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General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

Columbus, Ohio
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General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

Hello! Next year I'm planning on taking our yearly ladies' trip to Grand Rapids for the first time. There are usual 9-10 of us in attendance. We always go in the early autumn. My "rules" for a new location are: 1) it has to be walkable...these ladies like to drink so entertainment, dining, and bars all need to be within reasonable walking distance (we have ages 30-70 in the group). 2) there has to be an area of intersting shopping...not chains but boutiques, art galleries, locally made, etc., 3) there has to be a variety of restaurants that can cater to groups (reservations especially)...more than "bar food", and 4) there needs to be stuff to do besides eating and drinking..museums, tours, boat cruises, cooking classes, etc.. Usually if a locale has all of these, it's going to work out well for our group.

My husband and I are heading to GR next weekend to do a little recon for the ladies' trip. This is a time for me to explore, talk to people, see where things are, etc.

OK...so my question (finally), there seems to be quite a few interesting "areas" of Grand Rapids that could fit the bill. I've tried to research them but the information/articles I'm finding are either a VERY short list of one or two items or don't have enough info (like maps) for me to make an informed judgement call. Can you please recommend some areas/districts that fit one or most of the criteria above so my husband and I can check them out?

Thank you so much and if you want more information to give a better recommendation, please let me know.

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1. Re: General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

No doubt you have been to www.experiencegr.com

I live downtown so should be able to help some. You will want to stay downtown. If you can arrange your dates to fit Artprize next year you would be in ladies heaven. This runs from mid September to early October.

I will help with more links later but on the city link you can get walking tours, driving tours, ECT. Downtown for prime entertainment (though it will have less options than High st it is very compact so busing is not a must. Kind of a mix between short north and U district but a taste of Arena district all in one walkable Area) Up town district (includes East Hills, East town, East Fulton, and Wealthy st corridor) for specialized shopping, West side (West Leonard, Stock Bridge, West Fulton) for antiques and more entertainment (all areas mentioned have plenty of eating and drinking options too) and even North Monroe/Creston Heights/ Cheshire Village have some good options. Like Columbus, though not as extensive due to lack of connections thus sidewalks are needed in parts, our river walk is a must. Art is everywhere. Plenty of tour options including feeding bears at the zoo, seeing the 90% of the museum items not on display due to lack of room, segway, running, walking, van, and brewery tours and more. I will give links later on for everything.

However, like Columbus, we have no boat rides downtown. But a short drive away www.beachtowns.org www.lakeeffectliving.com is boat rides, dune rides, Duck rides, hay rides, plane rides, horse rides, and much more. Saugatuck, MI is a good option close by (35 minutes)

Edited: 19 October 2017, 23:52
Columbus, Ohio
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2. Re: General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

What a great start! Thank you, francis k. I especially like the comparisons you made to Columbus. That is really helpful. I have been to experiencegr.com...it just seemed very vague...lots of info but nothing that really pinpointed an area for me. Our ladies' trip has actually done Saugatuck/Douglas/Holland several times before so we'll opt out of the water/coastal areas. I am going to take a little time to read and re-read your post and then do some Googling. Thanks again!

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3. Re: General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

Downtown is the only choice.

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4. Re: General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

As stated www.downtowngr.org downtown will be a must for your desires. www.grandrapids.org should help more with mapping. Division ave is known as 'art ave' and they do have their own page, but do note this stretch between Fulton and Wealthy is a diverse stretch and though certainly safe, some may feel concern of the homeless in the area. Really this mix can be found throughout but the focus is the heartside where some of the wealthiest and many of the poorest live in the same square grid. It is safe and enjoyable to be in the Heartside. Home to the arena, countless bars, coffee shops and much more, including the downtown market www.downtownmarketgr.com a must see, www.foundersbrewing.com a locale icon, and home to the best burgers (debatable) www.stellasgr.com and best fries www.hopcat.com (crack fries) many say. Also many other fantastic places and stores. I just want you to be prepared to mingle with all of society, which I believe is an awesome thing. Its part of what makes the Heartside so interesting. www.grga.org will help some with art galleries. Up by the hotels and riverwalk take a tour and grab a view with a meal (ask the desk for a paper guide or google and download) at www.amwaygrand.com and a fairly close walk is a new icon to many www.newhollandbrew.com (knicker Bocker) as it certainly is a big place. This is located in the west side of downtown www.westgrand.org though this side covers a large area www.westsidegr.org I cannot vouch in person for any of the food at these places.

Downtown is a great place to enjoy the historic sites and art. www.grandrapids.maps.arcgis.com based from www.grcity.us (historic sites) www.murallocator.org (murals) and go to www.experiencegr.com again and go to 'trip planning' then 'Grand Rapids maps) for a tour map you can download of all of the great art and sites. Truly a great map. My favorite mural in Fulton and Sheldon and my favorite sculpture is the oversize tire swing just northwest of the Calder on the same plaza.

To help with beer and food check out www.eatgr.com www.grbreweries.com and www.beeroclockgr.com (great happy hour link)

Other great city links are www.rapidgrowthmedia.com and www.grmep.org

For update events and much more www.grnow.com is one good link. I mentioned the river walk being awesome with the fish ladder, sixth st bridge, blue bridge, Ford Museum grounds and much more, but i mentioned all the miles of trails not yet being fully connected. www.michigantrails.com will help with any region. A fantastic site.

Bordering downtown stands one of the largest historic districts in the nation. www.heritagehillweb.org and a stop by Union and Lyon for pizza slices perhaps. Prospect from Michigan to Fulton, Layfeyett from Cherry to Michigan, Madison from Franklin to Cherry st and Collage from Fulton to Franklin should not be missed but do include the old central high and then Logan House bed & breakfast. Close by is Oakhill cemetery, the most beautiful one in the city (Hall and Eastern)

and right next to Heritage Hill is Uptown www.uptowngr.com where other than the market downtown and other places you could consider a cooking class in Easttown's (uptown) www.thelocalepicurean.com

My favorite two districts here is East Hills for a look at the Grand Rapids foundation (i think its called) and the what was a place to eat inside a mansion (now an events hall) (the first on Cherry and the second on Lake) and Easttown, where a breakfast icon (Wolfgangs) and hot dog icon (yesterdogs) still play a big role.

Very close by is East Grand Rapids www.eastgr.org an upscale town with great shops, eating, trails and a beautiful lake. Be sure to see the mansions on Brainbridge ? and Plymouth one block east. Also the little known but must drive of Reeds Lake blv of Bonnel (off lake ave) both streets a must, and the street one block south of Bonnel.

If downtown you find yourself on medical mile a small food court can be found at 25 Michigan.

A couple little extras downtown not many know about is a new museum www.graama.org on Monroe Center, a glance inside the beautiful Fountain st church week days www.fountainstreetchurch.com

I have a little more to post but i almost lost my post so i am posting this part.

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5. Re: General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

(Sorry. www.trailsmichigan.com and not michigan trails is the correct link)

One more site downtown to check out (closed Sunday and Monday) is the Mason Center and museum (a beautiful building) www.michiganmasonsfoundation.org

A couple of the popular tour companies are www.grbeertours.com and www.segwaytoursofgr.com and www.grandrapidsrunningtours.com (they offer van and walking tours too)

Also consider a water treat with www.grpaddling.com as they know the area waterways very will.

If after a hike, Ravines Park in Allendale, Pickeral Lake NE of the city and millinneum park just SW of downtown and many more offer beautiful fall walks. Covered bridges in Ada and Lowell are lovely. The Rockford Dam is a beauty too.

The surrounding areas offer fantastic and scenic drives be it Gun Lake, Muskegon, Grand, or Kalamazoo Rivers, but that will be another thread some day. Lol

To end with for now, Lookout Park (and the park two houses down), Crescent Park, Green Ridge Square shopping Center (back side) all offer nice views but John Zoo has the nicest view of them all. Oh, you NEED to get to the Meijer Gardens. Not only a top area attraction, it is a top national attraction.

Sorry for the lengthy post but I gotta share a little bit of my hometown :-)

If any more questions please ask us. We would be happy to help out more. Mon through Friday the Dash offers free downtown bus service every 7-8 minutes until 10pm and the Silver Line is free until south of Wealthy st.

Either way concerning next year, I do hope you and your husband will have a great trip next weekend.

Edited: 20 October 2017, 16:08
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6. Re: General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

westmichigantrails.com/Grand-River-Edges-Tra…

Heres the rivertrail map link.

I also forgot to mention www.thebob.com the bob, a must see in downtown. Www.rockwellsrepublic.com (noted for different floors www.grbrewingcompany.com (noted for their arcade and other things) http://pyramidschemebar.com (known for 20 pinball machines and shows) east hills www.breweryvivant.com (known for the appealing inside)

Being fall time, ..Kent County, MI.. boast an impressive selection of farms with many options for everyone www.kentharvesttrails.org

Ok, I will shut up now. Lol. My sleep time.

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7. Re: General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

https:/…

https://localwiki.org/gr/tags/mural

Very sorry but you are right. The city tourist link can be confusing. The above two links are the ones i should of gave. The first one you can download the arts and culture tour and the second one for the mural map. Hopefully this will be of a little more help. I also noticed the historic building map never linked up. So go to the next link, the city government link, and click on maps. There you will find it easily. Sorry about that.

Columbus, Ohio
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8. Re: General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

Excellent! Thanks so much francis k! I'm going to start checking this stuff out now. I appreciate your efforts here. Much more than I expected. Looking forward to our trip this weekend!

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9. Re: General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

grcity.us/Pages/Planning-Department-slide-sh…

While probably never reaching the status of beautiful columbus, we certainly are a city that continues to get better and better leaps at a time in recent years.

If in town Friday a special lunch can be found at www.wccgr.org with advance reservations.

I did forget to mention the culture highlights of downtown. They include www.grpm.org (public museum) www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov (Ford Museum) www.artmuseumgr.org (Art Museum) www.kcad.edu (art galleries at Kendall. Please click on 'galleries' near the bottom screen on the grey line) www.uica.org (contemporary art) and the zoo is just a couple miles west on Fulton. As stated, if time, do not miss the Meijer Gardens, even though flowers are no longer prime, still a very lovely place.

We, as a city, appreciate your consideration of Grand Rapids to be your next ladies weekend out. Events can be found at several of the links above.

I have two points of family beginnings near Athens, OH, so I certainly know parts of your lovely state well. In fact, I believe a marriage proposal was made at the scenic falls in the northern burbs of Columbus though I cannot remember the name.

No doubt you will enjoy your visit despite our end of summer like weather. Again, please let us know if any other questions should arise. Many neighborhoods that are more than worthy of a visit, but do not miss Heritage Hill, East Hills, East town, East Grand Rapids (own city), and Stock bridge. Have a blast.

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10. Re: General GR Areas Best for Ladies' Weekend

LOL! I am officially over-whelmed! We love Michigan and our ladies trip frequents Frankenmuth, Bay City, Saugatuck, and Douglas. I'm so excited to check out a new place that has it's own "flavor" in Michigan. I am in the middle of researching and "plotting" out our plans for the weekend per your recommendations. If I have any other questions, I will absolutely pop back in! The only other "issue" I need to navigate (and this may not be something you would know about nor would I expect you to), I have celiac disease and need to eat strictly gluten free or else I'll get sick. I have noticed MANY places that have options for me so I'm not worried. Unfortunately that leaves me out of the wonderful beer options but my husband can be the authority on that this weekend (Founders makes me so sad...I was a dark beer lover before my diagnosis long ago). But, this trip is about a group, not just me, right? Again, thank you for your help and I'll definitely chime back in if I need more clarification and assistance. We have a LOT to see in 1-1/2 days!

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