Exploring Ada

A guide to the burgeoning village’s best places to eat and shop
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A family crosses the street in the Village of Ada. Photo by Ashley Wierenga.

Drive the short 13 minutes east, from downtown Grand Rapids and you’ll find Ada, the quaint town that strikes just the right balance between old and new. Between historical buildings that have stood the test of time since Ada’s inception in 1821, and the newly constructed Ada Village that brings a fresh energy to the area, Ada is thriving.

Home to more than 14,000 residents, Ada is a healthy mix of neighborhoods, community events and flourishing businesses, set to grow even more. The village has been slowly transforming over the years thanks to resident input that is informing the future of Ada Village. With renovations and improvements first proposed in 2006, Ada Village broke ground July 2015 and has slowly been adding updated amenities and vibrance to the town.

New retail, residential and restaurants are popping up, emphasizing Ada’s natural outdoor resources, including the nearby Thornapple River that babbles just on the edge of outdoor patios. The emphasis of the new Ada updates has been to create a more walkable community and with the newly developed Ada Village filling out, it’s becoming one of the more recent hot spot destinations.

With an active, local community, you’ll find something to do while visiting Ada any time of the year. The Ada Farmers Market is held each Tuesday through October 31 and feature 35+ vendors. Jam out to Music on the Lawn at Legacy Park or join an outdoor yoga class during the tail end of warm days this fall.

Discover the historic charm and modern spirit of Ada. Below, find a roundup of some of the village’s best destinations:

Where to Dine Out:

MudPenny: Part coffee shop, part restaurant, MudPenny offers a unique take on classic dishes and “a dining experience driven by coffee”. Breakfast or lunch, MudPenny offers vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well as high-quality espresso drinks.

Gravel Bottom Brewery: Microbrewery with a rotating roster of craft beers to take home, enjoy in Ada’s social district or drink on the spot. With a mug club for regulars, try their latest creations and enjoy member-only events.

Schnitz Ada Grill: A mix of a casual and fine-dining restaurant, Schnitz serves up fresh salads and sandwiches and house-made sides from its deli for lunch. During the evening, enjoy a bite to eat on the patio and choose from a variety of delicious entrees including steak, pastas, burgers and seafood.

Zeytin:  A cozy, welcoming restaurant featuring Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine, a full bar and a seasonal outdoor patio that’s been an Ada staple since 2006. Enjoy kabobs, lamb chops, tzatziki and more with a lovely view of Ada Park.

Nonna’s: The Trattoria: A beloved staple in Ada, Nonna’s is an Italian eatery that manages to be charming, down-to-earth and sophisticated all at once. Serving authentic dishes such as carpaccio, meatballs and of course, pizza, Nonna’s is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You’ll feel the warm and friendly atmosphere the moment you step inside the cottage-esque establishment, or when dining on their outdoor patio. Across the street is Nonna’s Pantry where you can find a café and bake shop for a quicker in and out stop.

Ada Garage Bar & Grill: Much like the downtown Grand Rapids location, the Ada Garage Bar that opened in 2021 has a thoughtful food menu and a chill, cool vibe. The dog-friendly outdoor patio is a relaxing place to hang out on warmer fall months. Not quite a dive bar, not quite a gastro pub, Ada Garage Bar is a casual place to hang out, get classic bar food and tasty drinks.

Luna of Ada: Luna of Ada is the Taqueria’s second location and offers the similar outdoor patio vibes and friendly staff in conveniently located Ada. You can’t go wrong with of course, their well-loved tacos, but the salsa flight or other Mexican favorites like quesadillas or tortas are just as mouthwatering. Round out your meal with margaritas (handmade daily!) that can be ordered in flights to try multiple flavors like Prickly Pear and Paloma. Luna also offers an extensive tequila, mezcal and bourbon list.

Where to Grab a Treat or Snack:

Jamnbeam Coffee Company: An Ada favorite, stop into Jamnbean for some of the best coffee in town, gourmet popcorn or hand-dipped ice cream cone on your way to walk the covered bridge.

Sprinkles Donut Shop: Newly opened in Ada in 2023, Sprinkles has classic donuts such as Old-Fashioned Sour Cream, as well as new treats like a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cinnamon Roll. Sprinkles donuts, icings, and fillings are made fresh daily, with a mission to use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. How’s that for sweet?

Fruition Acai & Juice Bar: A quick, healthy option with a bright, clean atmosphere. Grab acai bowls, smoothies, toasts, bagels and more. Try some of the mood-boosting flavor combinations like the “Sun’s Up” acai bowl to brighten your day.

Where to Explore:

Ada Covered Bridge: Originally built in the 1800’s, the Ada covered bridge is a perfect historical point to take in the Thornapple River. On the edge of the historic district, it’s a great place for a post-dinner or dessert stroll.

Legacy Park: Alongside the Thornapple River sits Legacy Park and the Van Andel Pavilion, a popular space for music events, a date night picnic or a relaxing place for a walk; easily accessible from Ada retail and restaurants.

Ada General Store: This renovated old red schoolhouse sits alongside Legacy Park in the middle of Ada Village. True to its name, Ada General store gives off local hometown vibes and serves up a little of everything from penny candy and ice cream to local Michigan items.

Ada Hotel (Coming 2024): This three-story, 37,000-square foot, 36-room hotel is currently under construction in the heart of Ada Village. Owned by ACH Hospitality and CDV5 Properties, this showstopping hotel will feature two new restaurants, each with indoor and outdoor seating. Scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2024.

Where to Grab a New Outfit or Gift:

Pursuit Gift Shop: Stop in for your next birthday or event to find a wide variety of greeting cards and unique gift items like astrology gift sets, local Michigan gear and themed puzzles. This adorable shop even includes a kid’s area, complete with a table and coloring books to keep your kiddos busy while you shop!

Plumfield Books: Located on the main street in Ada, this cozy and well-curated local bookshop carries new books that are updated consistently to keep up with the latest #booktok finds on your list! Check out their book club, wine tasting and other community events to keep you social this fall.

Laurel & Jack: Shop this trendy boutique with selection of of-the-moment women’s apparel, as well as a small selection of men’s and kids items. From fun, colorful dresses to elevated neutral picks, upgrade your wardrobe this fall at Laurel & Jack.

Beyond by Bill and Paul’s: Going on a camping trip or hiking vacation this fall? Beyond is an outdoor outfitter that is focused on elevating your outdoor experience through clothing and accessories, including new Yeti products and a wall of Hydro Flask bottles. Stock up on everything you need for the outdoors and up north trips at Beyond and still look stylish while adventuring.

Croft Hause: An inviting and well-curated home and apparel boutique. Chic, dried flowers greet you when you walk in the door. With a layout that’s beautifully segmented by design, color, and different styles, browse aesthetic collections of chic coffee table books, home décor, unique drinkware, clothing and more to inspire you to elevate your home.

Gina’s Boutique: A long-time local favorite, Gina’s carries trendy and contemporary women’s apparel, jewelry, and accessories. Stop in to find unique items for your next wedding on the calendar, date night outfit or trip away!

 

 

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