For one of the best downtown values, consider the Days Hotel (310 Pearl St. NW, 616/235-7611, www.daysinn.com , $69–129 d), centrally located near the Gerald Ford and other public museums, with high-speed Internet access, a pool, a fitness center, a restaurant, and clean, attractive rooms. Pets are allowed.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel (187 Monroe NW, 616/774-2000, www.amwaygrand.com , $170–275 d) ranks as the finest lodging in Grand Rapids  and one of Michigan’s top hotels. Two hotels actually make up the complex: the original 1913 Pantlind, and the newer Glass Tower, completed in 1981. Depending on your mood, you can choose from a lush traditional or cool contemporary room. In all, the two house more than 680 rooms, nine restaurants and coffee shops, several elegant boutiques, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
The city’s oldest operating bar and restaurant, The Cottage Bar & Restaurant (18 LaGrave Ave., 616/454-9088, www.cottagebar.biz , 11 a.m.–midnight Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–12:30 a.m. Fri.–Sat., $4–8), concocts Grand Rapids’ best burgers and three different styles of chili. The outside café is a popular meeting place in good weather.
Tapas, paella, and other specialties of the Iberian peninsula draw crowds tired of the all-too-common prime rib and pasta to sunny San Chez (38 W. Fulton, 616/774-8272, www.sanchezbistro.com , 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. Fri., noon–11 p.m. Sat., 4–10 p.m. Sun., $4–20). Lively and fun, it draws an eclectic crowd with entrées such as spiced Moroccan meatballs and lamb ribs with raspberry chili sauce.
Charley’s Crab (63 Market Ave. SE, 616/459-2500, www.muer.com , hours vary daily, $12–35) is part of Chuck Muer’s well-loved, nationwide chain of seafood restaurants. Try one of the fresh catches or one of the always-tasty pastas, or load up on carbs at the Sunday brunch. The signature rolls have been copied by a number of restaurants across the state. In good weather, ask for an outside table overlooking the Grand River.