Grand Valley State University, located on the west side of Michigan, has two major campuses within 10 to 15 miles of each other. The “Downtown” Campus is located in Downtown Grand Rapids, and caters to the upper-classmen of the university. This article, however, focuses on the Allendale campus, located in the town of Allendale. This is Grand Valley’s main campus, and it, among other things, is the home of incoming freshman. All freshman dorms are on the Allendale campus, and because of this, the guides for each campus are strikingly different. While it is possible to make the 15 minute drive to downtown Grand Rapids, many freshman do not have access to a car, and may not want to take the bus downtown. This guide caters to the immediate area surrounding and on the Grand Valley State University Allendale campus.

Places to Eat

As far as food goes, there are plenty of brand-name options directly on campus. In the “Lower Commons” (near the freshman dorms), you can find Subway, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell in a cafeteria-style setting. There is also a Subway in the lower level of Kirkhoff, Grand Valley’s “Student Union” building.

The “Other” Bookstore

While the Grand Valley on-campus bookstore is very nice, and offers a plethora of GVSU merchandise, it is also incredibly expensive when it comes to books for school. “Brian’s Books”, right across from the GVSU Water Tower (virtually right off of campus), sells all the books needed for the upcoming year at lower prices. They also buy back books, just like Grand Valley’s bookstore, and offer the same price as Grand Valley. The store has earned the reputation around campus as the better of the two bookstores.


For those interested in the scholarly aspect of college, there are a few major places to study on Grand Valley’s Allendale campus. Kirkhoff, the aforementioned student union has multiple levels, all featuring seating to give students places to eat and study. The closed off common rooms help anyone wishing to study to get away from the bustle of moving students. Zumberge Library, also on campus, is a great place to study. It becomes a huge hotspot during finals week. Lastly, Grand Valley is known for being a beautiful campus. Weather permitting, the outside balconies on Kirkhoff, as well as the grass surrounding Kirkhoff is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and get some studying in.

Off-Campus Living

For those who do not wish to live directly on campus, there are multiple, close alternatives that offer townhomes and apartments directly targeted toward students. Grand Valley is growing at an amazing rate, and investors are trying to catch up with demand by building new complexes. This year’s new complex is called “Meadows Crossing”, and is one-upping the surround complexes by offering more upscale apartments, fully furnished, for around 400 dollars a month.

As far as places to stay away from, the first place that comes to mind is Copper Beech. While it’s still a nice complex, many complaints (as well as a class action lawsuit) have followed the complex. Do your research before deciding which place to choose.


Two Grand Rapids busses have routes that got through the main Allendale campus to give students mobility. Both are free to students. For those who need to travel to the downtown campus, the 50 transports students there, with multiple stops between Allendale and Grand Rapids (including Meijer). The 27 goes between each of the off-campus housing townhomes to give students who live there a means to get back on campus.


Because Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus is in a small farm town, most forms of entertainment are only found after short drive. Directly on campus, Kirkhoff offers a game room, however, for students looking for a good time. Pool tables, TV’s, and Foosball tables are free for students to use. Within a 5 minute drive, the Georgetown Ice Center offers an indoor ice rink. It is not free for student use, however, as it is not an extension of the university. A short, 10 mile drive leads to the closest mall, “Rivertown Crossings”, that also offers a movie theatre.

Grand Valley State University is a beautiful, compact college. Many like to say that it’s a “big university with a small town feel”. For clubs and bars, downtown Grand Rapids offers both, which is mentioned in the GVSU Downtown Campus guide. The Allendale campus, however, offers a great place for students to get into the swing of college life, giving them great places to eat, study, and live. As with any college, some research is needed, but it’s not hard to find a good time at Grand Valley.

Leave a Comment