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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.

With the advent of colder weather, the city has given businesses the go-ahead to install heating devices and wood fires as well as tents, canopies and other temporary structures — so you can stay warm and toasty while dining and drinking al fresco!

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. Below are examples of cold-weather interventions in each zone – check back for new additions as more businesses come on board. Keep in mind that you may have to reserve outdoor spaces, so always check business websites before you go.

Monroe North

Enjoy a tasty, organic breakfast and lunch in the private greenhouses at Field & Fire Café.

Bridge Street 

The outdoor space at New Holland Brewing – The Knickerbocker (currently closed) is equipped with fire pits. One Bourbon GR (currently closed) has transformed its patio space into a greenhouse.  
The Sovengard is transitioning its popular outdoor biergarten into a heated wintergarten.

Center City 

Margaux on the Dek at the JW Marriott Hotel will have six “igloos” in place beginning in December. House of Wine has built heated wooden enclosures for private dining. IDC (I Don’t Care) (currently closed) at the Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton hotel heats its outdoor rooftop lounge for year-round enjoyment.

Heartside/Ionia Ave 

Knoop, (currently closed) the rooftop beer garden atop the Canopy by Hilton hotel, is open year ‘round with heaters and fire pits. Luna GR has installed large heaters on its enclosed patio.

Refreshment Areas

Now you can enjoy an adult beverage while strolling around the city. “Refreshment Areas” in select Social Zones allow patrons of participating restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues 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 maps and details for 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.

Social Zones Outside Downtown

The city has also identified additional commercial districts in neighborhoods outside downtown for outdoor space activation. That means restaurants and other businesses in these districts can work with the city to create social zones or expand their space for the winter. We’ll post updates as soon as they become available.

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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