Planning a short trip to Grand Rapids but not sure where to start? Here are my suggestions for a forty-eight-hour getaway.
Start your day with brunch at the retro-diner Anna’s House (open from 6AM-3PM seven days a week). Start with a tableside French press or a seasonal kombucha. Anna’s offers unique twists on breakfast classics like Candied Pecan & Banana Stuffed French Toast or Corned Beef Benny. Beyond that, the menu is filled with locally sourced ingredients with many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
Spend the morning exploring the collections from A to Z at the Grand Rapids Public Museum (Hours: Monday & Wednesday to Saturday 9-5, Tuesday 9-8, and Sunday 12-5; Cost of Admission: $10 for adult non-residents and $5 for children non-residents). Stroll through the streets of 1890s Grand Rapids on the first level. The next level houses a number of collections such as the furniture collection and Egyptian artifacts, as well as the planetarium and cafe. At the top level of the museum learn about the history of native peoples and immigration in Grand Rapids. Finish your visit with a ride on the 1928 Spillman Carousel.
For lunch, you have a lot of options in Grand Rapids. In West Grand Rapids, enjoy one of the best pizzas in Michigan at Mitten Brewing Company. You can order a pizza flight to match your beer flight and they cater to vegan diners with a full vegan pizza menu.
If sandwiches made with locally sourced ingredients are more your style, head to Marie Catrib’s in Eastown. Marie Catrib’s offers creative lunch options such as the vegan We Got the Beet, a beet and wild rice patty with green curry sauce, and the Sweet ‘n Sassy, a riff on a classic ham and cheese sandwich with cinnamon spiced apples and spicy mustard.
Now head over to Heritage Hill, one of the largest urban districts of historic homes in the United States. Follow the self-guided walking tour through the history of post-Civil War era architecture in the United States including several buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
If architecture is not your cup of tea, downtown Grand Rapids offers a number of museums for varying interests. For a family friendly option, The Grand Rapids Children's Museum is a must see (Hours: Monday Closed, Sunday 12-5, Tuesday to Saturday 9:30-5; Cost of Admission: $8.50). For political junkies, check out the Gerald Ford Museum (Hours: Monday to Saturday 9-5, Sunday 12-5; Cost of Admission: $8 for adults, $6 for students with ID, $4 for youth). Not only will you learn about former President and First Lady Gerald and Betty Ford, but you will learn a great deal about the times in which he served.
For dinner there are so many options it is hard to narrow it down. For beer lovers, I would recommend Brewery Vivant (known for their Belgian ales), Harmony Hall (locally sourced sausages, including several vegan options and creative beers such as the Capricorn, a chocolate absinthe sweet donut stout), or the historic Grand Rapids Brewing Company (home of the 2016 Grandwich champion 1-800-Hotline-Beef and a wide selection of beers). For less beer-centric options, the Old Goat in Alger Heights serves Southern and German-inspired dishes such as jambalaya and schnitzel or gastro pub fare, with plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options, at The Green Well in East Hills.
Finish the evening with a daring escape from the Sherlock Holmes themed Great Escape Room.
Then head up to the world class Frederick Meijer Gardens (open M-S at 9 and Sunday at 1; Cost of Admission: $14.50 for adults, $7 for children 5-13, and $4 for children 3-4). The 158-acre main campus can take anywhere from two to eight hours to explore depending on which exhibits you want to see and spend time at. Take your time and don’t forget to visit the inside exhibits, looking up at the ceiling to check out the Chihuly glass sculptures.
Grab lunch back in Eastown at the funky Electric Cheetah. With a wide variety of sandwiches, macaroni and cheeses, and salads including numerous vegetarian and vegan options, the Electric Cheetah is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. If you’re tired of sandwiches and pub fare, head to Pupuseria El Salvador La Original on Division for delicious pupusas, fried plantains, and refried beans.
Lovers of mid-century artifacts and furniture will have a great time shopping around Antique Row on Century Avenue. When you’re done looking at things from the past, head on over to Parliament the Boutique, a collaborative workshop that sells goods from local textile, leather, and ceramic artists. Or spend the afternoon gazing at art from around the world and the United States as well as local artists at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10-5, Thursday 10-9, Sunday 12-5, closed Monday; Cost of Admission: $10 for adults and $6 for youth).
Before heading out of town, stop at The Grand Coney to pick up a Michigan favorite, the Coney. The Coney is a hot dog smothered with ground beef or chili plus mustard and chopped raw onion.