Grand Rapids Children’s Museum Trip Planner
11 Sheldon Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is one of the best museums in Grand Rapids if you’ve got kids.
With its mosaic-mural façade and rainbow-colored street, the building is a beacon of fun, drawing kids and adults inside to play.
Once inside, will you dress up as a favorite animal or pretend to run a restaurant? Maybe you’ll head straight for the mega-sized bubbles station.
There are two floors of awesome just waiting to be discovered at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
In this Article
Xavier Riddle & the Secret Museum – GRCM special exhibit
This exhibit runs until January 14, 2024.
GRCM is bringing kids a whole new exhibit that goes beyond the traditional imagination-fueled adventures that the museum is known for. This time they’re bringing all the imaginative possibilities but with a twist – time travel.
Watch your kids’ minds expand as they see how their own creative schemes can become the next big discovery or invention. At “Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum,” kids can see how one person’s big idea came to life and changed the world.
Meet Madame Curie, Theodore Roosevelt, Sacagawea & George Washington Carver
This exhibit is loaded with experiences with real historical figures when they were kids.
Based on the PBS kids TV series, and the book series “Ordinary People Change the World,” follow Xavier, his sister Yadina and friend Brad on their adventure as you take part in your own, too!
Kids are immediately drawn into so many corners of this exhibit, each with something different to see and touch. Find dinosaur bones, x-rays, a time machine, plant your own garden and more.
Xavier and the Secret Museum Highlights
Everywhere you turn there’s hands-on history action introducing you to several historical figures. No matter your kid’s interest, they’re going to find a back-in-time adventure that speaks to their heart.
Things you can do at this exhibit:
- Sneak through a hidden passage in the Dinosaur Diorama and slide down a slide to enter the Secret Museum!
- Unlock your next time-traveling destination with the help of Hologram power.
- Uncover dinosaur bones, dig for fossils and assemble your own dinosaur skeleton.
- Explore a Secret Garden with botanist George Washington Carver to sketch beautiful plant life and plant your own seeds.
- Examine x-rays and conduct an experiment with lab equipment in Marie Curie’s chemist lab.
- Don a red cape like Xavier’s friend Brad, make a self-portrait, and learn how you can be a hero today.
- Go on a scavenger hunt to find special artifacts and “easter eggs.”
- Meet heroes like Alexander Graham Bell, Theodore Roosevelt, Sacagawea and more as you learn how they changed history.
Xavier Riddle is at the Children’s Museum through January 14, 2024 and is included with your admission.
Wimee’s Dreams Invites Kids to Create Their Own Story – Special Exhibit
This exhibit runs Oct 7, 2022 – September 2024.
In Wimee’s Dreams, kids can see their imaginations come to life through make-believe broadcasts, fun puppets and a giant Everbright light wall that can transport you to another galaxy.
This exhibit, inspired by Wimee’s Words, as seen on PBS, encourages creativity and storytelling through puppetry and music.
Find it at the stage area on the first floor of GRCM.
Wimee’s Dreams helps kids to bring their ideas to life through lot of hands-on exploration.
Come play with the beloved puppet robot Wimee as you storyboard your dreams or record your own make-believe broadcast.
You can even create your own characters for the show at the puppet-making station.
Wimee’s Dreams Highlights
You’ll find lockers with lots of dress up clothes and fun props for your broadcast.
There are plush animals and puppets, too!
Wimee’s Dreams is here for nearly two years (until Sept 2024) – so you’ll have opportunity to visit again and again.
It would be neat to see how your kid’s storytelling ideas change at the exhibit as they get older.
On the lower level, back by the lockers and bathrooms, is a Nursing Nook.
Mothers can sit on a comfortable chair in a secluded space and close a curtain for privacy. There’s a little table and lamp to make it extra cozy for Mom.
My kids love that there are “little potties” in the restroom.
Half the stalls in the ladies’ room have short toilets, perfect for potty-training littles.
They also have a sink that’s lower to the ground and a stool to reach it in case those legs are still too short.
Favorite Exhibits at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
While the open staircase can make the museum feel like one large space, GRCM actually features two floors of fun.
GR Children’s Museum houses several permanent exhibits like Bubbles, Little GR, and the Ranger Station, along with several rotating exhibits. Past favorites have been Just Fort Fun, Boxes, and Kidstruction Zone.
Within each of these areas the museum and their facilitators are ready to play, from dressing up to building, and from experimenting to sensory play, there is sure to be something your child will find themselves totally engrossed in.
One of GRCM’s flagship exhibits, Little GR features mini versions of Grand Rapids businesses where kids can pretend in their own little city for hours.
You may have to pry your kids away from Little Grand Rapids. There is so much to do in this exhibit!
Favorites include a mini Meijer, complete with lots of play food, shopping carts and even a checkout.
Shopping for groceries in Little GR.
Kids can also bank, get pizza, repair cars, hit up the post office and more.
Visiting the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum with a baby or toddler? If so, head straight for Toddler Zone.
This is the hit destination for kids 3 and under.
This special toddler area is fantastic. It’s mostly closed off from the rest of the floor so the littles are safely contained from the bigger kids.
Kids love playing in the kitchen, perfectly sized for their shorter heights. When my little kids are in the obsessed-with-balls stage, they can’t get enough of the rainbow ball sorter.
The New Baby Barre was added to Toddler Zone in Summer 2021
They love putting the balls in and then giggling hysterically when they pull the stopper from the bottom and they all crash down.
It’s great because you don’t have to worry about big kids cruising through and there’s only one way in/out, making it easier to keep an eye on little escape artists.
New toys and play structures are added to this area regularly, so be sure to pop in to see what’s new!
The Spin Zone
Pint-sized scientists will marvel at this three-tired, fully accessible exhibit.
And honestly, grown ups will, too, as you play around with centrifugal force.
Kristen’s Corner & The Stage
Imaginative kids are drawn to this area, where they can dress up, act, explore music and more.
As of 2021, the GRCM has a BRAND NEW accessible train table with room for twice as much play.
This is the train tables to end all train tables for kids who love trains!
Here you’ll find multiple levels on which to play, and hundreds of train tracks, cars, and train station pieces to put together.
Possibly the most well-known part of GRCM is the giant bubbles exhibit!
Kids can try making their own massive bubbles at the giant bubble table or even stand inSIDE a bubble at the bubble tower.
The Bubbles Exhibit is a Perennial Hit with All Ages
(Nothing is cooler than being enclosed by a giant bubble! It’s tricky for young kids to get the rope soaked in the soap and pull slowly enough for the bubble to form, but the giggles and grins as the bubble pops are contagious.)
Experiment with the different shaped bubble wands, too.
Pro tip: Save this exhibit for last because kids often want to play here forever!
The Live Hive
permanent exhibit, returning soon
Watch a real, live beehive hard at work at GRCM’s second floor.
But don’t worry, you can’t get stung! Watch bees build their honeycomb in a fully-enclosed case – and then fly outside via a tube in the wall.
Special Events, Museum Rentals & Birthday Parties
Throughout the year GRCM hosts two to three events geared specifically to adults.
These events have ranged from murder mysteries to 90’s dance parties, and even a Carnival.
GRCM gives you space to engage with the theme as well with some of the typical exhibits they have (not going to lie, I love being able to build something and not have it immediately knocked down by an exuberant 2-year-old).
One of the most exciting ways to engage at GRCM is through a museum rental.
You get the whole museum to yourself one one of the days they’re closed to the public.
At least three staff are present to help, and you also have access to their two large conference rooms upstairs with tables and sinks.
If you’ve never experienced a Children’s Museum party, you’re missing out. It’s so fun to watch kids AND grownups exploring every exhibit with huge smiles on their faces.
WIN a Grand Rapids Children’s Museum Rental! Plus, Don’t Miss The Flash Membership Sale
Grand Rapids Children’s Museum has earned a top spot in our Grandtastic Awards as a favorite indoor play destination loved by both kids and adults.
Here is your chance to make more memories at GRCM. Whether it’s a birthday bash, a family reunion, or a gathering with 50 of your closest friends, GRCM is offering you the chance to win a 2-hour exclusive museum rental.
Looking for the perfect gift that doesn’t take up any space in your home?
Score $15 off ANY membership during GRCM’s Black Friday Flash Membership Sale from November 24-27, 2023.
Use the code GRCM15 from Nov 24-27 to snag this once a year deal!
Don’t forget to enter below for a party of your dreams!
This giveaway will close on December 07, 2023, at 11 pm and the winners will be notified via email. The winner will have 24 hours to respond by email accepting the prize. No purchase necessary to enter the contest. Rental package must be reserved in advance, redemption is dependent upon availability. The reservation must take place before 12/30/24. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You are providing your information to grkids.com and not to Facebook. Entrants will release Facebook from all liability. Entrants must be at least 18 years of age and reside in Michigan. Only one entry per household or IP address. Grand Rapids Kids’ liability is limited to the value of the prize.
Why Does the GRCM Focus on Play?
Play springs up naturally in children and grows organically out of their imaginations.
How many times has your toddler shown more interest in the box a shiny new toy came in than in the toy itself?
Play cannot be forced or coerced. The best way to let kids enter into the “work of play” is to give them a few options and let them figure out what to do from there.
A place like Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a wonderland of play.
The best part is that all this play is so much more than entertainment.
Play is learning.
As our kids pursue these delights, they are establishing strong foundations for the motor skills- balancing and climbing build gross motor skills, while deftly building with legos, and painting help to refine fine motor skills.
Play enriches a child’s imagination. It develops language skills, fosters empathy, and helps kids become ace problem-solvers.
GRCM promotes play-based learning because it’s great for our kids.
For children with sensory sensitivities, entering the Grand Rapid Children’s Museum may be a very overwhelming experience.
With all of the lights, noises, colors, and busyness of the other children–they may feel overstimulated and unable to focus.
For this reason, some parents of special needs kids would simply avoid a visit.
But Grand Rapids Children’s Museum wants ALL children to be able to enjoy their wonderland of learning fun, so they set out to create a safe experience for all kids.
Most recently, GRCM added Sensory Resource Toolkits which are available for checkout at the front desk.
A LOOK INSIDE THE SENSORY RESOURCE TOOLKITS
kid-size weighted compression vests
emotion recognition flash cards
GRCM’s Social Story. (A social story is a first person account of a visit to the museum to help visitors feel prepared for the different exhibits.)
Sensory toolkit at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
These toolkits help children with sensory sensitivities to feel more at home in the museum and allow parents the peace of mind that their children will have fun without the risk of sensory overload.
They were created specifically for these children in mind and the items were chosen with advice from therapists, Fun and Function, and the Autism Alliance of Michigan.
Tips for Visiting the Children’s Museum with Your Child That Needs Sensory Support
Before you go, visit the museum’s website to check the schedule verify hours and special programming.
(Field trips and museum rentals are now scheduled on days when the museum is closed.)
Review the Social Story at home. This explains all of the different exhibits to prepare your child and to know if there are some to avoid.
Call ahead at 616-235-4726 to reserve a Sensory Resource Toolkit.
Enjoy your time at the museum!
Even if you can’t make it to the Children’s Museum downtown, you can browse their site for ideas for games and simple crafts and projects.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for their new museum-on-wheels that will start touring soon, bringing play to communities all over Michigan.
Getting to the Museum & Parking
The children’s museum is so easy to get to, even for people like me who hate driving downtown.
There is street parking available in front of the museum or around the square. I can even park my Mom Mobile there without any trouble.
Parking on Sheldon Street in front of the museum has a three-hour limit and the other streets are two hours. Two hours is the perfect amount of time for my kids to play. They get to see everything but don’t have enough time to get bored.
Now that the meters run on the MOTU app, it’s so easy to keep track of your remaining time.
Hours & Admission
No matter your age, play should be a part of your life. Grand Rapids Children’s Museum offers hours of it almost every day of the week!
The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is located at 11 Sheldon Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.
There is limited metered parking in front of the building, but you can find metered street parking on neighboring streets.
There is also a paid lot at GRPL’s main branch on Library St, just northeast of the museum.
They are open Tuesday 9:00 AM to noon for members only. Memberships are also available, and would delight the children in your family! (And probably you, too!)
Admission Rates (as of 3/26/23)
|school faculty members (with i.d.)||$8|
|active military family members (with i.d.)||$8|
|museums for all (EBT or WIC card holders, up to 12 people per card)||$1.75|
Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
11 Sheldon Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503