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The Best Things to Do in Grand Rapids: The Ultimate Travel Guide

    The ultimate travel guide to Grand Rapids, Michigan: here are the best things to do in this city I call home! 

    Rowster Coffee Liz

    As a local Grand Rapidian, people frequently ask me for my hotel, dining and activity recommendations for this incredible city I love and call home.

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    Of course, like any growing city, my recommendations are always expanding, changing and updating which is why I’m thrilled to share with you my latest and greatest Grand Rapids Travel Guide: The Ultimate List of Things to Do! (Be sure to check out my previous Grand Rapids travel guides here here and here!)

    AC Hotel Grand Rapids

    With new hotels popping up all the time, I couldn’t wait to check-in to the all new AC Hotel Grand Rapids.

    AC Hotel Grand Rapids Guest Room

    Admittedly, I had high expectations for this hotel but it didn’t not disappoint.

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    Sleek, modern and luxurious, I felt like I was in midtown Manhattan. Don’t miss the AC Hotel during your next visit to Grand Rapids!

    Madcap Coffee Liz
    Liz Entering Madcap

    Once you’ve checked in, walk two blocks to one of my favorite local coffee shops: Madcap Coffee Company.

    Madcap Coffee Pour
    Madcap Coffee Roasters

    I love getting iced coffee with the ever-revolving list of daily coffees. While you’re there, grab a bag of whole beans to take home to remember your visit to Grand Rapids.

    Zoko Grand Rapids

    After an afternoon exploring Grand Rapids, you’ll probably be ready to put your feet up and enjoy a happy hour cocktail or two.

    Zoko Patio
    Frose at Zoko

    Head to our local gin bar, Zoko 822, for their signature gin and tonic. If you’re here in the warmer months, cool off on their patio with a frose.

    Terra Grand Rapids Food
    Terra Buffalo Cauliflower

    For dinner, I can’t recommend Terra enough. Located just 7-8 minutes east of downtown, this spot is somewhat local to my house and I frequent it often.

    Pro Tip: Do not miss the buffalo cauliflower. It will change your life.

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    To finish off your evening, head to One Bourbon for a nightcap. If you’re a sucker for an Instagram Worthy mural like I am, they’ve got you covered with that as well with their brand new “You’re Neat” mural. (Get it? Whiskey?)

    Little Bird Grand Rapids
    Little Bird Grand Rapids Brunch

    In the morning, take a short 5 minute stroll from your hotel room to grab breakfast at Little Bird Café. I’ve been there many times and literally nothing disappoints. 

    Offering a wide variety of sweet and savory menu options for breakfast lunch and dinner,  (not to mention lunch and dinner!) you will love this thoughtful, scratch-made restaurant.

    Downtown Market Grand Rapids

    Next, head to the Downtown Market to pack a picnic (we’re heading to the  beach later!)

    Downtown Market Shops

    Home to 20+ indoor market vendors, 2 full service restaurants, monthly outdoor market events, hands-on cooking classes, private event venues, a state-of-the-art incubator kitchen, rooftop greenhouses, and more… this is my top recommendation for fellow foodies like myself.

    Picnic on Lake Michigan

    Once you’ve got your picnic ready to go, head to one of the many glorious beaches of Lake Michigan for a day of fun in the sun.

    Liz on Lake Michigan in Bikini

    A few of my favorite Lake Michigan beaches include Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Grand Haven, Holland’s Tunnel Park, South Haven and more.

    Liz on Lake Michigan Beach

    One this is for sure: there is no better beach in this world than the white, sandy, soft shoreline of Lake Michigan.

    Liz on Lake Michigan

    No salt, no seaweed and no sharks… it truly is magical.

    Sovengard Bar Grand Rapids

    Once you’ve washed off the sand from your day at the beach, it’s time to head to Sovengard for the ultimate farm to table dinner!

    Host at Sovengard Potatoes

    Best described as “Michigan on a plate,” Sovengard’s menu rotates frequently allowing them to showcase the freshest, most in-season produce the region has to offer.

    Host at Sovengard Appetizers

    Be sure to try the “Walk in the Woods” cocktail which uses seasonal fruit purees and fresh herbs. It hits the spot every time!

    Kingfisher Grand Rapids Interior

    The next morning, head to one of our newest restaurants for breakfast: Kingfisher Restaurant and Deli.

    Kingfisher Grand Rapids Breakfast
    Kingfisher Grand Rapids Matzo Ball Soup

    In classic Liz fashion, I always tend to go more savory for breakfast which is why I was thrilled to discover matzo ball soup and fattoush salad on their all day menu. My friend loved the avocado toast as well!

    Rowster Coffee Liz

    One thing is certain, there are no shortages of coffee shops in Grand Rapids. When you’re ready for your next fix, head to Rowster Coffee or Outside Coffee Co.

    Outside Coffee Company G rand Rapids

    And yes, Outside Coffee Co. is outside – year round!!

    Outside Coffee Co Grand Rapids

    Don’t worry though, they have heated igloos to keep you cozy in the winter months.

    Donkey Taqueria Grand Rapids

    If you love Mexican food as much as I do, be sure to head to Donkey Taqueria for your taco fix!

    Donkey Taqueria Mexican Grand Rapids

    Of course, there’s much more to Donkey than their tacos. I love their sangria, soups and salads as well.

    Mokaya Grand Rapids

    After lunch, spend the rest of your afternoon exploring the boutiques and other locally owned businesses all along Wealthy Street Corridor.

    Mokaya Grand Rapids Desserts

    A few of my favorites include MoKAYA (artisan chocolates and desserts!), Marie La Mode (a women’s boutique store) and Fox Naturals (your one stop shop for all natural soaps, lotions and other skincare items.)

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    What are your favorite spots in Grand Rapids? Anything I missed? I’d love to hear from you!

    Your passport is waiting.

    Disclosure: This post is written in partnership with Experience Grand Rapids. All thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Lemon Bowl possible.


    Liz DellaCroce

    Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:


    1. Thank you for the guide! I’ve lived in GR for almost 15 years since moving from New York to work for and have been in pretty much all of the places it has to offer. Some of your recommendations are new to me though! Michigan Lake is a must-visit for everyone being around there’s no doubt about that. I’m not that big on going out to eat though but a huge Mexican food fan and enthusiast so I’m definitely paying a visit to Donkey Taqueria when I come back from NY trip. Thank you again, looking forward for more recommendations on other places to visit!

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