CONGRATS 2020 GRANDTASTIC AWARD WINNERS!

Grand Rapids BEST for Families

If you live in West Michigan, you are probably always hearing about all of the new and interesting places opening in our community. Throw in all of the beloved places that have been a staple in our community for decades and you soon realize just how many options there are on where to book a birthday party, where to enjoy a delicious pizza, and where to enroll your child in dance lessons.

So, when you are looking for a new park to play at or the best place to brunch with your family, where do you even start? Right here!

Thousands of our GRKIDS community members have told us the best family-friendly places to go in West Michigan. We’ve compiled their favorite places to eat, shop, learn and play with families in one spot, our Grandtastic guide.

Best of Grand Rapids for families Grandtastic

Be sure to bookmark this guide, so you can quickly reference this to find Grandtastic places around town!

Every listing in this guide received significant votes from our readers through an extensive social media campaign. Businesses voted in the top 10 were invited to sponsor their section, ensuring that you are getting information on top notch businesses around Grand Rapids.

Navigate the List

To make browsing easier, we broke the list into sections. Use these buttons to get to the section you’re interested in faster.

Learn and Discover
Play
Venues & Events
Dining
Shopping

Learn & Discover

Looking at enrolling your child in dance, swimming lessons or music programs, but don’t know where to start? Read on to find West Michigan’s GRANDTASTIC places to learn and discover with your children!

This section includes the following Grandtastic Award categories:

  • Art Classes/Studios for Kids
  • Swimming Lessons for Kids

  • Dance Classes for Kids

  • Music Programs for Kids

  • Libraries for Kids
  • Field Trips

Art Classes & Studios for Kids

Art classes can be the perfect outlet for all of the creative energy bursting inside of kids. From pottery, to water colors, to painting, kids can explore several mediums and techniques through structured classes or during open studio hours.

Channel their creative energy by enrolling them in one of West Michigan’s top-voted art classes/studios, all listed below.

Voted Top Art Class/Studio for Kids

The Mud Room @ Knapp’s Corner

1- The Mud Room @ Knapp’s Corner

2- Grand Rapids Children’s Museum 

3- Accidental Art (Rockford) 

4- Brush Studio – Grand Rapids 

5- Grand Rapids Art Museum 

6- Wine & Canvas Studio / Cookies & Canvas 

7- Kendall College of Art and Design 

8- Paint a Pot (Holland) 

9- YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids 

10- Hearts for the Arts 

The Mud Room @ Knapp’s Corner

Sign up for a class, plan a party or stop in during Open Studio hours to paint pottery or wood signs. The Mud Room offers creative fun for all ages – no experience needed!

1971 E Beltline Ave NE #103 | Grand Rapids MI 49525
FACEBOOK  | 616-259-7269

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Accidental Art- A Pottery Painting Studio

355 Northland Drive NE | Rockford, MI 49341
616-915-4842

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Wine and Canvas

2675 E Paris Avenue SE, Suite E | Grand Rapids, MI 49546
616-970-1082

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Swimming Lessons for Kids

With our Great Lakes, countless inland lakes, amazing aquatic centers, and neighborhood pools, there are opportunities everywhere for swimming. So come summer, nothing eases my mind more than knowing my child is a confident swimmer.

Looking to get your kids enrolled into swim lessons with a trusted instructor so they can be a confident swimmer? The most loved places for swim lessons are all listed below.

Voted Top Swimming Lessons for Kids

Goldfish Swim School

1- Goldfish Swim School 

2- Julie’s Swim School 

3- ISR (Infant Swimming Resources) – Michael Petrella 

4- MVP Sports Clubs 

5- YMCA – David D. Hunting 

6- (TIE) Miss Rita’s Swim School 

6- (TIE) The Kroc Center 

8- YMCA – Mary Free Bed

9- Miss Patty’s Swimming

10- Kentwood Public Schools Aquatic Center

Goldfish Swim School of Grand Rapids

Our shiver-free pool and state-of-the-art facility, paired with our play-based teaching philosophy provides your child with lifesaving, long lasting water skills and great memories.

2845 Thornhills Ave. Suite S | Grand Rapids, MI, 49546
FACEBOOK | 616-259-0725

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Dance Classes for Kids

Whether it is jazz, hip-hop, tap or ballet, dance classes are great for kids. Dance gets kids moving, gives them the opportunity to express their creativity and ultimately, allows them to have fun.

Parents have spoken and given us their recommendations on the absolute best dance classes in town.

Voted Top Dance Class for Kids

Hearts in Motion Dance Project

1- Hearts in Motion Dance Project 

2- Caledonia Dance & Music Center 

3- Dance Creations 

4- Dance Dimensions 

5- Ada Dance Academy 

6- Integrity Dance Arts 

7- HIS Dance Academy 

8-  Grand Rapids Ballet School

9- Body Language Dance Company 

10- Kathy’s Dance Co. (Hudsonville) 

Caledonia Dance & Music Center

Providing your child with top-notch training by worthy role models in a fun and caring atmosphere, CDMC is your place to start your child’s music and dance lessons AND your place to stay! It’s never too late to enroll. Call today!

“We love Caledonia Dance Center because of the excellent teachers and strong programs. Their class offerings are perfect for every age and ability level, even offering an “all boys” class.”  

Sowerby family, Middleville

131 E Main St SE, Suite E | Caledonia, MI 49316
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | 616-891-1606

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Hearts in Motion Dance

At Hearts in Motion we believe in the power of dance. We believe in the way dance can make you feel. We believe that dance should be fun, fanciful, happy, and magical. We believe in building strength and confidence through dance and fostering a LOVE for the art of dance.

“This is our first year at Hearts in Motion and we couldn’t be happier with the studio! Reasons why we love it are the teachers, the organization that the studio puts into all details, the families that we have met and the overall happy atmosphere when we walk in each week.” 

4336 Plainfield Ave NE | Grand Rapids, MI 49525
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | 616-226-6412

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Integrity Dance Arts

We strive to train students in proper dance technique while using tasteful music and appropriate dance moves. We believe in positive mentoring, fostering a happy, healthy, and safe environment for dancers, and dancing… with purpose!

2495 84th Street SW | Byron Center, MI 49315
FACEBOOK | 616-583-9886

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

HIS Dance Academy

Offering dance classes for both the Recreational (ages two – adult) and Graded Technique (Levels I-VII) dancer. Graded Technique classes for ages 8+ are taught using our Vaganova based ballet curriculum which includes Bible verses relating to all terms and positions. Hip Hop, Ballet, Jazz and Tap Recreational classes allow students to explore dance with a smaller weekly commitment.

2715 29th Street SE | Grand Rapids, MI 49512
616-245-9501

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Music Programs for Kids

What is so great about enrolling your child in a music program? So many things!

Not only does learning a musical instrument allow kids to develop fine motor skills, math skills and memory skills (to name just a few), these programs are available to kids of all ages and all skill levels.

If you are ready to sign your child up for a music program, reference our list of the most-loved programs below.

Voted Top Music Program for Kids

Academy of Music in Grand Rapids 

1- Academy of Music in Grand Rapids 

2- Kent District Library  

3- Grand Rapids Symphony 

4- St. Cecilia Music Center 

5- Joyful Sounds Music Studio 

6- Ada Conservatory of Music 

7- Meyer Music 

8- Franciscan Life Process Center (Lowell) 

9- Luc James Music Studio 

10- Fliehman School of Music 

Academy of Music in Grand Rapids

Our goal is to foster confidence and creativity in students with an exceptional musical learning experience. Our dedicated instructors teach piano, guitar, singing, violin, drums, and more in our state of the art facilities. Our convenient, comfortable location and flexible hours accommodate today’s busy families.

“Academy of Music is an AWESOME place, with caring and friendly staff. Our daughter’s teacher completely restored her love for the violin!!! My daughter loves her. The staff is always so friendly and has a smile on their faces!! They acknowledge each student by name as they enter the door.”

Anna Schnike

6159 28th St SE, Ste 24 | Grand Rapids, MI 49546
FACEBOOK | 616-965-1655

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Joyful Sounds Music Studio

959 Lake Dr SE | Grand Rapids, MI 49506
616-916-0478

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Top Libraries for Kids

I always loved the library, but after becoming a mom, the library became invaluable.

Not only can we check out books, magazines and movies, but there are so many interesting classes for kids (and adults alike), as well as fully stocked, imaginative play areas that always bring our family back for more.

The most loved libraries are listed below.

Voted Top Library for Kids

East Grand Rapids Library – KDL

1- East Grand Rapids Branch – KDL 

2- Cascade Township Branch – KDL 

3- Caledonia Township Branch – KDL

4- Plainfield Township Branch- KDL 

5- Grandville Branch – KDL 

6- Byron Township – KDL 

7- (TIE) Krause Memorial (Rockford) Branch – KDL 

7- (TIE) Wyoming Branch – KDL 

9- Main Library – GRPL 

10- Kentwood (Richard L. Root) Branch – KDL 

Field Trips

Field Trip days were always so special as a kid and I love seeing that same excitement in my kids when a field trip day approaches. And as an adult, I can appreciate the variety of field trips available right in our own town!

Check out some of the best field trip destinations where kids can learn, have fun, and make memories.

Voted Top Field Trip

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

1- Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park 

2- John Ball Zoo 

3- Grand Rapids Children’s Museum 

4- Critter Barn (Zeeland) 

5- Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 

6- Grand Rapids Public Museum 

7- Blandford Nature Center 

8- Deer Tracks Junction 

9- Schwallier’s Country Basket (Sparta) 

10- (TIE) Post Family Farm (Hudsonville) 

10- (TIE) Robinette’s Apple Haus 

Best Place to Play around West Michigan

We hear it all of the time, kids learn best from play.

Experience some old favorites and try something new at the best playgrounds, beaches and indoor play places around West Michigan.

This section includes the following Grandtastic Award categories:

  • Outdoor Playgrounds/Parks

  • Outdoor Venues/Experiences for Families

  • Beaches for Families

  • Indoor Play Places

Outdoor Playgrounds/Parks

Fresh air and tons of options for play? It doesn’t get much better than play time at a playground or park.

Even better, my kids are usually happily exhausted after an afternoon at one of these top-voted locations. Check out some old favorites or new soon-to-be favorite parks below.

Voted Best Outdoor Playground/Park

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

1- Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 

2- Millennium Park (Walker) – Kent County

3- Ada Township Park 

4- Cascade Township Park 

5- Hager Park (Georgetown Twp.) 

6- Frog Hollow Park (Wyoming) 

7- Deer Tracks Junction 

8- Fallasburg Park (Lowell) 

9- Blandford Nature Center 

10- Rosewood Park (“Charlie’s Dump” in Jenison) 

Outdoor Experiences/Venues for Families

There is nothing quite like a day in the great outdoors, especially when the great outdoors is in our great city.

From taking in meticulously kept gardens, to watching nine innings of West Michigan’s favorite baseball team, there is something for every person during every season.

Check out the top outdoor experiences for families below.

Voted Top Outdoor Experience/Venue for Families

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

1- Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park 

2- Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 

3- John Ball Zoo 

4- Michigan’s Adventure (Muskegon) 

5- Deer Tracks Junction, LLC

6- Blandford Nature Center 

7- Critter Barn (Zeeland) 

8- West Michigan Whitecaps 

9- Millennium Park (Walker) – Kent County 

10- Cannonsburg Ski & Ride Area 

Deer Tracks Junction, LLC

Deer Tracks Adventure Park is hours of fun for all ages! Tons of animals with up close and personal encounters, huge one-of-a-kind play areas, and delicious homemade ice cream! Feed the animals or just enjoy time to love on ‘em. Adventures vary by season; check our website for current schedule.

“Such a fun family outing! Extremely clean facilities and very friendly staff. The playground is tons of fun for kids and adults; so much attention to detail, absolutely amazing facility. Loved being able to interact with animals and hold the babies. We will definitely be back!”

Cindy Nelson

7850 14 Mile Rd NE | Cedar Springs, MI 49319
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM616-863-3337

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

John Ball Zoo

1300 W. Fulton St | Grand Rapids, MI, 49504
616-336-4300

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Beaches for Families

There are so many special things about West Michigan, but certainly one of those has to be Lake Michigan. Sandy beaches, fresh water, and lighthouses seem to be a staple around here.

Did you know we have some pretty amazing inland lakes too? Check out our list below of the best spots to spend a day at the beach.

Voted Top Beach for Families

Grand Haven State Park

1- Grand Haven State Park

2- Holland State Park 

3- Millennium Park (Walker) 

4- P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon) 

5- Oval Beach (Saugatuck) 

6- Tunnel Park (Holland) 

7- (TIE) Duck Lake State Park (Muskegon) 

7- (TIE) Grand Haven City Beach 

9- Kirk Park (West Olive)

10- Pere Marquette Park (Muskegon)

Indoor Play Places

After days upon days of cold temperatures, indoor play places become a lifesaver.

Indoor play places aren’t great just for winter, though. Nothing beats some indoor play to avoid the cold, the heat, the rain, or any other weather situation thrown at us.

Find the top places below for kids to play, all indoors, all year long.

Voted Top Indoor Play Place

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

1- Grand Rapids Children’s Museum 

2- Catch Air (Kentwood) 

3- Rebounderz Indoor Trampoline Arena (Jenison) 

4- Dave & Busters 

5- (TIE) Altitude Trampoline Park

5- (TIE) For the Kidz Gymnastics (Wyoming) 

7- Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park (Kentwood)

8- R-Athletics

9- Jester’s Court

10- (TIE) Chik-Fil-A Play Area (Beltline)

10- (TIE) GR Kroc Center 

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a place where imaginations soar — with two floors of permanent and rotating exhibits, there’s always something new to explore!

11 Sheldon Avenue NE | Grand Rapids, MI 49503
FACEBOOK | 616-235-4726

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Catch Air

Catch Air is West Michigan’s largest and most fun, indoor play facility for children 10 and under!

2978 28th St | Grand Rapids, MI 49512
FACEBOOK | 616-200-6956

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Jester’s Court

Come on over to Jester’s Court! Our indoor facility features approximately 20,000 sqft of action-packed fun for kids 12 years old and younger. Softplay, inflatable slides, obstacle courses, jumps, interactive games and more will keep your kids happy, healthy, and active. Follow us on Facebook for specials and events!

“Perfect place for a day out! Ton of inflatables and a jungle gym. There was a baby/toddler area too, great for families with different aged kids! There was a room with a party happening and everyone seemed to love it! We will be back and we spent a lot less money than going to other indoor places.”  

707 Northridge Dr NW | Grand Rapids Charter Township, MI, 49544
FACEBOOK | 616-784-5437

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Altitude Trampoline Park

3495 Alpine Avenue Northwest | Walker, MI 49544
616-419-3146

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Sky Zone

3636 29th St SE | Kentwood, MI, 49512
616-214-4221

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Best Family Events, Birthday Parties & Daycare Centers

Planning a birthday party? Looking for a high-quality daycare provider? This section covers the best, GRANDTASTIC family-friendly events and venues around town!

This section includes the following Grandtastic Award categories:

  • Events for Family Fun
  • Birthday Party Venues

  • Daycare Centers

Events for Family Fun

Annual events mark the change of seasons here in West Michigan.

We know spring is around the corner when we watch the tropical butterflies fly around at Meijer Gardens and that fall has arrived as we wander through downtown soaking in the biennial ArtPrize.

Find the best events for families below, for fun, adventure and memories all year long.

Voted Top Event for Family Fun

Butterflies are Blooming – Frederik Meijer Gardens

1- Butterflies are Blooming – Frederik Meijer Gardens 

2- ArtPrize 

3- Zoo Goes Boo! – John Ball Zoo 

4- West Michigan Whitecaps Game 

5- Kent County Youth Fair (Lowell) 

6- Coast Guard Festival (Grand Haven) 

7- (TIE) Grand Rapids Griffins Game 

7- (TIE) Hudsonville Community Fair 

9- 4th of July Celebration – Cascade Township

10- Festival of the Arts

Kent County Youth Agricultural Association

Make some memories at the Kent County Youth Fair, August 10-15. Carnival, animals, free entertainment, hands-on education, petting zoo, food & family fun all week!

225 S. Hudson St | Lowell, MI 49331
FACEBOOK  | 616-897-6050

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Birthday Party Venues

While some parents love the fun of decorating and preparing food for a birthday party at home, others enjoy the convenience of hosting the party outside of the home.

Birthday parties at a venue typically require very little preparation for decorations, food and entertainment. Many times, this is already all built in to the birthday package!

Check out some of best spots around town to celebrate your child’s special day.

Voted Top Birthday Party Venue

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

1- Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park (Alto) 

2- Craig’s Cruisers (Wyoming) 

3- For the Kidz Gymnastics (Wyoming) 

4- The Mud Room @ Knapp’s Corner

5- Rising Starz Gymnastics 

6- (TIE) BattleGR Tactical Games

6- (TIE) Catch Air 

6- (TIE) Grand Rapids Children’s Museum 

6- (TIE) Rebounderz (Jenison) 

10- Chuck E. Cheese’s

The Mud Room @ Knapp’s Corner

Pottery painting, potter’s wheels, story time and more! The Mud Room offers parties that are FUN for the kids and EASY for the parents! Online booking available.

1971 E Beltline Ave NE #103 | Grand Rapids MI 49525
FACEBOOK  | 616-259-7269

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

BattleGR Tactical Games

“My twins attended a birthday party last year and had a blast! They begged me this year to have their 11th birthday party there! Rob, Austin & Skylar were awesome! They played with the boys, served and cleaned up the pizza, soda, cupcakes… even their gifts!! I was able to hang out and take photos the whole time!!”

Lynn

4735 Lake Michigan Dr NW Suite E | Grand Rapids MI 49534
616-345-0698

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

Daycare Centers

When trying to choose a daycare center for my daughter after she was born, I was asking everyone with young kids what daycare center they loved.

A personal recommendation on a center from someone I trusted tipped the scales in that center’s favor big time. And thanks to the Grandtastic guide, getting recommendations is so much easier!

Below are the top daycare centers parents trust for their families.

Voted Top Daycare Center

Milestones Child Development Center

1- Milestones Child Development Center 

2- AppleTree & Gilden Woods Early Care & Preschool 

3- Big Steps Little Feet (Ada) 

4- Treehouse Child Care – Grandville Public Schools 

5- Orchard Hill Christian Preschool & Child Care 

6- The Goddard School For Early Child Development 

7- Adventures Learning Centers 

8- Bright Horizons 

9- Tutor Time 

10- (TIE) Childtime Learning Centers         

10- (TIE) Kidz Clubhouse (Comstock Park) 

10- (TIE) Rainbow Child Care Center of Grand Rapids 

AppleTree & Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool

Put your hands up if you’re feeling Grandtastic!

AppleTree & Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool provides the highest quality educational programming in a safe, nurturing child-centered environment that earns the trust of the children and families they serve. Families enjoy “visiting” their child through the live video feed and receiving real time daily reports.

We saw such an improvement in our daughter’s social skills, speech, and cognitive development after enrolling her at AppleTree. We often get compliments saying how smart and personable our daughter is. We attribute a lot of that to her experience at AppleTree. Everyone at the front desk is friendly and helpful. The teachers show genuine care for our daughter.”  

AppleTree & Gilden Woods Parent