Downtown Grand Rapids is big enough that you’ll never run out of something new to try on your night out but small enough to still feel like home. It's the center of culture, business, and medical research in West Michigan.
Grand Rapids was nicknamed “Beer City USA" for its abundance of craft breweries, many of which are located right downtown, the most iconic being Founders Brewing Co. But if beer isn’t your thing, downtown GR is also home a world-renowned minimalist coffee cafe, called Madcap Coffee Company. In addition, there are plenty of other popular places to grab a meal, two local favorites being San Chez Tapas Bistro and The B.O.B. For some evening entertainment, The Intersection and 20 Monroe Live are two of GR’s most popular music venues which regularly host headliners of every style.
Downtown Grand Rapids has been the location of several legendary GR events, such as a city-wide chalk flood, a zombie walk on Halloween, a giant pillow fight, a paper airplane launch, and the world’s largest waterslide set up right on Lyon street. Each of these events was attended by thousands and they have gone down in history as some of the most fun, community-coordinated, and classic GR cultural experiences ever. More regularly occurring events include swing dancing every Tuesday in the summer and ice skating in winter, both of which take place in Rosa Parks Circle, which is located right in front of the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Considering the variety of unique restaurants, venues, and events, Grand Rapids has proudly earned its spot in the top 20 best cities to live in! Check out these featured articles on ArtPrize and the Downtown Market to see more of what Grand Rapids has to offer:
ArtPrize began just 8 years ago, taking place in the early fall every year since then, and it is now recognized as the most-attended public art event in the entire world. ArtPrize is “unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing.” Anyone over 18 can participate as an artist and any location within the ArtPrize district in downtown Grand Rapids can serve as a venue—museums, bars, restaurants, storefronts, bridges, hotels, public parks—we’ve even had installations in the Grand River! More than $500,000 is awarded to winners which are half decided by public vote and half by a jury of art experts. Pretty much anything goes—2D, 3D, performance, installation, or time-based art is accepted. There’s been sand castles in the street, a giant table and chairs on top of the blue bridge, a display of the migration of monarch butterflies, and literally thousands of other incredible pieces that you’d have to see to believe!
World's Biggest Art Competition
The Downtown Market
The Downtown Market is an indoor multi-purpose facility that holds 23-vendor market stalls and 2 full service restaurants. The stalls include a butcher shop, a bakery, and food options ranging from sushi to soup, to street tacos, to gourmet pretzels and ice cream. Additionally, there are vendors that sell other goods like loose-leaf tea, kitchenware, and flowers.
The Downtown Market works to promote education, community, and culture. The building features a full-fledged, rentable, (and kid friendly, if you can believe it), demonstration kitchen where culinary classes for a variety of skill levels are taught. The Downtown Market also partners with Grand Rapids Public Schools by hosting students at their location to learn about sustainable energy through tours of the rooftop greenhouse, live walls, a rain garden, and geotherm wells.
The location and versatility of this incredible space has made it the perfect place to meet a friend for lunch, host an event, attend a class, or just explore the options offered by various vendors. I think it’s safe to say that the Downtown Market has secured its spot on the list of Grand Rapid’s favorites!