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Like seeing information about the City of Grand Rapids area?

Be sure to check out our GR City & Neighborhoods area Community Page and Calendar for Kids!

All the Best Things for Kids Downtown

I may be a little biased because it’s where I live, but I love the City of Grand Rapids and the downtown area. Our wonderful mini metropolis has so much fun squeezed into the city that families can come back again and again and experience something new each time.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been taking my kids downtown for over 8 years and there are five things on this list that I still haven’t done with them yet. Eee!

Tell us, what’s your favorite City of Grand Rapid activity? Did it make our list?

SEE ALSO: 50 Things to do with Kids in Grand Rapids Before They Grow Up

1 – SEE THE TIGERS AT JOHN BALL ZOO

Lions and tigers and bears- and more! Every kid loves a trip to the zoo! Not only can you enjoy the many animal exhibits, but John Ball Zoo also offers classes, camps, Twilight Tours, Overnight Adventures, Animal Adventures and special events throughout the year for even more hands-on learning.

1300 Fulton W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

John Ball Zoo 9

2 – PLAY AND LEARN AT THE GRAND RAPIDS CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

Your kids will spend hours here, there’s so much to do! Exhibits rotate on a monthly basis, but some favorites include Little GR, Amazing Dinosaurs, Just Fort Fun, Wee Discover, Just Playing Around and Bubbles. Come on Thursday Family Night (every Thursday from 5-8 PM) for $1.75 admission!

11 Sheldon Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

grcm-bubbles-680x680

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3 – EXPLORE ArtPrize

Did you know the world’s largest art competition takes place right here in Grand Rapids? Nearly 200 Grand Rapids venues display art from artists around the world- and we get front row seats! Be sure to check in with GRKIDS in the fall to get insider tips and details on where to find ArtPrize favorites for families, as well as the ArtPrize Scavenger Hunt, our stroller tour and a field trip map for school groups!

kids grand rapids artprize

5 – WATCH FISH CLIMB THE FISH LADDER

With free parking and bathrooms, Fish Ladder Park is a convenient place to drop by with the kids- and they will love watching the fish try to jump their way up the ladder!

560 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Grand Rapids Fish Ladder Park

5 – CHEER ON THE GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS

Adults and kids of all ages will have a blast cheering on our home hockey team- so bring the whole family! And pick up a Friends & Family 4-Pack to make the night even more affordable!

130 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

griffins promo code lego night

 

6 – GET CREATIVE AT THE GRAND RAPIDS ART MUSEUM

Art galleries, tours, programs… Grand Rapids Art Museum has so much to offer- and you can enjoy it for FREE all day on Tuesdays and on Thursday nights from 5-9 PM! Be sure to come back on Saturdays from 1-4 PM for Drop-In Studio, where your child can take place in hands-on art making activities. It’s free with admission.

Gram-Studio

 SEE ALSO: Moving to Grand Rapids? Start Here!

7 – SEE A SHOW AT VAN ANDEL ARENA

Van Andel Arena is a 10,834-seat multi-purpose arena offering numerous entertainment options throughout the year. From concerts and hockey games to Disney on Ice and monster truck shows, you are guaranteed to find something to make your kids smile!

130 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

sesame street live vanandel arena 2

8 – SETTLE IN FOR A STORY AT GRAND RAPIDS PUBLIC LIBRARY

Come for story time, play and learn in the kids area and then check out some books to continue the fun at home! The Grand Rapids Public Library offers story time, classes, activities and special events for ALL ages.

111 Library Street NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

main GRPL library branch

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9 – TAKE IN A SHOW AT THE CIVIC THEATRE

The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre presents plays year round for all ages! See what’s playing and grab some tickets for the family!

30 Division Ave N, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

10 – TAKE A SPIN ON THE GRAND RAPIDS PUBLIC MUSEUM CAROUSEL

Your kids will love to take a magical ride on Grand Rapids Public Museum carousel. The carousel is made up of forty-four hand-carved, elaborately jeweled wooden horses, two chariots and six menagerie animals.

272 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

grpm-carousel

11 – SPLASH AROUND AT THE KROC CENTER

There’s tons of stuff to keep the kids busy at The Kroc Center! The aquatics center features three 25-yard lap lanes, a 28-foot water slide, a lazy river, a 17-person hot tub and a “zero–depth” entry area with a play structure, as well as an outdoor splash pad during the summer months. And if you’re not looking to swim, check out the fitness center, gym, climbing wall, game room or outdoor campus!

2500 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids, MI 49507

kroc-center-aquatic-center

12 – GRAB A BITE AT THE DOWNTOWN MARKET

Stop in at the Downtown Market for some delicious food at their many eateries and be sure to keep an eye on their calendar to find cooking classes and events throughout the year that are geared toward children, teens, families and everyone in between.

435 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Indoor View of Downtown Market Grand Rapids

13 – TAKE A STROLL THROUGH AH-NAB-AWEN PARK

Ah-Nab-Awen Park is the perfect place to take in the beauty of downtown Grand Rapids. The park runs along the Grand River with a nice paved sidewalk along the bank that’s perfect for strollers. And the kids will love to stop and enjoy the fountain in front of the Gerald R. Ford Museum!

220 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Walkway at Gerald R Ford Museum

14 – CLIMB ON THE BIG RED BUTTON

As you stroll through Ah-Nab-Awen, be sure to stop at the Big Red Button- always a favorite for kids!

03 red button

15 – GO ICE SKATING AT ROSA PARKS CIRCLE

Enjoy some outdoor ice skating right in the heart of Grand Rapids at Rosa Parks Circle. Skate rental is free with admission, so grab the family and head to Open Skate!

135 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Rosa Parks Circle Skating

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16 – GRAB A SWEET TREAT AT FURNITURE CITY CREAMERY

Gallons of ice cream made from scratch each week with ingredients from local Michigan businesses, a rotation of over 65 flavors, served up in an adorable local ice cream shop. What’s not to love? Treat yourself!

958 Cherry Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI  49506

Furniture city creamery on Cherry Street

17 –  COOL OFF AT THE CHERRY PARK SPLASH PAD

Newly renovated Cherry Park now includes a splash pad- the perfect way to let the kids cool off and have fun on a hot summer day!

725 Cherry Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

18 – LEARN AND DISCOVER AT MEIJER GARDENS

You’ll never get bored at Frederik Meijer Gardens, located at the edge of the city limits! Covering 158 acres, Meijer Gardens has Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory, five indoor theme gardens, outdoor gardens, nature trails and boardwalk, sculptures and more!  And you definitely won’t want to miss the interactive Children’s Garden which includes sculptures, a sand quarry, a Great Lakes water feature, tree houses, a log cabin, a butterfly labyrinth, a sense garden and even a child-sized beaver lodge.

1000 East Beltline Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Children's garden at Frederick Meijer Gardens

 

19 – VISIT THE ICONIC CALDER

A visit to downtown Grand Rapids is not complete without a stop at La Grande Vitesse, the massive red sculpture affectionately referred to as “The Calder” by locals. As a part of the city since 1969, it serves as a distinctive landmark and symbol of the city of Grand Rapids.

351 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

la grand vitesse at Calder Plaza Grand rapids, MI

 

20 – HOP ON THE TIRE SWING

After a 30 month absence, the children of Grand Rapids are thrilled that the tire swing is back! This city landmark has been reinstalled and outfitted with new cables, so head on over and start swinging!

The lawn behind the Gerald R. Ford building
04 tire swing 2

 

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By | 2017-05-19T13:56:14+00:00 April 2nd, 2017|Categories: City of GR, Communities, THINGS TO DO, Travel Grand Rapids Tips for Families|0 Comments

About the Author:

Keri S
Keri is a mom of four who enjoys "pizza and movie nights" at home with the family. When she is not managing ads for grkids, chauffeuring children, or trying out a new crockpot recipe, you can probably find her attempting to enjoy a cup of coffee before it gets cold.

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