Explore all 3 Levels of Grand Rapids Public Museum with Kids

things to do with grandkids in Grand Rapids includes a trip to the museum.

Grand Rapids Public Museum Inspires Curiosity in all Ages

Grand Rapids Public Museum offers exciting experiences for toddlers on up. People often consider museums for much older kids and adults, but Grand Rapids Public Museum is designed for all ages to enjoy.

From long-standing favorites to imaginative temporary exhibits, every visit to GRPM will fill kids with wonder and inspire their curious minds.

Grand Rapids Public Museum spans three levels of educational fun, making it easy to spend hours exploring.

Grand Rapids Public Museum has hands on exhibits.
Rotating hands on activities on the first floor.

Before you dive into the museum, consider picking up (or bringing along) the A-Z scavenger Museum Hunt. This scavenger hunt offers you clues and will easily take you all around the museum.

Free GRPM Admission for Kent County Kids

Thanks to a Kent county millage, kids who live in Kent county get FREE admission to GRPM, and adults are only $5 with a valid ID.

AND Kent county residents enjoy free parking in the parking ramp across from GRPM with the purchase of a ticket!

Upcoming GRPM Exhibits

Under the Arctic | September 26, 2020 – May 10, 2021
Wild Connections (Sean Kenney’s LEGO Bricks) | November 7, 2020 – May 2, 2021


GRPM Museum Floor by Floor Overview

Grand Rapids Public Museum is three floors of discoveries. From Old Grand Rapids to rotating exhibits, there is something new to explore on every visit.

First Floor: Vintage Streets and a Tantalizing Carousel

The first floor features the Streets of Old Grand Rapids exhibit, a favorite for many visitors. This is a particularly fun way to step back in time. In fact, you’ll often find volunteers dressed in period clothing interpreting the streets of Old GR.

While there is no set schedule for volunteers, visitors can expect to interact with museum volunteers most every day at various times.

GRPM exhibits are sometimes live action.

Be sure to have your kids try their hand at the penny-farthing.

GRPM Public Museum penny farthing bicycle Gifford

The other main attraction on the first floor is the historic 1928 Spillman Carousel. This is my daughters’ favorite section. Take your pick of one of the 44 hand-carved wooden horses and enjoy the ride just like your grandparents did!

Carousel rides are free for members or $1 with general admission.

GRPM Public Museum Carousel Shaffer

There is also a little known cove full of dolls from different eras. (Hint: it’s right by the bathrooms!) There is a “please touch” section here which is fun for small hands.

GRPM Public Museum Dolls Rudd

The first floor also features a curiosity shop where fun and unique gifts can be purchased.

Second Floor: Captivating Planetarium, Cafe, and Gigantic Steam Engine

The museum has a very open feeling and the floors can easily be viewed from the banister on the top two levels.  There is a pretty amazing old clock tower which my daughter will sometimes just sit and stare at.

GRPM Public Museum clock steam engine Brooks

The second floor of the museum features my personal favorite area, the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium. Be sure to catch a show here sometime, it is a lot of fun. The Little Star That Could is a great show if you want to take younger kids.

Chaffee Planetarium astronaut girl GRPM

The Museum Café is also located on this floor; you can snack or dine while overlooking the Grand River. Available kids meals include your choice of corn dog, macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Each meal also comes with chips, choice of juice pouch, chocolate milk or small fountain soda, an apple and carousel ticket for $4.95 (as of 4/2019).

Treat your ears to something new by taking in a Mighty Wurlitzer Organ concert. You can check their calendar to see when they are offering this unique and cool experience.

Additional things to see on the second floor:

  • TOYS! This exhibit is interactive and fun for all generations. Make sure you bring quarters to play in the 1980s style arcade!
  • Old Steam Engine
  • Take a Furniture Gallery Tour

Third Floor: Special Exhibits and Extensive West Michigan Habitats

The museum’s third floor is home to rotating, feature exhibits (right now see Expedition: Dinosaur) as well as a children’s favorite: West Michigan Habitats, which features local animals of all types and varieties.

GRPM Public Museum Habitat Scripps

Be sure to check out the wigwam and learn about the Native People’s culture.


Make sure to read these tips before heading out on your museum adventure.

  • Parking: There’s off-street meter parking as well as a parking garage down the road ($10 max fee).
  • There is a circle drive for buses where persons with disabilities can be dropped off at the main door.
  • The museum has elevators and is stroller friendly.
  • Purchase snacks and meals at the café.
  • Admission to the planetarium is extra, as are carousel rides.
  • During winter and spring break, additional themed programming is provided.
  • Summer camps for kids are also offered at GRPM.

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Grand Rapids Public Museum Parents Guide

1 thought on “Explore all 3 Levels of Grand Rapids Public Museum with Kids”

  1. Parking in the museum ramp is free to Kent County residents! Just show ID at the museum and they’ll validate your parking.

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