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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?
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
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
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!
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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!
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
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
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
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!
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