Best Michigan Vacation Spots for Families

Rock City Gardens Chattanooga Tennessee vacation spots

Drivable Spring Break & Summer Vacation Spots – Day Trips & Longer

Near or far, there are vacation spots within driving distance for Midwesterners looking for a little change of pace or a travel adventure.

This article is broken into Michigan destinations and additional driveable destinations by state that are great for a spring break or summer getaway.

If you’ve already been to one of these destinations or have suggestions for places we should add to the list, leave a comment and let us know about the vacation spots your family loves.

Want a poolside vacation? Consider these Midwest or Michigan Indoor Water Park Destinations that are drivable from Michigan.

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Michigan Vacation Spots

When the kids are really little, or if you just want to maximize your time having fun, these vacation spots are just a few hours from Grand Rapids should be at the top of your list. Hop in the car after breakfast and arrive by lunchtime!

Below is a taste of what Michigan has to offer. You can dig deeper into Michigan vacation bliss with 14 best Michigan vacation spots.

Auburn Hills, Michigan

2 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Why road trip it to Auburn Hills, MI?

Because Great Lakes Crossing Outlets (4000 Baldwin Rd, Auburn Hills, MI 48326) is a one-stop fun shop for families!

In addition to a wide range of shops, the outlet mall has a ton of entertainment & attractions for all ages, but especially the younger crowd.

For the tweens and teens in your group:

  • Round 1 Bowling & Amusement (Arcade, karaoke, billiards, ping pong, darts, etc)
  • AMC Theatres
  • Selfie Zone – 20 selfie stations, ring lights

For the younger kids, visit:

LEGOLAND Discovery Center: Rides, Play, 4D Cinema & more!

Immediately upon entering LEGOLAND Discovery Center, Michigan’s ultimate indoor LEGO playground, you’re greeted with an opportunity to save the day on two interactive LEGO-themed rides, then get hands-on in the build and play areas! Ticket Information.

LEGOLAND Michigan lego friends

Next, you’ll walk through a Downtown Detroit LEGO bricks replica. It’s unbelievably breathtaking and interactive.

We think you’ll also go gaga over the 4D LEGO Cinema – an amped-up movie experience that splashes water, drops faux snow, blows wind, and has the whole room laughing with delight.

That’s not it! There’s also a deep-sea adventure in Underwater Quest, expert builder sessions, and a play structure that kids really enjoy.

Legoland Michigan

SEA LIFE Aquarium: Sharks, Stingrays, Sea Turtles, Petting Tank &More!

SEA LIFE Aquarium is 150,000 gallons of WOW!

Michigan’s largest aquarium lets you in on the action with an interactive touch pool, an underwater-themed play structure, an underwater ocean tunnel, daily talks & feedings, and more. Ticket information.

Sea Life Aquarium 2

Boyne Falls, Michigan

3 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Boyne Falls, MI is home to Boyne Mountain Resort.

It might seem counterintuitive to drive north for Spring Break, but if you’re looking for a place that offers a wide variety of indoor and outdoor fun in a resort setting, this is a great destination and one of Michigan’s favorite ski vacation spots.

Spring Break Activities at Boyne Mountain include:

  • Avalanche Bay Indoor Water Park
  • Indoor/Outdoor Pools
  • Downhill Skiing, Weather Permitting
  • Snow Tubing, Weather Permitting
  • Zip Line Experience
  • Snow Shoeing, Weather Permitting
Avalanche-Bay-Waterpark-Boyne-Falls-Michigan is a popular Michigan vacation spot
Avalanche Bay Water Park at Boyne Mountain in Michigan

I love a vacation where I can just unpack and not worry about having to go anywhere for a few days all the while making lasting memories.

“Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark” has all of the fun located in one spot! What more could we ask for right?

Boyne Mountain Outdoor Pool in Boyne Falls Michigan
Outdoor Pool at Boyne Mountain

Lansing, Michigan

1 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Lansing is an easy day trip from Grand Rapids.

Once you arrive at Michigan’s capitol city, there are quite a few things to keep you busy.

Stop 1: Michigan State University.

Take your family to the:

MSU Museum in East Lansing, MI
MSU Museum in East Lansing, MI

After that, head on over to the Impression 5 Science Museum (1/2 off with your GRPM membership!).

impressions 5 lansing museum 1
Impression 5 is a hands-on Science Museum in Lansing, MI

And don’t forget Potter Park Zoo – purchase timed entry tickets online.

Oh, and you must stop at the original Horrocks.

And hike at the ledges in Fitzgerald Park.

Hiking along the ledges in Fitzgerald Park near Lansing, MI

Detroit, Michigan

2 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

It’s time to add DetroitThe Motor City – to your list of family vacation spots because it has so much to offer families!

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Riverwalk in Downtown Detroit, MI

Getting away to Belle Isle to go to the FREE aquarium and beautiful Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is such a fun experience.

Belle Isle Detroit Pearson green tiles
The Aquarium on Belle Isle in Detroit, MI is Free for Visitors

Catch a view of both Canada and USA borders at the same time on their multiple viewing spots.

While in town, definitely make time for the Detroit Zoo. The ever-popular penguin exhibit has reopened after a two-year closure for repairs and should be on your must-visit list.

It’s the largest penguin facility in the world – here’s what it looks like as of 2022:

Detroit Zoo Rhino and flowers hunt

Another amazing stop in Detroit: Visit the Outdoor Adventure Center.

detroit outdoor adventure center (1)
DNR Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit is a hit with kids

Shopping historic Eastern Market is also a favorite.

Eastern Market Detroit Pearson
The Eastern Market in Detroit is a Foodie’s Dream Come True

There you can rent bikes to head down to the riverfront where you’ll find playgrounds, a carousel, and a large splash pad.

Relax with the family just under the gorgeous Renaissance center where you’ll find food and bathrooms.

Find these ideas and more to plan a great vacation in Detroit.

Kalamazoo, Michigan

1 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Our neighbor to the south, Kalamazoo has many attractions. One of Kalamazoo’s claim to fame is their outdoor downtown mall area. It’s filled with great shops and restaurants and is a fun family destination.

Kalamazoo Mall

A few favorites for families include the Kalamazoo Valley Museum downtown, which offers FREE admission and often has special events or activities going on.

You’ll also want to stop at the Kalamazoo Nature Center.

Kalamazoo nature center visitors building kids playing
The Interpretive Center at Kalamazoo Nature Center

A trip to Kalamazoo would not be complete without a stop at the Air Zoo, which houses many full-sized airplanes along with rides, simulations and a great gift store. The Air Zoo is best enjoyed by school-aged kids and older.

Air-Zoo-for-Families-Feature-Photo-May-2020 (1)
The Air Zoo in Kalamazoo is a treasure trove of fun for the whole family

Find these and many more ideas at KZOOKIDS.

Kalamazoo Valley Museum Play Station

Grand Rapids, Michigan

For locals, staying in Grand Rapids for Spring Break can be a lot of fun.

For those who call this place home, as well as visitors, here’s what we recommend doing in Grand Rapids over Spring Break or on a summer visit:

Millennium Park header
Millennium Park in Grand Rapids, MI
FMG Butterflies1
Butterflies are Blooming at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI

Frankenmuth, Michigan

2 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Frankenmuth is a fantastic family fun destination with great food, interesting history, and unique places to stay. Home to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, Zehnder’s Chicken and the Bavarian Inn Lodge, there is so much to discover.

zehnders splash village
Zehnder’s Splash Village in Frankenmuth, MI

Zehnder’s Splash Village is a combination hotel and waterpark. Your family will love exploring and splashing around in the 50,000 square feet of waterpark fun or playing in the arcade.

Muskegon, Michigan

1 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

USS Silversides is a real, restored WWII submarine anchored in Muskegon.

USS Silversides in Muskegon Michigan
USS Silversides in Muskegon, MI

This memorial and museum uniquely offers overnight experiences for groups and the general public and has been delighting West Michigan families for generations.

My husband still fondly remembers his troop’s trip from 30 years ago!

While you’re in town be sure to stop by Lake Michigan. The Muskegon Harbor beach is expansive and lots of fun even on a cool spring day. It’s a great place to fly a kite.

Muskegon Harbor Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan

2.5 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Traverse City wasn’t on my radar for a Spring Break trip until just a couple of years ago!

A trip to Traverse City means amazing food, snow tubing at Mt. Holiday, seeing the Bay, and if you plan for it, a pool to swim in.

MT Holiday Tubing Traverse City
Snow Tubing at Mt. Holiday in Traverse City over Spring Break, weather permitting

I know both you and your kids will love and remember a trip here for years to come.

Catch a movie at  State Theatre for their $0.25 Kids Matinee (non-COVID times) and explore Downtown.

Downtown Traverse City

Visit the mysterious Grand Traverse Commons for an interesting experience. Bike TART Trail where we found this amazing park in East Bay by Woodland Sweets:

Traverse City park
Playground at Woodland Sweets in Traverse City, MI

Indiana Vacation Spots

Driving a little farther out from Grand Rapids creates such a sense of anticipation in kids. You’re going to this special new place that will definitely be different, but also maybe a little warmer. Score!

I love that these exciting vacation spots are still just a car ride away, and there’s no airfare needed.

Fort Wayne, Indiana

3 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Fort Wayne, IN

A trip to Fort Wayne is what I like to call an Easy-on-Us getaway. With lots of reciprocal options offered with our Grand Rapids memberships, it was a great time for all of us!

Who knew History and Science could be so much fun?! There’s a giant slide inside of Science Central and an amazing reconstructed Historic Old Fort both of which you won’t want to miss.

Don’t forget your walking shoes! Fort Wayne was made for walkers and bikers and the Fort Wayne Trail System did not disappoint.

Science Central Fort Wayne Indiana
Science Central is a Hands-On Family Destination in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana

4.5 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Indianapolis, IN, is closer than you might realize and has a lot to offer when it comes to family vacation spots.

The vibe in Indy is awesome. Laidback with big-city amenities – it’s one of our family’s favorite destinations.

The Rhythm Museum is the sleeper hit of the city in our opinion.

If you’re headed to Indy be sure to check out Conner Prairie, with “Acres and Acres of Interactive Awesomeness.”

Conner Prairie Indianapolis
A Blacksmith at work at Conner Prairie just outside of Indianapolis, IN

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis also receives high marks from kids and is worth the trip just for a museum visit. Buy tickets online in advance for the best rates.

Indianapolis Childrens Museum interior
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the Largest Children’s Museum in the World

Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

4.5 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Hike the gorge and enjoy the bridges. Turkey Run State Park is not what you think of when you think of Indiana.

Many people like to camp here. In the warmer months, floating the river is popular.

Visit the nature center, go horseback riding, go fishing, splash in the pool, or climb the ladders on hiking adventures – check out Turkey Run!

Wisconsin Vacation spots

Wisconsin vacation spots are a little harder to get to for Michiganders, but you can (and should) make it happen. There’s a lot to explore in this neighboring state.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

6 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Drive to Wisconsin Dells and you’ll find loads of indoor water parks like Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari Resorts and Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Parks.

Self-described as “Spring Break Capital of the Midwest” and “The Waterpark Capitol of the World,” this is a popular destination for midwest families that don’t want to drive for long distances.

Some waterparks are only open to hotel guests, while others allow day visitors.

Wilderness Resort Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells Sells Day Passes

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

4.25 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Milwaukee is such a pretty little city! It’s really not much farther of a drive than a weekend in Chicago–with plenty to do to keep your whole family busy.

If you want to skip the inevitable Chicago traffic, you can take one of the ferry services across the lake for a unique and memorable family trip. You can read all about Melody’s ferry trip to Milwaukee for tips on riding the ferry and what you have to see and do while you’re there!

Vacation spots in Wisconsin include Milwaukee
Milwaukee County Zoo

Ohio Vacation Spots

Cleveland, Ohio

5 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Cleveland, on the shores of Lake Erie, is a very family-friendly destination.

A variety of outdoor stops families will love include:

  • Edgewater Park
  • Lakewood Park
  • Cleveland Botanical Garden
  • Cleveland Zoo

Indoor attractions are plentiful, too and include:

  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • A Christmas Story House
  • Great Lakes Science Center
  • Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Bonus- The city is a short drive to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park where you will find the amazing Ledges Trail as well as Brandywine Falls.

Brandywine Falls Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cincinnati, Ohio

5.75 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

If you’re in Cincy, you’re in the land of 365 Cincinnati. Check out Bridgett’s website for the latest on what to do in her cool town.

Be sure to put the Newport Aquarium on your to-do list, as well as the beloved Cincinnati Zoo.

As far as Cincinnati museums go, they are top notch.

Bridgett reports that the Cincinnati Art Museum is great for all ages.

The Cincinnati Museum Center includes The Cincinnati History Museum, The Museum of Natural History and Science, and The Children’s Museum. Don’t miss it!

union terminal from front
Cincinnati Museum Center includes  The Cincinnati History Museum, The Museum of Natural History and Science, and The Children’s Museum.
Photo: 365 Cincinnati

Before you leave, be sure to check out Fountain Square to see what’s going on there. Fountain Square is a public space where Cincinnatians gather for special events, free concerts, tailgates, an outdoor market, and more.

Missouri Vacation Spots

St. Louis, Missouri

6.5 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Everyone says it. You have to go! We could not wait to try out the City Museum… so many friends had said, “It will blow your mind.” So, we decided to make that our spring break trip one year and it was terrific!

The City Museum in St. Louis is unlike any other museum we’ve ever visited. This museum is full-contact. Visitors are invited to climb, slide, tunnel, and do all sorts of other things that would never be welcome in a “regular” museum. Our kids thought it was better than Disney!

Other itinerary-musts in St. Louis include the Zoo

St Louis Zoo
St Louis Zoo

The famous Gateway Arch – you can ride to the top if you’d like!

St Louis Arch
The Base of the St. Louis Gateway Arch

More favorite stops:

Illinois Vacation Spots

Chicago, Illinois

3 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

The great city to our south has much to tempt you with.

You can drive or you can take the train to Chicago.

When you arrive, you’ll have to choose between great options like:

  • Shedd Aquarium
  • The Museum of Science and Industry
  • American Girl Doll Store & LEGO Store while you shop the Magnificent Mile
  • Brookfield Zoo
  • Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park. We visited in the winter when the skating ribbon was covered in ice. Summer months promise rollerblading and a rock-climbing wall. Also, DO NOT MISS Slide Crater Park. Unbelievable! Located near Millennium Park.

Don’t forget that exploring Old Town, China Town or the Gold Coast, along with taking in new restaurants, or riding the subway, L or water taxi are big-city events not to be missed.

Daley Park Chicago Kozlowicz
Maggie Daley Park

*Inside Scoop: you get into the Museum of Science and Industry, and other places, FREE when you use your Grand Rapids Public Museum Membership!

Also, If you want to take in a show or visit places like the Skydeck while you’re there, check out GOLDSTAR  Or CityPass for discounted tickets before you go.

Kentucky Vacation Spots

Load up the minivan and start to drive south for a spring break trip filled with lots of exciting vacation spots and things to do with kids in Kentucky.

Louisville, Kentucky

6.25 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Louisville, KY, has a ton of fun things to offer families. Louisville is good for at least 2 days with kids and the Children’s Museum is great.

Visitors love to tour Churchill Downs, check out the Kentucky Derby Museum, and the Louisville Slugger Museum.

The Louisville Mega Cavern is another favorite vacation spot: you can do an underground ropes course, zipline or bike ride your way through this gigantic cavern destination.

Stop at the Louisville Zoo, ride the Riverboat, and touring museums and neighborhoods will round out your visit.

Visit Kentucky Louisville Slugger
Louisville Slugger Museum

An hour south of Louisville you can enjoy horseback riding and a Jesse James hideout cave tour

Mammoth Caves National Park, Kentucky

7.5 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

If this is your destination, pack your walking shoes.

There are tons of walking paths for hiking and biking, and of course, the caves to explore at Mammoth Caves National Park. If you want to do a cave tour please note that most need to be booked in advance.

The caves are not stroller-friendly and do require long-distance walking, so this trip is not recommended for kids 5 and under… kids also need to not get frightened of the dark, bats, cave spiders, etc…. you know your child. Also, if you have never been to a cave before, take a sweater or jacket with you. It can be cold in the cave.

Also good to note- the caves are in the Central Time Zone, so adjust your watches accordingly.

Mammoth Cave Kentucky Tourism 1
Mammoth Caves in Kentucky

There are many other tourist-type activities built up around the National Park, from roller coasters to ziplines to horseback riding if those are up your alley.

Be sure to check out our full list of 22 things to do in Kentucky.

Tennessee Vacation Spots

Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

10 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN, are tourist destinations with tons of activities for families.

There are so many things to choose from, like: the Dixie Stampede, Goats on the Roof, the alpine coaster, Dollywood (do the steam engine ride), Bennett’s BBQ, Mama’s Farmhouse, and the tram and ski lift up to the top of Over-Gatlinburg and horseback riding.

Ripley’s Aquarium and the Sky Lift are both pricey, but people say they are worth it.

Zorbing is a newer activity available in Gatlinburg that looks like a ton of fun.

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When Zorbing, People go Inside of the Ball and roll Down the Hill. Outdoor Gravity Park, Gatlinburg

Many visitors choose to spend time exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – this vacation spot has so much to see and do and most of it is free (Cade’s Cove, Clingman’s Dome and the drive to Clingman’s Dome are a must within the park.) You will also want to check out the hike to Grotto Falls if you are looking for a beautiful hike.

If you go to the welcome center in the national park, they can recommend trails that are best for the distance, incline, and views that you are looking for.

Gatlinburg has beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains if you stay in one of the cabins!

Chimney Top hike Smokey Mountains kids on stairs Hunt
Chimney Tops hike in the Smoky Mountains

Nashville, Tennessee

9 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

When in Nashville, go hiking, take in live music and be sure to visit the botanical gardens (they are reciprocal with Frederick Meijer Gardens!).

You can also take a plantation tour at Belle Meade Plantation and get a look at how plantations of the south used to be… tour the mansion, the stables, and see the gardens. There are old house tours, civil war cemeteries, and other historical opportunities, too.

Or walk through the Opryland Hotel… the glass atriums contain nine acres of lush indoor gardens, winding rivers and pathways, and sparkling waterfalls where you’ll find shopping and restaurants to add to the adventure.

Nashville’s Dragon Park is a free children’s park that most kids will love to explore. Also consider stopping at the Nashville Zoo, Centennial Park features a Parthenon replica that is modeled exactly like the one in Greece. Gruhn Guitars is a great little stop, they have some very old and expensive instruments.

things to do in nashville with kids

The city has plenty of good food and music during the day at bars along with lots of fun shops.

Downtown Nashville at night is really fun but not necessarily kid-friendly.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

10 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Rock City Gardens Chattanooga Tennessee vacation spots
Rock City Gardens

Chattanooga in general is a great little city, with a fresh downtown area with lots of great shops, restaurants, and family-friendly attractions.

  • Chattanooga is famous for their impressive aquarium
  • Minor league baseball
  • Children’s Museum
  • a pedestrian bridge over the river
  • The incline railway where trolley-style cars climb Lookout Mountain – straight up!
  • Rock City here’s where you go to see massive ancient rock formations, gardens, and breathtaking “See 7 States” panoramic views. Take the Enchanted Trail and experience Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village.
  • Ruby Falls. Ruby Falls is a lot like Mammoth Caves… kids love it!

Overall, there’s a lot to love about Chattanooga!

Just over an hour to the northwest of Chattanooga is The Lost Sea (America’s largest underground lake) in Sweetwater, TN. You can take a boat ride underground.

Washington, D.C. Vacation Spots

10 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Washington, D.C. is a big favorite for spring break, especially if you’ve got school-aged kids that can walk more and learn. There is a lot of history here, including some free things to do.

Big Hitters are:

North Carolina Vacation Spots

Asheville, North Carolina

11 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Ashville, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is super fun – a great place to white water raft and see the Biltmore Estate. (You can spend the whole day on the grounds and the little Biltmore village on the property – it’s cool, but tickets are pricey. Save a little and buy tickets online. Kids 9 and under are free.)

If you choose to stay at the Biltmore you won’t have to pay the park entrance fee – and you’ll have their winery at your fingertips, too.

biltmore in the spring
The Biltmore comes alive in spring with over 8000 acres of historic grounds and gardens in Ashville, NC. Biltmore Blooms runs April 1 – May 27, 2021

In town, you will find yourself stopping into the Chocolate Lounge. Be sure to sign up for a 45-minute chocolate factory tour. You learn how cacao is grown and ultimately transformed into chocolate). Then you are guided on a bean-to-bar chocolate tasting, ending with a handcrafted bonbon. (Fee for adults and kids 8 & above).

The Woolworth Walk is a reclaimed Woolworth’s store in downtown Ashville that has been reimagined into a large local art gallery complete with an old fashioned soda fountain.

woolworth soda fountain
Woolworth Walk Soda Fountain is operational in downtown Ashville, NC

The North Carolina Arboretum is a popular stop, too. You can wander through the gardens, hike or bike on the mountain trails and take in their rotating exhibits that are often geared toward kids.

While you’re here, if the weather allows, you have to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s stunning when the dogwood and rhododendron are in bloom in the spring and also in the fall for the colors.

BRPA Getting Started map

Just outside of Ashville, NC you’ll find more family fun:

Mine gems at Elijah Gem Mine.

Grandfather Mountain is a great park (fee) with a Mile High Swinging Suspension Bridge, nature and hiking.

Grandfather Mountain Mile High Swinging Bridge outside of Asheville, NC

Sliding Rock Natural Waterslide opens for sliding with lifeguards on duty Memorial Day weekend. Brave people can slide before that time but the water is COLD. If you want to come enjoy the sites without getting wet that is definitely the warmer option.

South Carolina Vacation Spots

Charleston, South Carolina

15 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Charleston and the nearby Kiawah Island is amazing. You can bike the whole island and kayak and see dolphins. The area is known for their great food, and many lodging places have wonderful pools, too.

You must stop at the Historic Charleston City Market.

Charleston is very walkable- bring good shoes! You can also bike through town or do a historic/architectural walking tour (many school-aged kids love these).

Charleston also has a Children’s Treasure Hunt Tour. It’s one-hour long and has participants practicing sword drills, making pirate flags, and searching for treasure.

Or, take a carriage ride through town.

Then, ferry over to Fort Sumter, where Confederate forces fired the first shots of the Civil War in 1861.

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You may want to visit flower-filled Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. Their 45-minute Slavery to Freedom Tour takes visitors to former slave dwellings on the plantation where this part of history is explored via an award-winning program.

If you have time, visit the Angel Oak Tree on John’s Island, near Charleston. It’s over 400 years old, is huge, and has a very interesting, sprawling growth pattern.

Canadian Vacation Spots

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

6 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

Travel to another country for spring break?

Yes! A short trip and you’ll be on your way to a place similar to Europe, but much faster. I recommend getting the CityPass to enjoy these locations:

Read all about our family’s trip and why it’s worth the drive and experience!

Toronto with kids casa loma

Niagara Falls

6 Hour Drive from Grand Rapids

First, I highly recommend getting an Adventure Pass for Niagara Parks.

Niagara Falls lookout

After that amazing experience, you’ll just be getting started. Did you know that there’s so much more to do in the area? We were fully immersed in the Niagara Falls experience with this 4D attraction, Niagara’s Fury. One of our family favorites on this trip was hiking the Niagara Glen.

Niagara Whitewater walk Niagara Falls Hiking with Kids

You’ll also love Old Fort Erie, Laura Secord Homestead,  Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, and much more! For more tips and information check out our family’s full trip to Niagara Falls.

More to Consider While Planning Your Family Vacation

There’s something special about getting travel advice from people who live nearby.

Check out these articles. Let us know if there are questions you have that we haven’t answered. Wondering about a specific destination? Ask – we might be able to help!

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michigan road trip ideas

37 thoughts on “Best Michigan Vacation Spots for Families”

  1. Sara Feldpausch

    Hello-curious where in traverse city is the playground is that is pictured under that section? Thanks for all the wonderful ideas!

  2. Sondra Konyndyk

    Hi melody,
    As a seasoned mom and now grandma I love road trips and I loved reading your ideas and inspirational tips … Don’t let people like Cindy 🙂 get you down! It takes optimism to throw your kids in the car and just go for it … Head to a new place … See what you can find there and explore! Have the fun is in the underplanning! Our best family memories were and are made in the adventures we created on the spot!

    So thanks for loving my home town ! Thanks for some great ideas that I’m going to use on an impromptu summer getaway… Keep it up and to all the road trippers out there : there’s one thing you can’t control and that’s traffic! So just go with the flow. Pack some snacks and games! You guys all have TV’s and all sorts of toys to keep your kids happy happy happy !!!!! 🙂 if it takes a little longer getting there that’s just part of the adventure.

  3. First I’m laughing at the drive times, you should check drive times, all are from Grand Rapids and still optimistic especially if you are traveling with children – and why else are you going. You really don’t want to arrive with crabby children who have been sitting for hours with nothing to do. If you live outside of GR adjust your times accordingly. Also drive times do not include stops for gas and/or food, traffic holdups, be aware of this as you make your plans. You will not be able to drive 90 mph all the time.

    You also must plan a place to stay overnight if you plan to do anything in any of these cities so, especially at Spring Break, make reservations. I have been in some of these cities at Spring Break without hotel reservations, and the only rooms left are in places I wouldn’t stay. I highly recommend calling ahead or checking the internet to make reservations for many of the popular events because you can’t just park and walk in immediately. Some events are completely books weeks ahead.

    In Indianapolis, consider the Zoo with it’s shark petting tank, Go Ape: Treetop Adventure, take your bikes and ride the Culture Trail which connects to the Monon Rail Trail for approx 15 miles (one-way) of riding, the trail is also walkable, White River State Park is downtown.

    In St. Louis don’t forget the famous St. Louis Zoo, botanical gardens, science center, The Gateway Arch was mentioned, try it at night – highly recommend making reservations days ahead, The Magic House, Grant’s Farm where the Budweiser Clydesdales are housed, Purina Farm (family friendly), City Museum and for fun a St. Louis Cardinals game.

    Mammoth Cave is a fun stop, I’d recommend a hotel at Horse Cave, Ky just off the expressway. If you are making plans to tour Mammoth Cave, make resevations! You might be too late already. I called 2 weeks before Spring Break a few years ago and they laughed at me because I thought I could make reservations at that late date.

    With young children I would highly recommend Chattanooga as a 2-day trip. Ten + hours one day trip is highly optimistic with young children. Chattanooga is a great history trip. Up on Missionary Ridge there are plaques showing the process of the Civil War. I found my great-grandfather’s troop’s trek up Missionary Ridge as a Union Soldier.

    Too long of a comment, but from my own experiences in the past 5-6 years.

    1. Avatar photo

      Hi Cindy, Thanks for all of your ideas! And yes,the drive times are straight from Google Maps from Grand Rapids, so of course you will need to add time for stopping. If you’re like me, you try to make it as far as you can early in the day before having to stop too much. And driveable in a day- my intentions were that you could drive to the destination in a day. Spring break is a busy time for many places so reserving a hotel room ahead of time is a good idea.

  4. Amy Figy Straley via Facebook

    If we could EVER get over all the dang sickness, you guys could come visit us!! NOW..Ziggy has Strep Throat…which has been going around school..and so is barfing flu!! Miss you guys!!!

  5. Amy Figy Straley via Facebook

    If we could EVER get over all the dang sickness, you guys could come visit us!! NOW..Ziggy has Strep Throat…which has been going around school..and so is barfing flu!! Miss you guys!!!

    1. I would agree – we had a great time there last fall! Melody, if you’re ever interested in a write-up on the Smokies, I could easily pull one together 🙂

  6. We enjoyed St. Louis three years ago. It is a fantastic city. We loved the City museum. We were there when they opened and they kicked us out at closing, with a short picnic out of the back of our car in the middle. The roof is worth the extra cost. We loved the zoo especially petting the sting rays. It may be too early in the season for them but they don’t charge for the first hour the zoo is open to pet them. Turtle park, a park with giant climbable turtle sculptures, made a great first stop to stretch legs after the car ride. We also enjoyed the science center, the arch, walking around downtown and a riverboat ride. We also took the Budweiser tour to see the Clydesdale horses. We were not interested in the rest of the tour. The guide was more than happy to let us out. We were returned to the hospitality room for free beer, soda and pretzels. Such a great city, I could go on and on. Enjoy!

  7. Awesome article and great advice. Your website continues to be such a resource for my family. Thank You. 🙂

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