October 07, 2016

What to Do, Where to Stay, What to Eat in Grand Rapids

Having grown up in Michigan, I have always heard of Grand Rapids. When Troy and I lived on the West side of the state, I did a 5 week dietetic internship at one of their hospitals there and got to love the city. I have attended a few blog events there in the last couple of years and finally got to go for fun with my family.

This summer on the way to our Ludington trip, we stopped at the John Ball Zoo which was great. We went then instead of during our Grand Rapids trip because a lot of exhibits close down due to the colder weather. The zoo was smaller than the Detroit Zoo but had a lot of features that other zoos do not. We got to zipline which was so, so fun. 

We got to feed the birds which we really enjoyed as well. There is a lot of nature and small trails to walk through which is so different than other zoos. We loved our time there.

The petting zoo at John Ball Zoo had to be Adalyn's favorite. She loved hugging, brushing and kissing the animals. She is such an animal lover. We had a picnic by the petting zoo which was really nice too.

Last year, I went to Frederik Meijer Gardens with my mom and Adalyn and could not wait to come back with Troy. It is so huge, beautiful and like nothing else I have been to. We enjoyed walking around for a few hours on this rainy day and when we arrived, it was sunny and beautiful the whole time. We got so lucky!

They have the best pumpkin patch near the farm center with giant pumpkins that make the perfect little photo shoot area!

The Children's Gardens were perfect for Adalyn for checking out and learning a ton. We mixed up riding in the stroller, carrier and Adalyn walking herself (there is a lot of walking).

I've been to Frederik Meijer Gardens twice now and cannot wait to go back. If you love the outdoors, beautiful nature and walking, you need to check this place out!

After the gardens, we headed to dinner at Mangiamo! in Grand Rapids. I have to take a minute to rave about the kale salad which was covered in parmesan cheese, lemon, pine nuts and dried currants. I loved it so much and want to recreate it right away.

The service was great and everyone was accommodating to my kid who mixed together yogurt and spaghetti and took a fistful of kale salad (no, I am not joking!!).

I ordered the most delicious dry soda with lemon and strawberries. It was great. Troy enjoyed the pinot grigio. We ordered the bruschetta which came with your choice of three dips. The classic bruschetta was our favorite but Troy also loved the hummus and I loved the kalamata olive spread.

Troy left like pizza and got pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers which he and Adalyn enjoyed. I got the ravioli which I liked but preferred the other things I got more.

Anytime we are able to have a nice family meal out, it is a huge blessing! Adalyn behaved pretty well and it was an excellent meal. I would go back.

We stayed at the Residence Inn Grand Rapids West which is actually in Grandville and located right by the mall (which by the way- has delish buffalo chicken sandwiches at Charlie's). I loved the suite because it had a full kitchen, living area and was very nice. Adalyn slept in her pack and play in the living room while Troy and I had a little hotel party in our room with sparkling cranberry apple juice- crazy partiers over here!! The only thing that I wish was different is that they would have an indoor pool- they have an outdoor one but it is closed for the season already.

The most notable part about the hotel was that they had an excellent breakfast- possibly the best hotel breakfast I've had. They had oatmeal with a whole oatmeal bar of toppings such as nuts and dried fruit. They had waffles, biscuits and gravy, Greek yogurt, fruit, bagels, eggs, sausage and more. We all ate a little differently than each other and were all able to find plenty that we enjoyed.

We also went to the Grand Rapids Children's Museum and about 5 minutes into it decided that it we lived closer, we would definitely get a membership. It was so amazing and Adalyn had a blast! She got to play grocery store, fire truck, farm, with animals, color, with bubbles, doctor, etc. etc. There was a ton to do and it is the most perfect destination for little kids. I need something like this in the Metro Detroit area!!

The next morning, we went to Art Prize which was the main reason that we traveled to Grand Rapids during this time. Art Prize is a huge art show all over Grand Rapids. We only got to see a bit of what they had to offer since my toddler could only handle so much but I loved it! It was fun checking out the city while seeing beautiful art.

Loved this Wizard of Oz display and the metal tree. We followed an "Art Prize Stroller Route" which leads you to kid-friendly displays that are accessible. This was the perfect way for us to see a bunch in a short period of time.

For lunch before we left Grand Rapids, we went to Graydon's Crossing which was serving their brunch menu. The most memorable thing that I ordered was easily the seasonal panzanella salad with red cabbage, apples, spinach, walnuts, goat cheese and a poppyseed dressing. It was so unique and very tasty. I want to recreate!

I ordered the Monte Cristo Cubano which had pulled pork, beer bacon, mozzarella, mixed greens and picked on French toast. I liked the sandwich fillings but would have preferred it on regular bread instead of the sweet French toast.

Troy got the drunken cow burger with onions, beer cheese, applewood smoked bacon and garlic aioli. He loved it! My second favorite thing was the potato pancakes that I ordered for Adalyn- so good!

We had the nicest time in Grand Rapids and there is so much more to do and see that we did not have time for. I definitely want to come back. With it only being 2 1/2 hours away, it is not a super long drive for a nice family time.

Disclosure: My accommodations, restaurants and excursions were provided by the companies. I did not receive any compensation. All opinions are my own.

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