-By Mike Staley and Aaron Stoner
ArtPrize 2018 is upon us, which means art everywhere and huge crowds of people downtown. If you’re like us though, this event can cause stress and anxiety. The older we’ve gotten, the less tolerant we have become of large crowds. Honestly, we used to love being in a packed bar on a Friday or Saturday night. Now though we much prefer a night in with the family and watching “Boss Baby” for the 64th time, or binging on the latest Netflix addiction.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not anti ArtPrize. We’ve seen it and what these artists do is beyond amazing and we have so much respect and admiration for the people who spend hundreds of hours creating a masterpiece. But, with how awful traffic has been in downtown Grand Rapids as of late, combined with the fact that it feels like every downtown street is under construction, we wouldn’t blame you for trying to avoid the circus.
But look, we get it. We know you want to take your significant other out tonight to one of the hot spots on Ionia Avenue or Cherry Street. But be warned, parking will be a nightmare and the streets will be crawling with people. Fortunately, Grand Rapids is full of restaurants, bars and breweries, so you have options if you want to avoid the carnage downtown.
We’d suggest Cottage Bar, 18 La Grave Ave SE. It’s just off the beaten path and offers one of the most delicious burgers in town. You could also try some delightfully tasty tapas at Zoko 822 on Ottawa Ave, just a 15-minute walk to the heart of Downtown. This one is still technically in the ArtPrize area, but it’s on the northern fringe where there won’t be as much traffic. Or, if you’re trying to keep it cheap, try a super authentic, yummy as you know what taco with mouth watering marinated pork at Taqueria San Jose, 1338 Division Ave SE.
If you want a good Grand Rapids brew, try Brewery Vivant, 925 Cherry St. SE, just a mile and a half from the Grand Rapids Community College campus. Another great spot away from the heart of ArtPrize is Harmony Brewing Company at 1551 Lake Dr. SE. Harmony offers a wide variety of craft beer and has some of the best pizza in town. Or you could try Oprah’s favorite GR spot and hit up The Mitten Brewing Company, 527 Leonard St. NW. This baseball themed brewery offers flights with up to six different beers you can try. You can also get a soft pretzel the size of a large pizza. No really, it’s the size of your abdomen. These are just a few suggestions we have if your looking for a good night out without the hassle.
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But, if you want to check out Art Prize, which despite everything we’ve said we do in fact recommend, you’ve got options. Uber, Lyft, The Rapid, DASH, heck, pop on a pair of your old Heelys and roll your way down there. If you’re planning on going out to eat downtown, expect long waits. We recommend calling ahead. Just some advice from former extroverts turned introverts.
For a map of all ArtPrize boundaries and locations, click here.
Jack Hervela contributed to this story.