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Yes, Downtown Grand Rapids Has a Nightlife!
By Pamela Holtz
Photography by Michael Buck

We remember a time not so long ago when there were only a few haunts to frequent in downtown Grand Rapids on a Friday or Saturday night. Now, a vibrant, diverse club experience downtown — or near downtown — beckons just about any night of the week.
Here are some of the gems of Grand Rapids’ urban nightlife scene.

48 West
48 W. Fulton St.

Sophisticated atmosphere sports a circular bar. Live entertainment on weekends. Reminiscent of a 1940s jazz club. Extensive vodka selection.

The Apartment
33 Sheldon Ave. NE

Bartenders with razor wit reside within a gorgeous wood interior. Darts and a great jukebox. Cash only; ATM available.

20 Monroe Ave. NW

A variety of options located in one “big old building” in the heart of downtown: Dr. Grins Comedy Club, an upscale New York-style dance club called Crush, The Monkey Bar … the list goes on. Check it out at

Billy’s Lounge
1437 Wealthy St. SE

An interesting variety of happy hour specials, live music and free pool make this Eastown spot a welcome detour to the downtown scene. Be sure to check out for upcoming live acts and changing specials.

Black Rose Irish Pub
100 Ionia Ave. SW

An extensive draft and wine selection, live entertainment, and all the Irish traditions fit for a night out.

245 N. Division Ave.

Happy hour every day from 4-7 p.m., DJ music with plenty of room to shake your booty. Pool tables and an appetizer menu available.

Diversions Video Bar & Grill
10 Fountain St. NW

Diverse clientele, great videos and music. Something for everyone.

81 Ionia Ave. NW

A club for the metropolitan professional with half-off happy hour 4-8 p.m. daily. Ol’ Skoul Hip Hop on Tuesdays, Reggae Sunsplash on Wednesdays and what Thursday would be complete without Retro D’lux?

139 Pearl St. NW

Irish pub with a great menu caters to the post-work professional crowd. Live music on weekends, no cover.

133 Grandville SW

This well-known transplant from Eastown boasts an even better venue for live acts. Check it out at

J. Gardella’s
11 Ionia Ave. SW

A fun, friendly bar offering good menu and great microbrew selection. Pool tables and an additional bar downstairs. “Absolute best happy hour prices” on Wednesdays.

Louis Benton
77 Monroe Center NW

Fabulous steakhouse with elegant, upscale bar featuring a knowledgeable staff, interesting special drink menu, wonderful complimentary spinach dip for happy hour and live music. Optional valet parking.

180 Monroe Ave. NW

Dueling piano bars and a great drink menu make this establishment a must-visit.

438 Bridge St. NW

Offering a relaxed, Chicago-feel happy hour, this place rocks out in the latter part of the evening with a mix of music. Wednesday is college night with $1 drinks until 11:30 pm. Sunday is open mic night.

O’Toole’s Public House
448 Bridge St. NW

When the large street windows are open, this pub feels like a Key West drink easy. Great food and a long list of brews. Check out the game selection and take a skate on the peanut shells covering the floor. Sundays are “make your own Bloody Mary” day.

Pickwick Tavern
970 Cherry St. SE

Neighborhood bar east of downtown with a friendly feel and great drink prices. Check out the Whitbread on tap, and bring your Benjamins, because it’s cash only.

Radio Tavern
661 Bridge St. NW

Live music is featured almost every night starting at 9 p.m. Although a light menu is offered, the bar is full of selections. Pool tables and darts available. Don’t forget you can get Big O’s food here.

Rumors Night Club
69 S. Division Ave.

With an entertaining assortment of staff and bartenders, and an exciting live performance schedule, you are always in for a surprise at this alternative nightclub. Great happy hour.

The Stack
889 Broadway Ave. NW

Set in a historical building, this club has every techno gizmo known to the club scene. Catering to the young professional with wide variety of eats, daily happy hours and weekend opportunities to shake your groove thang.

8 Ionia Ave. SW

Featuring a staggering beer selection, this is the place to try just about any beer known to man. Monday is Monday Night Football and free pool. Tuesday is Ladies Night with $1 off domestics and well drinks for the girls. Check out the nightly specials and the exceptionally good menu.

940 Monroe Ave. NW

Upscale, trendy nightspot with a great deck and nightly drink specials. Perfect spot for the after-work crowd, as well as for dancing on weekends. Wednesday is Ladies Night, $1 wells, drafts and domestic bottles.

With so many good choices and such a growing city, be sure to get out there and support your local nightlife. And remember to tip your wait-staff. GR

Pamela Holtz is a free-lance writer who lives in Grand Rapids.

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