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Grand Rapids Social Zones

Outdoor Dining, Shopping, Fitness & Fun

Grand Rapids is going all out to support local businesses and help visitors maintain social distance. Social zones allow restaurants, breweries and other businesses to serve customers in outdoor public spaces – streets, sidewalks, parks and parking lots that have been transformed into open-air marketplaces.

Spring brings warmer weather, but there can still be chilly days. Heating equipment, tents, canopies and other temporary structures offer refuge from the elements when you need it – but there’s also plenty of open-air seating to let you soak up the sun when you’re dining, drinking and relaxing!

Prioritizing Health of Businesses & Customers

With COVID-19 restrictions limiting the number of people who can gather inside a business, social zones expand the space available for visitors to dine and drink. More space makes it easier to maintain the six-foot distance health authorities recommend to combat the spread of the virus. Plus, there’s a general consensus the virus doesn’t transmit as easily outdoors, and zones will be equipped with hand sanitizer stations to help reduce the risk of surface transmission. Visitors are still required to wear masks when not eating or drinking!

What to Expect

Each zone is different because the businesses surrounding it are different. All zones include tables and chairs – spaced at least six feet apart – where patrons can eat takeout meals and drink alcohol in sealed containers purchased from nearby restaurants. Some restaurants and pubs are adding heating devices and structures to these public areas while others are winterizing their own patios and decks.

Downtown Social Zones

More than 170 restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, retail stores and service establishments are eligible to participate in four downtown zones. Click here for a map of the zones. Three Refreshment Areas within these zones allow patrons to purchase and carry alcoholic beverages within designated boundaries.

Monroe North

This area is home to 20 or so bars, restaurants, coffee shops, retail stores and service establishments­, in a riverside setting with park spaces and the 550 Monroe outdoor skate park.

Bridge Street 

Just across the river from downtown, this vibrant entertainment district hosts 20-some food, drink and retail destinations – including the newly opened Arktos Meadery and Condado Tacos.

Center City 

Encompassing the heart of downtown, this zone offers nearly 100 places to dine, drink and shop as well as abundant outdoor art, fascinating museums and a beautiful riverfront park.

Heartside/Ionia Ave 

Downtown’s funkier, more eclectic side boasts 50+ foodservice, retail and service businesses – like Downtown Market, a local foods emporium housing 20+ restaurants and gourmet food vendors.

Outdoor Dining

Many restaurants, breweries, cideries, distilleries and coffee shops beyond our Social Zones have enhanced their outdoor spaces in response to COVID-19. Click here for a list of notable fresh-air food and drink destinations – in downtown and beyond!

Social Zones Outside Downtown

  •  Uptown, a walkable shopping-and-dining district east of downtown, has added several Social Zones with seating available to any and all guests and businesses.
  • Rockford, 15 minutes from GR, has established Outdoor Refreshment Areas in its charming downtown area, providing space for diners and allowing visitors to purchase an alcoholic beverage from participating establishments and carry it through the Area.
  • Cedar Springs, about 20 minutes north of GR, has set up a Social District allowing visitors to purchase alcoholic beverages from participating businesses and carry them to Cedar Springs Park on Wednesdays from 7pm-9pm in June, July and August. Visitors can consume the beverages while listening to live music in the park.
  • Lowell, 20 minutes east of GR, has opened the Showboat City Social District in its historic downtown, where guests and order and enjoy al fresco food and beverages from six restaurants and breweries.
  • A 12-block Social District in downtown Muskegon, 40 minutes from Grand Rapids, permits patrons to purchase alcoholic beverages and stroll around the district
  • Saugatuck, about 40 minutes southwest of GR, lets you purchase alcoholic beverages from participating bars and restaurants and enjoy them throughout their outdoor Social District.

Refreshment Areas

Did you know you can enjoy an adult beverage while strolling around downtown? “Refreshment Areas” in select Social Zones allow guests to carry an open alcoholic beverage outdoors. The drinks must be in designated containers only available from participating businesses, and patrons must stay within the boundaries of each Refreshment Area. (You cannot travel between areas.) Refreshment Areas operate Sunday-Thursday from 7am-10pm and Friday-Saturday from 7am-midnight. Check out the Downtown, Bridge Street and Monroe North Refreshment Areas.

Refreshment Areas FAQs

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 my drink from the Bridge Street Refreshment Area over to the Downtown Refreshment Area or the Monroe North Refreshment Area, and vice versa?

No. Patrons cannot carry drinks between the three designated Refreshment Areas. Drinks must be consumed and disposed of within the Refreshment Area in which they were purchased.

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?

There are many places where you can stop and purchase a drink to go. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) has a complete list on their website. Check back often as many establishments are currently moving through the permit process and will be ready to serve you soon!

Parking and Transportation

Some street and lot parking has been eliminated to make room for seating and other amenities. Traffic routes have also been shifted in some zones. Visit the Grand Rapids City website to find the nearest available parking to each zone. You can use the free DASH bus service to travel within and between downtown social zones, which are adjacent to each other.

Pets Welcome

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.

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