Whenever we get the chance to check out a new city, we are all over it! Recently we were invited to attend the Fresh Coast Retreat, which I will tell you about later; as an add-on, we ever invited to come experience Grand Rapids Michigan a couple days before. The add-on was quick, only 48 hours, but it gave us enough time to get a taste of what the city has to offer.
The only thing we really knew about Grand Rapids going into this adventure was that it was the hometown of our U.S. President Gerald Ford, who is also buried at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum next to his wife, Betty. What we didn’t know was that it is the second largest city in Michigan, the first being Detroit, that is has a large Dutch influence and it is a historically known for making furniture. Today it is still the home of some of the world’s leading office furniture companies.
From what we experienced during our quick time there, was a young and vibrant city on the verge of great things. We love new urban cities that are taking on a fresh look to life; old buildings mixed amongst new with a strong sense of history. We were totally digging the old brick warehouses and imagined beautiful lofts being built inside. Art galleries dotted along streets as well as small shops.
Grand Rapids has quicken taken on the title of Beer City, and the locals pride themselves on having some of the best beer, and we were enjoying as much as we could. As well, the city is rapidly becoming a foodie destination being close to many family farms who are supplying fresh ingredients to local restaurants and markets. The food scene is quickly becoming very noticeable, and one thing we would love to do is come back and experience more of what is offered from food to great craft beers.
When planning your Grand Rapids Get-Away – be sure to head over to Experience Grand Rapids. Not only does their site have a wealth of information to get you planning your trip in the right direction, but the staffing is filled with a wealth of information (we adored Stephanie Kotschevar).
Highlights from Grand Rapids:
Amway Grand Hotel – This historical hotel dates back to 1913, but with a modern flair, and the location cannot be beaten as it is within walking distance of many sites and places to eat. The staff is attentive without being overbearing, and the check-in process was a breeze. We travel a lot and find this to be imperative. The rooms are comfortably quaint in decor, with amenities such as in room coffee (a bonus in our opinion), to comfort robes for lounging. As well, the hotel has something for everyone from an indoor heated pool, hot tubs (Lenny’s favorite) as well as eight different restaurants and shopping. We literally felt like we discovered something new every corner we turned.
CYGNUS27 – Located on the 27th floor of the Amway hotel is intimate spot a must to take in the view of Grand Rapids. We finished an evening up there enjoying a glass of wine, and while the views filled with twinkling lights, we could only imagine how gorgeous the sunsets would be!
Garden Court Lounge – We really enjoyed this retro style hotel bar located in the lobby of the Amway hotel. The atmosphere is business casual, and the drinks are stiff. If you like, an Old Fashioned give it a try!
Restaurants – there are many choices to hit but we only had a short time.
Donkey Taqueria – This taco and tequila spot is built in an old service station and serves some great tacos and guacamole. Did I forget to mention the thirst-quenching margarita? We tried just about every taco on the menu, and they were all great, but we really loved the pork belly as well as the crawfish ones.
Brick and Porter – We stumbled up this beer and food pub while walking around downtown one afternoon. The food was honest, and the beers cooled us off. We shared a steak salad as well as a Reuben – Lenny always orders a Reuben if it is on the menu; both were very good. The steak was cooked perfectly, and the greens were very fresh. The Reuben was classic served on rye, and the sauerkaut was not too saucy. We enjoyed two Founders Porters which were rich in flavor but not too heavy.
The Kitchen – Is an upscale restaurant located in the Amway hotel and is owned by Wolfgang Puck. The restaurant is gorgeous with views of the river. Our table was set in the middle of a side dining area where we could enjoy the views while being wowed with a 15-course menu made up of global flavors to tease our taste buds. Everything was tantalizing good, and I cannot even pinpoint one thing I loved the most as I enjoyed every bite. Here is a sample of the dinner menu, and I do highly recommend you start with the cheese plate!
San Chez – Located within walking distance of the Amway Hotel, this breakfast/brunch spot is a must hit. We love a hearty breakfast filled with good coffee and eggs, and this is exactly what we got at this little bistro. Set in an old building the space is wonderfully bright with brick walls and tinned ceilings. The decor is brightened with splashes of yellow and a whimsical decor. You have to love a server who decides to bring you pecan rolls to start the morning even before ordering! We both had the breakfast sandwiches, as we are always on the lookout for a great one. The waiter suggested that we have them on their house-baked everything bagel, and I can honestly say, hands down, this was the best breakfast sandwich we have had! Ever. We are still talking about how we need to recreate it at home!
Mad Cup Coffee – One thing we are always on the look out for when traveling is a good cup of coffee as we have that at home and miss it terribly. This bright and hip spot did not disappoint. The coffee is strong and smooth, and the shortbread cookies are ever so buttery!
Shops – we are not much into shopping but we did find some treasures and gifts here.
Old World Olive Co – If you love to cook, and you love good olive oil, then this is a must hit. They offer an assortment of olive oils from around the world, as well as many different kinds of vinegar, from classics to flavored ones. Samples to try which make it a fun stop during an afternoon stroll. Bonus, they offer cooking classes.
Downtown Market – Okay, I totally dug this place! It reminds me of an indoor farmer’s market, minus the produce as they do not have any stalls for this as of yet; but, there are many other options from dairy, fish, and meat to wine and cheese. The space is light and airy, with an urban edge, and it is the first LEED certified market in the USA. I really loved that they offer classes as well as space to rent for your own events such as a cooking session or maybe even a photography workshop! If I lived in Grand Rapids, I have a feeling I would be spending a lot of time here, enjoying a cup of coffee and wandering around.
6.25 Paper Studio – I am a sucker for great paper products from greetings to letterpress stationery, and this spot had it all. They carry one of my favorite lines Rifle, and I discovered new to me greeting cards that were just plain fun! I have a feeling I will be replenishing what I bought by ordering online!
Wish List – Just a few things we wish we would have had time to check out; but, there is always next time!
If the Amway Grand Hotel is not available there is the JW Marriott or the City Flats Hotel – we did not see these hotels but they are located in the same area and look very nice online.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
disclosure: we were sponsored by Experience Grand Rapids for this trip; but, all opinions are 100% our own. You can find Experience Grand Rapids on these social media channels as well: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Liz @ The Lemon Bowl
Tuesday 17th of May 2016
Ahhh this makes me smile so much!!! Thank you so much for coming to my home town. It truly meant so much to me to have you here!! I miss you and Lenny and really hope our paths cross again soon.