Words by Melissa Fox
Saturdays seem to lend themselves to ease and relaxation, with a slight undercurrent of exploration – at least if one isn’t busy with household chores or children’s sports! Still when the weather is decent and the weekend has just begun, getting out and about on Saturday morning is a wonderful way to start the weekend, and in West Michigan, there is no shortage of things to do. Still, whether you are visiting Grand Rapids for a weekend or are a local in search of something to get you outdoors and seeing the city in a new way, this lineup of activities makes for a lovely Saturday.
Begin with breakfast at Marie Catribs (http://www.mariecatribs.com/). This hearty and homey food will give you just the sort of satisfying nourishment needed for the day ahead. Eat slow and start with the cinnamon hazelnut coffee or a pot of tea, and then order Marie’s Breakfast Special and have your pal order the stuffed french toast to get the best of both worlds.
Explore the East Hills business district. Along Cherry St, from Eastern Ave to Lake Dr, are a number of small shops that are fun to pop in and out of. Stop and browse titles at Books and Mortor (https://www.booksandmortar.com/), get your adventure gear at Peninsula Trading (http://peninsulatrading.com/) and take in some art at the Richard App Gallery and at LaFontsee Galleries (http://www.lafontsee.us/).
Walk through History. Grand Rapids is home to one of Michigan’s largest historic districts, with 1300 buildings, mostly nineteenth and early twentieth-century homes, that represent nearly every style of American architecture from Greek Revival to Prairie. Download the self-guided walking tour (http://www.heritagehillweb.org/tours-of-heritage-hill/self-guided-walking-tour/) to fully explore this neighborhood and visit the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Meyer May House (http://meyermayhouse.steelcase.com/) to complete the experience.
Make time for lunch at the Downtown Market (http://downtownmarketgr.com/). This vibrant and busy venue offers a multitude of tasty options, from tacos to fish and chips, and from pizza to pho. For a truly relaxed lunch, with a glass of wine and shared small plates, try Appertivo (http://www.aperitivogr.com/).
Go antiquing on Century Ave. One location, three unique shops. Get lost browsing everything from collectibles to furniture at Century (http://www.centurystreetantiques.com/) and Warehouse One (http://www.warehouseoneantiques.com/). For those with a passion for mid-century modern design Lost and Found (http://treasuresoflostandfound.com/) is not to be missed.
Grab a beer at Founders. Grand Rapids has been voted Beer City, USA, so why not stop and enjoy a pint or two? Founders (https://foundersbrewing.com/) is a longtime local favorite, and while you are there grab a sandwich or snack off the deli menu. For a mini beer tour, stop in at Hop Cat (https://hopcat.com/grand-rapids) and Atwater (http://www.atwaterbeer.com/locations/atwater-grand-rapids/#).
Finish with a movie. End the night with a movie at the UICA (https://www.uica.org/movies/). The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts is a community-driven arts and events space located at the center of downtown Grand Rapids. Browse the current exhibits and settle in for a film at the 195-seat theatre featuring critical favorites, festival award winners, and special one-night screenings of classic films.
Walk. Your legs may be tired from a day of architecture touring and antique shopping, but take a moment to enjoy the walk home or back to your car or hotel. Take in the lights and energy of downtown Grand Rapids, notice the newly renovated Veterans Memorial Park or the Maya Lin-designed Rosa Parks Circle, named one of the 5 great public spaces in America in 2017 by the American Planning Association. If it’s winter and you are feeling fancy, take a spin or two around the ice rink.