Gems of Grand Rapids


By: Ashley Mentley, TravelEatWOD

Typically when Jason and I plan trips we base them around two things: food and fitness. We do a lot of research into where and what we want to eat, and we also seek out interesting CrossFit gyms or other ways to stay active while we’re away. But sometimes, something different dictates our destination. Although a particular city or location wasn’t on our “travel bucket list,” we still try to turn it into a great trip with great food (and make a vlog out of it too, of course). That’s the story of our latest trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In addition to their day jobs, Jason and his friends are race car drivers! So we recently headed out to Grattan Raceway for an open track day. Grattan isn’t far from Grand Rapids, which isn’t far from home, but we figured we’d do the research, find the best food, and turn it into a new episode of TravelEatWOD. Besides, sometimes it’s best to explore your own backyard.


If there’s one thing we’re proud of here in Michigan, it’s craft beer. Grand Rapids is home to Founders Brewing, Atwater, Brewery Vivant and more. There’s even a map of the “Beer City Ale Trail,” listing over 40 craft breweries, cideries and beer bars to check out in the area. We headed to 7 Monks Taproom where the four of us each ordered a flight of five drinks so we could try as many as possible. If you’re a fan of beer, you’ll be a fan of the Grand Rapids area.


The Downtown Market is a great place to stop for a bite to eat, coffee, dessert, a drink...pretty much anything. They have over 20 vendors, two full service restaurants, an outpost of Madcap Coffee and plenty of special events, both indoors and out. Whether you’re in a rush or simply can’t decide what to eat, the Market is a great option.


For dinner we headed to one of the most unique restaurants in the Grand Rapids area: The Søvengård. It’s a casual Scandinavian restaurant with an outdoor beer garden and shipping container bar. When we arrived we were surprised to see they had expanded and opened HØST, a similarly-inspired restaurant with a more upscale feel where the menu changes daily and you can expect to find a few more craft cocktails than craft beer. Our curiosity got the better of us and we opted to eat at HØST, which did not disappoint.


Although a short road trip to Grand Rapids didn’t feel like the most exotic of vacations to us, we decided to make the most of an open track day and explore the city in a new way, and film a new episode of TravelEatWOD. After a day of eating, drinking and hanging out with friends, we headed to Grattan Raceway early the next morning (after grabbing croissants from Nantucket Bakery, of course) where Jason and his friends had a great day on the track. 

If you’re a fan of craft beer or craft cider, definitely consider a trip to Grand Rapids. It’s located on the west side of the state which means it’s close to all the beautiful sandy beaches of Lake Michigan (and if you’ve never been to Lake Michigan, you’re missing out on some of the best fresh-water beaches in the country).

You can see more of our time in Grand Rapids, what we ate and drank, and how the guys did at the racetrack by visiting our YouTube channel and watching the vlog here or down below.

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