IllumiZoo

I am sure you have heard about it by now but if you haven’t let me tell you about IllumiZoo at John Ball Zoo! From their website – At John Ball Zoo a tale of illuminating connections between wildlife and wild places is ready to be told. The illuminating tale of how we are all connected to each other, to the land, the water, the air, the trees, and all animals big and small with the power to make a positive change in our world. You are invited to take a journey through IllumiZoo – A Glenlore Tale at John Ball Zoo.

I have been seeing a lot of pictures and posts from people going and it looked so cool and fun that I had to check it out myself. It did not disappoint! It was so pretty and presented a calmness between the lights and sounds, at least for me. It is a mile long trail and took us about 45 minutes to walk through. We went on a Saturday/Halloween night so it was pretty busy, we still got the full effect but I would recommend going during the week if you can, to avoid the crowds. Added bonus – tickets are cheaper during the week. I highly recommend checking it out though and it is fun and safe for all ages, and a perfect event to attend during the COVID-19 season so you can still have fun with the family or have a date/friends night!

They have a theme night as well! On November 12, between 9pm to midnight the theme is Tropical Calypso Music Night. From their website – Caribbean island-inspired music of Calypso with its highly rhythmic and harmonic vocals will get your body groovin’ for this special evening of IllumiZoo. Enjoy a wide array of music from Rodrigo y Gabriella to Bob Marley and the Wailers. You will make your way through the illuminated journey to the blissful rhythm of the steel pan drums swirling among marimbas and horns, while shakers complement the upbeat percussion and brassy tambourine. 

This event is going until November 15 so make sure you plan to visit before all of the pretty lights get packed up! I would say go this week because the weather has been gorgeous! It’s nice that Michigan is actually getting a nice fall this year. I will link their site here for more information and ticket prices. If you check it out send me a message letting me know what you think and tag @GrandRapidsLife in your photos! I love to see all of the fun that is being had in our awesome city. Also My Grand Rapids Life has a TikTok now so make sure to follow and see fun tours and highlights of places in Grand Rapids!

Cheers!

SweatNet GR

Let me first start off by saying SweatNet is amazing and I am hoping that after you read about everything they have to offer I will see you at the next event! SweatNet is a Grand Rapids health, fitness and wellness community. They put on at least 3-4 free fitness events a month but lately it has been more than that, and they feature different class styles and studios in the surrounding area. It is a $9.95 monthly membership that allows you access to go to all of the events, plus offers membership discounts to studios, and discounts at local restaurants and shops around Grand Rapids. 

SweatNet is all about bringing the community together and welcomes everyone with open arms! I am not a “gym” person, even though I wish I was, treadmill and free weights are just not for me. I love variety in my workouts and I love when workouts can be fun so it doesn’t feel like a chore. That’s how I fell in love with SweatNet GR! The first event that I found was a barre class on the rooftop of 7 Monks Brewery downtown and they offered a happy hour after the workout, I saw that and was like “These are my people!” It is all about balance.

I go to a lot of events by myself and I never feel out of place or awkward, everyone is so friendly and there for the same reason – to get a sweat on and have some fun. All the events that are put on are for all levels of fitness and have advanced moves and modifiers! The energy from the events will keep you coming for more and pushing yourself to new limits!

Like I mentioned in the beginning you get a lot of perks with your monthly membership. 

  1. Free access to monthly fitness events
  2. Drop in discounts to studios
  3. Salon and spa service discounts
  4. One free drink/smoothie from Clean Juice every month
  5. Gym/studio membership discounts
  6. Deals at local apparel shops
  7. Deals at local eateries 

The list is crazy long and keeps growing, it’s ridiculously awesome how many businesses are included. I love that it promotes only Grand Rapids and the surrounding area businesses, especially in times right now where small and local businesses need the community most! It is a great way to support our amazing city and show some extra love while enjoying our perks as well, it is a win win! 

I post all SweatNet events on the Weekly 411 page, and it is updated every Sunday night! I attend about 90% of events so feel free to reach out if you need a buddy to attend an event with you. I would love to show you the ropes and then visit one of our awesome brewery’s for our workout reward! Lace up your sneakers and let’s get our sweat on! 

Click here for the link to their website for more details and to sign up as a member

Cheers!

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Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm


It is fall time in Michigan and I think it is safe to say that if you are a Michigander fall is your favorite season. The weather finally cools down, football is on TV (Go Lions), everything pumpkin spice is on the shelfs, and of course the first holiday is coming up – Halloween! Fall activities are something I look forward to every year! This year I checked out a new place(to me that is)! It is called Ed Dunneback and Girls Farm, located at 3025 6 Mile Rd NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49544. 

Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm has all of the fall experiences in a one stop shop! They have apple picking, hay rides, pumpkins, a fresh produce market, cider/beers, amazing food, animals to pet, playground, and donuts! Did I miss anything? OH and they have a beautiful sunflower patch to walk in and have fun photo ops placed around to get the perfect picture. I’m telling you this is the place to visit this fall. 

I went early in the season so I didn’t get my pumpkin just yet, but I did have a field day in the sunflower patch! This was actually my first time being sunflower patch, I’ve always seen pictures but it is more beautiful in person. I felt like a kid again running through in the dirt and taking silly photos with the flowers. We even got to take one home with us! 

After our mini photoshoot in the flowers we headed back to the barn and explored the fun items that were on display and to get a bite to eat. They have fresh produce items, fun hand crafted gifts, books, and fun toys for kids. I dared my husband to eat a fresh jalapenos but he was too big of a chicken! We decided to split their apple bbq pulled pork sandwich and we were so hungry and it was so good that I forgot to take a picture of it before it was gone. One thing we didn’t try when we were there is any of their beers or ciders. We stuck with fresh apple cider this time around but plan on going back and sitting out on their patio in the fall breeze with most likely a sample of all of them. 

Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm is the perfect place for all of your fall activities and it is for all ages which is the best part! Fun for the kids, teenagers, young adults, parents, and grandparents, it is for everyone! Fall is also the quickest season in Michigan so I hope you get the chance and make the time to visit here for some fall fun! As also always let me know what you think! 

Cheers!

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Butcher’s Union

Two words: Meat & Whiskey! That is what you will find at Butcher’s Union located at 438 Bridge St Downtown Grand Rapids. The deliciously fancy cocktails, super tasty food, and comfortable outdoor seating all make it the perfect place to be. Their mission is  – “to offer delicious food, inspired cocktails and an unrivaled whiskey collection while creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome. We exist to create experiences where passion, purpose and a good time come together.” (https://www.butchersuniongr.com) I can say from experience they succeed! Butcher’s Union also supports the community by trying to source all of their products from local farmers and partners around the area. Which of course is awesome and we love that!

Before I dive into their delicious drinks and food, I have to admit that I am not a whiskey drinker. However, they do have other amazing cocktails available for non-whiskey drinkers so there’s something for everyone! Showing an example with my white peach sangria!

I am a huge sangria fan so I was very excited to see that this was an option. They also have a red sangria and offer a mixture of the two for the best of both worlds!

They are not known for Meat & Sangria though, so let’s get into the whiskeys, bourbons, and ryes. My husband ordered THE SQUIRMING COIL which is – Old Overholt rye & Amaro Montenegro stirred with BU simple syrup, Fee Brothers aztec chocolate bitters & Angostura bitters, served up in a smoked glass with a flamed orange peel.

The smoke aspect of this drink really drew him in to the intense flavors offering a new twist to an Old Fashion for him. He ended up ordering two!  He is looking forward to going back there and trying some of their other whiskey options while sitting out on the street patio in the cooler fall crisp air; creating a whole vibe there for you! Check out their full list of whiskey, bourbons, and ryes at Butcher’s Union or on their website, the list is very impressive even for someone who does not drink it. 

Onto these mouth watering sandwiches… They tasted just as good as they looked and were huge! We honestly could have split either one and still been stuffed! We ordered their pulled pork sandwich and the fried chicken sandwich and each  came with a pile of fries.

The chicken sandwich had a cucumber slaw on it and despite not being a huge fan of cucumbers, I thought it was delicious ! By the end I was just picking the cucumbers off to eat them !  I stole a few forkfuls of Tyler’s pulled pork (you know like wives  do) and it was so tender and flavorful. Highly recommend both of these sandwiches! As we waited for our food passing orders for other tables had us creating a list of things to try on future visits. ! There wasn’t one meal that came out that didn’t look delicious! 

Whether you are wanting cocktails with friends and/or family, date night, a delicious meal, or all of the above Butcher’s Union  is the perfect spot! There is something for everyone and you have to take advantage of the patio seating while it lasts. I hope you guys love it as much as we do, even though I know you probably will! 

Cheers!

Brewery Vivant

The first brewery that I will be highlighting is my favorite brewery in Grand Rapids, and that is Brewery Vivant!  If you follow along on instagram you will see in the stories that my husband and I go here quite a bit! There is so much that we love about this place and I will count the ways for you! 

But FIRST, some fun history/facts about this cool Eastown brewery! Vivant is the world’s first LEED certified microbrewery housed in a refurbished historic funeral home! Which is crazy cool, but I’ll be honest a little creepy too! Despite it’s morbid origin the inside reminds me more of a beautiful church! Unfortunately, the main dining area is closed right now but there you will find the most beautiful stained glass window right above the bar and gorgeous wood beams on the ceiling!

Another reason to try Vivant is that supporting them means supporting other local businesses! They’re devoted to sourcing most of they’re products from within the community! They also just opened a second location but that place is called Broad Leaf, and even though they are operated by the same overall they are different and will have their own post as well! 

It might sound crazy but Brewery Vivant is like a second home for me and my Husband! We became monk club (mug club but they call it monk club) members and that led to more visits to enjoy. Throughout our visits we have become friends with the hosts, servers, and mostly the bartenders! So now it’s  more going to hang out and talking to them than it is getting beers even though their beer is amazing! So that is why it is like a second home because the staff is so welcoming and nice and just fun to hang out with, it makes for a great atmosphere! 

Now for the good part –  food and BEER! I will start with food because just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Normally when we go we get their big juicy burger! I honestly don’t think I’ve had a better burger in Grand Rapids! They are extremely tender, always cooked right, flavorful, and huge! We normally share one and are stuffed afterwards!

I think their most popular item on the menu would be their duck nachos though, that’s right duck nachos! You’ll  see almost every table with an order of them. Another popular table shared item is their soft pretzels with beer cheese. This is one of my favorite items if I’m not hungry enough for the burger, it is the perfect snack to go with my beer!

Speaking of beers, Vivant has a great selection for everyone’s taste buds! My summer go to beers at the moment are Tropical Saison and Beach Patrol. Tropical Saison is a pineapple and mango Ale, super smooth and refreshing for the summer time. Beach Patrol is a Summer Wheat Ale with lime and sea salt, it makes me feel like I’m at the beach listening to the waves with every sip!

I tend to stick to the beers with more fruity flavors in them, which is why I have been branching out to more Sours, which Vivant has been creating a lot of options for. The one I just tried was Sour Lake: Watermelon Lime Sour and that was super tasty! It wasn’t a pucker your lips type of sour like some are but more of a subtle sour with a smooth finish and great flavors. Some watermelon flavors can be too sweet but I did not get that from this beer, which was a bonus for me!! My absolute favorite beer that Brewery Vivant makes though is………… Wizard Burial Ground! This is a Bourbon Barrel Aged Quadrupel and it is hands down number one on my beer list! It is a beer that comes out in, I believe the end of November, and only lasts as long as supply does and they don’t make more until the next year. We tend to go a lot when they have this beer on tap. They’ve been experimenting with variations of this beer making for some added fun to our visits when this time comes! When the time gets closer I will for sure talk more about my favorite beer! 

As you can tell I can talk about this place forever and could go on and on about how great it is here but please take my word and check it out for yourself! I am happy to give out beer recommendations as well! Wine is available for those who aren’t interested in craft beers providing something for everyone to enjoy! Check them out and tag me in your photos to let me know what you think! 

Cheers!

Relax at Rosa

Rosa Park Circle to me is the heart/gathering place of downtown Grand Rapids. It is close to everything and is super relaxing just hanging out there and enjoying a coffee. This inviting gathering place hosts all sorts of fun events! One being Relax at Rosa! 

Relax at Rosa has been an event that the city of Grand Rapids has been putting on for a while now. When the snow leaves Michigan and it’s finally summer time is when this event starts happening. Every Thursday from 12pm-1:30pm is free lunchtime entertainment! Every week there is a new spotlight on local talent and a line of Grand Rapids best food trucks!

It’s the perfect opportunity to step away from your desk/get out of your house to enjoy some great food, good company, and live music!

This event is dog friendly and masks are highly recommended and they suggest that you keep practicing social distancing while attending the event. They do have hand sanitizer stations on site for use as well. 

Here is the lineup for the rest of the summer – 

August 13: The Go Rounds

August 20: The Hacky Turtles 

August 27: Kevin Jones

Reminder all of these events are from 12pm-1:30pm at Rosa Park Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. For event pages and other events put on by Grand Rapids please visit their Facebook page here!

I love going to this event and checking out new local talent and our food trucks are hard to beat! It’s a perfect breath of fresh air for my dog Oakley and I! I am lucky enough to be working from home right now, so having a little lunch break and getting out and about is a great way to break up our day and have something to look forward to during the work week! Nothing like the great combination of food, sunshine, and live music to brighten your day!

I hope everyone gets a chance to experience this event before the leaves start turning! Take some time to enjoy your lunch break and get some Vitamin D while supporting GR’s local talent and food!