Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan / Holiday Inn, Boat Show, 20 Monroe Live, Happy Hours

February 2017, Friday afternoon - overnight

View from Holiday Inn guestroom 511

Holiday Inn, King executive suite 511

This was our third or fourth stay at this Holiday Inn, and our experience was pretty similar to our past stays. Here is a link to photos and my 2014 post for executive guestroom 811. The only real difference in the guestroom this time was that the in-room coffeemaker had been upgraded to a Kuering K-cup machine. I was surprised there were only disposable cups in the guestroom, as there had been ceramic coffee mugs in 2014.

Coffeemaker in guestroom 511

I thought 35,000 points for this stay was a bit steep (I had redeemed 30,000 points at a nicer Crowne Plaza just a few weeks prior to this), although I was happy that I had been able to reserve an executive guestroom when I made the reservation. At the hotel, I received the standard Platinum on-property perk choice, and early check-in. I stopped at the front desk before we went to the Boat Show to ask when the room would be ready for check-in, and the front desk agent said we could check-in right then. This is one of the few hotels downtown Grand Rapids, which does not charge for parking.

We did not eat in the hotel bar or dining room, although we ordered pretzel bites to-go from the bar, which were very good.

Boat Show - Grand Rapids, Michigan 

We attended the Boat Show with free tickets compliments of If you are not familiar with GRNow, they provide a lot of great information about the Grand Rapids area on their webpage, and on Facebook. Show span usually offers discounted show tickets on weekdays, and we had considered attending the show even if I had not won the tickets.

I am not sure why anyone would want a pontoon boat with this much power!
We walked to the show from the Holiday Inn Friday afternoon. I was impressed that there were more hard-top cabin cruisers at the show than we usually see. Many of them were the size we are interested in for a future [used] purchase; 35' - 40'. Since Friday afternoon is not usually as busy as the rest of the weekend, we were able to board each boat that we wanted to see without too much of a wait. There were vendor areas, and more boats and ideas at the show, as well.

Clever dock furniture, although I would be
a bit concerned about losing items in the
water - especially on a floating dock!

We did not get to see Twiggy the waterskiing squirrel, because even with the un-crowded atmosphere during our visit, the bleachers were full, and the area was packed. We entered that area about 15 minutes before the show was set to begin. I am not very tall, and after we walked around the crowd for 5 - 10 minutes without success finding a good viewing spot, we left. The announcer was talking while we were there, although Twiggy had not been out yet.

Happy Hours

We like to check out new Happy Hours downtown, and you can see information about previous ones we have been to via the Happy Hour label at the bottom of this post. This time, we visited Divani and Woods Lounge. Although we have been to both of these locations before, our Happy Hour experiences were new.

Braised Pork Tacos at Divani -
photo taken after I had squeezed the lime wedge (oops!)
Divani is one of our favorite Happy Hour stops for the excellent service, quality, and local brews on tap. They recently added a few food items to their Happy Hour menu. We tried the Braised Pork Tacos, which were excellent. Grand Woods Lounge is a unique stop with outside seating (in season), and actual wood burning fireplaces. We tried the Happy Hour burger, which was very good for only $5.

20 Monroe Live - view from left mezzanine

20 Monroe Live

I just love this new concert venue downtown Grand Rapids. The atmosphere and sound quality was excellent. The view was great, and the seating was comfortable. As others have mentioned, the drink prices were kind of high. The main floor was packed the night we visited, although the top floor sections were mostly empty. You can see the empty right side mezzanine seats in the photo above. The lines to enter before the doors opened were pretty long - from inside The Bob, and the front entrance by the ticket windows. This may have been because the venue had a promotion to give VIP passes to the first 50 people through the door. We observed a parking garage underneath this location; however, I could not find information about this lot on the 20 Monroe Live site or the Grand Rapids parking page. We did not need to park nearby, as we had walked from our hotel.

Waldron Building on Ionia Street


Downtown Grand Rapids has really grown in recent years, and it is always bustling with many things to see and do. Events, breweries, excellent dining, riverwalk, and more. There are many lodging choices, and public transportation is available. The Amtrak station is just over ½ mile from the downtown area hotels, and there are sidewalks along the route to downtown. I do not think many people walk the area right in front of the station, as there are not any dining type establishments until you get to Grandville Ave. by Founders; however, maybe this will change. We have often taken the Amtrak from Grand Rapids to Chicago overnight for a nearby weekend outing, and I think Amtrak should consider a timetable that brings visitors into Grand Rapids for a likewise visit. Currently, the Pere Marquette train only arrives in Grand Rapids in the late evening, and it departs in the early morning. This timetable is great for visiting Chicago from Grand Rapids, although not vice versa.

Let me know if you have any questions. Please share this post for future Grand Rapids visitors!