Grand Rapids is going all out to support local businesses and help visitors maintain social distance. Refreshment Areas allow visitors to carry and consume approved alcoholic beverages as they stroll through designated areas. You'll also find expanded outdoor seating for restaurants and public areas that allow you to stop for a bite or rest along the way.
The refreshment area in Grand Rapids is a great place to meet up with friends!
Photo by Experience Grand Rapids
More than 170 restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, retail stores and service establishments are eligible to participate in the Downtown Refreshment Area, which allows patrons to purchase and carry alcoholic beverages in roughly a three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids. That means you can walk from one end of downtown to the other and see all the major sights, including the Grand River, Calder Plaza, historic buildings and numerous outdoor sculptures and murals. You can even walk from Downtown to the West Side’s Bridge Street Entertainment District, and vice versa.
Here are some more areas to explore in the Downtown Refreshment Area:
This area is home to 20 or so bars, restaurants, coffee shops, retail stores and service establishments, in a riverside setting with park spaces and the 550 Monroe outdoor skate park.
Downtown’s funkier, more eclectic side boasts 50+ foodservice, retail and service businesses – like Downtown Market, a local foods emporium housing 20+ restaurants and gourmet food vendors.
Many restaurants, breweries, cideries, distilleries and coffee shops have enhanced their outdoor spaces in response to COVID-19. Click here for a list of notable fresh-air food and drink destinations – in downtown and beyond!
What types of alcohol beverage can I purchase to carry around the designated Refreshment Areas?
Beer, wine, and liquor are all allowable drinks when served in a designated container. Drinks must be purchased inside a participating business.
Can I walk anywhere with my drink?
No. Patrons must stay within the designated Refreshment Area boundaries. Leaving a Refreshment Area with an alcoholic beverage violates State and local law.
Can I take my drink from the Bridge Street Refreshment Area over to the Downtown Refreshment Area or the Monroe North Refreshment Area, and vice versa?
No. Patrons cannot carry drinks between the three designated Refreshment Areas. Drinks must be consumed and disposed of within the Refreshment Area in which they were purchased.
Can I take my Refreshment into other businesses?
No. Once a designated Refreshment has left the business where it was served, it must be consumed before you enter any other establishment.
Can I take an empty designated Refreshment container into a business so I can reuse it?
No, the only drinks allowed are those purchased from businesses participating in the Refreshment Area program. No cans, glass bottles, or outside drinks are permitted within the boundaries per State and local law.
What local businesses are participating in the Refreshment Areas?
There are many places where you can stop and purchase a drink to go. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) has a complete list on their website. Check back often as many establishments are currently moving through the permit process and will be ready to serve you soon!
Some street and lot parking has been eliminated to make room for seating and other amenities. Traffic routes have also been shifted in some zones. Visit the Grand Rapids City website to find the nearest available parking to each zone. You can use the free DASH bus service to travel within and between downtown social zones, which are adjacent to each other.
These are public spaces, so pets on leashes are allowed. Individual restaurants might not allow non-service animals in their outdoor dining spaces – please check first.
I don’t know about you, but I love nothing more than taking my dog out on a date. My partner, Eric, and I love to grab dinner or a drink on a patio that welcomes our best bud, Walter. He’s the best boy and deserves a night out occasionally too. We have checked out many dog-friendly…