A Weekend Guide to Grand Rapids Michigan includes the best things to eat, see and do during a visit to the city! The guide also includes where to stay in Grand Rapids and features unique outdoor adventures and foodie experiences.
Are you planning a visit to Michigan? Do you love amazing food, unique outdoor experiences and exploring a hip, fun city? Grand Rapids, Michigan is one of my favorite cities to spend the weekend. The city offers some of the best food in the country, endless opportunities to drink craft beer and activities for the entire family. Visiting Grand Rapids during the summer has been on my travel wishlist after following Liz from The Lemon Bowl on Instagram. Liz lives in Grand Rapids and frequently shares her favorite spots around the city. Earlier this month, I explored the city and visited some of the newest foodie spots. After experiencing Grand Rapids myself, I’m excited to share this Weekend Guide to Grand Rapids with you.
Weekend Guide to Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids is easy to access and is a quick flight from most cities. It is located within 25 miles of Lake Michigan and is a easy drive from Chicago, Detroit and Columbus. The city is energetic and vibrant. As a Florida girl, Michigan is one of my favorite places to visit in the summer. Warm weather, beautiful outdoor adventures and plenty of great good and beer ensures a fun experience.
Where to Eat and Drink in Grand Rapids:
Grand Rapids is the perfect city for foodies. Thanks to its close proximity to some of the best agriculture in the country, the city offers incredible food, wine and beer to please everyone. In addition to being rated one of the top beer destinations in the country, Grand Rapids offers fresh farm-to-table meals. The culinary offerings range from authentic roadside Mexican cuisine to hip, chic and modern rooftop bars and restaurants. We visited during Restaurant Week when many of the restaurants offer special chef’s tasting menus in addition their seasonal menus. The assortment of dining options and the changing seasonal produce guarantees an exciting dining experience. It is nearly impossible to visit all of the amazing restaurants in Grand Rapids during one visit but I highlighted a few of my favorite options below.
(1) Dinner at MeXo
Grand Rapids offers some of the best authentic Mexican food. MeXo is a Mexican restaurant and bar that brings a classic modern touch to pre-Hispanic cuisine. The influence of Mexico shines strong in their incredible food, fun drinks and modern dining experience. I highly recommend a fresh margarita poured table-side with some fresh guacamole and sopes.
(2) Breakfast or Snack at Fruition Acai and Juice Bar
Don’t forget to start your day with a healthy breakfast! Frution Acai and Juice Bar that offers everything from juice and smoothies to acai bowls, wraps and toast. In addition, they offer specials like the Avocado Smash Bowl made with fresh avocado and an assortment of toppings such as goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, black beans, onions, chicpeas and more. I wish there was a Fruition in every city to make healthy eating while traveling easy.
(3) Savory or Sweet Breakfast and Lunch at Field & Fire
Craving something sweet or a savory breakfast? Field & Fire is the perfect spot to grab delectable fresh pastries or a hearty breakfast like avocado toast and breakfast hash. The bakery specializes in rustic artisan breads and croissants and uses fresh, local and organic ingredients. Start your day with a class at Beer City Barre (next door) and then stop in to refuel before exploring the city.
(4) Happy Hour Drinks
With no shortage of hip bars and restaurants, Grand Rapids is the type of place you can visit just for the drinks. Plan to visit a different spot each day for happy hour. A few of my favorites are Reserve Food & Wine, Cygnus27 and New Hotel Mertens. Reserve Food and Wine highlights farm-to-fork fare in regional dishes and a long and notable wine list. Enjoy the skyline as you sip drinks atop the glass tower at Cygnus27. Stay for dinner and enjoy exceptional food in the AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. End the night at the new rooftop bar at New Hotel Mertens and enjoy the sunsetting over the city.
(5) Dinner at Linear
Linear is a gorgeous new spot located in downtown Grand Rapids that offers a river front dining experience. The restaurant is a casual welcoming space that serves handcrafted meals full of character. Try the beet salad, wagyu steak or stuffed quail. Grab a seat outside and enjoy one of the only restaurants offering outdoor riverfront dining.
Things to do in Grand Rapids:
(1) Coffee and Shopping Crawl
A city with delectable food and drinks has awesome coffee too! Explore Wealthy Street and the Uptown Neighborhood through a variety of coffee shops and boutique stores. Grab a drink at Rowster Coffee, choose a treat at Wealthy Street Bakery and buy chocolates to bring home at Mokaya. Don’t forget to visit Art of Table, Fox Naturals, Dime & Regal or Woosah Outfitters for some fun shopping. After exploring the quaint little shopping district, stop for coffee, wine or snacks at Squibb Coffee & Wine Bar. I highly recommend an afternoon exploring this area of Grand Rapids to experience artisan tastes.
(2) Visit Lake Michigan
A visit to Grand Rapids isn’t complete without a visit to Lake Michigan. Do not leave without visiting the lake! As a Floridian, I appreciate beautiful beaches and clear water. Saugatuck Dunes State Park on Lake Michigan offers 2.5 miles of shore line. The water is clear and clean but without salt or sharks! In the summer, the water temperature is close to 75 degrees. The park has fresh water coastal dunes that are over 200 feet tall. Visit the lake during the afternoon or spend the entire day exploring the park. A quick drive from Grand Rapids makes Lake Michigan a must!
(3) Patio Hop on the West Side
Head over to the west side of Grand Rapids to visit many of the best rated restaurants and breweries. Enjoy the beautiful weather on the patio of Butcher’s Union, New Holland-the Nickerbocker or The Sovengard. Butcher’s Union specializes in meat and whisky so order yourself a steak and drink while relaxing on the patio. Or visit the hip Scandinavian restaurant, The Sovengard, for seasonal fare on a picture-perfect outdoor space.
(4) Visit the Downtown Market
All great foodie cities have an exceptional downtown market. Grand Rapids Downtown Market is a great place for shopping, food, art and culture. Within their 24-vendor market hall, you will find everything from cheese and wine to fresh fish and authentic Mexican tacos. The marketplace is a great place to pack a picnic lunch to bring to one of Grand Rapids local parks or to pack for the beach.
(5) Take a class or explore the outdoors
One of the things I love most about traveling is experiencing new workouts or fitness options. Burn off the food and drinks with a class at Beer City Barre or hike the outdoors on one of Grand Rapids many paved trails. The Kent Trails system can be accessed just 1.5 miles from downtown. In addition, the city offers golf courses, biking trails, parks, boating and more. Learn more about outdoor recreation in Grand Rapids and plan a fun outdoor adventure.
Where to Stay in Grand Rapids:
(1) JW Marriott Grand Rapids
One of the things I love most about Grand Rapids is that everything is easy to access. You can jump in an Uber or easily walk to the best dining in the city. The JW Marriott is my choice for accommodations in Grand Rapids due to it’s central location. You can walk to many of the locations featured in this guide. Book a room overlooking the river for an exceptional view.
This Weekend Guide to Grand Rapids offers a peek into some of the best experiences in the city. In addition to delectable food and wine and fun outdoor adventures, the city offers numerous special events, nightlife, performing arts and family friendly activities. For more ideas and a full calendar of events, visit Experience Grand Rapids.