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  1. What you need to know to visit the area.

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    West Side

    "The West Side is the best side," according to the residents and business owners of this venerable neighborhood, which was first connected to downtown Grand Rapids via footbridge in 1842. German, Polish, and Irish immigrants soon populated the area, establishing distinct business districts amidst tree-lined residential streets. Today, a growing Latino population is adding to the neighborhood’s diversity and contributing to a major revitalization of buildings and businesses.

    Where to Eat in the West Side

    Friendly neighborhood pubs, foodie-forward breweries and authentic Hispanic restaurants add to a diverse dining mix.

    Where to Shop in the West Side

    Start your shopping at Bridge Street Market – the first urban supermarket from locally headquartered grocery industry titan Meijer. Then explore specialty shops for everything from Michigan apparel to Polish kielbasa.

    What to Do on the West Side

    Hit the links – the Mines Golf Club is an 18-hole course right around the corner from John Ball Zoo. Built atop old gypsum mines, the rolling terrain makes it a joy (and challenge) to play.

    Hike, bike or blade Kent Trails, a 15-mile paved pathway that follows abandoned railroad lines through wetlands, forests, meadows and city neighborhoods. John Ball Zoo is a trailhead.

    Explore Bridge Street – the up-and-coming entertainment district is home to Bucher’s Union Meat & Whisky restaurant, Harmony Hall brewery and restaurant, Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery, New Holland Brewing - The Knickerbocker and The Sovengard Scandinavian restaurant. And there’s more to come!

    What to See on the West Side

    See more than 1,300 animals at John Ball Zoo, one of the nation’s oldest surviving urban zoos and Michigan’s fourth most visited cultural attraction.

    See four majestic Catholic churches erected by the area's early immigrants. The Germans built St. Mary's, the Irish built St. James, and the Polish built St. Adalbert and Sacred Heart, all within a few blocks of each other.

    See (and buy) gourmet nut and coffee mixes featured on the Home Shopping Network at Ferris Coffee & Nut, a local company that dates back to 1924.

    Local West Side Favorites

    Arnie’s Bakery & Restaurant and Brann’s Steakhouse & Grille are longtime West Side favorites serving up delicious food in a friendly atmosphere.

    Frank’s Market and Lewandoski’s Market offer a selection of authentic and German and Polish foods, including fresh and smoked kielbasa, metwurst, German wieners and more.

    The Bitter End Coffeehouse, popular with neighborhood residents and students from nearby Grand Valley State University, is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    West Side Hidden Gems

    Muse GR in an interactive art gallery offering events, classes and workshops.

    Blue Dog Tavern, Corridor Coffee, The Holiday Bar, Monarchs Club Corner Bar and Salvatore’s Italian Restaurant & Pizza form a mini Restaurant Row on a two-block stretch of Stocking Avenue.