Editor’s note: This story was written in September. As COVID-19 cases currently are rising, please check with individual businesses and organizations in regards to visitation protocols.
Ryan Schmied came to Grand Rapids from Miami, Florida, and is the general manager of AC Hotel Grand Rapids Downtown, so we thought he’d be the perfect person to ask for tips on the must-visit places to bring out-of-town visitors.
When Schmied has friends or family in town, his first stop of the day is brunch. “My go-to spots are The Littlebird and Field & Fire Café,” he said. “The team at The Littlebird consistently executes some of my favorite food in town. Some creative plays on old favorites, and a damn good burger — what more could you want? Field & Fire’s bread and pastries are up there in quality with the best bakers in NYC, Miami or Europe, in my humble opinion.”
“Madcap is at the top of their game, and I think many coffee connoisseurs would agree with me when I say that they are one of the top roasters in the country.”
Coffee is also necessary to fuel a busy day around town. Schmied recommends Madcap as his first choice. “Madcap is at the top of their game, and I think many coffee connoisseurs would agree with me when I say that they are one of the top roasters in the country,” he said.
Schmied likes to take his guests to some of the most unique spots around town, beginning with The Meyer May House, a fully restored Frank Lloyd Wright home open to the public. “I also recommend taking a walk or drive through the historical Heritage Hill neighborhood while at the Meyer May House. Here you will find a collection of many gorgeous historical homes.”
He also recommends a stop at the Grand Rapids Art Museum followed by a visit to the Downtown Market, where you can enjoy lunch from Aperitivo, Carvers, Field & Fire, Juju Bird and Pho616. Follow that up with ice cream from Love’s.
If your guests are looking to do some shopping, a visit to Cherry Street is a great idea. Schmied suggests visiting Leon & Son, an eclectic wine shop, and Gemini Handmade, an artisan store offering quality handmade leather goods. Other stores around town to check out include AK Rikk’s, a luxury fashion store, and downtown shops, Premier, a local sneaker purveyor, and Vertigo Music, where music lovers can stock up on vinyl.
After a busy day of sightseeing and shopping, Schmied said choosing a dinner spot is a challenge because there are so many excellent options. But his top choices are the Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck thanks to its menu featuring European, American and Asian classics, or Reserve, which Schmied said has a great “homemade charcuterie to start the meal, and an often changing menu of small bites, entrees, fantastic homemade pastas, and arguably my favorite burger in town (tied with The Littlebird).”
To end the night, Schmied said you can’t go wrong with live music. You can see everything from local bands to the biggest acts in the country thanks to a plethora of music venues. “Downtown’s bounty of live music venues, including 20 Monroe, Pyramid Scheme, The Intersection, The Listening Room, St. Cecilia’s, Van Andel Arena, and more provide tons of musical options on any given night.”