Grand Rapids, Michigan: Microbrews, Art and Nightlife
By Shannon Doe Ewing
I am continually delighted by the fantastic cities in the state of Michigan. This time, my summer road trip had Grand Rapids on the itinerary. I had never visited the area before, but the rumors of a hip, creative and cultured city made it a must-stop for me. As a lover of art, food, nature and nightlife, I found my visit to Grand Rapids to be an absolute delight.
The Historic Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
I decided to stay downtown so I could easily walk around and enjoy the sights. My hotel, the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, was a lovely historic, turn-of-the-century property with Old World charm and a friendly Midwestern feel. The hotel was rather romantic – in fact, I saw a beautiful wedding taking place on the property. With modern amenities and traditional décor, it offered the best of both worlds.
Downtown’s Famous Blue Bridge & Market
I started my morning with a walk downtown to the beautiful and historic Blue Bridge. The converted railroad truss bridge is a favourite for locals walking and jogging. It’s a great way to start off your morning with some coffee and a walk, taking in the beautiful views of Grand Rapids.
The fantastic Downtown Market, which has indoor and outdoor sections, was one of my favourite places to visit while in Grand Rapids. You can take a cooking or yoga class there or tour the beautiful greenhouse located on the second floor. With so many wonderful food vendors, it was a swirl of bright colours and delicious scents.
I grabbed lunch at Fish Lads, a seafood store with a lunch counter. I was impressed by their excellent raw bar, locally sourced fish from the Great Lakes and selection of seafood flown in daily. I had some of the most amazing Kusshi oysters and candied salmon that I have ever tasted. That is a big statement considering that I’m from British Columbia!
I also loved the Montello Meat Market, where they sold real Canadian bacon, not the strange faux ham that I see everywhere. Dessert at the Sweetie-licious Bake Shoppe is a real treat. Their motto is “Eat pie, love life,” so you can imagine the love that’s baked into their desserts.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
A visit to the lush and extensive Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is an absolute must. It’s a 132-acre property with so much to see. Dress comfortably and spend the morning or afternoon discovering modern art and such 19th-century masters as Rodin and Degas. There is an enormous sculpture of a stallion in motion that is a fantastic photo opportunity.
Ionia Street nightlife
A visit to downtown’s Ionia Street was a perfect way to end the day with some delicious local food, beer and music. There is lots of lighthearted energy on the street, with people going in and out of the many restaurants and pubs. I sampled some excellent local microbrews, which only reconfirmed that Michigan, and Grand Rapids in particular, has a competitive place in American local brewing.
Grand Rapids is a beautiful city with a creative, cultured and relaxed feel. Be sure to include it on the itinerary of your next Michigan vacation!
For more information, please visit us:
Official Grand Rapids Travel Information
When you goExploring Grand Rapids
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel amwaygrand.com Downtown Market downtownmarketgr.com Fish Lads fishlads.com Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park meijergardens.org Downtown Grand Rapids downtowngr.org Grand Rapids nightlife experiencegr.com/things-to-do/nightlifeFor more information