Earlier this year, Grand Rapids was named by U.S. News & World Report as one of the “125 Best Places to Live in the U.S.”
The report states Grand Rapids is attracting young families and college students because of its healthy job market, outdoor activities and affordable housing. Whether you’re looking for something to do outside, somewhere to take the family, or you’re just looking to try out the craft brewery scene Grand Rapids is for you!
We think living in Grand Rapids is pretty great but we’re especially partial to the west side. The neighborhood is rich in history, was once populated by Polish, German, and Irish immigrants, and is inclusive of different cultures.
If you’re new to the area or just haven’t had the chance to get around town lately, we hope this list gives you a chance to explore the city a little more. (*Disclaimer! There is no way we could list every great thing that we have in Grand Rapids so the list below is just a few of our west side favorites.)
John Ball Zoo – The John Ball Zoo has over 1,300 animals including lions, tigers, chimpanzees, and a red panda. The zoo offers indoor and outdoor exhibits, interactive and educational experiences, event space and more. The zoo is now closed for the season and has plans to update walking paths, restrooms and is adding space for new animals before next season.
Millennium Park – Millennium Park spans 1,400 acres with portions in Grand Rapids, Walker, Grandville and Wyoming. The park features a Grand River frontage, a six-acre beach and splashpad, boat rental facilities, and nearly 18 miles of trails. Now that the winter weather is upon us, consider visiting Millennium Park for a little cross country skiing. The trails offer a great opportunity to stay active this winter.
Food & beverage:
Westside Social – Their motto matches the neighborhood mentality. “The west side is the best side” and we couldn’t agree more! They’re all about celebrating the community that we all know and love.
Butcher’s Union – They strive to provide local ingredients to create community and build partnerships with the people around them. They offer a great brunch menu on Sunday with a top notch Bloody Mary bar.
New Holland Brewing - Knickerbocker – This brewing company, conveniently located on Bridge Street, offers a full drink menu and seasonal food menu that showcases local and regional agriculture.
Long Road Distillers – The west side distillery is known for their handcrafted cocktails and farm to table menu. They recently expanded their operations to include a tasting room in Grand Haven and a tasting room in Boyne City.
Mitten Brewing – The Mitten Brewing Company opened on the west side of Grand Rapids in 2012. The craft brewery was opened in a historic engine house that was restored to its former glory. The menu features sandwiches and specialty pizzas that you can’t find anywhere else.
Bridge Street Market – The Bridge Street Market opened in 2018 in a 37,000 square foot store on the west side. The market offers fresh produce, local groceries and other fresh, affordable products.
Mieras – This west Michigan family shoe store has been open since 1922. They offer name-brand shoes at affordable prices. What began as a small shoe repair business has evolved into a thriving retail operation with multiple locations.
If your favorite place is missing, don't be upset! Remember, this list is just a few of our favorite places to go around town. What do you consider a "must see" in Grand Rapids? Do you have a favorite spot? Let us know in the comments below!
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