Grand Rapids is the metropolitan center of western Michigan and a great place for families. From a modern downtown, to walkable, eclectic city neighborhoods and can’t-miss travel destinations in the metropolitan region – there’s lots to do in Grand Rapids.
Things To Do
Frederik Meijer Garden & Sculpture Park: The Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park is beautiful and expansive – wear walking shoes because there’s plenty to see. The Children’s Garden features a Great Lakes water table and tree fortress the littles will love.
Grand Rapids Children Museum: The Grand Rapids Children Museum is a miniature world for kids of all ages (construction site, medical center, shopping center) with hands-on activities, the Grand Rapids Children Museum is a great place to spend an afternoon or an entire day.
John Ball Zoo: The John Ball Zoo has over 2,400 animals including lions, tigers, chimpanzees, and a red panda, indoor and outdoor exhibits, interactive experiences, and so much more. Your family can also put on some work boots and work side by side with a zookeeper to learn what it takes to care for the animals at the zoo.
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum: The Ford Presidential Museum allows visitors to experience highlights from President and Mrs. Ford’s lives and features exhibits that teach about democratic citizenship. In addition to the permanent exhibits, changing temporary exhibits draw artifacts from Museums all over the country.
Grand Rapids Art Museum: The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) includes more than 5,000 works of art and embraces the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing. We love free and general admission is free on Tuesdays from 12pm to 6pm and Thursday nights from 5pm to 9pm.
Go To A Minor League Game:The Grand Rapids Gold, G-L:eague team of the Denver Nuggets, the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings’ minor league team, and the West Michigan Whitecaps, minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, all play in Grand Rapids.
Grand Rapids Public Museum: Focused on science, history and culture, the Grand Rapids Public Museum offers three floors of interactive exhibits and hosts a wide range of touring shows with family appeal. Stroll a recreated 1890s-era Grand Rapids street, visit ancient Egypt, ride an iconic 1929 carousel, and much more.
Millennium Park: Take kids to the beach just five minutes from downtown Grand Rapids. Millennium Park spans 1,400 acres and includes a six-acre beach, a large splashpad and Ninja Warrior playground, boat rentals, and 18 miles of hiking and biking trails.
Visit Lake Michigan: You don’t want to miss an opportunity to see one of the Great Lakes. Kirk Park is a great place to take in the water. Stretching along Lake Michigan’s shoreline for over 1/3 mile, this park boasts 68 acres of sandy beach, high bluffs and wooded dunes. A paved path leads to a deck overlooking the beach for the summer and in the winter the park is great for cross country skiing.
Where to eat
There are a lot of restaurants in Grand Rapids but here are our favorite options for the family.
- Terra // 1429 Lake Dr. SE: Check out Terra for lunch or dinner. The food is delicious and it’s a kid friendly environment – cute plastic plates, forks, and sippy cups AND a little nook with books/toys.
- Stella’s Lounge // 53 Commerce Ave: Get dinner at Stella’s before you head back home. Dad’s will love their GQ famous stuffed burger and kids will love playing old-school arcade games.
- Downtown Market // 435 Ionia Ave. SW: The indoor market is packed with food stalls that will allow you to find delicious food for even your pickiest eater.
- Furniture City Creamery // 958 Cherry St: Get some made from scratch ice cream made with natural, locally-sourced, ingredients. Furniture City Creamery offers dozens of delicious flavors everyone will love.
Photo credit: Millenium Park