Welcome to Your Grand Rapids Summer Guide for 2019

Summer is short and sweet in Michigan, so we have all sorts of summer fun ideas for your family. We don’t want you to miss a thing!

Here’s the place to discover all the excitement that awaits you this summer. Camps, outdoor adventure, arts and theatre, fairs and festivals, concerts, horseback riding, u-pick fruit farms and so much more.

We’ve put all our Grand Rapids Kids summer fun ideas in one easy spot for you.

Jump to find…
Fairs + Festivals
Ice Cream Shops
Best Michigan Campgrounds
Top West MI Beaches
Free Things to Do
Summer Reading Programs
Summer Vacation hacks

Daily Ideas for Summer Fun

Summer goes by fast! If you are hoping to make the most of each day this summer, you’ll want to use our events calendar. We have a list of great daily ideas for fun all summer long.

There is almost always something special going on every day this summer, but here are some of our favorites that you can do almost any (if not every) day of the week.

Things for Kids to do in Grand Rapids, All Summer Long

Get creative at The Mud Room, by painting pottery pieces, wooden signs, fusing glass and more.

Take a dip in a tropical setting during Family Swim at Goldfish Swim School.

Grab lunch and check out a Kid’s Wednesday at the Downtown Market.

Get lost in a good book when you visit a story time, use our amazing daily story time finder!

Vault over obstacles, zip down slides, and more when you play at Jester’s Court.

Log some books and earn loot with a summer reading program.

Get bowled over and save when you sign your kids up at KidBowlFree.com that allow kids to bowl for free all summer long at area locations like Hudsonville Lanes or BAM! in Holland.

Lace up and skate into fun with KidsSkateFree and sign up for The Fun Spot – Kentwood or visit Tarry Hall for more roller skating fun.

Chill out with ice skating at Griff’s IceHouse or Griff’s Georgetown.

Kids (and kids at heart) love to play and learn at the Grand Rapids Children Museum.

Get tangled up in the Spider Nets at Playworld.

Hit the dance floor in a cloud of bubbles when the hourly dance party drops at Catch Air.

Go for a scenic carousel ride at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Conquer one of the seven courses offered at TreeRunner Adventure Park, an aerial park full of climbing thrills.

Feed your imagination as you explore the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

Call the shots and take the seat of the President in a replica Cabinet Room at the Gerald R. Ford Museum.


Relax with some coloring during open studio times at Carolyn Stich Studio.

Try for a new skee-ball high score or play other arcade games at Chuck E. Cheese, The Lost City, or Dave & Buster’s.

Play all day on inflatables or in the arcade at Crazy Bounce.

Swinging from a chandelier is often frowned upon, but swinging from a trapeze at Altitude is sure to delight your daredevil.

Kids won’t tire of all the fun to be had at the two-story tall Holland Playland indoor playground.

Bounce off the walls at Sky Zone and jump into fun at this large trampoline park.

Can you find the hidden word on the bouldering wall at the Salvation Army Kroc Center when you drop in for climbing and swimming with a day pass?

Play life-sized Foosball in a specially designed arena at Rebounderz.

Brush up some fun by painting pottery at Accidental Art in Rockford.

Get up close and even feed some of the exotic animals at Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park.

Zip line into the deep end at Holland Aquatic Center during select open swim times.

Ride the funicular and enjoy spectacular views of the skyline when you explore at John Ball Zoo.

Sail the great lakes without ever putting on a life jacket when you visit the popular outdoor water feature in the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

Summer Learning Opportunities

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean learning has to stop. Your kids can continue to expand their knowledge and skills all summer long, even on break from school. It’s all about finding the right rhythm and balance for your tribe. Whether you’re a list-making taskmaster or a carpe diem drifter, we’ve brainstormed some of our favorite ways to learn from the classroom of life.

Grand Rapids Art Museum Summer Art Camps

Grand Rapids Art Museum Summer Art Camps

Ways to Keep Their Brains Engaged This Summer

Check out some of the many themed full or half day programs offered through Camp Kroc.

Learn all about the responsibilities and joys of caring for horses at ‘Own-A-Horse Camp’ at Legacy Stables.

Tee up and hit the links as your aspiring golf-pro learns from the best at Maple Hill.

Improve your tennis, basketball, soccer game and more at a sports camp at NorthPointe Christian.

Design a robotic dog, build a Cake Catapult and more at Camp Invention.

Get dirty and play with clay as you learn all sorts of pottery techniques at Pottery Lane.

Wacky Water, American Girl Doll, and Daredevil Adventure are just a few of the many themed day camps R-Athletics is dreaming up to keep your kids moving and grooving.

Combine gymnastics and swimming into a fabulous day camp experience at Grand Rapids Gymnastics.

Middle school campers dive deep into future careers like IT programming, cooking, mechanics and more – or explore several through the Explore 4 option at the Kent Career Tech Center.

Give your minnow a head start with a Jump Start Clinic at Goldfish Swim School.

Flexible scheduling makes the day camp offerings at MVP Sports a huge boon for busy west Michigan families.

Get a feel for what it’s like to be a doctor to animals during Vet Camp at the Humane Society of West Michigan.

Find a nearby VBS program with our West Michigan VBS Round-Up.

Explore the science of Harry Potter or Star Wars, learn to code or play the ukulele, or even develop your Magna art skills at one of the many camp options at Hope College.

Get a taste for college life when you bunk at Cornerstone University as they offer both day and overnight options for their sports camps.


Ways Mom and Dad can Get in on the Fun, Too

Do you want to spend quality time with your family during the summer months? Few things are better than making memories together with your family.

From baseball games, fairs and festivals, to outdoor movies and concerts, Grand Rapids Kids has loads of great family fun ideas.

Carve out Family Time at These Summer Events & Activities

Root, root, root for the home team at a West Michigan Whitecaps game.

The vibrant colors and long traditions of Tulip Time return to Holland this May.

Worship on the Waterfront Sunday evenings at the Waterfront Stadium in Grand Haven.

Diversity, creativity, and high energy are the foundations for the growing West Fest at John Ball Park.

Picnics, parades, and all sorts of throwback delight can be found at Fruitport Old-Fashioned Days.

Enjoy a breakfast, lunch, or dinner out in a Unique Setting or take advantage of a Kids Eat Free special.

A MerFolk Convocation takes over the beaches of South Haven as they host this year’s Mermaid MegaFest.

Your mission (if you choose to accept it) is to have a blast playing tactical laser-tag at BattleGR.

Get sticky during the Glue-In, a family favorite, as well other artistic endeavors, at the Festival of the Arts.

Rock out on Thursday nights at Veteran’s Park in Hudsonville during their June concert series.

Watch a parade, browse a flea market, and play games at the Antique Tractor & Engine Show in Muskegon.

Rockford is celebrating their 51st annual Start of Summer weekend featuring a carnival, food vendors, music, and all sorts of events.

On Wednesdays, stroll through the Sparta farmer’s market and then enjoy a free concert at Rogers Park.

Start your morning off by dining at the World’s Longest Breakfast Table during the Cereal Festival in Battle Creek.

Take a wild ride on Shivering Timbers at Michigan’s Adventure.

Spread a soft blanket and watch a family friendly flick under the stars at Allendale Township Park during their Movies in the Park season.

Watch a new Asparagus Queen be crowned at the National Asparagus Festival in Hart.

Shop the historic Fulton Street Farmer’s Market.

Spring Lake Heritage Festival has a specially designated Family Fun Night at Mill Point Park.

Enjoy the sights of boats cruising by with the sounds of live music at a free concert during South Haven’s Riverfront Concert Series on Friday evenings.

Sports tournaments, live music, and a parade are just some of the fun things happening during the Muskegon Heights Festival.

Cheer on your favorite Dragon Boat during South Haven HarborFest.

“Country Nights and Carnival Lights” is the theme to this year’s Montcalm County 4-H as you can see how kids raise and train all sorts of animals.

Hum along with the Musical Fountain in Grand Haven, one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Launch a water lantern at Millennium Park for what is sure to be a magical evening at the GR One World Lantern Festival.

Is it even summer until you get a scoop of Superman ice cream? Check out some of the top-voted places to indulge your sweet tooth.

Jump, climb, and take a run at Ninjas On the Move course – just one of the fun games and activities at the three day Lowell Riverwalk Fest.

Pull on your boots and cheer on the riders at the rodeo during the Van Buren County Youth Fair.

Meet the farmers of Ottawa county and enjoy games, food, and more at the Farm to Food Expo.

Everyone’s a winner when you’re a spectator at the adorable overload known as the Baby Crawl at the National Baby Food Festival in Fremont.

Skip the sticky floors when you park your car to watch a movie at a drive-in theater.

Watch as hot air balloons travel by the evening city skyline during the Grand Rapids Balloon Festival.

Marvel at the monster truck showdown at the Ottawa County Fair along with motocross, a carnival, and other fun summer activities.

Slather on the syrup at the pancake breakfast during Byron Days Festival.

Tour some of the ships of the USCG as they visit Coast Guard City, USA (Grand Haven) for Coast Guard Fest 2019.

Try out paddle board yoga during the Great Lakes Surf Festival.

Technology from modern (drone races!) to archaic (blacksmithing!) will take center stage during the 5th annual Grand Rapids Maker Faire.

The finish line will be hopping at the Frog Race at the Hudsonville Community Fair.

Outside Fun for Summertime in West Michigan

There are few things as magical as summertime in West Michigan. The days are long and that’s OK because we need all that extra light to enjoy being outside and exploring America’s high five. Beaches beckon, parks provide all sorts of ways to play, and trails are wonderlands of discovery. So grab a water bottle and slather on some sunscreen! It’s time to scout out our favorite outdoor summer adventures.

Here’s Where You can Experience #PureMichigan Outdoors

Take a walking tour of the city using your smart phone and the GR Tag Tour QR codes posted around the downtown area.

March through the covered bridge at Fallasburg Park.

You don’t have to drive far to hit the beach at Versluis Park.

Grab a bag and mosey through a Farmer’s Market to find the freshest ingredients for dinner.

Stroll along the boardwalk at Pickerel Lake.

Check out a backpack for a specially themed hiking experience at Blandford Nature Center.

Try to guess where the planes are headed as you watch flights depart and arrive from the Gerald R. Ford Airport Viewing Park.

Leap down the dune climb at Tunnel Park in Holland.

Dance to the music of an Amsterdam Street Organ at Windmill Island Gardens.

Fill a basket with a favorite berry from a U-Pick Farm.

Go on a visual scavenger hunt at Wahlfield Park.

Take an urban hike along the water front of the Grand River at the heart of city. Start at Ah-Nab-Awen park and head south; cross the Blue Bridge and follow the path along the water front; you can make it short hike by crossing the Gillett Bridge and heading south again, or you can venture north and follow the trail all the way to Fish Ladder Park.

Boulder around the silo at Roselle Park.

Search for all the “animals” at the Michigan Farm Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens.

Paddle around in a tandem kayak at Millennium Park.

Glide along the shores of Hamlin Lake when you follow their canoe path.

Swing by the shores of the big lake at North Park Beach.

Whisk down a two-story slide at Rosewood Park.

Cool down at the splash pad at Pinewood Park or other nearby locations.

Float down the Muskegon River on a tube or other nearby waterways.

Observe the quiet beauty along the Rabbit River Preserve at the Outdoor Discovery Center in Holland.

Unplug from screens and reconnect with family on a camping trip.

Bring a volleyball to play on the sand court at Manhattan Park.

Use the nooks and crannies of the Age of Imagination playground at Hagar Park to play some rounds of Capture the Flag or Hot/Cold.

Hunt for the geocache that AeroMed teams use in their training at Cascade Township Park.

Road Trips from Grand Rapids

If travel plans are on your summer bucket list, then you are in the right spot. There are so many fun road trip ideas from Grand Rapids to beautiful places around pure Michigan, the surrounding Midwest region, and even Canada. There’s no better time to pack up your car and hit the road than during the summer season.

Exciting Vacation Destinations for Short or Long Trips

There’s plenty of Capitol fun in Michigan’s capital city, Lansing.

Put your pedal to the metal as your bike your way around Mackinac Island.

Immerse yourself in rustic German culture as you stay at “Michigan’s Little Bavaria,” Frankenmuth.

No matter your level of experience, Silver Lake Resort and Campgrounds has you covered, from helping to pitch a tent or renting a cabin and loads of options in between.

Fedoras are optional as you take on the role of archaeologist at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum – an absolute must when you visit Indianapolis.

It’s almost as Up North as you can be when you travel to Marquette and make sure to stop by Kitch-Iti-Kipi as well.

Indulge with a Yummi Bunni in Fort Wayne.

Voyage across Lake Michigan on the Lake Express High Speed Ferry to Milkwaukee and “sneak” into a dinner at The Safehouse.

Walk, crawl, slide, and jump as you wander through City Museum (which some describe as a playground on steroids) when you visit the gateway to the west: St. Louis.

Marvel at the majesty of Niagara Falls. Make sure to also take time to check out the surrounding regions, filled with family-friendly activities.

Splish-splash and with just a quick dash, you could be frolicking at a nearby water park destination.

Celebrate all things cherry in Traverse City, home of the National Cherry Festival every July.

Get the inside tips from other Michigan families about where they go to unplug and go camping.

Get a taste of European flair without the long distance when you drive to Toronto.

Venture above the bridge to the land of the Yooper when you go to Sault Ste Marie and beyond.

You can walk across the Mini-Mackinac Bridge any time of the year when you visit the Michigan Science Museum in Detroit.

Back to School

As they say, all good things must come to an end. Summer will come to a close and back to school season will be upon us. Let us help you make planning for the upcoming school year easier, so you can enjoy the last few weeks of summer without worry.

Your Back to School List

Looking for childcare can be a daunting task. Start here by mentally preparing yourself for knowing what to look for and then continue here with some favorite parent recommendations.

Have a preschooler ready to start their classroom journey? Our comprehensive Preschool Guide will help you figure out the best fit for your little learner.

If your child has mastered preschool, but maybe isn’t ready to dive into full-time five days a week Kindergarten, check out some Young 5 Kindergarten options.

Curious about all the  hubbub over school of choice? Learn how to navigate it here in West Michigan.

Looking for a more specialized education for your student? With options ranging from religious institutions, museum schools, language immersion and even aviation school, there are a whole of host of possibilities to consider.

If you are a home-based education family, you can find some helpful resources here to enrich your curriculum.

Need to plan some ideas for field trips? Then this is the guide for you!

Get some guidance with Back to School shopping.

How will your family be finding fun this summer?

Is there something we missed? We always love to hear from you, so please leave us a comment below!

Pin this image for future reference!

The Big List of Grand Rapids Summer Camps – 2020

Huge List of Summer Camps in Grand Rapids and Beyond

I am writing this from my couch in my living room, but that’s standard practice for me. What’s not standard is having all three kids home full time in the middle of spring. I’m taking things one day at a time right now, but also thinking ahead to the summer.

I’m hopeful that the world will have righted itself by June. And for my kids, summer break includes at least one week of camp. Although some places are extending registration deadlines because […]

Load More Posts

Click on our sponsors!