ADVERTISEMENT

6 Perfect Spots to Immerse Yourself in Southeast Montana's History

By Donnie Sexton
July 31, 2019
Lead Shot Roadtrippin
Courtesy Donnie Sexton
If your idea of a road trip is wide open spaces and light traffic, then Southeast Montana is calling your name.

Interstate 94 and 90 are ideal for cruise control with long stretches of highway straight as an arrow. The prairie landscape goes on forever, dotted with cattle, crops, and badlands as you cruise along Interstate 94 and 90 in Southeast Montana. Break up the drive with stops at national monuments and state parks, not only to stretch the legs but to discover the fascinating stories that shaped the West.

This corner of Montana has been home to prehistoric people, dinosaurs, homesteaders, and one epic battle between the U.S. Army and Native Americans fighting to preserve their way of life. The gateway to these parts is the city of Billings. The pace of life is slower in these parts of Big Sky Country – enjoy the ride!

1. Pompeys Pillar National Monument

Pompeys-Pillar.jpg?mtime=20190730140720#asset:106531

Courtesy Donnie Sexton

Start your journey in Billings, armed with a picnic lunch, then head east 30 miles on I-94 to Pompeys Pillar, a sizable rock outcropping. You’ll see first-hand the only physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition from their epic two-year journey to the Pacific Ocean from St. Louis. Part way up this 200 ft. high sandstone rock, Captain William Clark carved his name and date, July 25, 1806. Clark named the rock “Pompy,”a nickname he had given to the son of Sacagawea, the only woman to take part in the expedition. A boardwalk leads to the top of the rock for sweeping views of the Yellowstone River and valley and a chance to view Clark’s signature. The interpretative center is a must stop to learn about this grueling journey. Picnic under shaded cottonwood trees adjacent to the mighty Yellowstone River, the same waterway Clark and his men would utilize on their return trip via dugout canoes.

2. Makoshika State Park

Makoshika-4.jpg?mtime=20190730140711#asset:106528

Courtesy Donnie Sexton

Continuing east on I-94, dinosaur lovers will delight in Makoshika, an 11,538-acre badlands park located within a stone’s throw of the town of Glendive. The word Makoshika comes from a Lakota Indian phrase, meaning ‘bad land’ or ‘bad earth.’ Imagine hiking over the playground of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops. Back in 1889, a researcher scouring the area by horseback documented 500 triceratops skulls. The topography, from cap rocks, hoodoos, wrinkled hillsides, deep ravines, and boulders tossed about, begs to be photographed, especially at sunrise and sunset. With over 12 miles of trails, crowds will not be a problem in Makoshika. If your journey is via a motorhome or more adventurous with a tent and sleeping bag, this is the place to spend the night with both designated camping sites as well as backcountry camping. Add to this birding, an archery site, disc golf course, summer programs for kids, an amphitheater, mountain biking, visitor center, scenic drives – Makoshika has you covered!

3. Medicine Rocks State Park

Medicine-Rocks.jpg?mtime=20190730140714#asset:106529

Courtesy Donnie Sexton

It’s a bit off the beaten path but worth seeking out this otherworldly gem. To reach Medicine Rocks, exit I-94 at Wibaux, then head south on Hwy 7 for approximately 70 miles, passing through the town of Baker. The entrance is clearly marked. The area is characterized by sandstone rock formations, thousands of years in the making, shaped by wind and water, and peppered with holes and caves. It was a vision quest site for Native Americans, who would camp and scour the landscape for buffalo. Charging Bear, a Sioux Indian, described the site as a place “where the spirits stayed, and the medicine men prayed.” Their stories remain in the petroglyphs carved into the rocks. Cowpunchers and settlers of the old west left their names carved into the rocks as well. Don’t be tempted to carve your name on the rocks, as its both illegal and degrades this historic site. Hike it and camp it, and keep your eyes peeled for mule deer, antelope, and sharp-tailed grouse.

4. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Little-Bighorn-Battlefield_Indian-Memorial.jpg?mtime=20190730140708#asset:106527

Courtesy Donnie Sexton

Some say there are days when you can hear the war cry of the Lakota and Cheyenne Indians riding into battle against the U.S. Army back on June 25-26, 1876. Often referred to as Custer’s Last Stand, it was one of the last armed efforts by the Plains Indians to protect their land and culture. By the end of the bloody battle, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, along with over 260 men, would lose their lives. Between 60-100 Native Americans were killed, according to estimates. The Little Bighorn Battlefield memorializes the site of the battle. Interpretive signage along the 4.5-mile drive provides an insight into how the action unfolded. The road ends at the Reno-Benteen Battlefield, where additional troops, under the direction of Major Reno and Captain Benteen fought. A visitor center, museum, and Indian memorial, along with a national cemetery, make up the complex. In addition to the drive, walk the Battlefield on the various pathways scattered around this historic site. The Battlefield is 65 miles southeast of Billings on I-90.

5. Pictograph Caves State Park

Pictograph-Caves-3.jpg?mtime=20190730140718#asset:106530

Courtesy Donnie Sexton

Think back 2,000 years and imagine prehistoric people painting on the walls of one of three caves at this historic state park. Little did these artists know, working in black and white pigments, they were creating a history book of sorts for future generations to understand life in ancient times. Later images, estimated to be 200-500 years old, were created with red pigment and featured rifles, horses, and other animals. The park is a short 15-minute drive from Billings on Coburn Road. The park is day use only and makes for a sweet spot for picnicking. Check out the visitor center and gift shop. Bring binoculars to get an up-close look at the pictographs. Those keen on birding should be amply rewarded with sightings at the park.

6. Chief Plenty Coups State Park

Chief-Plenty-Coups-3.jpg?mtime=20190730140701#asset:106525

Courtesy Donnie Sexton

It’s a 40-minute drive via Hwy 416, then 418 to Chief Plenty Coups State Park, the home and farmstead of one of the great leaders of the Crow Tribe. Chief Plenty Coups started as a Crow Warrior, but through his visions, could see the white man taking over the Crow land. He felt it best to adapt and work with the whites so the Crows and their culture could survive. His wisdom and leadership would result in him being appointed chief of the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe by age 28. He became one of the first Crow to own a farm and work the land on the Crow Indian Reservation. His efforts to bring harmony between his culture and that of the white people resulted in Plenty Coups being honored by his people as their last traditional tribal chief upon his death. If your visit coincides with their Annual Day of Honor, this year falling on August 31, you can enjoy a free buffalo feast.

Keep reading
Inspiration

Treehouse Vacations: 3 Awesome & Affordable Destinations

When you’re planning a vacation, an inspiring view out your hotel window is often high on your list. Well, it turns out there are some lodgings around the U.S. and beyond where that view is extremely inspiring, not to mention extremely high - like, in the treetops. Here, three of our favorite treehouse vacations—all for well under $200/night. 1. BLUE RIDGE TREEHOUSE, BLUE RIDGE, GA As if Blue Ridge, Georgia, weren’t beautiful enough, the Blue Ridge TreeHouse, located at Bear Claw Vineyards, delivers breathtaking views year-round. And autumn may be the best time of all to soak up those gorgeous colors. You’ll stay in a real treehouse - tree trunks are part of the interior design! - and enjoy visiting the vineyards, the nearby cool town of Blue Ridge, and those endless northern Georgia mountain views. (blueridgetreehouse.com) 2. TREEBONES RESORT, BIG SUR, CA Perched high above cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur, California, Treebones Resort, on Highway 1 (which is now completely reopened) offers an array of elevated structures that deliver views of the sea and the stars you’ll never forget. The Human Nest (just what it sounds like) literally gets you up into the trees, and you have to bring your own sleeping bag and, when needed, rain gear. Cushier options include yurts (essentially comfy tents with hotel-style furnishings inside). The property also offers cozy indoor amenities, food at the Wild Coast Restaurant and the Sushi Bar, and lounge chairs for taking in the ocean views. You may even hear the distant cry of sea lions. (treebonesresort.com) 3. BANGKOK TREEHOUSE, THAILAND Treehouse hotels aren’t just for U.S. domestic travelers. One of the best-known in the world is the Bangkok Treehouse, in Thailand, with a dozen elegant elevated bungalows built with sustainable wood and repurposed and recycled materials. You won’t believe you’re in a major metro area, just a short ferry or taxi ride from the city’s river, temples, and iconic skyscrapers. Thailand, though it’s a long flight away, we’ve found that it is affordable and easily navigable for American travelers thanks to reliable public transportation and English-speaking locals. (bangkoktreehouse.com)

Inspiration

7 Exceptional American Food Halls

These days, savvy travelers have a more sophisticated option for fast-casual dining thanks to the growing trend of multi-vendor food halls. A trifecta of choice, atmosphere, and affordability, the best of these large, usually urban-based, eateries offer something for everyone while reveling in the spirit of their surroundings. In addition to showcasing native chefs, products, and cuisines, many food halls also offer locally sourced wine and beer as well as cocktails. Traveling with a family? Now everyone can find something they like. From New York City to Plano, Texas, to Portland, Oregon, this fun and informal way of chowing down offers culinary freedom to tourists and resident foodies alike. 1. Urbanspace Vanderbilt, NYC Nothing says New York City like Grand Central, and this Midtown oasis is the perfect way to get acquainted with the city’s exciting culinary scene. Located on the ground floor of 230 Park Avenue, just one block north of the train station, the 12,000 square-foot food hall (urbanspacenyc.com/urbanspace-vanderbilt/) is packed with local vendors serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s even cocktails at Seamore’s NYC, a sustainable seafood purveyor and the newest mezzanine bar. Other notable tenants include Brooklyn Pizza legend Roberta’s; upper east side Greek darling Amali Mou, which serves pork, lamb, chicken, and veggie gyros; designer donut producer Dough dishing South American flavors like hibiscus and tropical chile. Or check out Asian eats from Mr. Bong Beijing Street Foods, Tukami Taco, Hai Street & Co., kbbq by Karilla, and Bangkok Bar. 2. Pine Street Market, Portland, OR (@pinestreetmarketpdx/Instagram)Located in the historic Carriage & Baggage Building in downtown Portland, this cavernous food hall (pinestreetpdx.com) is an ode to the city’s varied dining scene and celebrated indie spirit. The industrial ground floor, which housed a string of Portland nightclubs since the 1980’s, is now home to nine Portland-based vendors, many of which are offshoots of local restaurants. Taking center stage, Olympia Provisions Annex pairs sausages and foot-long dogs with craft cocktails, Champagne and a well-chosen wine list. But don’t miss other standouts like Tokyo ramen joint Marukin; soft-serve wizard WizBangBar, specializing in magic-dip shells infused with freshly-shaved Oregon black truffles; Kim Jong Smokehouse, a Top-Chef helmed mash-up of Korean and Texas BBQ featuring a scorched rice noodle bibimbap bowl; and Mexican-inspired Pollo Bravo serving up rotisserie chicken and tapas-sized sides like papas bravos and salty/spicy chicken and serrano ham croquettes. 3. Legacy Hall, Plano, TX Nobody can accuse this Plano food hall of being modest. A giant three-story dining destination in the Legacy West, a business district, Legacy Hall (legacyfoodhall.com) proffers access to over 20 food and drink vendors, including award-winning chefs like John Tesar. Long known for Knife, his Dallas steakhouse, Knife Burger is his food hall debut. In addition to its size, this extensive space is courting Millennials with cutting edge features. To whit: it operates on a no-cash basis and offers a refillable gift card called a Hall Pass. It’s a nifty place to hit during happy hour, as there are nine bars to choose from, including one dedicated to cocktails made with Texas-based Tito’s Vodka. Happily, the food is just as momentous. Favorites include Freshfin Poke Co. for build-your-own Poke; Tex-Mex inspired FAQ (flautas and quesadillas) known for modern, authentic fillings like Texas brisket and chicken chorizo; and the Dallas-offshoot of Sea Breeze Lobsta’ and Chowda House, featuring a wild caught lobster roll, thick with tarragon and celery-rich mayo and topped with luscious drawn butter. 4. Block 16 Urban Food Hall, Las Vegas, NV What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but nobody has been keeping quiet about the city’s massive and evolving restaurant scene. A plethora of upscale eateries can be found in Sin City, fronted by marquee names like Nobu Matsuhisa, Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Rick Moonen and Mario Carbone. It only goes to follow that a food hall was the next step to entice the fast-casual connoisseur. Enter Block 16 Urban Food Hall (cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/block16), a massive dining complex recently opened on the Las Vegas Strip, inside The Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Tower. With six regional eateries offering a small-format taste of their chef’s standout foods and drinks, you’ll find foodie faves like Andy Ricker’s Vietnamese cult classic Pok Pok Wing showcasing its well-known crispy fried chicken wings smothered in fish sauce and sugar; New Orleans’s District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew., serving 100 rotating doughnut flavors as well as handmade biscuit sandwiches and zippy nitro cold brew; and Takashi Segawa’s Tekka Bar: Handroll & Sake turning out its signature spicy, creamy, crunchy Tekka Tuna roll and a wide range of sake to wash it down. 5. Workshop, Charleston, SC Workshop (workshopcharleston.com) was originally founded as a rotating, fancy food court to help stoke the creative fires of local chefs. Now a daring food hall housing six kitchens with five stalls, it also doubles as an incubator for new business ideas and concepts from creative locals. And because the stands are swapped out each season, it fosters a fun, exploratory, and adventurous atmosphere for foodies of all stripes. The current line-up includes Thai Phi, the brick and mortar debut from the Vietnamese food truck of the same name, a Charleston favorite. Or hit Pink Bellies, where you can munch on crispy, panko-encrusted avocado fries and fried chicken skins with a spicy chili sauce bath, or Cuban/Southern eatery Spanglish Cuban Kitchen, which focuses solely on southern ingredients like the Edwards Country ham and TN Alpine cheese in the melty, chewy El Cubano sandwich. Thursday through Saturdays catch Merrows Garden Bar, a pop-up pouring a rotating selection of organic, biodynamic and small-batch wines by the glass or bottle. 6. The Wynwood Yard, Miami, FL Al fresco dining is nothing new for Miami’s swinging restaurant culture. And though the urge to see and be seen has always gone hand in hand with the tropical swagger of the city’s culinary scene, the Wynwood Yard (thewynwoodyard.com) is a breath of fresh air—combining pop-up food stands with the cutting-edge art, entertainment, design, and entrepreneurial communities. This summer brought Charcoal, the food hall's first full-service restaurant, offering a beer garden, tapas, and a rotating, wholly seasonal menu of local meat, poultry, fish, and produce. Other current stalls include World Famous House of Mac, known for its indulgently creamy pasta bowl packed with five melted cheeses and truffles. (There’s also a vegan version.) Can’t make up your mind? Try the Friday night Taste of the Yard. $25 will score you five samples of food and drink. 7. Revival Food Hall, Chicago, IL This 24,000 square-foot food hall (revivalfoodhall.com) and marketplace located in the Chicago Loop occupies the first floor of the historic National building, a circa-1907 bank designed by legendary architect Daniel Burnham. A varied collection of 15 stalls feature many spin-offs of neighborhood restaurants as well as some wholly new concepts from up-and-coming local chefs. The newest stands include Lito’s Empanadas, serving up elevated Mexican turnovers filled with everything from ground beef, rice, and a slightly spicy salsa to a blend of apples, caramel and cinnamon sugar. There's also Duck Inn’s new concept, Duck Inn Dogs, revolving around specialty beef and duck fat hot dogs with seasonal toppings like kimchi and house-made pickled hot peppers. Debuting in September, cutting-edge sushi spot Tomi will also feature a robot which quickly assembles high-quality rolls for a reasonable price.

Inspiration

Meet Our Favorite Hotel Pets

From rescue pups and fluffy cats to talkative parrots and a family of penguins, adorable animals are doing double duty at hotels around the country. Not only do they make guests smile with free cuddles, many of them are also hotel "employees," fulfilling duties like leading guests on hikes, ringing the bell at the front desk, and leading philanthropic efforts in their communities. An added bonus? Research shows pets can help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness and isolation, which is good for hotel staff and guests alike. Get to know some of the cutest hotel pets out there, guaranteed to put a smile on your face the moment they greet you. Oreo at the Armstrong Hotel: Fort Collins, Colorado (Courtesy the Armstrong Hotel) The grand hostess of the Armstrong Hotel (thearmstronghotel.com), a historic property in Fort Collins that will reopen this April following a renovation, can often be found curled up in a window seat in the lobby or stretched out on the front desk. Adopted as a kitten 14 years ago, majestic Oreo is as popular with hotel guests as she is with locals. She has many friends who live in the area and come to visit her each week, and as such, she’s developed a few tricks to keep them entertained, like raising her paw for a high-five (for treats, of course). During winters in Colorado, Oreo tends to get a little stir crazy; come spring, you can find her sprawled out on the sidewalk enjoying the sunshine, much to the delight of Mugs Coffee Lounge visitors next door. Sasha at Bobby Hotel: Nashville, Tennessee (Courtesy Bobby Hotel) Adopted from a local shelter, Sasha arrived at the Bobby Hotel (bobbyhotel.com) in Nashville when it opened in April 2018. As the resident hotel dog (not to mention Instagram star, @ahoteldog), she takes her welcoming duties very seriously—greeting guests as they enter the lobby, playing fetch, and ringing her own gold bellman's bell. Though she’s been in her "forever home" less than a year, she’s already doing her part to give back to other animals who need rescuing: Towels in each guest room embroidered with Sasha’s face are available for purchase, with all proceeds going to the Country Road Animal Rescue, from which she was adopted. She was overjoyed to accompany the hotel team in bringing the shelter a check—along with much-needed items like dog beds, toys and food—after the holidays last year. Sunshine and Chance at The Palms Hotel & Spa: Miami Beach, Florida (Courtesy the Palms Hotel & Spa) These two birds might be the longest-standing residents of the Palms Hotel & Spa (thepalmshotel.com) in Miami Beach. Macaw parrots Sunshine, 18, and Chance, 29, first arrived at the resort as rescue animals 16 years ago, and have since become the property’s sociable mascots. They spend their days in the shade of the Little Gazebo, engaging in friendly conversation (Sunshine often says, “Hola!” in response to a greeting) and posing for selfies with guests passing by on their way for a swim. On at least one occasion, their proximity to the pool has led to the parrots engaging in a game of Marco Polo with kids, chiming in with a “polo!” call of their own. The lovable duo plan on enjoying many more years at the Palms, as the average life expectancy of macaws is about 50 years. Oreo, Nahu, Buddah, Zen, Mai, Tai, and Momi at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa: Maui, Hawaii (Courtesy Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa) You might not expect to find penguins in Hawaii, but this unlikely group is living their best life in the tropical climate at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa (hyatt.com). African black-footed penguins, an endangered species, began their tenure on the island in 1985, when the wildlife team at the property rescued George, Waddles, and Oreo. The only remaining resident is Oreo—he’s outlived the average life expectancy of his species (roughly 10 to 20 years in the wild or 30 in captivity), though he now has a large ʻohana --that's Hawaiian for family--to keep him company. Guests can visit them any time in the atrium lobby, though the 9:30 a.m. feedings are a must-see. (Just watch out for Buddah, the bossy one). The resort also has parrots, swans, flamingos, ducks, and African-crowned cranes on the property and offers wildlife tours around the grounds three times a week. Katie and Betsy at the Betsy Hotel: South Beach, Florida (Courtesy the Betsy Hotel) Brought to their home at the Betsy Hotel (thebetsyhotel.com) as puppies by their owners, the Plutzik family, these beautiful golden retrievers (Katie, 14, and Betsy, 3) have become a bedrock of the community there. Officially dubbed Canine Executive Officers, the pair can almost always be found hanging out in the corner of the lobby, especially on Friday afternoons, when they engage with guests during a formal meet-and-greet called “CEO Cocktails with Katie and Betsy.” Both dogs keep a busy social calendar, making regular appearances at corporate meetings the hotel hosts, as well as philanthropic events around the community. Older and wiser, Katie is quite the muse; she even inspired a poem by award-winning poet Gerald Stern when he was a guest at the hotel. Hamlet at the Algonquin Hotel: New York City (Courtesy Algonquin Hotel) Though he’s been at New York City's Algonquin Hotel (algonquinhotel.com) for less than two years, this calm, playful ginger is already a celebrity, surveying the lobby's happenings from his "treehouse” perch atop the front desk. He particularly delights guests when he hops down for a personal greeting while they’re checking in. For a feline, he’s quite the patient little guy, allowing children to pet him, going nose-to-nose with visiting dogs, and occasionally flopping over for a belly rub. But it's not all play: Hamlet puts in long hours as the official DirectFurr of Public Relations for the hotel, a role that includes cohosting an annual cat fashion show for charity in August. Lucky for him, he’s handsomely rewarded for his work—guests frequently send him gifts like cards and toys. Cupcake at Salamander Resort and Spa: Middleburg, Virginia (Courtesy Salamander Resort & Spa) She's only 32 inches tall, but what this miniature pony lacks in size, she more than makes up for in personality. As the equine ambassador for Salamander Resort & Spa (salamanderresort.com) in Middleburg, which has an on-site equestrian center, she’s a star and she knows it. Find her in the lobby Friday and Saturday afternoons, clad in a blue rhinestone halter to welcome guests to the hotel. That’s only the start of her responsibilities, however: She’s in high demand for appearances at conferences and birthday parties (complete with custom cupcakes from the in-house pastry team) held on the property, and she even visits individual guest rooms upon request. In keeping with her diva status, Cupcake has a diva-caliber wardrobe for every occasion—think: red, white, and blue tutus for the Fourth of July, shamrock barrettes for St. Patrick’s Day, and red bows for Christmas. Mr. Nutkin at Deer Path Inn: Lake Forest, Illinois (Courtesy Deer Path Inn) Deer Path Inn (deerpathinn.com) has celebrated the legend of its resident squirrel for nearly 90 years, since the English-inspired manor first opened in Lake Forest. (Don’t worry, the little guy stays outside, though squirrel figurines are scattered throughout the interiors in his honor). Adventurous, curious, and amiable, the current Mr. Nutkin often greets guests at the entrance, standing guard like a British soldier. He's so well-known throughout the community that locals pop by in the hopes of spotting him through the windows of the English Room during afternoon tea service. “His warm and fuzzy presence completes the Deer Path Inn family,” says innkeeper Matt Barba. Notorious for having a full belly, especially in preparation for a Chicago winter, Mr. Nutkin once inspired a turndown snack of chocolate acorns. Zoey at Cloud Camp: Colorado Springs, Colorado (Courtesy Cloud Camp) Ever since she arrived at Cloud Camp (broadmore.com/cloud-camp), a lodge perched 3,000 feet above The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, in summer 2017, 6-year-old Zoey has started her day at 5:00 a.m. Her duties begin with the raising of the flag, followed by leading guests on hikes and welcoming visitors. Trained as a bird dog, she’s incredibly obedient, yet also very nurturing. Zoe once showed her softer side when a woman who was terrified of dogs arrived at the lodge; sensing that she needed special attention, the sweet pup spent time with her each day, gently helping her overcome her fear. The woman called it a life-changing experience, says Cloud Camp staff. When she’s not on duty, Zoey’s been known to mingle with royals. She once had her photo taken with the Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps of Belgium, the great-great-granddaughter of hotel's founders.

Inspiration

Hotel We Love: CityFlatsHotel, Grand Rapids, Michigan

There are “green” hotels and then there’s CityFlatsHotel. This Grand Rapids hotel, located smack in the middle of downtown, is as smart and environmentally minded as it is visually stunning and all-around cool. Here’s what to expect when you check in. The Story The City Flats in Grand Rapids is the second of three locations opened by Charter House Innovations, a furniture company based in Holland, Michigan. They retrofitted the hotel into a circa 1874 office building with a façade that stands as one of Grand Rapids’ earliest examples of a terra cotta frontage. With lobby countertops made of recycled glass and concrete, wood fixtures around the eatery and front desk made from panels reclaimed during the building process, and preservation of the brick walls built in 1874, CHI was so committed to ensuring a low environmental impact that the building earned LEED Gold certification. Most of the furniture in the rooms, like the bed frames and seating, as well as the lobby furniture, was design by and built at CHI. The Quarters With apologies to Forrest Gump, we tell you that City Flats’ rooms are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Each of the 48 rooms is individually designed with its own distinct paint, wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, and lighting. That’s all par for the course when a design house is calling the shots. What does stay the same throughout, however, are the eco-minded touches, like cork floors, bamboo bedding, locally manufactured beds, and energy-efficient heating and cooling units that are sensor-operated, so they turn down when the room is unoccupied. There are five options for room sizes, like single queen and single king, plus a junior suite and a luxe master suite. The Neighborhood If location is what you're after, make this your pick. The hotel is surrounded by a cute coffee shop, a fast-casual Middle Eastern restaurant, and a hodgepodge of other eateries and cafes. It's a quick scoot to Ionia Street, a thoroughfare lined with brewpubs and other restaurants. A 10-minute walk down the road takes you to City Market, a locally minded food hall. And all that's to say nothing of the hotel's illustrious neighbor, the world-class Grand Rapids Art Museum. It's an excellent base camp for culture vultures of all stripes, as the Gerald Ford Museum and the kid-friendly Public Museum are about a 15-minute walk away across the Grand River. The Food The coffee's always on at CityBru Coffee, the coffee bar at the front desk that also features a concession selection, includes granola bars made by the owner. But the real attraction here—for guests and locals alike—is CitySen (pronounced: city scene) Lounge, the lobby eatery opened for lunch and dinner every day with the exception of Sunday, when it opens at 4 p.m. Happy hour is a daily event here, with bites like bacon maple brussels sprouts, arranccini, and tacos topping off at $6. There are drinks specials, too. All the Rest Like the bed? The linens? You can buy it through Charter House Innovations website (gotochi.com). Rates & Deets Starting at $169 CityFlatsHotel83 Monroe Center St. NWGrand Rapids, Michigan(616)608-1720 \\ cityflatshotel.com/location/grandrapids/

ADVERTISEMENT