Christmastime in the City: Why Wheelhouse is Our Favorite Holiday Hot Spot


Being from Grand Rapids may make us a little biased, but we think it’s the best city in West Michigan to visit during the holidays. From ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle to the twinkling-light lined streets of downtown and holiday-themed shows like the Nutcracker at DeVos Performance Hall – there is no lack of holiday spirit for you to enjoy in the city.

Grand Rapids is also known for its spectacular restaurant scene, and we’re always happy to see our favorite eateries get in on the holiday fun by decking their halls for locals and visitors to experience Christmastime in the city. There are many wonderful restaurants but one in particular really gets us in the holiday spirit (yes, booze and figuratively) with festive decorations, new holiday traditions, and a mouthwatering menu to cozy up to.

This restaurant is Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails and it’s become a GR tradition to stop in and see the radiant 8-15 foot Christmas trees, along with tens of thousands of lights that cover the entire space. Each room of the restaurant is transformed into a different holiday color scheme that creates a festive feast for the eyes from floor to ceiling. The 3 themed rooms – “Winter Garden”, “Let it Snow”, and “Merry and Bright” all have Christmas decor that ranges from creams and greens to burgundy and gold, you’re bound to find a favorite holiday room scene at Wheelhouse.

The decor beckons from the window of this downtown Grand Rapids restaurant for those passing by to stop in and sip on a cocktail and enjoy the glow of the season. But that’s not all, Wheelhouse grants us our holiday wishes of fun nights with friends, family-friendly brunches, and an entertaining way to welcome 2019. Here are the charmingly cheerful happenings at Wheelhouse this holiday season…

Don your Santa hat or reindeer ears and get ready because Wheelhouse’s downtown Grand Rapids’ premier holiday kickoff event, Night at the North Pole, is on its way! On November 29th from 6pm-11pm, Wheelhouse invites those 21 and up to eat, drink, and be merry by providing the live music, and even livelier beverages. With no cover charge and no reservations needed, it’s a great way to get your holiday season started. Wheelhouse will be serving up complimentary appetizers, music by Great Scott, and Gray Skies Distillery provides the holiday “spirit” (get it?!).

It’s obvious once inside Wheelhouse, that this establishment doesn’t hold back on their seasonal whimsy, from colorfully-lit trees and snowmen decor, this venue serves as a perfect backdrop to meet good Old St. Nick himself. That’s right… It’s Christmas time in the city and SANTA Claus is coming to Wheelhouse!

Wheelhouse invites families to reserve a spot for the annual Brunch with Santa, December 15th or 16th starting at 9am, where tradition meets a modern twist. This isn’t your typical Santa sighting!

Brunch with Santa at the Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan on | Photos by

Your family will be able to list off Christmas wishes to Santa while devouring a gourmet buffet-style meal curated by Chef Jeremiah New and posing for a professional photo.  From the Hot Chocolate Station to cookie decorating and other kids activities, not to mention holiday music and videos playing, this once a year family-friendly experience will soon be a must awaited holiday tradition.  

Once Santa has set his coordinates from Grand Rapids back to the North Pole, we know it’s time to ring in the new year. Though some will opt to counting down the last moments of 2018 in the comfort of their own homes, many will take to downtown Grand Rapids to find THE party. The New Year’s Eve event at Wheelhouse is a great place to pop that bubbly, sing the night away, and cheers to a new year. Before you say goodbye to 2018, enjoy the live music by Funkle Jesse, complimentary party favors and a champagne toast at midnight all thanks to Wheelhouse.

If attending events holiday events wasn’t enough, by now you’re frantically buying gifts for loved ones and gift cards from Wheelhouse can be a great gift for anyone on your list. And this year, buying gift cards from the Wheelhouse can be a real win-win. If you buy cards on Black Friday, Cyber Monday or between Dec. 17 -23, you can get $20 back in bonus bucks for every $50 you spend. Yah for making shopping a little easier!

So if you happen to be in the city this season and looking to fill your schedule with cheer-inducing events and gift ideas, look no further then Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails. This festive eatery has the events that make the holiday bright.

OR Take a break from the holiday madness and snag a table at the restaurant, order a delicious dish or cocktail, and enjoy the decked out hall at Wheelhouse!

Brunch with Santa at the Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan | 
Photos by