This is an excerpt from the article “The Grand Tour” in the Grand Rapids Magazine July 2018 issue. You can read the full article (and find out about several more neighborhood hot spots) by picking up a copy of the magazine from newsstands now. Don’t miss any Grand Rapids Magazine articles, order your subscription today.
Grand Rapids is a diverse city comprising dozens of historic, unique neighborhoods — some jam-packed with businesses and destinations, others more residentially focused, but each with its own story to tell.
With the intention of putting a spotlight on GR’s neighborhoods, as well as its hidden gems and must-see community crowd-pleasers, we picked out at least one noteworthy treasure in each neighborhood — from celebrated eateries, parks and retailers situated off the beaten path, to lesser-known specialty shops, breweries and galleries amid a saturated and thriving business district (plus, a few local staples we just couldn’t leave out).
Whether you seek a quiet retreat or a craft beer, there’s a good reason to visit every corner of Grand Rapids.
North East Citizen Action
The North East Citizen Action neighborhood is home to fan favorites like TreeRunner Adventure Park and the Knapp’s Corner Shopping Center — a hub for commercial restaurants and entertainment, but there are a few unique spots that may have slipped under the radar.
Kent/MSU Extension “Grand Ideas Garden”
Life and color converge at the Kent/MSU Extension Grand Ideas Garden. Explore the beautiful flower-lined walkways, refine your photography skills with the help of intricate blooms or rest on a bench in view of tranquil water features.
The Donut Conspiracy
The Donut Conspiracy is known for its outrageous, delicious doughnuts, including such favorites as the “Scutterbotch,” the “ET Phone Home” and the “Heath Ledger.”
The Pump House Frozen Yogurt Bar
The Pump House gives new meaning to “ice cream.” With artisanal yogurt, gelato, sorbet and custard (along with dozens of fun toppings), you are free to get wild and crazy with flavor in your own way.
Romence Garden & Greenhouses
Romence Gardens & Greenhouses has an enormous selection of flowers and plants to entice horticulturists of all interests and skill levels. Shop online by plant, season, or environment, or visit them in-store.
Creston is sprawling with life and activity. And with so many awesome places to eat, relax and explore, it was hard to choose just a few. Creston Brewery is a neighborhood favorite for craft beer and good times, and Kingma’s has over 250 varieties of sweet and salty snacks — all the goodies you could ever ask for.
Choo Choo Grill
The Choo Choo Grill — the tiny, iconic red building off Plainfield Avenue — is a local favorite known for its burgers, milkshakes and onion rings.
Hideout Brewing Co.
Nestled off of Plaza Drive, Hideout Brewing is just that — hidden. In addition to its tasty drafts, Hideout Brewing gives patrons the opportunity to play old-school video games in the loft area.
Lions & Rabbits
Lions & Rabbits is a four-in-one venue that features handmade goodies, an art gallery, a yoga studio and an event space.
Belknap Lookout is known for its great vantage point overlooking downtown Grand Rapids, but it’s also home to several other hot commodities.
Gray Skies Distillery
Gray Skies offers a great selection of small-batch spirits made on-site, plus a seasonally revolving menu of cocktails.
Field & Fire
Field & Fire bakery specializes in artisan breads and croissants, made with organic flours and grains; plus, the café offers specialty coffees and creative, locally sourced breakfast and lunch choices.
Fido & Stitch
From grooming services to pet care products, Fido & Stitch is a one-stop-shop for dog owners.
Established in 1873, Highland Park has grown with the city, featuring a ball diamond, soccer field, playground and other amenities.
Vitale’s Pizza at 834 Leonard St. NE has been serving up pizza made with time-tested recipes brought over from Italy for more than 50 years.
Editor’s note: The neighborhood selections and boundaries used to complete this article were based on those set by the “Neighborhoods of Grand Rapids” map created by Johnson Center’s Community Research Institute at Grand Valley State University. The map can be found online at bit.ly/GRneighborhoods.
*Main photo: Lions & Rabbits, by Johnny Quirin