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      Grand Rapids Social Zones

      Outdoor Dining, Shopping, Fitness & Fun

      Grand Rapids is going all out to support local businesses and help visitors maintain social distance. Social zones allow restaurants, breweries and other businesses to serve customers in outdoor public spaces – streets, sidewalks, parks and parking lots that have been transformed into open-air marketplaces.

      Spring brings warmer weather, but there can still be chilly days. Heating equipment, tents, canopies and other temporary structures offer refuge from the elements when you need it – but there’s also plenty of open-air seating to let you soak up the sun when you’re dining, drinking and relaxing!

      Prioritizing Health of Businesses & Customers

      Social zones were originally developed to expand the space available for visitors to dine and drink when indoor capacity limits were implemented due to COVID-19. All capacity limits (and face mask requirements) have been lifted, but the zones have been so popular that the city has expanded their reach even further across downtown and other neighborhoods. Visitors can still take advantage of ubiquitous hand sanitizer stations throughout zones as well as the healthy benefits of fresh, naturally circulated air!

      What to Expect

      Each zone is different because the businesses surrounding it are different. All zones include tables and chairs – spaced at least six feet apart – where patrons can eat takeout meals and drink alcohol in sealed containers purchased from nearby restaurants. Some restaurants and pubs are adding heating devices and structures to these public areas while others are winterizing their own patios and decks.

      Downtown Social Zones

      More than 170 restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, retail stores and service establishments are eligible to participate in four downtown zones. Click here for a map of the zones. All four zones are included in the Downtown Refreshment Area, which allows patrons to purchase and carry alcoholic beverages between zones.

      Monroe North

      This area is home to 20 or so bars, restaurants, coffee shops, retail stores and service establishments­, in a riverside setting with park spaces and the 550 Monroe outdoor skate park.

      Bridge Street 

      Just across the river from downtown, this vibrant entertainment district hosts 20-some food, drink and retail destinations – including the newly opened Arktos Meadery and Condado Tacos.

      Center City 

      Encompassing the heart of downtown, this zone offers nearly 100 places to dine, drink and shop as well as abundant outdoor art, fascinating museums and a beautiful riverfront park.

      Heartside/Ionia Ave 

      Downtown’s funkier, more eclectic side boasts 50+ foodservice, retail and service businesses – like Downtown Market, a local foods emporium housing 20+ restaurants and gourmet food vendors.

      Outdoor Dining

      Many restaurants, breweries, cideries, distilleries and coffee shops beyond our Social Zones have enhanced their outdoor spaces in response to COVID-19. Click here for a list of notable fresh-air food and drink destinations – in downtown and beyond!

      Social Zones Outside Downtown

      • COMING SOON: West Fulton, five minutes west of downtown GR and just steps from John Ball Zoo, boasts outdoor seating and allows open carry of alcoholic beverages purchased at the zone’s two bars
      • Uptown, a walkable shopping-and-dining district east of downtown, has added several Social Zones with seating available to any and all guests and businesses.
      • Rockford, 15 minutes from GR, has established Outdoor Refreshment Areas in its charming downtown area, providing space for diners and allowing visitors to purchase an alcoholic beverage from participating establishments and carry it through the Area.
      • Cedar Springs, about 20 minutes north of GR, has set up a Social District allowing visitors to purchase alcoholic beverages from participating businesses and carry them to Cedar Springs Park on Wednesdays from 7pm-9pm in June, July and August. Visitors can consume the beverages while listening to live music in the park.
      • Lowell, 20 minutes east of GR, has opened the Showboat City Social District in its historic downtown, where guests and order and enjoy al fresco food and beverages from six restaurants and breweries.
      • A 12-block Social District in downtown Muskegon, 40 minutes from Grand Rapids, permits patrons to purchase alcoholic beverages and stroll around the district

      Downtown Refreshment Areas

      Patrons of participating restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues may carry open alcoholic beverages in designated containers throughout the Downtown Refreshment Area, which encompasses all four downtown social zones. Purchase a beverage in one zone and enjoy it as you stroll city sidewalks to other zones. The Downtown Refreshment Area operates from 7am-10pm Sunday-Thursday and 7am-midnight Friday-Saturday. Click here for a brochure/map of the Refreshment Area.

      Refreshment Areas FAQs

      What types of alcohol beverage can I purchase to carry around the designated Refreshment Areas?

      Beer, wine, and liquor are all allowable drinks when served in a designated container. Drinks must be purchased inside a participating business.

      Can I walk anywhere with my drink?

      No. Patrons must stay within the Refreshment Area boundary. Leaving a Refreshment Area with an alcoholic beverage violates state and local law. Orange border signage on sidewalks and light posts will help keep you within bounds.

      Can I take my refreshment from one Social Zone to another?

      Yes, as long as you stay on the designated route between zones. For example, you can walk down Monroe Avenue to travel between the Monroe North and Center City zones.

      Can I take my Refreshment into other businesses?

      No. Once you leave a business with a designated refreshment, you must consume it before you enter any other establishment.

      Can I take an empty designated Refreshment container into a business so I can reuse it?

      No, the only drinks allowed are those purchased from businesses participating in the Refreshment Area program. No cans, glass bottles, or outside drinks are permitted within the boundaries per State and local law.

      What local businesses are participating in the Refreshment Areas?

      There are many places where you can stop and purchase a drink to go. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) has a complete list on their website. Check back often as many establishments are currently moving through the permit process and will be ready to serve you soon!

      Parking and Transportation

      Some street and lot parking has been eliminated to make room for seating and other amenities. Traffic routes have also been shifted in some zones. Visit the Grand Rapids City website to find the nearest available parking to each zone. You can use the free DASH bus service to travel within and between downtown social zones, which are adjacent to each other.

      Pets Welcome

      These are public spaces, so pets on leashes are allowed. Individual restaurants might not allow non-service animals in their outdoor dining spaces – please check first.

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