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!

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.

JW Marriott Guest Room View

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.

Blue Bridge Grand Rapids

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.

Group Photo Sovengard

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.

JW Marriott Grand Rapids

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.

JW Marriott Grand Rapids Hotel Room
JW Marriott Lobby

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.

Wealthy Studios Grand Rapids

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.

Fox Naturals Grand Rapids

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.

Liz Squibb Coffee Latte

Depending on your mood, you can finish your adventure with a latte or a glass of wine.

Wealthy Street Squibb Coffee

If you’re hungry, I highly recommend their charcuterie platters.

New Hotel Mertens Rooftop Bar

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.

New Hotel Mertens Rooftop Bar Gals at Table

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.

Butchers Union

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.

Butcher's Union Happy Hour Drinks and Snacks

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.

Sovengard Liz Outside

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.

Sovengard Fries

Do yourself a favor and order the sour fries for the table. You’ll be so glad you did, trust me.

Beer City Barre Grand Rapids

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!

Beer City Barre Class 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.

Field and Fire Cafe Cappucino e1535298108737

After class, walk next door for breakfast at my seventh recommendation: Field & Fire Bakery Cafe.

Field and Fire Grand Rapids

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.

Downtown Market Mad Cap

Speaking of the Downtown Market, there’s no way you can come to Grand Rapids without hitting up my favorite foodie spot in town!

Downtown Market Apertivo Cheese

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.

Downtown Market Field and Fire Bread

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!

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Sand Dune

Recommendation number 9: head to Saugatuck Dunes State Park and hike the North Trail to Lake Michigan!

Saugatuck Dunes State Park North Trail

The North Trail is an easy, flat hike (more like a walk) which clocked in at .85 of a mile when I did it.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park North Trail Group Walking

The lush trees provide reprieve from the sun making the hike super manageable with little kids and picnic baskets.

Lake Michigan Beach Dunes

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?

Lake Michigan Beach Day

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.

Lake Michigan Beach Picnic

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.

Lake Michigan Beach Liz on Towel

It is truly my happiest place on earth and I am thrilled to be able to share it with all of you.

Blue Bridge Downtown Grand Rapids

Have you been to Grand Rapids? What hot spots did I miss? I’d love to hear from you.


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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.

Are you planning your next trip?? Head over to my Pinterest board for more travel inspiration!

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