Grand Rapids, MI – Day 1

Grand Rapids, MI – Day 1

I don’t know if it’s because of the first reappearance of warm weather or all of the brewery visits, but I absolutely loved our time in Grand Rapids, MI.  While it was a pretty short trip, we certainly made the most of our time there.  We left early Saturday morning after stopping for coffee, and arrived in Grand Rapids around noon (because of the hour time difference).  We started at the Frederik Meijer Sculpture Garden, where it seemed everyone else was starting as well.

Frederik Meijer Sculpture Garden, Grand Rapids, MichiganFrederik Meijer Garden, Grand Rapids, Michigan

There was a line to get in, a $14.50 entrance fee and another line to move through the butterfly sanctuary.  BUT! Once we got outside into the sculpture garden proper, we were very happy.  The walk through the park was really, truly lovely.  The weather was perfect and the sculptures were spread throughout the park so there wasn’t so much of a crowd.
Frederik Meijer Sculpture Garden, Grand Rapids, Michigan
We waltzed through the sculptures and headed to the Japanese Garden to walk around the pond.  It was beautiful and tranquil.  The walk took us past multiple waterfalls, a gorgeous gazebo, a Japanese Tea House, and a life-size zen garden.
Japanese Garden, Frederik Meijer Sculpture Garden, Grand Rapids, MichiganJapanese Garden, Frederik Meijer Sculpture Garden, Grand Rapids, Michigan
After we had taken it all in, we decided we deserved some lunch and headed to the Electric Cheetah.  There was a twenty minute wait, which we spent out in the sunshine.  Once we were seated, we perused their extensive root beer list and both chose the Brix Soda Co.  The root beer gave us enough pep to devour our amazing “Hot Goat Blast” (goat cheese, cream cheese, veggies and naan) appetizer.
Electric Cheetah, Grand Rapids, Michigan
For the main course, I ordered the “I’m not your bro, bro” sandwich which was chicken, bacon, and provolone deliciousness, and Mike had a gigantic reuben sandwich.  The Electric Cheetah was everything I wanted it to be: fun décor, delicious food, great service, and root beer to spare.  After lunch, we walked down the block to The Sparrows coffee shop for a little more caffeine.  The café was super cute inside and they have a bevy of unique periodicals and magazines.  They also have an outdoor seating area that was perfect for days like the one we were enjoying.
The Sparrows, Grand Rapids, Michigan
From there we zipped over to the highly anticipated (to me, anyways) antique stores.  As we approached the large warehouse across from the Amtrak Station, I thought perhaps our Google Maps had made a mistake.  But no, this HUGE warehouse was just what we were looking for and was chock-full of antiques.  I couldn’t wait to explore it.  The warehouse was comprised of three different shops: Warehouse One, Lost + Found, and Century Antiques.
Warehouse One, Grand Rapids, Michigan
I loved exploring the zig-zagging booths of antiques, piled high in Warehouse One and Century, but I really loved the beautifully curated antiques and furniture at Lost + Found.  Though rummaging the booths and treasure hunting are a few of my favorite things, there’s something to be said for a well laid out antique store.
Lost and Found, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Once I had my fill of heirlooms and trinkets, we headed to our hotel to check in.  I know I said we were staying at the City Flats Hotel, but it turns out they had overbooked themselves and needed to bump our reservation.  So Mike upgraded us to The JW Marriott Grand Rapids instead.
JW Marriott, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Our room was gorgeous.  It had a huge fluffy bed, a city view and a prime shower.  Needless to say, we were pretty happy with the change.  After reading ourselves for a night on the town, we hit the road.  We drove over to Brewery Vivant in the East Hills Neighborhood first.  It is a beautiful brewery, with a great outdoor area and a regal dining room with stained glass windows.
Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, Michigan
We ordered the Vivant taster which included the Farm Hand, Triomphe, Big Red Coq, and Undertaker beers.  We also got the marinated olives and the bone marrow to go with our beverages.  It was my first time trying bone marrow and I hate to admit it, but it wasn’t for me.  Mike liked it though.  The beers, however, were all amazing.  We bought a 4-pack of the Undertaker to bring home with us.
Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, Michigan
From there we parked back at the hotel and walked over to Founder’s Brewery.  As it turned out, we were there the night of their annual Black Party, celebrating the success of their black beers (stouts, porters…).  We bee-lined for the bar and ordered a couple ales (palm reader for me) and settled in to enjoy the live music.
Founders Brewing Co, Grand Rapids, MichiganThe band, The Animal Years, was fantastic!  In fact, they were so good, we are going to see them again on Thursday here in Chicago.
Animal Years, Founders Brewery, Grand Rapids, Michigan
We stuck around until the end of their set and then headed to our next brewery: Grand Rapids Brewing Co.  I ordered the Violet MacMillan, a cranberry beer that tasted like ale mixed with cranberry Sprite in a really delicious way.  At this point in the night, we were ready for something cheesy, so we ordered a couple of small plates.  We got the BBQ quesadilla and a chorizo pizza bread concoction that really hit the spot.  The atmosphere of this brewery was more sports bar-like than the other two, but we enjoyed our time there and Mike was happy he could catch up with the hockey game on that night.  Our last stop on our self-guided brewery tour was The BOB, a multilevel super bar situated in downtown Grand Rapids.  We started in their brewery on the basement level where I tried the Blondie beer and discovered where my craft beer limit ends.
BOB Brewery, Grand Rapids, Micihgan
We made our way up to the rooftop that we spotted from the street, walking past what looked like some sort of rave and multiple bachelorette parties.  The floor with the roof top terrace provided city views and a sliver of the Grand River.  We sat and drank our beers and gushed over the beautiful city.  More beer, 14 holes of Golden Tee and a truly awful cover band later, we headed back to the hotel to crash into our heavenly cloud of a bed.

Grand River Bridge, Grand Rapids, Michigan

To be continued…

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