2016 GRANDTASTIC AWARDS – The Results Are In!

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The Best Grand Rapids has for Families

Our GRKIDS parents are the real experts in this city, so we asked YOU to tell us what your favorite family-friendly places are around West Michigan.

Whether you were born and raised in Grand Rapids or you just moved to the area, we know that parents across West Michigan want to know where the best places are to eat, shop, learn and play with their family.

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

Now, on to some technical information: We started earlier this year by taking nominations from the community for over twenty categories. Nominations were complied and listed on a voting form. Voting happened in the spring of 2016 and was promoted across our website and on social media. Votes were compiled and the top seven or eight vote-getters were determined.

Every listing in this guide received significant votes from our readers. As far as sponsors go, businesses were only invited to sponsor if they were within the Top 7 nominees of their select category. We did this so you can trust that every listing in this guide is “top notch” when it comes to family-friendly spots in West Michigan.

LEARN & DISCOVER

Parents often ask us to suggest the best Grand Rapids places when it comes to putting kids in dance, swimming lessons or music programs. Read on to see the 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
  • Dance Classes
  • Music Programs
  • Libraries for Kids
  • Field Trips
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TOP ART CLASS/STUDIO FOR KIDS

The Mud Room

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grandtastic mudroom family favorite art class studio

Customers Say:

“Love this place with lots of options. Great for adults and kids. Can’t wait to go back again with my kids. :)” – Dipali

“Had a great time painting pottery with family and friends! Such a fun place and great customer service.” – Aline

1971 E Beltline Ave NE #103 | Grand Rapids, MI 49525

AND 1971 E. Beltline NE | Suite #103 | Grand Rapids, MI 49525 (coming summer 2016!)

Website | Facebook | Instagram | 616-682-9706

Additional Information:

The Mud Room offers pottery painting, clay and potter’s wheels, canvas, wood signs and more! Get creative in our studio, sign up for a class or plan a party! We’ve enjoyed serving Ada for the past 20 years. Come visit us at our new Knapp’s Corner location (coming summer 2016)!

1- The Mud Room

2- Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

3- Brush Studio

4- Accidental Art

5- Cookies & Canvas

6- Paint a Pot

7- ARTengage

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TOP SWIM LESSONS

Gold Fish Swim School

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The Salvation Army Kroc Center

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Customers Say:

“I had several children in three different levels. It was great that they could all take lessons at the same time. All the instructors were amazing. I enjoyed the attention they gave to each child.” -Alysha E.

2500 S. Division | Grand Rapids, MI 49507

Website | Facebook | Instagram Twitter616-588-7200

Additional Information:

The Kroc Center offers the American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program using certified instructors. This program helps children learn the fundamentals of swimming and water safety through the teaching and assessment of critical water skills. The Kroc Center pool includes a water slide, water basketball area, lazy river, splash pad, and toddler play area. These are available during open swim times.

1- Gold Fish Swim School

2- David D. Hunting YMCA

3- The Salvation Army Kroc Center

4- Miss Rita’s Swim School – tie

4- MVP Sportsplex – tie

6- Mary Free Bed YMCA

7- Spartan Stores YMCA

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TOP DANCE CLASSES

HIS Dance

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Hearts in Motion

Hearts in Motion

4336 Plainfield Ave NE | Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Website | Facebook | Instagram | 616-226-6412

Additional Information:

A family friendly studio with a laid back atmosphere that offers many unique dance class options, including drop-ins and mini sessions, for dancers ages 2 & up. Our open house is August 20!

Body Language Dance Company

Body Language Dance Company

888 Chicago Dr. | Jenison, MI 49428

Website | Facebook | Twitter | 616-667-2272

1- Hearts in Step (HIS) Christian Dance Academy

2- Hearts in Motion

3- Grand Rapids Ballet

4- Ada Dance Academy – tie

4- Body Language Dance Company – tie

6- Dance Dimensions

7- Caledonia Dance & Music Center

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TOP MUSIC PROGRAM

Academy of Music in Grand Rapids

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Customers Say:

“I love that the Academy does everything but drive my kids to the lesson! The teachers are friendly and professional, and the office is organized and welcoming.” Tracy Bobo, Grand Rapids, MI

6159 28th St SE | Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Website | Facebook | 616-965-1655

Additional Information:

We’ve worked with thousands of children and adults in teaching lessons for guitar, piano, drums, singing, strings, Rock Band, and Music Play N’ Learn. We understand what parents need to know to help their children experience real success in playing music. To get your child started on the right musical path, contact us today!

1- Academy of Music in Grand Rapids

2- Kent District Library Music Programs

3- Kindermusik with Miss Leigh

4- St. Cecilia Music Center

5- Gymboree Play & Music

6- Meyer Music

7- Music Together at Joyful Sounds

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TOP LIBRARY FOR KIDS

East Grand Rapids Branch – Kent District Library

1- East Grand Rapids Branch – Kent District Library

2- Main Branch – Grand Rapids Public Library

3- Cascade Township Branch – Kent District Library

4- Plainfield Township Branch – Kent District Library

5- Kentwood (Richard L. Root) Branch – Kent District Library

6- Grandville Branch – Kent District Library – tie

6- Wyoming Branch – Kent District Library – tie

Huge List of Library Children’s Areas – Greater Grand Rapids

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TOP FIELD TRIP

Binder Park Zoo

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9275 Adams St. | Zeeland, MI 49464

Website | Facebook | 616-748-1110

Additional Information:

Hands-on education and fun with field trips for 25+ years! Winter, spring, summer and fall.

  • Groups of 15 to 100
  • Pre-school, youth and adults
  • Expect a memorable day!

1- Binder Park Zoo

2- ArtPrize

3- Blandford Nature Center – tie

3- Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park – tie

3- John Ball Zoo – tie

6- Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

7- Critter Barn

PLAY

If you’re looking for the best playgrounds, beaches and indoor play places, look no further. We’ve collected a list of all the most GRANDTASTIC places around West Michigan for kids to play inside and out!

This section includes the following Grandtastic Award categories:

  • Outdoor Playground/Park
  • Outdoor Experience
  • Beach
  • Water Play Place (splash pad, pool)
  • Indoor Play Place
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TOP OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND/PARK

Millennium Park

1- Millennium Park

2- Hager Park

3- Frog Hollow Park

4- John Ball Park

5- Ada Township Park

6- Grand Rapids Township Park

7- Fallasburg Park

Grandtastic Grand Rapids award winnersTOP OUTDOOR EXPERIENCE

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

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9275 Adams St.| Zeeland, MI 49464

Website | Facebook | 616-748-1110

Additional Information:

Hands-on education and real farm experiences for 25+ years! Sign-up NOW for Critter Barn Camps & Classes.

  • Little Peeps (toddlers) story time with animals
  • Little Farmers (3-5 years) introduces animals in a safe environment
  • Animal Adventures (5-8 years) kids learn animal care and feeding
  • Critter Camp (9-16) for older kids looking to volunteer, gain leadership skills and experience with larger farm animal not found anywhere else.

What you’ll get…

  • Small class sizes
  • Experienced and professional staff
  • Friendly animals

1- Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

2- John Ball Zoo

3- Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

4- Blandford Nature Center

5- Michigan’s Adventure

6- The West Michigan Whitecaps

7- Critter Barn

Grandtastic Grand Rapids award winnersTOP BEACH

Grand Haven State Park

1- Grand Haven State Park

2- Holland State Park

3- Millennium Park

4- Hoffmaster State Park

5- Tunnel Park

6- Silver Lake State Park

7- Duck Lake State Park

Grandtastic Grand Rapids award winnersTOP WATER PLAY PLACE (SPLASH PAD, POOL)

Millennium Park Splash Pad

1- Millennium Park Splash Pad

2- Michigan’s Adventure Water Park

3- Frederik Meijer Gardens & Scultpure Park’s Great Lakes Garden

4- Holland Community Aquatic Center

5- The Salvation Army Kroc Center

6- Maplewood Park Splash Pad

7- Lamar Park Splash Pad

Grandtastic Grand Rapids award winnersTOP INDOOR PLAY PLACE

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

1- Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

2- Catch Air

3- Sky Zone Trampoline Park

4- Craig’s Cruisers

5- Rebounderz

6- Dave & Buster’s

7- For the Kidz – tie

7- Jester’s Court Party & Play Center – tie

VENUES & EVENTS

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 Venue
  • Movie Theatre
  • Daycare
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TOP EVENT FOR FAMILIES

ArtPrize

1- ArtPrize

2- Butterflies are Blooming at Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

3- Flick’s Family Film Fest at Celebration! Cinema

4- Tulip Time

5- Hudsonville Community Fair

6- Festival of the Arts

7- Rockford Start of Summer Celebration

Grandtastic Grand Rapids award winnersTOP BIRTHDAY PARTY VENUE

Craig’s Cruisers

1- Craig’s Cruisers

2- Sky Zone Trampoline Park

3- Catch Air – tie

3- Grand Rapids Children’s Museum – tie

5- John Ball Zoo

6- Chuck E. Cheese’s – tie

6- For the Kidz – tie

Grandtastic Grand Rapids award winnersTOP MOVIE THEATRE

Celebration! Cinema North & IMAX

1- Celebration! Cinema North & IMAX

2- Celebration! Cinema Rivertown

3- Celebration! Cinema South

4- Celebration! Cinema Woodland

5- AMC Grand Rapids 18

6- Goodrich Quality Theaters Ada-Lowell 5

7- Goodrich Quality Theaters Grand Haven 9 – tie

7- NorthStar Cinemas Rockford – tie

Grandtastic Grand Rapids award winnersTOP DAYCARE

AppleTree & Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool

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Adventures Learning Centers

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Customers Say:

“We have had both our children enrolled at Adventures Learning Center in Portage, Michigan for the past six years. It is due to the safe, caring and structured environment they offer that we have remained loyal to this center. The care they have received from the staff of the center is second to none.” -The Feltch Family

Kentwood Location | 3710 29th St. | Kentwood, MI 49512

Caledonia Location | 8187 Broadmoor | Caledonia, MI 49316

Portage Location | 4295 Bishop Rd | Portage, MI 49002

Website | Facebook | 616-891-7950

 

Spartan Stores YMCA Child Development Center

YMCA

577 Metro Way SW | Wyoming, MI 49519

Website | Facebook | Twitter616-885-5511

Additional Information:
Request a tour today to find out how the Y helps all children reach their fullest potential and why so many parents love us.

1- AppleTree & Gilden Woods

2- Rainbow Child Care Center

3- Milestones Child Development Center

4- Adventures Learning Center Child Care – tie

4- Spartan Stores YMCA Child Development Center – tie

6- Tutor Time Learning Centers

EAT

We all know dining out with kids can be a challenge, so it’s important to find a kid-friendly restaurant that offers a great children’s menu, friendly waiters, and an atmosphere that’s loud enough to drown out any unpleasant whining. Read on for the GRKIDS readers top choices for sweet treats and kid-friendly restaurants around greater Grand Rapids.

This section includes the following Grandtastic Award categories:

  • Restaurant for Families
  • Candy Store
  • Ice Cream Shop
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TOP RESTAURANTS

The Corner Bar and Red Robin

1- The Corner Bar – tie

1- Red Robin – tie

3- Russ’

4- Buffalo Wild Wings

5- Applebee’s

6- Bagger Dave’s

7- Wolfgang’s Restaurant

8- Pizza Ranch – tie

8- The Score – tie

8- Uccello’s Ristorante – tie

Grandtastic Grand Rapids award winnersTOP CANDY STORE

Jersey Junction

1- Jersey Junction

2- Holland Peanut Store

3- Sweetland Candies

4- The Sweet Tooth of Rockford

5- Kilwins

6- Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe

7- Cosmic Candy Company

Jersey Junction Ice Cream Shop

Grandtastic Grand Rapids award winnersTOP ICE CREAM SHOP

Jersey Junction

1- Jersey Junction

2- Spoonlickers

3- Captain Sundae

4- Tippy Cow Ice Cream

5- Houseman’s Ice Cream

6- Rocky’s Dairy Depot

7- Ice Cream Garage

SHOPPING

Whether you are looking for a consignment store steal or a one-of-a-kind boutique find, we’ve got you covered. We have a list of all the most GRANDTASTIC places to shop around West Michigan, so read on…

This section includes the following Grandtastic Award categories:

  • Consignment Store for Kids
  • Consignment/Mom2Mom Sale
  • Clothing Boutique for Kids
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TOP CONSIGNMENT STORE FOR KIDS

Once Upon A Child

1- Once Upon a Child

2- Village Kids Consignment Boutique

3- littlePOSH Consignment Boutique

4- BumbleBeas/The Hive

5– New 2 You Upscale Retail Shop

6- Peek a Boutique

7- Mom & Baby Again

Grandtastic Grand Rapids award winnersTOP CONSIGNMENT/MOM2MOM SALE

Just Between Friends

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DeltaPlex Arena | 2500 Turner Ave NW | Grand Rapids, MI 49544

Website | Facebook | Twitter | 616-528-8284

Additional Information:

We’re West Michigan’s largest children/maternity consignment event! Shop smart now – sell more later. Twice a year, you’ll save 50-90% off retail for your whole family and make some cash by clearing cluttered closets. It’s where savvy shoppers come to find the best deals in town, saving more than ever before!

1- Just Between Friends

2- West Michigan Moms Sale

3- Cornerstone MOPS

4- Thornapple MOPS

5- All About Kids Sale – tie

5- Sunshine MOPS- tie

7- Holland Mom2Mom – tie

7- Orchard Hill Mom2Mom – tie

 

Grandtastic Grand Rapids award winnersTOP CLOTHING BOUTIQUE FOR KIDS

Tip Toes

1- Tip Toes

2- littlePOSH Consignment Boutique

3- Village Kids Consignment Boutique

4- Hopscotch Children’s Store

5- Sassy Pants Baby & Children’s Boutique

6- Horrocks Market

7- Pink Lemonade

PHOTOGRAPHY

Kids grow up fast and we all want to capture each precious stage with great photos. Not every photographer knows how to take great photos of squirmy or grumpy kids, but these GRANDTASTIC family photographers are trusted by tons of West Michigan parents. When booking your next family photo session, trust this list of Grand Rapids best family photographers.

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TOP FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER

Anne Jansen Photography

1- Anne Jansen Photography

2- Portrait Innovations

3- deVries Photography – tie

3- Stacey Clack Photography – tie

5- Holli Ann Studios

6- PICS Photography – tie

6- Picture People – tie