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Downtown: Free-Style (part II)

Underwriting support from:


/Jonathan Clay

Same great fun, now with 0 cost.

For this second installment of, “Downtown: Free-Style,” you are invited to take a tour of the city. Put on some good walking shoes, bring a camera and a map, and get ready to enjoy all the free activities our city has to offer.

Start your tour at the downtown public library. Enjoy the quiet atmosphere while observing the beautifully restored, historic building. You can browse the catalog for new titles to read, but the library carries more than just books. GRPL stocks a vast selection of music and movies. But remember to return them on schedule or they will no longer be free. Also, if you climb to the third floor, you will find displays of art and Grand Rapids history.

Step out the front door of the library and look to your right. If it is Tuesday, around lunch time, Veterans’ Memorial Park will be filled with people. They are all in line for a free hotdog. The servers, focused on feeding the homeless and hungry, are always looking for volunteers. If you are not available for lunch on Tuesdays, you can volunteer at many other soup kitchens and food services (God’s Kitchen, Guiding Light, Kid’s Food Basket, Degage). It would be both free and enriching.

Continue west on Fulton Street to Division Avenue. At this intersection you are in the exact center of Grand Rapids. Look south, down Division Avenue, and you might spot Dodd’s record shop or Bohemia Too, two stores that welcome curious explorers. Keep heading west and you will come to Ottawa Street, well known for its nightlife, but maybe you should keep walking if you want the free stuff.

Off to your right is the B.O.B. If it is your birthday, head to Gilly’s for a free Lobster Dinner. Is it your birthday week? Mangiamos! will give you a free dinner as well. Is it still the month of your birthday? Blue Water Grill will give you a free lobster club sandwich. (The second two restaurants are not downtown, but it is worth mentioning.) Visit their websites for more details.

From the B.O.B, cross the street to the parking lot at the opposite corner. Here, you can climb up the stairs to the Skywalk. This elevated walkway will lead you through many of Grand Rapids’ most famous buildings like the Plaza Towers, J.W. Marriot, and the Amway Grand Hotel. Art is displayed along the entire walkway so allow some time for observation. The Skywalk ends at the DeVos Performance Hall. Walk out the back door and you are presented with a magnificent view of the river.

Your tour ends here, as you stroll casually down the boardwalk. Take a moment to reflect on the day and vow to return soon. There are always more places and activities waiting for you in Downtown Grand Rapids.

If you liked this article series and use any of the suggestions, take pictures. You can make a slideshow on Flickr and post the video in your comments.


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Turned out very well. A great, informative, and quick read.


And of course, I love the photo!

Just remember you have to purchase another entree to get the free lobster. I know some people who have made that mistake...It's very good though and I recommend it!

It is great to know that Grand Rapids has so much to offer...for free!  I am looking forward to the free lobster in August :)