Hometown Favorites | Grand Rapids, MI
This week I’ve taken a break from my South African life to visit my hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan. While the most dramatic shift for me has probably been the climate, the slower pace of life here has also been an adjustment. It’s not nearly as slow as life in the South African Midlands but needless to say Grand Rapids is certainly no Cape Town.
Since moving to Los Angeles in August of 2015, my time in Michigan has been fairly limited. But there is always something so special about coming home. And even though it’s not the most exciting place. there are still a handful of places I love to visit when I come back.
Here are my favorite hometown spots - places I will definitely be visiting over the next week and a half!
THE DOWNTOWN MARKET
The Downtown Market Grand Rapids is probably my all-time favorite place in this little city and it didn’t even exist 6 years ago. The Market is an indoor collection of local vendors and restaurants that sell everything from vegan ice cream and artisan cheese to Vietnamese phở and authentic tacos. Speaking as both a foodie and fan of supporting local business, this market was long-overdue and now I definitely can’t imagine Grand Rapids without it.
Wolfgang’s Cafe is a classic breakfast diner nestled in Eastown, a tiny district of Grand Rapids that is distinguished by its edgy/alternative vibes. I love Wolfgang’s for the cheap prices and relaxed vibes. And the memories it has from countless early breakfasts my friends and I had there before school makes up for the subpar food and coffee.
For those of you that actually know the Celebration Cinema movie theatres, you are probably very confused to why this is on my list, but bare with me. In a city like Grand Rapids, activities are fairly limited. This reality combined with my love for movies meant going to the movie theatre was a regular activity. But the reason I love Celebration Cinema isn’t because I have memories of going there as a kid. It’s because it’s a genuinely nice theatre and you aren’t going to spend more than $15 on a ticket like you would in LA. I’ve been in movie theatres around the world and they are always either big, fancy, and expensive or small, outdated, and cheap. So yes, Celebration Cinema qualifies as a hometown favorite.
Sushi is my favorite food. Grand Rapids doesn’t have a lot of decent sushi. This is why Maru makes this list. Maru is one of the better restaurants in Grand Rapids and I can safely confirm that they serve good sushi because I’ve had just about every roll on their menu.
Reeds Lake is the defining feature of East Grand Rapids, the area of Grand Rapids where I live. This tiny, man-made body of water is essentially a pond in comparison to the Great Lakes but it’s a body of water nonetheless and I love living by water. In the summers, my dad and I would walk around the lake or my friends and I would go down to it for picnics or throwing a frisbee. When I was in middle school and high school, my science teachers would walk us down to it and we would collect water or algae to study. It’s an aesthetically pleasing gathering place and I think any other EGR local would have it on their list of favorites as well.
My trip to Michigan is brief but I thought this list would be a fun way to share some of it with you! To follow along day-to-day and see me frequent some of these spots I’ll be regularly posting on my instagram story about my Grand Rapids “adventures.”