GReat Dates

Gillet Bridge

by Bri Kilroy • inspiration from WLM staff and writers

Love is in the crisp, winter air, and whether you’re crushing on your soul mate, friends, city, off-path adventures or mouthwatering cuisine, there’s plenty to love about Grand Rapids including the opportunity of dynamic date creation.

We turned to the WLM staff and contributing writers to share their favorite date ideas resulting in a sporadic collection of new adventures. Read on to discover what you’ll be doing on your next date night.

Fusing over Fitness

Connect through a new fitness challenge that tests both your bodies and ability to keep your cool during a 2-minute plank. Kerry Hart, LLMFT of Grand Rapids Natural Health, said she and her fiancé had a blast when she convinced him to join her for a barre class at Pure Barre Grand Rapids.

“It was nice to do something outside the norm,” she said. “Not to mention, getting ready for this date took a lot less time than if we were going to a show.”

Find fancy outside a fitness class by taking your adventure on the myriad of hike and bike trails in the area. Rick Vuyst, CEO of Flowerland, suggests a walk through the MSU garden with tagalong coffee and snacks for a pit stop on the trail. Additionally, the Kent Trails weave through some of GR’s most beautiful natural areas and connect with the trail network at Millennium Park, which hosts benches overlooking the park’s lakes (you know, for those who haven’t found the perfect spot to propose yet).


Road Trip Romance

Exploring new territory together allows your sense of wonder and exploration to overshadow any pre-date jitters you may have. Susie Gordon, WLM sales manager, likes to unearth hidden gems with her man.

“We love to hop in our Solstice for a road trip,” she said. “We found a gem of a beach in Muskegon and followed up with a bite to eat at Bear Lake Tavern.”

Editor Richelle Kimble defines the perfect road trip romance as driving to Lake Michigan after work for an evening of spontaneous exploring. She suggests stopping at a local restaurant, brewery, distillery or vineyard on the way home; devouring a glorious cheeseboard, crudités, antipasto platter or something of the like; and snatching last-minute tickets to whatever show Grand Rapids is hosting that night.

“It’s filled with spontaneity, satisfies all the senses and sweeps the highlights of West Michigan: nature, local libations and eats, and fine entertainment,” Kimble said.

Rosa Parks Circle
Rosa Parks Circle

Gallivanting in GR

You don’t have to worry about stretching your dollar for a great date in Grand Rapids (but if tonight is the night to splurge then go for it with reservations at Reserve, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or Lil’ Wayne concert tickets!). One of GR’s most entertaining factors is the energetic environment that surrounds it.

WLM sales consultant Sarah Anderson’s favorite date was when she and her boyfriend purposely parked across town from their destination so they could walk though the beautiful holiday lights around town and Rosa Park’s Circle.

“It still would have been beautiful even without the lights,” Anderson said. “I get the winter blues every winter, but I discovered that finding ways to be outside and enjoy it helps.”

A tasty brew or food crawl along neighboring restaurants and breweries brings an exciting experience with every new plate. The city’s set-up is brilliantly convenient for getting from one place to another by foot, and the menu variety at local eateries gives you a diverse taste of the city. Jennifer Deamud, associate state director of the Small Business Development Center, suggests a three-course restaurant hop that comprises of an appetizer, dinner and dessert at different establishments.

A brew hop down Ionia Street sits you at Grand Rapids Brewing Company, HopCat and finishes with libations at The Downtown Market. With Wealthy Street’s lineup of establishments, start with morning coffee at Wealthy Street Bakery or Rowster coffeehouse, and end the evening with dinner and drinks at Donkey Taqueria or The Winchester.

Civic Theatre

Dinner and a Show

Being home to a plethora of local restaurants and theater sensations like Civic and Wealthy Theatre, GR has this date night classic covered. WLM Publisher, Victoria Upton, reveals a heavenly Valentine’s weekend for the senses starting with Wealthy Theatre’s Transcend: An Evening of Dance and Music (February 13).

“Just experiencing performances by local dance artists Rachel Finan, Marlee Grace Hanson, Amy Wilson, in addition to music by Casey Stratton makes my heart flutter,” she said.

The following day (February 14), treat yourself to a special event at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA). UICA is showing Like Water for Chocolate in its movie theater and following it at The Downtown Market with a six-course dinner and drinks inspired by the movie.

Whether it’s with friends, partners, coworkers or that person you want to hang out with, use these innovative ideas to discover a new date night adventure this month.


Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumna who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio.




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