling outside of the Downtown Refreshment area, you’ll have to drive or take a bus to travel between separate Refreshment Areas, and open containers are not allowed in vehicles.
Can I take my Refreshment into other businesses?
No. Once a designated Refreshment has left the business where it was served, it must be consumed before you enter any other establishment.
Can I take an empty designated Refreshment container into a business so I can reuse it?
No, the only drinks allowed are those purchased from businesses participating in the Refreshment Area program. No cans, glass bottles, or outside drinks are permitted within the boundaries per State and local law.
What local businesses are participating in the Refreshment Areas?
More than 60 businesses have signed up for the program, and others can join at any time. Click here for a list of participating downtown businesses.
When are Refreshment Areas open?
From 7am-10pm Sunday-Thursday and 7am-midnight Friday & Saturday.
Other Grand Rapids Refreshment Areas cover smaller geographic areas with rich concentrations of hospitality businesses:
Some street and lot parking has been eliminated to make room for seating and other amenities. Traffic routes have also been shifted in some districts. Visit the Grand Rapids City website to find available downtown parking. You can use the free DASH bus service to travel within the Downtown Refreshment Area and the Rapid Bus System to travel to other Refreshment Areas. Beverages are not allowed on buses.
These are public spaces, so pets on leashes are allowed. Individual restaurants might not allow non-service animals in their outdoor dining spaces – please check first.
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 man, Walter. He’s the best boy and deserves a night out too. We have checked out many dog-friendly places around town, but most recently went in…