Top 15 Family Activities in Grand Rapids, Michigan (2023)

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Grand Rapids, Michigan and still consider West Michigan my home. People often ask me for suggestions on what to do in Kent County so I decided to make a list of the more family-friendly destinations in the area.

Some of these venues didn’t exist when I was a kid and some are going strong. Fortunately, I’ve been back home with my own kids and can appreciate how much the city has grown and improved in the last twenty-five years.

Take a read-through of these suggestions, and if you’re yearning for more to do in Michigan, check out the recently published updated, and comprehensive guide on the 50 best things to do in Michiganon the site Your RV Lifestyle. It is completely free and filled with some great suggestions.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park


Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Located an easy drive from East Grand Rapids and the historic Gaslight Village, Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is open year-round (the five-story tropical conservatory is the largest of its kind in the state). As the name implies, a diverse assortment of outdoor sculptures have been placed throughout the park’s grounds. The summertime concert series draws throngs of people to the property’s outdoor amphitheater. A large portion of the garden experience is designed around children; this page features many of the highlights your entire family will love. Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is a wonderful place, make sure this venue is on your list.

Millennium Park: Beach and Splashpad


Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

If you visit Grand Rapids between Memorial and Labor Day weekends, be sure to drive out to Millennium Park and soak up the sun at the beach and splashpad. The six-acre sand beach is a popular spot for families to build sand castles and swim in the marked areas in Millennium Park Lake. Adjacent to the concession stand and locker rooms isMehney Splashpad;more than adozen sprayers, buckets, splashers and other water features keep toddlers and younger kids happy and entertained.

John Ball Zoo


(Video) 7 Things to Do in Grand Rapids With Kids

Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

The John Ball Zoo is West Michigan’s zoological park and aquarium.The zoo is built into the hilly landscape overlooking the Grand River; one option for exploring the zoo is to ride up (or down) on the funicular and save re-tracing your steps. The zoo is almost entirely enclosed in a canopy of old growth deciduous forest and keeps visitors and animals cooler in the summer months. Highlights (not included in admission) are a zipline, sky trails ropes course, sting ray lagoon, camel rides, and budgie aviary. If you go, make sure and head to the top and back edge of the zoo property to see the new tiger exhibit and explore the Tree Top Outpost and nature play zone.

Where to Stay

Find family-friendly accommodations in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from traditional hotels to private Air B&B homes through

West Michigan Whitecaps


The West Michigan Whitecaps are West Michigan’s minor league baseball team. Home field is Fifth Third Ballpark, which is located in Comstock Park about ten miles north of downtown (you can see the stadium right from US-131). Like other minor league baseball games round the United States, the experienceis centeredwholesome, family-friendly fun. Check the Whitecaps website for various events, promotions, and “theme” nights.

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum


Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum features nine key exhibits over two floors (our favorite is the Bubbles exhibit in the front corner of the second floor). The museum is a nice medium-size facility that caters to younger children and toddlers. Thursday night is family night and admission is discounted to $1.75/person. The museum is within walking distance of the Grand Rapids Public Library; on the way welike to toss lucky pennies in the fountains at Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Grand Rapids Public Museum


Credit: Grand Rapids Public Museum

Established in 1854,Grand Rapids Public Museum moved to the state-of-the-art Van Andel Museum Center in 1994. Resting on the West bank of the Grand River, museum patrons enjoy views of the downtown skyline (and especially from the 1928 Spillman Carousel housed in a glass pavilion built out over the water). An average of ten permanent and traveling exhibits are spread out over three floors, including the Streets of Old Grand Rapids exhibit I remember seeing as a kid.

(Video) Best Things to Do in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park


Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Another option for animal lovers is the Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park, an 80-acre zoo and aquarium located a short drive southeast of downtown Grand Rapids (in Alto, my old stomping grounds). This attraction is seasonal (2016 opener is set for May 1) and features exotic animals, reptiles, birds, invertebrates, and fish. Many people like Boulder Ridge because the visitor experience is interactive and the animals enjoy larger and more open enclosures.

Coopersville Farm Museum


Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

In the opposite direction of the Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park is the Coopersville Farm Museum. While I have not been to this destination, photos posted on the museum website and Facebook page look exactly like a place my kids would enjoy. Designed around farm and rural living, many of the exhibits are interactive as well as educational. Kids events range from a Saturday petting zoo to arts and crafts. Also in Coopersville is a seasonal passenger train many families love.

Grand Rapids Public Library


Located near the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, the downtown (111 Library St. NE) Grand Rapids Public Library is the main branch of the city’s expansive library system. In the stately three-story building, families will find both children’s and young adult sections. Time your visit with a story time or find the library geocache like did a few summers ago.

Grand Rapids Art Museum


(Video) 11 Things to DO In Grand Rapids, MI

Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids has a healthy and vibrant art scene. Another downtown attraction, the Grand Rapids Art Museum houses permanent and traveling exhibits ranging from the work of Michigan artists to the furniture that made the city famous in the industrial design community. Admission to the museum is free from 10AM – 5PM on Tuesdays and 5PM – 9PM on Thursday nights. Families visiting during summer vacation want to take advantage of the various day camps.

Blanford Nature Center


Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Located out past the John Ball Zoo, the Blanford Nature Center is a wonderful place to get into nature. A popular field trip destination for elementary kids, families can also explore the many trails, boardwalks, and paths in all seasons (snowshoe rentals are available). Blanford has some signature events throughout the year; the sugarbush maple syrup harvest is our favorite. You can also visit the Wildlife Education Center, heritage buildings, and working farm focused on educating visitors on sustainable agriculture and the production of food.

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre


Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Completely renovated in 2006, the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre has been a mainstay in the downtown community since its first performance in 1979. The 750-seatMeijer Majestic Theatre is “main stage” for productions that tackle important social issues in the same season as timeless and family-friendly productions like A Christmas Story, the Musical.

Woodland Mall


Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

(Video) The TOP Winter Activities to do in Grand Rapids, MI

Back when VHS and rotary telephones were all the rage, Woodland Mall was the place to shop for neon-colored clothing. Located on 28th Street, a major shopping and entertainment corridor south of downtown, Woodland Mall has gotten much more hip-and-trendy in the past couple of decades. Case in point: there’s now an IMAX movie theater, one of four Celebration! Cinema locations in greater Grand Rapids. Another popular shopping mall is Rivertown Crossings Mall in Grandville.

Festival of the Arts and ART Prize

Festival of the Arts:

ART Prize:

Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Circling back to the modern-day Grand Rapids art scene, two events are worth mentioning, Festival of the Arts and ART Prize. Festival of the Arts has been around for nearly fifty years and is a community-wide celebration of all types of art (dance, performance, music, storytelling, and visual). The event runs for an entire weekend and food trucks and vendors set up in Calder Plaza; the event is free and draws over 350,000 people.

While ART Prize is a relatively new event, it has played a major role in drawing global awareness to the city. Claiming to be the world’s largest art competition, artists from around the world showcase their work with the hopes of winning a portion of the 500,000 in prize money. The best part: winners are determined by a combination of public vote and expert jury. Entries are located in nearly 200 venues around town; this year’s competition will run between September 21 and October 9.

Fish Ladder


Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Located along the Grand River at 560 Front Ave, the Grand Rapids Fish Ladder has been assisting the upstream spawning efforts of fish otherwise unable to maneuver the rapids responsible for the city’s name. The fish ladder is within an easy walk of the Gerald R. Ford presidential museum (closed for renovations until next month) and the Indian burial mounts at Ah-Nab-Awen park. If you are in town for the 4th of July, this is an excellent spot to watch the fireworks.

But Wait, There’s More!

For more information on planning a road trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan visit the Experience Grand Rapids website here:

Pin for Later:

(Video) 7 Things to Do in Grand Rapids with Kids

Do you have a favorite family-friendly activity in Michigan’s second largest city? Leave a comment below.

Happy trails!



Top 15 Family Activities in Grand Rapids, Michigan? ›

Grand Rapids is an ideal choice for a family vacation because it combines the pleasures and conveniences of big city life with the charm and affordability of a small town.

Is Grand Rapids good for families? ›

Grand Rapids is an ideal choice for a family vacation because it combines the pleasures and conveniences of big city life with the charm and affordability of a small town.

What are some things Grand Rapids is known for? ›

Today, Grand Rapids is still a world leader in the production of office furniture. Grand Rapids has a history of leadership. In 1881, the country's first hydro-electric plant came to life on the City's west side. Grand Rapids became the first city in the United States to add fluoride to its drinking water in 1945.

Is Grand Rapids area named best place in US to raise a family? ›

Grand Rapids is the best city in America to raise a family according to a new study conducted by Rocket Homes. The study, which looked at the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, uses several different metrics to decide how the cities ranked.

Is Grand Lake OK for kids? ›

Grand Lake in Oklahoma offers many amenities, especially for families! In addition to camping, picnicking at local parks, swimming, and fishing, there are many family fun destinations! Take some time to visit some of the attractions in the area during your future visit with the family!

What is the nicest part of Grand Rapids? ›

Eastown. If you want to live close to downtown in one of the best neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, check out Eastown! This neighborhood has Tudor, Colonial, and Victorian-style houses, as well as a central business hub along Lake Dr SE.

What is Grand Rapids known for food? ›

Many Say Grand Rapid's Most Well-Known Food is Yesterdog

Seeing how the shop was featured in the hit movie "American Pie" makes it a standard for being a GR icon.

Why do people visit Grand Rapids? ›

Grand Rapids was once known as America's Furniture Capital. Most recently it was named "Beer City USA" as it has 40+ breweries. It is a culturally rich city with many attractions like the Frederick Meijer Gardens, the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Is Grand Rapids racially diverse? ›

The largest Grand Rapids racial/ethnic groups are White (58.1%) followed by Black (17.8%) and Hispanic (15.7%).

Where is the #1 place to raise a family in America? ›

1 best state to raise a family: Massachusetts. Massachusetts topped the list for the best state to raise a family. The New England state earned a total score of 66.14. It ranked second in both education & child care and affordability.

What are people from Grand Rapids called? ›

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids
DemonymGrand Rapidian
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
• Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes49501–49508, 49510, 49514–49516, 49518, 49523, 49525, 49534, 49546, 49548, 49555, 49560, 49588, 49594
36 more rows

Is Grand Rapids expensive to live? ›

The cost of living in Grand Rapids, MI is 2% lower than the state average and 5% lower than the national average. Grand Rapids, MI housing is 15% cheaper than the U.S average, while utilities are about 3% pricier.

What are the five Great Lakes for kids? ›

They are Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Together the Great Lakes cover an area of about 94,850 square miles (245,660 square kilometers). They form the largest connected area of fresh water on Earth.

Is Grand Lake swimmable? ›

The Beach at Grand Lake From the sandy beach at Grand Lake, you can swim, fish, kayak, paddle, row or just kick back and watch the people and the waves.

Can you swim in Grand Lake Michigan? ›

Grand Lake is the beautiful water feature that inspires the town and gives the name. On the shores in the downtown district, just outside the west entrance to RMNP, there is a beach and marina where you can get down to see the lake. If you are brave enough to enter the cold water you can swim.

How can I have fun with kids with no money? ›

100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap
  1. Have a reading marathon.
  2. Write stories together.
  3. Play soccer.
  4. Paint or draw together.
  5. Create a fort in your living room out of blankets or cardboard boxes.
  6. Go on a hike.
  7. Have a sunset picnic at a park or beach.
  8. Play board games.

How much can you gift kids grandkids? ›

Perhaps the simplest approach to gifting is to give the grandchild an outright gift. You may give each grandchild up to $16,000 a year (in 2022) without having to report the gifts. If you're married, both you and your spouse can make such gifts.

Do grandkids get will money? ›

One of the most preferred ways to leave assets to grandchildren is by naming them as a beneficiary in your will or trust. As the grantor or trustor, you are able to specify a set amount of money or a percentage of your total accounts and property to each grandchild as you see fit.

Is Grand Rapids or Ann Arbor better? ›

The national ranking is a slow climb upward from 12th place in 2021. Ann Arbor is the only Michigan city in the top 15 rankings. However, Grand Rapids is in 16th place, Kalamazoo ranks 40th, Lansing comes in at No. 65 and Detroit is No.

What is the hipster part of Grand Rapids? ›

Eastown, as one of the oldest established neighborhoods in GR, is an ever-evolving, tight knit community with a rich history explored in this edition of Neighborhoods of GR. Diverse. Hipster haven.

Where do most millionaires live in Michigan? ›

Richest Cities in Michigan
  • West Bloomfield is home to some of the richest Michigan residents. ...
  • In addition to being one of Michigan's richest cities, Plymouth is also one of the best. ...
  • Novi is both rich and quickly growing. ...
  • Traverse City is the richest city in northern Michigan.
Jan 5, 2023

What is the richest family in Michigan? ›

Dan Gilbert is still the richest person in Michigan, and it isn't particularly close. With a net worth of $18 billion, Gilbert ranked No. 92 on Forbes' 2023 "World's Billionaire List," released Tuesday. The chairman of Detroit-based Rocket Companies Inc.

What is a good salary for Grand Rapids? ›

Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $24.45 an hour. This is equivalent of $977 a week or $4,237 a month. Most salaries in Grand Rapids range between $36,747 (25th percentile) to $63,566 (75th percentile) annually.

What is the whitest city in Michigan? ›

Grand Rapids is home to the largest number of white residents. The census counted 119,881 white people in the city, a decrease of 1,530 since 2010. Grand Rapids contains 3% of Michigan's non-white residents. Census data shows Grand Rapids is 60% white, 19% Black and 2% Asian American.

What is Grand Rapids crime rate? ›

Grand Rapids Annual Crimes
Number of Crimes1,9395,095
Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents)9.8225.81

How many Mexicans live in Grand Rapids? ›

16.3% of the people in Grand Rapids, MI are hispanic (32.6k people).

What is Grand Rapids New Sister City? ›

Bielsko-Biala became our sister city in 1991. It's 48.1 sq mi, not much bigger than Grand Rapids (45.3 sq mi). The city also has climate and population similar to Grand Rapids.

What is Michigan's signature dish? ›

It is known for famous Mackinac Island fudge, Coney Island Hot Dogs, and Cornish Pasties, which were introduced by miners who came to the state from Cornwall, England. Tart cherries, Packzi (Polish Filled Donuts), and Superman Ice Cream are more popular foods you might enjoy when visiting Michigan.

What are the cute neighborhoods in Grand Rapids? ›

Several well-known Grand Rapids neighborhoods include Heritage Hill, Creston, Eastown, Ottawa Hills, Ken-O-sha, Garfield Park, and Alger Heights. Whichever neighborhood you choose, chances are you've found a kid-friendly community with lots to do for families within walking distance.

What is the best time of year to visit Grand Rapids Michigan? ›

The best time to visit Grand Rapids is June through August and September through mid-November. The heat of summer and the mild temperatures of fall are ideal for enjoying the city's outdoor pursuits. Similar to other Midwestern destinations, winter in Grand Rapids can be extremely cold with lows in the teens.

Why are so many people moving to Grand Rapids Michigan? ›

Many people are deciding to move to Grand Rapids over the last decade. The population has increased due to low cost of living, high employment growth, and excellent schools and neighborhoods. The city is full of rich history, beautiful scenery, and diverse population.

Why is Grand Rapids so nice? ›

With affordable living, great outdoor recreation, a budding art scene, and excellent food and beer, Michigan's second-largest city is a wonderful place to call home! Here are 18 things to know about living in Grand Rapids!

What is the most racially diverse city in Michigan? ›

Millbrook. #1 Most Diverse Places to Live in Michigan.

What cities are losing black population? ›

For example, in the cities with the largest Black losses in 2010-2020, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Oakland, Calif. lost considerably fewer Black residents in 2010-2020.

What is the least racially diverse city in America? ›

Oakland, California, has the highest racial and ethnic diversity, which is four times higher than in Hialeah, Florida, the city with the lowest.

Where is the safest place to raise a family? ›

The HomeSnacks list of Best States to Raise a Family in America for 2022 is topped by Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Nebraska, and Iowa. It was Vermont's health and safety index and Maine's clean air and water, schools, and safety that gained each one its top spot.

What is the best city to raise a family? ›

Main Findings
CityFinal RankSafety
Warwick, RI11
Charleston, WV27
Fort Lauderdale, FL397
Yonkers, NY43
29 more rows
Jan 4, 2023

What is the safest country to raise a family? ›

In Unicef's 2020 analysis of children's wellbeing, Japan ranks number one for physical health, which looks at child mortality and obesity.

Is Grand Rapids a beautiful city? ›

According to Travel + Leisure dot com, Grand Rapids comes in at number two on its list of “10 Most Beautiful and Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.

Why is Grand Rapids called Beer City? ›

Share This. Grand Rapids is a city where small-scale experimental home brewers taste and tinker right alongside master brewers from some of the nation's most acclaimed names in beer. Read on to see what makes this city's brews so special.

Is Grand Rapids considered a big city? ›

Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan with a population of about 199,000 in the city and a bit more than one million in the Metro Grand Rapids area.

Is Grand Rapids a good place to raise kids? ›

We're tickled to be nationally recognized as the BEST place to raise a family in the United States. Our exceptional quality of life is thanks to all Grand Rapidians who make our hometown #1 and community second to none. The best cities for families to live include Grand Rapids, Bridgeport, Raleigh and more.

What is the minimum wage in Grand Rapids Michigan? ›

Grand Rapids, MI minimum wage rate is $9.65 per hour. This is greater than the Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25.

Is Grand Rapids Michigan booming? ›

In 2017, various sources ranked Grand Rapids #1 for the fastest growing big-city economy in the U.S., #1 for job growth and #1 for housing growth. In 2019, it was recognized as the nation's top metro area for sustainable development and the #2 city for hiring plans.

Is Grand Rapids Michigan worth visiting? ›

It is a culturally rich city with many attractions like the Frederick Meijer Gardens, the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Is Michigan Adventure good for kids? ›

Michigan's Adventure, Michigan's largest amusement park and waterpark, is an adrenaline junkie's dream come true – and one of the state's favorite destinations for family-friendly summer fun. From roller coasters to water slides, this theme park promises a wild and unforgettable day trip.

Is Ocean Grove good for kids? ›

Ocean Grove is a natural playground for kids with lots of things to keep everyone happy all year round.

Where is Kid Rock playing in Grand Rapids? ›

Kid Rock Grand Rapids Setlist – Van Andel Arena – Apr 16, 2022.

What is the nicest area in Grand Rapids? ›

Eastown. If you want to live close to downtown in one of the best neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, check out Eastown! This neighborhood has Tudor, Colonial, and Victorian-style houses, as well as a central business hub along Lake Dr SE.

Can kids go to Wonderland? ›

At what age are children required to have an admission ticket? Guests under the age of 3 do not require an admission ticket to Canada's Wonderland. Guests may be asked to provide identification for age verification. Any guest that is 3 years of age or older requires an admission ticket.

Is Universal or Islands of Adventure better for small kids? ›

If you have little ones in tow, Islands of Adventure might be the park better suited to you. You can find dedicated lands and rides suitable for children all over the park, as well as rides based on movies they have most likely watched or heard of.

Is there a Six Flags in Grand Rapids? ›

Six Flags Michigan is a theme park located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is currently owned and operated by Six Flags.
Roller Coasters.
NameYear OpenedDescription
Warrior1974A PTC wooden roller coaster. It opened with the park and is themed to a Japanese Samurai.
13 more rows

Is Coconut Grove good for families? ›

With its bayfront views, banyan tree-lined boulevards and casual cafes, Coconut Grove is an ideal area in Greater Miami & Miami Beach for families. Home to grand historic homes and beautiful public parks, Coconut Grove offers families a wide variety of attractions in Miami's most historic neighborhood.

Is Tunnels Beach good for kids? ›

Protected by this reef, Tunnels Beach provides calm and predictable conditions necessary for young families to enjoy the ocean, which means it is a perfect beach for the “in-between” family that has both older kids who want to experience sea life and underwater caverns and younger children who will be happier playing ...

Is Orange Beach safe for kids? ›

Quaint and quiet, Orange Beach is one of the most family-friendly beach destinations on the Gulf Coast. You won't find the chaos of college congregations on our shores thanks to strict beach rules that prohibit underage drinking, large tent setups, loud or disorderly conduct, and other public nuisances.

How much does it cost to get Kid Rock to play? ›

An example fee to book Kid Rock is in the starting range of $999,999-$1,499,000. However, any recent popularity change would cause a price fluctuation well beyond this example. Also, their speaking fee might be different than the fee shown for the cost to perform or to just appear.

Where does Kid Rock have houses in Michigan? ›

Built in 1930, the six-bedroom, 6,000-square-foot colonial is just one of six riverfront homes in Detroit. It's located on Dwight Street, a few houses down from the mayor's residence, the Manoogian Mansion.

Where did Kid Rock vacation in Michigan? ›

Kid Rock is a Michigan native, so it only makes sense that he would take vacations in his home state. He has been known to vacation in spots like Traverse City, Mackinac Island, and the Upper Peninsula.


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