|Click here to download the 616 Downtown Guide.|
If you’re craving the big-city feel but could do without the big-city crowds, look no further than Downtown Grand Rapids. There’s always something exciting going on downtown, whether it be at an event venue, bar or restaurant, museum, or right on the streets. Downtown GR’s vivacious energy is contagious—we guarantee you won’t be able to get enough.
The Making of Furniture City, Beer City, Our City
Before Detroit-born Louis Campau officially founded the village of Grand Rapids in 1838, today’s downtown area was first settled by the Odawa, Ojibwa and Potawatomi Native American tribes over 2,000 years ago. Fast forward to the early 1800s, French-Canadian Joseph La Framboise and his wife Magdalene established the area’s first fur trading post. Grand Rapids made the transition from village to city in 1850 and soon became the home to several major industries, including gypsum mining, railroads, furniture production, beer brewing, and healthcare. Today, Grand Rapids is still known for its exceptional medical facilities, furniture, and of course—our beer! Come see what downtown Grand Rapids is all about, and help contribute to this dynamic community.
Reasons Why We Love Downtown GR
- Getting around is super easy and convenient—most downtown locations are no more than a 10-minute walk from each other!
- Home to several colleges and universities, including Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus, Kendall College of Art & Design, Grand Rapids Community College, and Davenport University
- Easy access to public transportation, including The Rapid and DASH Downtown Area Shuttle
- Downtown GR houses some of the city’s most popular arts and entertainment, including the GRAM, UICA, The Intersection, The Pyramid Scheme, Van Andel Arena, and more
- Home of the world’s most-attended public art event, ArtPrize
- Scenic river walks, parks, historical architecture, and bridges throughout all of downtown
- Downtown Ambassadors promote safety and well-being in the downtown area and are accessible six days a week from 7 am – 3 am for any questions or concerns
Live, Work & Play in Downtown GR
Madcap Coffee Company
Madcap Coffee has been a Grand Rapids staple since its opening in 2008, supplying downtown GR with some of the finest, tastiest coffee you’ve ever sipped—seriously. The passionate team of coffee lovers at Madcap is dedicated to buying, roasting, retailing, and wholesaling specialty coffees. You can sip on a cup at their downtown location on Monroe Center, at their roastery and in the Downtown Market, or you can purchase their beans for home brewing.
The Pyramid Scheme
Even in a smaller city, it’s nice to have a go-to place where you know you’ll run into friends. The Pyramid Scheme is that place for tons of people in downtown GR. The Pyramid Scheme is also one of the city’s most frequented concert venues.
Whether you’re attending a show, catching up with friends over a beer or two, or playing pinball on one of their 24 pinball machines, The Pyramid Scheme will quickly become one of your favorite spots in the city. Check out their list of upcoming events on their website!
San Chez A Tapas Bistro
Downtown GR is home to amazing and eclectic cuisine—but before some of downtown’s staple establishments came to be, there was San Chez Bistro. San Chez was one of downtown Grand Rapids’ first bistros, opening its doors in November 1992. Owners Dan Gendler and Jorge Sanchez did their research in Chicago before deciding which culinary direction to take their unique restaurant concept. After tasting their way through Chicago, Gendler and Sanchez decided to center their menu around tapas—a variety of appetizers and shared plates of the Spanish culture. More than 20 years later, San Chez is still one of downtown’s most frequented and highly recommended restaurants for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks—perfect for date night, or a meal with friends and family!
There’s something so exciting about walking amongst hundreds of people up and down the streets, all contributing to the high energy of the city. Ionia Ave. is one of the most popular nightlife spots in downtown Grand Rapids. This street comes to life during weeknights and weekends, bustling with people walking to different bars and restaurants. Check out some of our favorite spots on Ionia!
Hopcat: The original! 50+ taps and Crack Fries—yes please!
Divani: Cocktails, martinis and wine galore.
Grand Rapids Brewing Co.: You can’t beat their Sunday brunch Bloody Mary bar!
Luna: Organic, farm-to-table Latin American cuisine.
Downtown Market: A mixed-use facility with food and beverage, apparel, produce, kitchenware, educational opportunities, event space, and more.
New to Grand Rapids? Check out a few of downtown’s valuable community assets to help you get situated as a new resident or business owner in the city.
Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.
Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) has been working since April 2013 to accelerate the growth of Downtown Grand Rapids into a best-in-class American city. With this mission in mind, DGRI is responsible for city building and place management in downtown GR. To do this, DGRI manages the Downtown Development Authority, Downtown Improvement District and the Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority.
DGRI has managed programs and projects like Movies in the Park, Reimagining Calder Plaza, food trucks, Downtown Ambassadors, among several other initiatives that are working to make GR a more engaging city for all. Learn more about DGRI’s initiatives to grow and improve downtown GR, as well as events, businesses and residences on their website.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you know how difficult it can be to turn your great idea into a reality. You also know that sometimes, all it takes is for one person—or a group of people—to believe in your idea, as well. Start Garden, an “entrepreneurial Ecosystem,” invests in startups financially, intellectually and socially to empower West Michigan entrepreneurs they believe in.
Think you have a spectacular business idea? Check out Start Garden’s website to learn how they can help the ball rolling.
Downtown Grand Rapids Staples
Many of Grand Rapids’ staple businesses, attractions and cultural establishments are located in the heart of downtown. Here are just a few examples of culture and entertainment you can experience in Downtown Grand Rapids:
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, housed in the original building of the Pantlind Hotel, is one of the most upscale hotels in Downtown GR. Amway Grand first opened in September 1971, acquired the Pantlind Hotel building in 1978 and began the restoration process in 1979. The Amway Grand marries the historic charm of the Pantlind with modern additions like a glass tower. Today, the Amway Grand is one of the most popular choices for out-of-town visitors. More than a hotel, Amway Grand is a popular wedding and event venue, salon and spa, and features several dining options, including The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Cygnus27.
Grand Rapids Art Museum
If you’re a lover of any and all art forms, the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) is a must-visit. GRAM is the world’s first newly-constructed, LEED Gold certified art museum that offers permanent and rotating exhibits, guided gallery tours, hands-on workshops, drop-in activities for people of all ages, artist lectures, live music events, and more. GRAM’s permanent collection has grown to include more than 5,000 works of art of various mediums and eras, many of which embrace Grand Rapids’ design and manufacturing industries. General Admission to GRAM is free all day Tuesdays and Thursday evenings from 5 pm–9 pm!
Van Andel Arena
The Van Andel Arena is Downtown Grand Rapids’ largest entertainment hub in the city—home of the Grand Rapids Griffins and concerts for nearly every musical genre. Since its opening in 1996, acts such as Neil Diamond, Elton John, Taylor Swift, The Who, Bob Seger, and several others have performed at the Van Andel, as well special performances like Cirque du Soleil, The Harlem Globetrotters, Disney On Ice, and the NCAA Hockey Regional Championships. One of the most popular attractions at the Van Andel are Griffins games during hockey season—especially on Friday $2 beer and $2 hot dog nights.
Rosa Parks Circle
During the cold winter months, it’s not uncommon to see less people out and about walking around town or spending time at community spaces and parks. Thankfully, Rosa Parks Circle is a community space fit for all seasons. In the warmer months, this plaza is utilized as a venue for concerts, group fitness classes, a place to simply sit and relax, and the meeting (and dancing) spot for the Grand Rapids Original Swing Society. In the winter, Rosa Parks Circle is transformed into an ice rink enjoyed by children and adults alike. This is a great spot to meet with friends and enjoy a beautiful day in GR—no matter the season.
Ice Skating at Rosa Park’s Circle
EARLY DECEMBER – EARLY MARCH
Adult: $2; Youth (17 & under): $1
Skate rental is free with paid admission.
Living in the Heart of the City
The growth we’ve seen in Downtown Grand Rapids is exciting—it’s a breath of fresh air, constantly introducing something new to do, see and experience. GR’s downtown area is constantly evolving into something bigger and better, and while these changes are riveting, it’s comforting to know that at the end of the day, you have a community of family, friends and colleagues to support you. That’s where we come in.
616 Lofts is honored to contribute to Downtown GR’s dynamic growth while giving its residents unique, urban spaces to work, play and just… live. Our residential communities, like 616 Lofts on Pearl, Ionia and Kendall are built to do better for the city of Grand Rapids and its people. Communities and cities are built by the people living in them, and we’re vested in growing Grand Rapids’ urban centers by giving residents what they need to experience life in the city at its best. Whether you’re simply looking for an apartment or are ready to start placeshaking, we hope you’ll join us in the movement to do and be better—in the name of community.
616 Lofts on Ionia, on Pearl, & at the Kendall
- 1-bedroom & 2-bedroom apartments available at all communities; studio apartments available at Kendall
- Bi-level/lofted units at Ionia
- High ceilings
- Exposed brick
- Hardwood floors
- Stainless steel appliances
- Granite countertops
- In-unit washer/dryer
- On-site storage available at Ionia
- First-floor retail: GRBC at Ionia, Osteria Rossa at Kendall & Flanagan’s Irish Pub at Pearl
- 616 Pass for great discounts at local shops
- Access to 616 Lofts common areas community-wide, like Kendall’s rooftop deck