The ultimate travel guide for your next visit to West Michigan, I’m sharing the best things to do in Grand Rapids in 24 hours!
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As a local Grand Rapidian, friends, family and readers are always asking for recommendations on where to stay, what to eat and what to see in my beautiful city of Grand Rapids.
A fast-growing metropolitan destination, I would be lying if I said it was hard to keep up with all the new restaurants, bars, shops and more popping up all over downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Lucky for you, I am always up for a good challenge. This time around, I decided to invite four of my blogging friends along for the adventure as I set out to hand select my top 10 things to do in Grand Rapids in 24 hours.
It was such an honor to welcome this talented group of gals from around the country to explore Grand Rapids with me. From left to right: Ashley of Spoonful of Flavor, Stephanie with Experience Grand Rapids (who helped make this all happen!!), Brittany of Eating Bird Food, Maryanne of The Little Epicurean, Sherrie of With Food and Love and, of course, yours truly.
Let’s get right into it with my 10 Things to Do in Grand Rapids in 24 Hours! First up? Check-in to my favorite hotel downtown: the JW Marriott Grand Rapids pictured here on the right. Admittedly, I’m a bit biased, as I was on the hotel’s opening team back in 2008.
The rooms are modern and luxurious and the lobby features an incredible glass atrium allowing endless natural light to pour into the hotel. You won’t find better hospitality or customer service anywhere in my opinion.
Once you’re settled in your hotel room, it’s time for must-do number two: head to Uptown to explore the boutiques and coffee shops along Wealthy Street.
The Uptown neighborhood is located just east of downtown and is full of breweries, restaurants, clothing stores, jewelry stores and much more. My recommendation would be to start at Art of the Table then walk east along Wealthy Street until you get to Squibb Coffee & Wine Bar.
Depending on your mood, you can finish your adventure with a latte or a glass of wine.
If you’re hungry, I highly recommend their charcuterie platters.
Number three: catch the sunset at the city’s only public rooftop bar, Haute, located at New Hotel Mertens. You can’t beat the view of the skyline but perhaps what was even better than the view was the chocolate pot de creme.
Pro Tip: Book your table on Open Table to ensure you can get a seat as this is a very popular hot spot in the city.
Speaking of dinner, my fourth recommendation is to grab a bite to eat at one of the hottest restaurants on the West Side, Butcher’s Union.
Best known for their steak and cocktails, this is an upscale dining experience without the attitude or hefty price tag. Note of caution: they don’t take reservations so I highly recommend going early or dropping your name then bar hopping in the neighborhood while you wait for them to text you when your table is ready.
Speaking of bar hopping, my fifth recommendation is to grab a cocktail (or bite to eat or both) at Sovengard located directly across the street from Butcher’s Union.
Do yourself a favor and order the sour fries for the table. You’ll be so glad you did, trust me.
The next morning, burn off some of those delicious treats from yesterday at Beer City Barre, my sixth recommendation for your 24 hour visit to Grand Rapids!
They welcome walk-ins but I’d reserve your spot in class online before you arrive just to be safe. You will love this total body workout which incorporates elements of yoga, pilates and dance all to the sound of your favorite pop music.
After class, walk next door for breakfast at my seventh recommendation: Field & Fire Bakery Cafe.
An expansion of their original woodfired bakery in the downtown market, the café features breakfast and lunch focusing on local, organic ingredients, making simple dishes with big flavor…. from scratch.
Speaking of the Downtown Market, there’s no way you can come to Grand Rapids without hitting up my favorite foodie spot in town!
You guessed it, my eighth recommendation is to head to the Downtown Market to explore the market hall lined with butchers, bakers, fishmongers, and more.
While you’re there, I urge you to pack up a picnic to go (perhaps a loaf of bread from Field & Fire?) because my ninth recommendation will have you working up an appetite!
Recommendation number 9: head to Saugatuck Dunes State Park and hike the North Trail to Lake Michigan!
The North Trail is an easy, flat hike (more like a walk) which clocked in at .85 of a mile when I did it.
The lush trees provide reprieve from the sun making the hike super manageable with little kids and picnic baskets.
Recommendation number 10: head to Lake Michigan for a beach day (with that yummy picnic you packed)! You know I had to save the best for last, right?
No matter where I travel all over the globe, no place makes me happier than Lake Michigan. The best part is that the beach is just a 50 minute drive from downtown.
There is nothing quite like the soft, fluffy, white sandy beaches and clear blue waters (free of seaweed, sharks and salt!) Check out this guide to ALL the beach towns along Lake Michigan.
It is truly my happiest place on earth and I am thrilled to be able to share it with all of you.
Have you been to Grand Rapids? What hot spots did I miss? I’d love to hear from you.
Your passport is waiting.
Disclosure: Experience Grand Rapids provided my meals, activities and accommodations during my stay. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Lemon Bowl possible. All thoughts are my own.
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