New Buffalo, Michigan | RebeccaWanderlusting

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI

The journey from Chicago to New Buffalo, MI takes an hour in a half in the car and $8.10 in tolls.  I can’t tell you up front that it’s well worth it.  We had been trying to plan this day trip to New Buffalo all summer, so I was very excited when we finally got it together and drove there last weekend.  Our first stop in this new city was the beautiful beach in town.  We paid for parking and tip-toed across the hot, hot sand and past the super cute landmark lighthouse to the surprisingly not crowded lakefront.  The few people populating the beach lounged under umbrellas and atop towels in the sunshine, and Mike and I picked out a free spot amongst them to set up.  I immediately ran into the lake to stick my feet in the water.  Lake Michigan was perfectly cerulean, clear and cold.

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

Behind the beach, grass covered dunes loomed; the whole scene was beautiful.  I walked up and down the beach while Mike lounged, it was too pretty to sit still.  I wanted to jump into the water so badly but due to a (minor) surgery earlier in the week, I had to settle for wading in up to my knees.  We’ll just have to come back to swim I suppose.  After a while, we decided to hike up the sand dunes to the boardwalk at the top.  The view was breathtaking from every angle.  It almost looked like the beach from Jaws, on the East coast.

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

As we made our way back down to the parking lot, we decided it was time to grab some lunch.  Mike dropped me off at the door at the Stray Dog Bar & Grill, just across the bridge from the beach, and went off to find parking.  This proved to be a difficult task, as he didn’t join me in the restaurant for another twenty minutes.  While I waited for him, I checked out their beautiful rooftop terrace, which we ultimately opted out of due to the heat.  We both ordered local beers (I got Kolsch by Round Barn – yum!), and, because the Bears game was on, we decided to order buffalo shrimp and chorizo nachos.  The food was fantastic and perfect for watching the football game.

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

We watched the first half of the game at Stray Dog and then caught the next quarter down the street at the Beer Church Brewery where we engage in some light day drinking.  While half of the church was currently under renovation, it was still a lovely place to sip a craft beer and catch some football.  I had the Crooked Cross Ale and Mike had the Midnight in a Perfect World, which he enjoyed so much that we left with a Crowler (2 pint can) of it.  At the brewery, we met a lovely couple who gave us some great recommendations in the area to check out.
(If churches made into breweries is something that strikes your fancy, check out Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids too!)

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

We decided to take their advice and head to the next town over, Union Pier, to check out the St. Julian Winery.  On our way back to the car, we strolled down the main drag, Whittaker Street, and stopped into some stores as we went.  We really loved Whittaker House (a cute boutique with beautiful jewelry and clothing), Frolic (gorgeous jewelry and fun knick knacks), and Designed Cottage Scapes (cozy home goods).

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

In between stopping into the stores, we popped into David’s Delicatessen & Coffee for some caffeine.  The cool cafe featured home-baked and pre-packaged snacks and a cozy backroom with a fireplace and comfy armchairs.  Mike and I took the opportunity to take a breather and plan out the rest of our day.

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

We drove the short way from New Buffalo to Union Pier to check out the oldest winery in Michigan, St. Julian Winery.  We weren’t really sure what to expect walking in, but it was a really fun experience!  We decided to do a wine tasting, which was only $6 to try six of their fantastic wines (and included a St. Julian wine glass).  We chose to try the dry wines, which progressed from a sparkling rose, to whites to reds and finishing with a brandy.  Chris, who was our wine guide for the afternoon, was very charismatic and knowledgeable.  The wines were all very good, but we especially liked the Cock of the Walk red blend, which we bought a bottle of to bring home.

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

Our last stop of the day was Lakeside Antiques.  This multiple building antique superstore was just down the road from St. Julian Winery.  It was the perfect combination of curated and rummage-worthy piles of treasures.  I especially liked all of their unique art on the walls, which of course was all for sale.  It was a little pricey, but it was also very fun to browse through.

As we walked out of Lakeside Antiques, it started to rain, which perfectly summed up the way we felt about leaving New Buffalo to go back to reality.  This little lakeside town made for the perfect little trip from the city.  It had a little bit of everything: a beautiful beach, craft beers, and fun stores.  We are looking forward to visiting again!

Day Trip: New Buffalo, MI | RebeccaWanderlusting

Have you ever been to New Buffalo, MI?  What are your favorite attractions there?

Favorite Midwest Road Trips, RebeccaWanderlusting

Favorite Midwest Road Trips

I love the Midwest.  I was born here, raised here, and it’s here where I gained my love for travel.  My family has always had the travel bug, and we often explored towns closest to us as our family vacations.  Once I started traveling and branching out on my own, naturally I chose to explore this region first.  I haven’t been everywhere of note in the Midwest quite yet, but I have amassed a list of my favorite Midwest road trips that are tried and true.  If you’re in the Midwest and are looking for a fantastic weekend trip, these destinations would fit the bill perfectly.  Without further ado, here they are:


  1. Milwaukee, WI – An easy hour and a half drive up Route 94 from Chicago, Milwaukee is the perfect place for a quick weekend getaway.  Between the lakefront, the breweries and the amazing restaurants, you’re in for a treat.  When we were there last summer, I fell in love with the Milwaukee Art Museum, Lakefront Brewery and the Milwaukee Public Market.Midwest Road Trips, Milwaukee, RebeccaWanderlusting
  2. Warren Dunes, MI – The Warren Dunes (not to be confused with the Dunes in Indiana, which in my opinion are not as pretty) are a short-ish (2 hours) drive from Chicago.  The State Park is beautifully maintained and makes for a lovely day at the beach.  Bring a blanket and a picnic to make a day out of it, and if you want to spend the night, you can camp in the park as well.
  3. Starved Rock/Matthiessen State Parks, IL – Speaking of camping, you can hike one or both of these parks in one weekend, especially if you camp near by like we did.  Both parks are completely stunning, but Starved Rock offers a little more in terms of trails and lodging.  Matthiessen State Park is a hiking wonderland filled with inventive bridges over streams and beautiful canyons.  You can do either as a day trip as well, if you’re strapped for time.Midwest Road Trips, Matthiessen State Park, RebeccaWanderlusting
  4. Cedarburg, WI – Taking a trip to Cedarburg is like going back to a simpler time.  It’s a super cute town just north of Milwaukee with super cute restaurants and shops.  We visited this lovely destination after Kayaking the Milwaukee River and had fantastic burgers at Morton’s Wisconsin Restaurant.  I’ve been trying to plan a weekend trip here ever since.
  5. Grand Rapids, MI – It’s no secret that I love Grand Rapids; it’s one of my favorite cities in the U.S. It has all of my favorite things: breweries, antique stores and a great live music scene.  I’ve been there twice in the past two years and each time we’ve found new reasons to love it.  It’s an excellent choice for a fantastic weekend away.Grand Rapids, Midwest Road Trips, RebeccaWanderlusting
  6. St. Louis, MO – While St. Louis is a little bit longer of a haul from Chicago, it is definitely worth the trip.  It has history, (more) breweries, baseball and beautiful parks.  I had such fun time exploring this fun city, and I can’t wait to go again to hit the spots I missed.  I would recommend going to a Cardinals Game, the City Museum, Delmar Loop and Four Hands brewery.
  7. Galena, ILGalena is wonderful.  There’s no other way to put it.  The city is nestled in between hills and the Galena River and has a rich history, being the home of Ulysses S. Grant.  The Helluva Half Mile is a stretch of shops, restaurants and bars and runs right through downtown Galena.  Pick any of the great B&Bs (I would recommend the Lamberson Guest House)  in the area to stay for a weekend away and you’ll be in for a treat.Galena, Midwest Road Trips, RebeccaWanderlusting
  8. Lake Geneva, WI – Growing up, we spent many summer weekends cruising around Geneva Lake in Lake Geneva.  Besides housing one of the best lakes in the Midwest for boating and swimming, the town of Lake Geneva also has some super cute hotels, restaurants and stores.  Plus, it’s just an hour and a half drive from Chicago, which makes it a convenient weekend or day trip.  My favorite part of the city is the trail around the lake, which is a peaceful walking path from which you can view all of the very large and very beautiful houses on the water.

Midwest Road Trips, Lake Geneva, RebeccaWanderlusting

What are your favorite Midwest road trips? Where’s your favorite Midwest destination?

Beer City Redux, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Beer City Redux

We started the trips off on a Thursday morning, dropping Brody off in Joliet at Mike’s parents’ and the ride took three hours from there.  We arrived just in time for lunch, so we stopped at HopCat to get a bite to eat and our first Beer City brew of the trip.

HopCat, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

We just got a sandwich and a salad there but the food was good, and it gave us a chance to plan our time there.  We wanted to check out some different antique stores from the last time we were in Grand Rapids, so we headed to Captain Bizzaro’s Treasure World first.  The store was haphazardly arranged but fun to explore.  We particularly enjoyed talking with the proprietor.  I found a pretty short story collection by Ray Bradbury that I decided I needed and Mike enjoyed the record selection.

Bluedoor Antiques, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Our next stop was the Blue Door Antique store in the Uptown neighborhood.   This store was an Instagrammer’s dream: beautifully arranged and color coordinated.  It was a little bit pricey but everything there was just gorgeous.  After we drooled over everything in the store (especially their refurbished furniture), we moved down two doors to City Antiques.

Bluedoor Antiques, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

This store had more jewelry and knickknacks than anything else, but most of it was behind glass.  The lovely woman managing the store chatted us up a bit and ended up giving us some great recommendations for places to get dinner.  We stayed at the Amway Grand Plaza this time around and we really liked it!  The rooms were big enough and the lobby was just beautiful.

Amway Grand Plaza, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Reserve Wine Bar (one of the suggestions we were given), was right next door to the hotel, so we walked over and were seated upstairs.  We both ordered a cocktail; Mike got the Kentucky Red head and I ordered the Reserve Press, a delicious gin and St. Germaine drink.  For food, we shared the cheese and charcuterie plate, the tortellini en brood and the pierogi.

Reserve Wine Bar, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

The cheese plate was excellent, as most are, and we really liked the pierogi, which had pork and apple filling and a cabbage slaw underneath.  The tortellini left a little to be desired, and we wished it came with a little bit more food.  After dinner, it was time for the main event, the whole reason we were in Grand Rapids in the first place: Aretha Franklin at the DeVos Performance Hall.

Aretha Franklin, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

I don’t even have words to describe how much this concert meant to me.  Aretha has forever been my favorite and I’m so grateful to have been able to see her live.  She came out on stage in peak Diva fashion, in a blue sequined dress and a huge fur coat and had a full band behind her.  She sang a lot of great hits like “Do Right Woman” and “Freeway of Love” and of course “Respect”.  I ugly cried for the first three songs.  She’s still got it!

Aretha Franklin, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

After the show, we went back to the hotel to check out their bar on the 27th floor, aptly named Cygnus27.  This snazzy bar has to have the best view of Grand Rapids.  We sat at the bar, ordered some signature cocktails and made friends with the couple next to us.  They gave us A TON of great suggestions for places to check out.  We chit-chatted for a while, comparing dining experiences and sharing travel stories.

Amway Grand Plaza Bar, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

After they left, we had one more round and caught the end of the Blackhawks game.  The drinks were so delicious and they put us right to sleep once we got back to our room.  We slept in a bit the next day, and then headed to breakfast at Anna’s House which was one of the suggestions from our friends the night before.

Anna's House, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

There was a small wait for a table, but it was so worth it.  The inside of the restaurant was pastel and cozy.  We sat at a booth and were served big mugs of coffee.  Mike got a skillet and I got biscuits and gravy, with one of their red velvet pancakes on the side.  The food was absolutely amazing; it was such a nice way to start our day.  The cream cheese frosting that came with the pancake was honestly to die for.

Anna's House, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Anna's House, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

After breakfast we revisited a couple of stores we saw the last time we were there: Woosah and Vertigo Records.  Woosah is a really cool outfitter with beautiful printed t-shirts.  Mike and I each got one.  Then, next door, we perused the new and used records.  We went around to a couple other stores in the area before heading to lunch at Vander Mill Brewery.

Vander Mill Brewery, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

We sat at the bar there and ordered a good number of five ounce pours of ciders to try.  We also got fried pickles and a soft pretzel with beer cheese to soak up some of the cider.  The food was great and we loved all of the ciders we tried.  Our favorites were the Cherry Chuckle and the Nitro Fluff, which was described to us as how a cloud would taste after a unicorn danced on it.  I’d say that’s accurate.

Vander Mill Brewery, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

The woman manning the bar was a delight, and she gave us yet more recommendations.  One of which was a duplicate of one we’d heard the night before.  So that’s where we went for dinner.  Broadway Bar was a twenty minute walk from our hotel, over the river and along it, through the westside of town.

Brew City Redux, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

It was nestled into a neighborhood, set apart from the main strand of restaurants and bars.  The inside was decorated with Easter themed tablecloths and string lights and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off played on a screen on the wall.  It’s operation was a family affair, with one sister waitressing, one was behind the bar and mom was on the grill.  We ordered the tallest glasses I’ve ever seen and an olive burger and a swiss and mushroom burger.  The burgers were so damn good.  We were in heaven.

Broadway Bar, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Who knew olives were so good on burgers?? The whole experience was fantastic, if a bit rough around the edges.  We walked back to the main drag and stopped into the Knickerbocker for a flight of New Holland beers and a couple of fresh Michigan distilled cocktails.  The bar was gorgeous and had a lovely beer garden in the back.

Knickerbocker, Grand Rapids, Rebeccawanderlusting

Our next stop in our makeshift bar crawl was Stella’s – an arcade bar with an excellent selection of beet and whiskey.  This bar was crowded and had a fun atmosphere.  We only stayed for one drink, but it was an excellent place to get a beverage.

Stella's, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Across the street is the Pyramid Scheme, which was my favorite stop of the evening.  The bar featured a large area of pinball machines and a ton of great beers on tap.  We spent far too many quarters and maybe and had a bit too much beer because we left the bar with a framed, hand-painted “High Fidelity” movie poster.

Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

The BOB, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

We had to tote it with us for the rest of the night, which continued at The BOB for a beer on their rooftop.  It was a beautiful evening for it.  We also decided to play pool, but soon discovered we had imbibed too much to play well.  We walked back to the hotel, ordered a pizza from room service and watched American Ninja Warriors.  It was the perfect ending to another successful trip to Grand Rapids.

Brew City, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Have you been to Grand Rapids?  Which is your favorite place to get a beer in Beer City USA?

Grands Rapids Revisited, RebeccaWanderlusting

Grand Rapids Revisited

It’s not often that I get the chance to revisit a destination, but there’s certain places I’ve been that I wouldn’t pass up seeing again.  Grand Rapids, MI is one of these places.  I know, it’s strange that out of all of the places I’ve been, Grand Rapids always sticks in my mind as one of my favorites. Maybe it’s how much fun we had last time, or maybe I just like the pace of things there, whatever the case may be, we’re heading back there this weekend.

Mike got me tickets to see Aretha Franklin at the Devos Performance Hall to make up for the cancelled Aretha concert in Chicago last November.  She’s my favorite and Grand Rapids is one of my favorites, so making a trip out of it seemed like a no-brainer.  The best part of revisiting a city you’ve been to before is you can skip all of the touristy things and jump ahead to the deeper cuts.

Grand Rapids Revisited, RebeccaWanderlusting

One of the best things about Grand Rapids is that it is chock-full of my two favorite things: breweries and antique stores.  Last time we were there, we tried Brewery Vivant, Founders, Grand Rapids Brewing Co and the BOB for the breweries and checked out Warehouse One, Lost + Found, Century Antiques and Eastown Antiques for the antique stores.  We may hit up some of the same places again, but I would like to check out some new spots too.  Here are some of the shops and restaurants we’re hoping to try:

Grand Rapids Revisited, RebeccaWanderlusting

  • Captain’s Bizzaro’s Treasure World – to be honest I didn’t look any further into this than the name but… do I need to??
  • Bluedoor Antiques – their website makes everything in their store look dainty and Instagram-worthy and I’m dying to check it out in person.
  • Stella’s Lounge – a fun arcade bar with delicious burgers? Sign me up.
  • The Pyramid Scheme – a dive bar with a music venue in the back. They do have a show on Friday that we may check out, but either way this is a must-see on my list.
  • HopCat – a beer joint with lots of local brews and a casual menu that we’re both wanting to try.
  • Elk Brewing – a new brewery to try. Grand Rapids has a Brewsader Passport to try and get to all the breweries in the city and I really wish we would have known about this last time.
  • Anna’s House – this place is supposed to be super cute and we plan on checking it out for a filling breakfast before we head back to Chicago.

That’s all I’m planning for now.  I’m really looking forward to this trip and I don’t want to over-plan too much.  I hope we can raise a freshly brewed beer at the end of this trip and cheers to a nice relaxing vacation.  And of course I’ll let you know how it goes!

Grand Rapids Revisited, RebeccaWanderlusting

Have you ever been to Grand Rapids?  What was your favorite thing to do there?

Grand Rapids Revisited, RebeccaWanderlusting

Grand Rapids, MI – Day 2

Our second day in Grand Rapids started a little later than planned; we hit the breweries a little harder than expected the night before.  As soon as we could drag ourselves out of bed, we packed up and checked out.  Our first stop of the day was Cherie Inn for breakfast.
Cherie Inn, Grand Rapids, MichiganNew Design Floral, Grand Rapids, Michigan This adorable European Style restaurant is located right near Brewery Vivant in the East Hills Neighborhood.  There was a bit of a wait for a table which we spent exploring the flower shop next door (New Design Floral) and scheming for the rest of the day.  Once we were seated, we quickly ordered coffees to shake us out of our hangover fog.  Mike ordered the chicken and chorizo omelet for breakfast and I got the biscuits and gravy which was hearty and delicious.
Cherie Inn, Grand Rapids, MichiganThe Cherie Inn seemed to be an institution in Grand Rapids, and the crowd was a testament to its long standing status as the cozy breakfast nook of choice.  From there we moved to the Eastown Neighborhood, parking down the street from Eastown Antiques.  I don’t know if we were doing it wrong or what, but we never had to pay for street parking in Grand Rapids.  It’s a good thing, but as a Chicagoan, I’m always a little bit suspicious of free parking.  Eastown Antiques was amazing.  It was a perfect mix of the messy treasure hunting and curated knickknacks from the day before.
Eastown Antiques, Grand Rapids, MichiganI probably could have bought out the store if I had the resources too, but got a small globe and vintage bracelet instead.  The employees were wonderful and it was an overall fantastic antiquing experience.   We walked around the block a bit, stopping in The Mitten State (Michigan themed T’s and such) and Flashlight Alley (an interesting store of oddities).  We wanted to try one of the famous Yesterdog’s, but were both still pretty full from breakfast, so we split the namesake dog.  I have to say…. It was just alright.  Maybe we’re just partial to the mustard slathered, topping covered hot dogs from home.  Our last stop in Eastown was Argo’s Bookstore, a used book shop with a solid comic book collection and an endearing haphazard organizational system.
Argo's Bookstore, Grand Rapids, Michigan After we browsed through the books, we hit the road again and headed towards the Downtown Market.  The market is housed in a huge, two story building.  The first floor contained vendors, shops and restaurants and the second floor had a beautiful greenhouse, classrooms and a cooking demonstration room.
Downtown Market Grand Rapids, MichiganGrand Rapids Downtown Market, MichiganWe wandered between the rows of vendors, admiring the beautiful baked goods, smelling the handmade candles and flower stands and trying to stop our mouths from watering over all the amazing-looking food.  Being more thirsty than hungry, we stopped into Grand Traverse Distillery to take a peek at their small batch vodka and whiskey.
Grand Traverse Distillery, Grand Rapids, Downtown Market
The cheerful bartender/shopkeeper explained the company and offered to make us a summery cocktail of cherry vodka and lemonade, which of course we couldn’t refuse (especially at only $5 a pop).  The cocktail was so good and we had fun chatting with its creator, comparing rents in Chicago and Grand Rapids and discussing all of the breweries in the area.  Once we had our fill of the Downtown Market, we headed to Vertigo Music to celebrate Record Store Day.
Vertigo Music, Grand Rapids, MichiganThey had an excellent selection of new and used albums, as well as CD’s and DVDs.  I appreciated the fact they decorated their store to celebrate the occasion.  Soon we made our way to the intriguing shop next door: Woosah.  I loved it immediately.  It is a print shop that makes various clothing items, accessories and some paper goods.
Woosah, Grand Rapids, MichiganI got a Woosah patch and a notebook and ensured that they had an online store (they do, it’s here) before we left.  We made one last stop before heading home: Madcap Coffee; a hipster’s paradise with a minimalist menu and fantastic coffee.  I had the Café Miel, which was an amazing blend of espresso, milk, honey and cinnamon.
MadCap Coffee, Grand Rapids, MichiganWe also got a bag of coffee to take home and enjoy.  We made our way home from there, sipping our coffee and enjoying the afterglow of a great trip.  Once we got there, we caught each other looking up apartments for rent in Grand Rapids.  I don’t anticipate moving there any time soon, but it sure is a sweet dream.

Thanks for a beautiful weekend, Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids, Michigan, Road TripHave you ever been to Grand Rapids?  What did you think?  Where was your favorite spot?

2017 Travel Plans, RebeccaWanderlusting

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…