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Now blogging from Grand Rapids, Michigan

When I moved away from Washington, D.C., to come back to Michigan, I often said, “I’m moving home.”

“Coming home” was much easier to explain than why a travel writer would want to move away from one of the United States’ top travel destinations.

But, I didn’t just move away from a top travel destination — I moved TO one. In fact, Lonely Planet named Grand Rapids and Lake Michigan’s Gold Coast the top travel destination for 2014!

As a travel writer, I wanted my home base to be a city, where I could explore the nooks and crannies. Where I could look out my window (as I sit writing this post) to see a sprawling downtown. Where I could walk to locally owned bars and restaurants, serving fresh ingredients from area farms. Where I could visit museums, view art, attend festivals and hear live music. Where I could hop in my car and escape to a beach, a winery, a zoo, an apple orchard.

During my first week in Grand Rapids, I set off to explore my new neighborhood. This is what I found …

Local cafes and coffee shops

The morning of my move, I walked down Commerce Avenue to Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge. Note: The entrance is off of Oakes, and you might need to ring the bell for “barrier assistance.” For real, I couldn’t get the door open, and then I read the sign to ring the bell. The girl who opened the door for me gave me a strange look that seemed to telegraph, “You just have to pull harder, idiot.” I’m still not quite sure how to correctly enter this coffee shop, but I can tell you that the barista made me a warm and flavorful Chai latte.

Relatively new to most Grand Rapids folks, Lantern just opened in April 2013. It’s a nice fit in this neighborhood of reconverted lofts, restaurants known for using locally sourced ingredients, and advertising and public relations firms with seemingly chic decor — at least, from what I’ve seen peeking into windows on my walks.

But, I must say, what really won me over was the sea salt bagel. I’ve since learned that Lantern strictly serves GR Bagel’s “authentic hand rolled water bagels” that are always boiled. With a little cream cheese, I was in heaven. Seriously. I can’t believe I haven’t gone back yet. It was that good.

A few of my Grand Rapids friends recommended I check out MadCap Coffee on Monroe Center, and I’ve also passed by Go Java Coffee on Ionia. Plus, there is San Chez’s cafe open until 2 p.m. It serves amazing breakfast food, which my mom and I discovered the Sunday morning after my move.

We dined on Spanish tapas on the bistro side during a day trip to Grand Rapids in July, and this most recent San Chez visit was to the cafe for brunch. I wasn’t very hungry, so I opted for an everything bagel with cream cheese. Insider tip: Ask your server for the flavors available, as the bagel selection changes daily. I also had a healthy green smoothie, while my mom opted for a decadent hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

Breakfast at San Chez Cafe: Hot chocolate, everything bagel with two scrambled eggs, a green smoothie and cinnamon French toast.

Breakfast at San Chez Cafe: Hot chocolate, everything bagel with two scrambled eggs, a green smoothie and cinnamon French toast.

Wish you were here,


P.S. This is the first in a series of posts about reasons why I love my new home, Grand Rapids. Check back for more of my findings during my first week in Grand Rapids! Up next: Happy Hour!

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Loved brunch at San Chez…you have to ask for the hot chocolate as it isn’t on the menu…but it was soooo good…just the right brew for a cold GR morning.

    January 4, 2014

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