Guide to an Allergy Friendly Grand Rapids Day Trip

With food allergies in the United States on the rise the likelihood of your family being affected is growing each year. One in thirteen children have moderate to severe food allergies. This results in an average of at least two students in each school classroom being affected. Thankfully, Grand Rapids has embraced this allergy challenge and is conquering it with style.

Allergy Friendly Grand Rapids for Kids

 

SEE ALSO: Grand Rapids Restaurants for Kids and Families with Allergies

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Helping Kids with Allergies Have a Social Life

Parents of children with this obstacle pretty much have food and travel down pat. But what if your child that deals with allergies is asked to spend time with a friend on the town? Or what if your child would like to spend the day with a friend who can’t have all of the foods that yours can?  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

I, along with my kids and husband, went on an afternoon in search of a day trip for allergy free/friendly fun to suggest to you awesome moms or dads out there who are looking to get out of the house for a bit.

Furniture City Creamery Allergy Friendly Grand Rapids

A Stroll Down Cherry Street: Walk, Bike, or Drive!

My oldest son has eight severe food allergies: milk, Soy, Egg, Coconut, Peanuts, Tree Nuts and the list goes on. Adding the fact that I am gluten intolerant, finding places where we can both eat out is an adventure of its own.

Thankfully, there are so many options to choose from in Grand Rapids. Keeping things simple and delicious was our goal since we had just a few hours to enjoy as a family. So, my husband and I narrowed our visit down to one street: Cherry Street.

Marie Catrib’s (At the cross of Lake Dr and Cherry St)

Starting out we chose Marie Catrib’s. Most people know about this place and it’s coined phrase “For the Picky Eater”. But did you know that their hospitality goes as far as to say that if their sit down menu does not seem to meet your allergy needs, they will take extra time to figure out something that does?! It’s one of those places where you can set your mind at ease. As you sit down to a fresh paper table cover and order (no chance for traces of the last person’s meal touching your child’s hands!) you are re-assured it is safe. With their deli right next door this place is also great for those with young kiddos who need to keep it moving instead of being buckled to a chair. Our favorites there are the Chili-Lime Quinoa +Black Beans and the Roasted Root Veggies. Both of these dishes are safe for my son and I to enjoy.

 

Furniture City Creamery

Starting out, Furniture City Creamery was absolutely delightful. From the staff, to the delicious ice cream, to the beautiful aesthetics, this place is a must stop destination for all who can enjoy original, gluten free, and vegan ice cream!

The owner of Furniture City Creamery stated that making her shop allergy friendly was “not only a good business decision, but a personal one.” That “to be able to try and include all eaters is a kind thing to do for the community”.

The staff takes great caution in making each batch of hand-crafted goodness. If this spot meets your allergy-friendly needs, give your taste buds a gift and get to this place soon!Furniture city creamery on Cherry Street

Le Bon Macaron

Next up was Le Bon Macaron, a coffee/macaron shop that not only looked amazing but the taste matched up impeccably. It was very hard to choose from all of the colorful flavors. The staff was very helpful and explained that their macarons are gluten, soy, and sesame free.

Le Bon Macaron Grand Rapids gluten free

Hopscotch: A Children’s Store with Books and More

Just down the street is Hopscotch Children’s Store. Whether you’re looking for something specific or just browsing the adorable items, this place can only brighten your day no matter the weather outside.

Hopscotch Children's Store Grand Rapids

Cherry Park and Playground

After all of those treats we were ready to burn off a little energy and headed to Cherry Park.

I like to call this a mini park. It’s the perfect blend of fun and convenience for your food allergy needs. No matter the season, this park is a must frequent place for all parents and kids! In the summer its big splash pad is a great place to cool off and make new friends. And in the winter its ice rink and snow ball targets are just pure fun for all!

I’m not sure who has more fun – me or my kids! With the bathroom just steps away from any portion of the park, washing hands and potty breaks are (pun intended) a walk in the park.

Cherry Park Grand Rapids

Cherry Street Park Little Free Library

Head Over to the Downtown Market

Getting close to dinner time we kept on the path of Cherry Street all the way down to Ionia, and turned left. Just a few blocks down is the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids.

The allergy free/friendly options at the Market are plentiful (see their website for a full list)… and our kids just love walking through to see all of the fish lined up right by the newly added Mad Cap Coffee. This place is a haven for full family fun. Parents get to enjoy one of the best cups of coffee in town, choose their own entry and entertain their kids all at the same time.

If you head upstairs you just might get to see the kind staff watering their plants in the greenhouse.

Downtown Market Grand rapids

Specifically, Dorothy & Tony’s Gourmet Popcorn, kettle corn, was what my son was most excited about. They offer a FREE ‘personal’ for kids with a purchase. Their popcorn is made in Grand Rapids, and the kettle corn is peanut, tree nut, egg, gluten, soybean (a mixture of soy oil and canola oil is used), sesame, coconut and dairy FREE! It was the perfect ending to our fun adventure.

Having a day where my son could feel just like all of the other eating patrons and feel safe was priceless.

SEE ALSO: The New Downtown Market in Grand Rapids is Waiting for You

Share Your Allergy-Friendly Grand Rapids Tips

If you have an allergy free/friendly day trip to share with us we would love to hear about it! Comment below or email to give us your recommendations and we just may have to try them out!

Carla Brooks Headshot

Carla Brooks is an Oregon born, Michigan raised photographer, writer, mom of two awesome boys, and wife to poet Sareem Poems. Carla enjoys adventuring, playing the piano and singing, trying different foods, reading or watching a good story, and most of all spending time with her family.

By | 2017-05-20T19:48:41+00:00 March 28th, 2017|Categories: City of GR, General, THINGS TO DO, Travel Grand Rapids Tips for Families|7 Comments

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7 Comments

  1. Caren Robinson November 21, 2017 at 10:52 am - Reply

    I was excited to see these…..at first. I started to do little researxh as my son is deathly allergic to Peanuts and allergic to Tree Nuts. While I am thrilled you were able to have a successful and adventurous trip with your family…NUT ALLERGIES BEWARE!

    Marie Catribs: Has peanut sauce, spicy peanut noodles, walnuts, peanut butter sandwiches, almond butter, lentils (a legume and part of peanut fsmily)…a cross contamination nightmare.

    Furniture City Creamery: they make ice cream with peanuts IN IT. they also make ice cream without leanuts in it but cannot guarantee no cross contamination as they are not a nut free facility…..BUMMER!

    La Bon Macaron: NOT nut free. In fact they make peanut and chocate macaron’s and ALL of their macarons are made with almond flour…..strike three for our nut allergy folks…always call before you go is my advice.

    Dorothy and Tony’s gourmet corn we will be trying as they are NUT FREE with all their products….YAY. One thing to keep in mind though. Rarely a person is also allergic to legumes and coconut (even though coconut is not a nut) if they have a peanut allergy and they do use coconut oil mixed with canola oil. So something to be aware of

  2. Benita Meeks March 29, 2017 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    I love this Carla very informative giving in site to others in regards to allergy free places for kids and family. Awesome.

    Benita

  3. Stacey March 29, 2017 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Great article and I would love to see more on allergy friendly GR places.

  4. Martha Johnson MSU Dept. of Pediatrics and Human Development March 29, 2017 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    I love this Carla! Where we’re you when my kids were little! Grand Rapids is a great place to visit and because of your article we want to go to all these places.Very thorough information and I love the pictures. A big thumbs up! Great job!

  5. Jean March 29, 2017 at 11:38 am - Reply

    Accommodating little people with allergies can be especially challenging! I loved all the suggestions and reviews.

  6. Jamie Balanowski March 29, 2017 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Great article with a lot of helpful information for families.

  7. kristen Rachinski March 29, 2017 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Great tips Carla!! I need these helpful reminders when hosting kids with allergies.

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