Tuesday, 01 August 2017 13:32

Best of the West 2017 winners: Nightlife & Activities

Written by  Josh Veal
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By and large, this was a good year for Nightlife & Activities incumbents. A majority of last year’s first place winners remain in their thrones, so let’s look at the exceptions.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park had quite the come-up, taking the lead for both First Date Spot and Tourist Attraction, which is quite the feat considering that ArtPrize (which was bumped to second place) brings in more than 500,000 visitors. The gardens have continued to grow every year, though, between the Ai Weiwei exhibition and the new Japanese Garden, complete with a Jenny Holzer collaboration.

Going back to that First Date Spot, we have not one but two ties this year, with Grand Rapids’ very own delicious tapas eatery San Chez tying for first, and Founders tying with Grand Haven Beach for third. We’ve got a wide range of experiences here.

Meanwhile, Rockwell/Republic climbed into second. We’re not sure exactly what it is, but the downtown New American/Asian gastropub seems to be on the rise lately. Maybe it’s the wide variety of atmospheres offered by the restaurant’s multiple seating areas; maybe it’s the excellent food ranging from very affordable to lavish; or maybe it’s the ever-improving cocktail menu. Who knows!

For the Dive Bar category, Anchor Bar rocketed into first place, unseating Mulligan’s. I can’t help but feel this is in large part due to the recent gentrification — er, I mean… development, of Bridge Street. Regardless, it’s a well-deserved win. Anchor is friendly and cheap, while still boasting an impressive whiskey menu and cool interior.

As much as we love to compare to last year, we also like doing something new. This year we added a few categories here and there, including Dog Parks. In first place? Grand Ravines Dog Park out in Jenison. I’m sure the fact the park is free is a big draw, and the new washing station and public restrooms don’t hurt. It’s hard to beat 20 acres of walking trails and two large off-leash areas for the price of $0. Still, Shaggy Pines deserves its second-place spot as well, with swimming ponds, a doggy mountain and even a coffee bar.

We’ll let you take it from here.


The Winners:

Annual Event/Festival
1. ArtPrize, artprize.org
2. Festival of the Arts
3. Founders Fest
1. The Meanwhile Bar, 1005 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
2. HopCat (Grand Rapids)
3. SpeakEZ Lounge
1. Grand Haven City Beach, S. Harbor Dr., Grand Haven
2. Holland State Park
3. Oval Beach
1. Clique Lanes, 533 Stocking Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
2. Wengers Bowling Center
3. Northfield Lanes
1. Gun Lake Casino, 1123 129th Ave., Wayland
2. Soaring Eagle Casino
3. FireKeepers Casino
Dive Bar
1. Anchor Bar, 447 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids
2. Mulligan’s Pub
3. The Meanwhile Bar
Dog Parks
1. Grand Ravines Dog Park, 3991 Fillmore St., Jenison
2. Shaggy Pines Dog Park
3. Hillcrest Dog Park
First Date Spot
1. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park (1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids) and San Chez (38 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids)
2. Rockwell Republic
3. Grand Haven City Beach, Founders Brewing Co.
1. Kale’s Korner, 511 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids
2. Fulton Street Pub
3. Z’s Bar and Restaurant
1. The Apartment Lounge, 33 Sheldon Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
2. Rumors Nightclub 
3. The Dunes Resort
Movie Theater
1. Celebration! Cinema North, 2121 Celebration Dr. NE, Grand Rapids
2. AMC Grand Rapids 18
3. Wealthy Theatre
Night Club
1. Eve at the B.O.B., 20 Monroe Ave. NW, 4F, Grand Rapids
2. Rumors Nightclub
3. Grand Woods Lounge
Open-Mic Night
1. Founders Brewing Co., 235 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
2. Rockford Brewing Company
3. Billy’s Lounge
1. White Pine Trail, whitepinetrail.com
2. Millennium Park
3. Kent Trails
Sports Bar
1. Peppino’s Sports Grille, 130 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids and other locations, peppinospizza.com
2. The Score
3. Uccello’s
Tourist Attraction
1. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, 1000 E Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
2. ArtPrize
3. Founders Brewing Co.


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