Yes, Downtown Grand Rapids
Has a Nightlife!
By Pamela Holtz
Photography by Michael Buck
remember a time not so long ago when there were
only a few haunts to frequent in downtown Grand
Rapids on a Friday or Saturday night. Now, a vibrant,
diverse club experience downtown — or near
downtown — beckons just about any night of
Here are some of the gems of Grand Rapids’ urban
48 W. Fulton St.
Sophisticated atmosphere sports a circular bar.
Live entertainment on weekends. Reminiscent of
a 1940s jazz club. Extensive vodka selection.
33 Sheldon Ave. NE
Bartenders with razor wit reside within a gorgeous
wood interior. Darts and a great jukebox. Cash
only; ATM available.
20 Monroe Ave. NW
A variety of options located in one “big
old building” in the heart of downtown: Dr.
Grins Comedy Club, an upscale New York-style dance
club called Crush, The Monkey Bar … the list
goes on. Check it out at www.thebob.com.
1437 Wealthy St. SE
An interesting variety of happy hour specials,
live music and free pool make this Eastown spot
a welcome detour to the downtown scene. Be sure
to check out www.billyslounge.com for upcoming
live acts and changing specials.
Black Rose Irish Pub
100 Ionia Ave. SW
An extensive draft and wine selection, live entertainment,
and all the Irish traditions fit for a night out.
245 N. Division Ave.
Happy hour every day from 4-7 p.m., DJ music with
plenty of room to shake your booty. Pool tables
and an appetizer menu available.
Video Bar & Grill
10 Fountain St. NW
Diverse clientele, great videos and music. Something
81 Ionia Ave. NW
A club for the metropolitan professional with half-off
happy hour 4-8 p.m. daily. Ol’ Skoul Hip
Hop on Tuesdays, Reggae Sunsplash on Wednesdays
and what Thursday would be complete without Retro
139 Pearl St. NW
Irish pub with a great menu caters to the post-work
professional crowd. Live music on weekends, no
133 Grandville SW
This well-known transplant from Eastown boasts
an even better venue for live acts. Check it out
11 Ionia Ave. SW
A fun, friendly bar offering good menu and great
microbrew selection. Pool tables and an additional
bar downstairs. “Absolute best happy hour
prices” on Wednesdays.
77 Monroe Center NW
Fabulous steakhouse with elegant, upscale bar featuring
a knowledgeable staff, interesting special drink
menu, wonderful complimentary spinach dip for happy
hour and live music. Optional valet parking.
180 Monroe Ave. NW
Dueling piano bars and a great drink menu make
this establishment a must-visit.
438 Bridge St. NW
Offering a relaxed, Chicago-feel happy hour, this
place rocks out in the latter part of the evening
with a mix of music. Wednesday is college night
with $1 drinks until 11:30 pm. Sunday is open mic
448 Bridge St. NW
When the large street windows are open, this pub
feels like a Key West drink easy. Great food and
a long list of brews. Check out the game selection
and take a skate on the peanut shells covering
the floor. Sundays are “make your own Bloody
970 Cherry St. SE
Neighborhood bar east of downtown with a friendly
feel and great drink prices. Check out the Whitbread
on tap, and bring your Benjamins, because it’s
661 Bridge St. NW
Live music is featured almost every night starting
at 9 p.m. Although a light menu is offered, the
bar is full of selections. Pool tables and darts
available. Don’t forget you can get Big O’s
Rumors Night Club
69 S. Division Ave.
With an entertaining assortment of staff and bartenders,
and an exciting live performance schedule, you
are always in for a surprise at this alternative
nightclub. Great happy hour.
889 Broadway Ave. NW
Set in a historical building, this club has every
techno gizmo known to the club scene. Catering
to the young professional with wide variety of
eats, daily happy hours and weekend opportunities
to shake your groove thang.
8 Ionia Ave. SW
Featuring a staggering beer selection, this is
the place to try just about any beer known to man.
Monday is Monday Night Football and free pool.
Tuesday is Ladies Night with $1 off domestics and
well drinks for the girls. Check out the nightly
specials and the exceptionally good menu.
940 Monroe Ave. NW
Upscale, trendy nightspot with a great deck and
nightly drink specials. Perfect spot for the after-work
crowd, as well as for dancing on weekends. Wednesday
is Ladies Night, $1 wells, drafts and domestic
With so many good choices and such a growing city,
be sure to get out there and support your local
nightlife. And remember to tip your wait-staff. GR
Pamela Holtz is a free-lance writer
who lives in Grand Rapids.