A Parent’s Guide to the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Think museums are boring? Think again!

The Grand Rapids Public Museum offers exciting experiences for toddlers on up… and we’re here to tell you how you can enjoy your next GRPM trip with the kids.

Rotating hands on activities on the first floor.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum is three levels of educational fun! From their many permanent exhibits to special featured exhibits, you could easily spend hours exploring. There is such a variety at the museum that all age ranges benefit from visiting.

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.

GRPM Museum Floor by Floor Overview

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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


  • 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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