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Grand Rapids Refreshment Areas

Grand Rapids is going all out to support local businesses and help visitors maintain social distance. Refreshment Areas allow visitors to carry and consume approved alcoholic beverages as they stroll through designated areas. You'll also find expanded outdoor seating for restaurants and public areas that allow you to stop for a bite or rest along the way. 

Downtown Refreshment Area

More than 170 restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, retail stores and service establishments are eligible to participate in the Downtown Refreshment Area, which allows patrons to purchase and carry alcoholic beverages in roughly a three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids. That means you can walk from one end of downtown to the other and see all the major sights, including the Grand River, Calder Plaza, historic buildings and numerous outdoor sculptures and murals. You can even walk from Downtown to the West Side’s Bridge Street Entertainment District, and vice versa.

Here are some more areas to explore in the Downtown Refreshment Area:

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 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!

Refreshment Areas FAQs

What types of alcohol beverage can I purchase to carry around the Downtown Refreshment Area?

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 Refreshment Area boundary. Leaving a Refreshment Area with an alcoholic beverage violates state and local law. Orange border signage on sidewalks and light posts will help keep you within bounds.

Can I take my refreshment from one Social Zone to another?

Yes, as long as you stay on the designated route between zones. For example, you can walk down Monroe Avenue to travel between the Monroe North and Center City zones.

Can I take my Refreshment into other businesses?

No. Once you leave a business with a designated refreshment, you must consume it 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 Downtown Refreshment Area?

There are at least 45 refreshment providers throughout the Area that will be selling designated containers.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! 

Refreshment Areas Outside Downtown

  • COMING SOON: Five additional Refreshment Areas encompassing 30+ city blocks and dozens of food service establishments: West Fulton, West Leonard, Stocking Avenue NW, Plainfield Avenue NE and Michigan Street NE. Here is a map of all the city’s Refreshment Areas.
  • Uptown, a walkable shopping-and-dining district east of downtown, has added several spaces 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

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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