Picture this. You wake up at your hotel or campground in Grand Rapids. You feel super energized, your kids are going to be super well-behaved all day, and the weather looks like perfection. What do you do next? Here’s one example of a fun-packed day in GR, but be warned- dozens of variations are at your disposal.
Coffee: Sure, you can order a standard cup of coffee with breakfast. I contend, though, that the first caffeine bump of the day should showcase how roasty GR has become! A personal favorite is Rowster’s Coffee over on Wealthy Street, but check out this list for a compilation of five java joints in GR worth tasting.
Breakfast: If you go to Rowster’s for your morning cup, then you’re already in a hot breakfast zone in GR. Just up Wealthy is Wolfgang’s, a well known hotspot for good prices and delicious food. From fruit-stuffed french toasts to “South of the Border” options, I would recommend that you come with a generous appetite.
Morning Activity: For the first morning activity, you get two options! If you want to make lunch on the go, head to one of the two most well-stocked farmers’ markets around the state. Fulton St. Farmer’s Market is a trusted staple, with a location closer to East Town and plenty of parking. The farmers are friendly and the fruit has been excellent in my experiences there. The year-old Downtown Market is a must-see as well, which boasts the outdoor usuals with an indoor chocolatier, fish market, meat market, flower shop, ice cream stop and more. Pack a cooler with your purchases and head to Millennium Park to eat! Millennium Park is a man-made day park just ten minutes from downtown. You can lunch for free, but picking up wristbands for the beach aren’t a bad idea to let kids swim in the lake and play at the splash pad. If it’s a romantic day that you’re trying to pursue, rent a paddleboat and see the outer edges of the lake.
Lunch: If you headed straight to Millennium with thoughts of a later lunch, then it’s time to head back downtown. This time, go to the west side of Grand Rapids. The Mitten Brewing Co. opened in the fall of 2012 and has made a name around town for both the beer and the pizza there. Choose six of the specialty recipes to make a delectable pizza flight to keep everyone happy and sampling, or sweat it out on the brand new patio with The Heater, a spicy but delicious creation on their house-made dough. For other good patio lunching options, check out this list I compiled in May!
Afternoon Activity: Even if you don’t have kids in tow, the John Ball Zoo is on the top of my fun activities list for GR! This June, John Ball welcomed two tigers to the fold, so even if you’ve been there before, it’s worth revisiting to see the new residents. Try the zipline to see Grand Rapids at it’s finest…if you can handle the heights.
Happy Hour/Snacks: What a day so far! Time to relax for a minute with a glass of wine and some fine cheeses. Try Reserve, smack dab in downtown GR, for their 3-6 PM, Monday through Saturday, happy hour. You can enjoy local food with professionally paired wine; doesn’t get much better than that.
Dinner: Assuming that you didn’t overdo snacks at during happy hour, it’s dinner time. One of my favorite menus in GR is at the Electric Cheetah, so it’s back to Wealthy Street for Singing and River Dancing Egg Plant, Asparagus Mac and Cheese, and Not Your Brother’s Sandwich. Try a craft rootbeer and tuck in.
Dessert: If you’re enjoying the fare at the Cheetah, stay where you are for dessert. Cookies baked to order with a glass of local milk is hard to beat! Unless you’re craving ice cream, in which case you should head to Gaslight Village and get in line at Jersey Junction, a local’s dessert destination.
Entertainment: There is always something happening in GR in the evening. If music, swing-dancing, or a movie sounds good, head back downtown for the events at Rosa Park’s Circle or a Movie in the Park. Many of the local breweries offer weekend live music as well. If the weather is done cooperating, Celebration Cinema is a locally owned movie theater chain that always has awesome popcorn and friendly staff.
Nightcap: At this point, everyone should be exhausted. Reflect on an awesome day in a cool city with a nightcap at Twisted Rooster, a Michigan-based restaurant that puts a twist on your basic recipes. Try a unique cocktail, or a Michigan Beer Flight, and call it a day well done!
Let us know what your favorite day in Grand Rapids looks like in the comments below!