LivingTravelGrand Rapid Gay Nightlife Guide

Grand Rapid Gay Nightlife Guide

Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second-largest metropolis, is located along the Grand River in southwestern Michigan, just 25 miles inland from Lake Michigan and a 45-minute drive (via speedy I-196) from the most popular gay resort community in the Midwest, Saugatuck-Douglas. For visitors to the latter region, Grand Rapids has the closest airport (Gerald R Ford International) that offers regular service from multiple major carriers, and is a lively and attractive city for a night on the town, home to a few bars. gay-friendly, the state’s only gay bathhouse outside of the Detroit metro area, and a growing crop of top-notch microbreweries and great restaurants.

The city also hosts the busy Greater Grand Rapids Gay Pride Festival each year in mid-June.

Among the gay clubs in Grand Rapids, Rumors Nightclub (69 Division Ave. S) is located in the heart of downtown. This is a large and energetic dance club and bar with a great mix of daily theme nights, from boys go-go boys on Wednesdays to Friday nights for ladies and drag shows on Sundays. On Saturday nights there are sometimes foam parties, and it’s always a great destination for dancing late into the night. It is within walking distance of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Van Andel Arena, and some of the larger downtown hotels (eg, the JW Marriott Grand Rapids, the Amway Grand Plaza).

The oldest gay bar in Grand Rapids (and one of the oldest in the state) is the Apartment Lounge (33 Sheldon Ave.), a laid-back, no-frills neighborhood bar that has gone from strength to strength since the early 1970s and is right in downtown, close to local theaters and hotels and right next to Veterans Memorial Park. It’s easy to walk between any of the three gay bars, as they are all within walking distance of each other, as well as a number of other cozy restaurants, cafes, and main downtown bars.

Grand Rapids has built a great reputation in recent years for its number and variety of high-quality craft breweries; If you’re a fan of strong, interesting beer and tasty pub food, consider some of these lively and fairly gay-friendly venues, like HopCat (25 Ionia Ave. SW), which is housed in a beautiful old building that has lots of character and serves a variety of beers as well as tasty comfort food: HopCat also has locations in Ann Arbor, Detroit, East Lansing, and the Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indianapolis.

Another great craft brewery in town is Founders Brewing Co. (235 Grandville Ave. SW), which is as popular for its top-notch beer (try Oak-Age Rye Ipa) as it is for its live music and strong sandwiches.

San Chez Bistro (38 Fulton St. W) is a lovely option for authentic Spanish tapas, sangria, and, in the morning, great breakfast. Greek and Mediterranean food is well represented in Michigan, and Marie Catrib’s (1001 Lake Dr.) is one of the best, serving up great hummus, sweet potato, and quinoa burgers (well, the menu isn’t strictly Mediterranean), falafel, and more.

Coffee culture is alive and well in Grand Rapids, with the quirky Sparrows Coffee Tea & Newsstand (1035 Wealthy St. SE) drawing an eclectic and loyal crowd thanks to its high-quality java and teas, delicious pastries, and a wide selection of periodicals: it is open from very early in the morning until late at night (hours are a little shorter in summer). Also check out Madcap Coffee (98 Monroe Center St. NW), which isn’t open that late (until 7pm most nights) but is a highly respected artisan roaster serving the best coffee in the state.


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