Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids another one of those hidden-gem city within Michigan. All three of us grew up having our own Grand Rapids experiences. Since then, the area has completely transformed, so it was a ton of fun to explore the newly developed areas as well as the favorites from our previous trips. We know you’ll love them as much as we did!
M | K | N
9:00 AM | Wake up! You’ve made it to your Grand Rapids destination and had a night well slept at The Amway Grand Hotel. It is the most perfect location you could ask for when staying in downtown GR. With a lobby that makes you feel like a royalty, you know from your first steps that this hotel stay is above the norm.
187 Monroe Ave. NW
9:30 AM | Squibb coffee shop has been in Grand Rapids for a few years, their newest addition is on Fulton, connected to Rise Bakery’s first brick and mortar location. Rise offers all gluten free/vegan baked goods, but let us tell you right now you won’t taste a difference from the real things. With homemade pop-tarts, donuts, cakes and strudels, these dietary friendly treats will serve your sweet tooth just right. We started our morning with an oat milk latte and coconut curry donut and had a smile on our faces the rest of the day.
11:00 AM | We could have spent an entire day exploring the Frederik Meijer Gardens & sculpture park’s indoor and outdoor gardens. There is way more to see than just butterflies (although they are beautiful!). There are tons of other spaces, too, like the caterpillar room, an 1880’s Farmhouse and even a kid-sense garden. Not into the living animals? There’s even something for your inner art-lover or plant enthusiast! Pro Tip: They recommend that the 158-acre main campus may take from 2-8 hours to walk through, depending on what you choose to see, so plan accordingly (and get there early!).
1000 East Beltline Avenue NE
1:30 PM | For some reason, Sovengard reminded us of one of our favorite restaurants in Detroit. We felt right at home walking into this minimally designed interior filled with color and natural light. The restaurant started just offering service on the lower level (which is still open for seating), then expanded to the first floor and a backyard beer garden (open may-october). Pro Tip: The menu changes seasonally, so we’re beyond thankful the fried mushrooms were on while we were in town. If you’re lucky enough to visit while they’re listed, definitely don’t skip out!
443 Bridge Street
3:00 PM | The mission of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, or GRAM, is to “connect people through art, creativity and design”. Founded over 100 years ago, the GRAM is the world’s first LEED Gold certified art museum. The Museum’s drop-in programs, workshops, and courses in GRAM Studio celebrate multiple perspectives, allowing learners of all ages to engage with original works of art and participate in creative, hands-on learning experiences. Choose from a self-guided experience or a guided tour that can be adjusted for any age level. Pro Tip: Add optional activities to your tour such as art-making workshops and a space to eat lunch, based on availability.
101 Monroe Center St NW
5:00 PM | Housed in an old church, Brewery Vivant traded out the holy water for beer. We walked into the mysterious dark yet still well-light beer hall with communal seating and filled with smiling faces and ordered a flight to try as many flavors as we could without looking like alcoholics. The affixed beer garden is always poppin’, too. Pro tip: This place is family friendly and has a great food menu, too!
925 Cherry Street
7:00 PM | Marcona on Lyon may be the new kid on the block, but chef Matt is no beginner in the kitchen. He’s been a private chef and worked in various restaurants, but this is the first of his own. Marcona on Lyon features modern Mediterranean cuisine, incorporating flavor profiles from countries surrounding the Mediterranean. Although the meat and fish skewers are the highlight of the menu, there are tons of vegan and vegetarian friendly options as well. Pro Tip: We can’t promise the items will be the same as when we visited, as chef Matt explained that he’s already changed it up 6 times within the 6 months they’ve been in business! But, if the artichoke hearts are being offered, do your entire table a favor and put in a few orders to share.
623 Lyon St. NE
9:00 PM | Buffalo Traders Lounge has been a cocktail destination for 2 years in GR and has been a community staple since. With a casual art-deco inspired atmosphere that welcomes all, the drinks reflect the bar’s eclectic personality. From the “classic” cocktail list, we absolutely loved the clover club and aviation drinks; and from the “house” list the pirate king was a definite winner. If you’re not one for the shaken or stirred, they have a full list of house beer and wine to quench any thirst. Pro Tip: Don’t feel like doing any heavy lifting? Order the Dealer’s Choice and let the bartender work their magic for you.
10:00 AM | Ask anyone around town where you absolutely have to eat while you’re here and you can bet they will list San Chez Bistro as a must-go. For over 26 years this family owned restaurant has fed the hearts and stomachs of those that came through the door. Known for their tapas, San Chez offers a brunch menu that features items like breakfast empanadas and fruit filled French toast served inside of a skillet, there’s something for even the pickiest palate. Make sure to hit up the Bloody Mary bar on the weekend during brunch and definitely do not skip out on the coffee options- we tried a coconut oil latte that may have actually touched our souls. Pro Tip: this place gets PACKED, so make sure to check yelp to find out how long the wait is and even put your name in for a shorter wait time!
38 West Fulton
12:00 PM | AK Rikks is located a little bit outside of downtown GR, but definitely worth the drive. What’s waiting for you as you approach this extremely unique standalone building are endless options of clothing and accessories in a store that could keep you entertained for hours. With countless designer brands that are displayed to perfection, AK Rikks is not only a GR staple, but one that people travel from other states just to visit! Pro Tip: They’ll do guided tours of the space with the president, Jim, so try calling before you go to see if he’s around! There are some really interesting facts about how and why they built it the way they did.
6303 28th Street SE
2:00 PM | The Counting House has everything you didn’t know you needed. With all sorts of clothing, accessories and home goods, you could literally spend hours exploring all of the various goodies lined along the walls. We fell in love the old bank vault turned retail store vibe and can’t WAIT for the lower level venue space the owner has been working on. We toured it for a little preview, and are so excited for the workshops and dinner parties that she plans to hold. Head across the street to Lee & Birch for some more fun & girly offerings! There are tons of cute shops on this block, so spend some time strolling around.
758 Wealthy St
3:30 PM | If your group is down for a little ride to the suburbs of GR, take a trip to Underground Cookie Club and you won’t be disappointed. Deemed the “Frozen Dessert Sanctuary”, they offer beautifully crafted home-made artisan ice cream sandwiches and a small selection of scooped Italian ice. The colorful sandwiches are seriously jaw-dropping and are sure to please your whole crew.
5422 Division Ave. Kentwood
4:30 PM | Head back to the Amway Grand to drop off your goodies and freshen up for the night!
6:00 PM | The bar at Zoko 822 offers over 75 gin selections, enough to even make us ponder which will be our drink of choice! We let the bartender get creative and we’re blown away with the selections brought to us. The house “gin and tonic” is much more than meets the eye with a unique rosemary infusion. Pro Tip: every Monday they feature a gin of their choice where you can try discounted tastes and cocktails with the gin of the week!
822 Ottawa Avenue Northwest
7:30 PM | New Hotel Mertens’ Brasserie has been around for a while. It’s one of those places you walk into and are instantly transported to another country. We sat in a tiny booth next to this beautiful glass wall and felt like we were in an tabled alcove in France or Italy. It definitely helps that each dish is crafted to perfection as the smiling staff carries it your way. We may have gone a bit overboard with our ordering, but who can blame us!? The seafood tower is an absolute must. We’re not saying it was the best French onion soup we’ve ever tasted, but it was the best French onion soup we’ve tasted. Pro Tip: “Haute” the posh themed, ultra intimate rooftop bar is open seasonally, so ask your server about grabbing a drink and soaking in the city views before your dinner. Also, the first floor bakery is now open! So make sure to grab some pastries and an after-dinner coffee to-go.
35 OAKES ST. SW
10 PM | If you have some extra energy and want a night-cap, head across the street to SideBar, a local speakeasy that will give you all the cozy Gatsby vibes.
80 OTTAWA AVE NW
8:00 AM | We’ve been fans of Madcap for years, and now we have them at our fingertips downtown Detroit! We can never get enough of their brew, so we had to make a morning pit stop to grab a couple lattes.
1041 Fulton St. E
Thank you to the teams of: Zoko 822, Underground Cookie Club, Buffalo Traders, Squibb, San Chez Bistro, New Hotel Mertens, Sovengard, Brewery Vivant, Marcona on Lyon, The Counting House and AK Rikks for hosting us these past 48 hours.
on to the next city!