Local Love: Discovering the grand in Grand Rapids
Yesterday was the beginning of something special. We’ve teamed up with Meijer to bring grocery delivery to busy families in their hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This month, Shipt shoppers made our first deliveries from the Greenville Meijer, where the Meijer legacy planted roots nearly a century ago.
It’s become a Shipt tradition to spend time with the city’s people and places when we launch with a new store, what we dub Local Love. In keeping with that tradition, we set out to explore with some new members of the Shipt family to discover the grand in Grand Rapids. We quickly learned that it’s a kind, cozy and family-centric city, full of energy and wonderful people (not to mention beer).
Here’s a recap of a few of our local faves:
We polled our shoppers, and Early Bird was their top choice for coffee and breakfast. We love the coffeehouse vibe with breakfast classics done really well. It resembles an English pub, but with coffee instead of beer. After baked french toast and an Avocado Smash (pictured), we left feeling uplifted and ready for adventure.
You can’t wander around Grand Rapids without laying eyes on the city’s iconic blue bridge. Built in 1892, it connects the city center on the East Bank near where we stayed (the Amway Grand Plaza) to the Grand Rapids Public Museum across the Grand River. (Gotta’ get that bridge selfie!)
The Children’s Museum is full of indoor adventure for the entire family. It was uncharacteristically warm for March during our stay in Grand Rapids, but we got a tip from local shopper and mom of four: The Children’s Museum is a warm and expansive place well suited for kids to burn energy on those midwestern winter days.
Stella’s lounge reminds us of our longtime local fave, Paramount, in Shipt’s home town of Birmingham, Alabama. It’s got great drinks, a classic arcade, and a moody atmosphere with a skull mural out back.
Described as something between a local market, rooftop garden and eatery, the Downtown Market is a must-try for any foodie. We couldn’t resist Sweetie-licious Pies, which was awarded “Best-of-Show” at the 2009 Food Network Challenge.
Our Suggestion: Get the cherry cupcake, a heavenly marriage of cherry buttercream frosting with an angel food cupcake. Divine. The vintage ambiance, the all-pink decor, and unique flavors leave you reminiscing about your grandma’s kitchen.
Fellow adventurers understand. Planning a trip is exhilarating, but be sure to leave room for spontaneity. Ask a local shopper where to visit and you’ll wind up at a local watering hole that doesn’t necessary land on the Trip Advisor list. But those are our favorite stories. In Grand Rapids, that’s Yesterdog. They serve an affordable classic hot dog: all the essentials with no BS about it.
Pictures of celebrities and politicians hang by to old family photos. Every inch of the place is hand-signed and carved by guests from generations back. Yesterdog reminds them of family and community. It’s cash only, but $2.50 hot dogs make it family-friendly joint visited by the likes of Alton Brown, Hillary Clinton, and your uncle.
It’s our firm belief that you can’t truly know a place until you’ve tried the ice cream. Furniture City Creamery did not disappoint. We went twice. Our suggestion: Vegan fruity pebble ice cream made with Meijer coconut milk and topped with green sprinkles, of course.
Whether it’s graduation photos, getting some fresh air with the kids, or taking a lunch break walk, the Blindfold Nature Center is a great place to get outside. Their mission: Engage and empower our community through enriching experiences in nature. Visitors can explore old barns, take a field trip to learn about stream ecology, or say hi to the goats at the community farm.
While we’re at it, the John Ball Zoo is an adorable place to bring the family and see lions, tigers and bears! Pro Tip: take the ‘fun’icular (picture above) to the highest point of the Zoo and walk the entire park downhill. PS This is great for moms with strollers!
Spring arrives when baseball begins in Grand Rapids. After a long winter, everyone is eagerly awaiting the season opener, which happens to be April 1. That being said, the Minor League is something celebrated here. A city with three minor league teams, they love their Whitecaps. We got invited behind the scenes while the crew madly prepped the field and concession stands. We wish you warm, spring weather and good luck at the big game!
There something iconically American about baseball, beer, and hot dogs. Feeling inspired, we left the Whitecaps for Atwater Brewing where they put a fresh spin old classics. We stepped out of the box with the Michigan Blueberry Chucker Clucker featuring a chicken wiener, blueberry huckleberry jam, goat cheese, thyme, and arugula. The Dirty Bird is equally daring with buttermilk fried chicken, house-made hot sauce, blue cheese, celery, and shredded lettuce on a homegrown soft roll. Yes, we had hotdogs twice, and feel no shame!