What to do in East Grand Rapids, Ada & Cascade with Kids
Mainstays in the EGR, Ada, Cascade and Grand Rapids Twp areas include parks, libraries, and local businesses.
Walk the trail at Reed’s Lake or Roselle Park, hit up the Grand Rapids Township Park behind the fire station, or trek through the Calvin College Eco Preserve before you stop in for library story time (or a special story time at The Mud Room).
Looking for a different creative outlet? The Mud Room also offers Camp Mud for kids over school breaks, drop in paint time, or even a Family’s Potter Wheel Class where you learn to use the potter’s wheel as a family.
This side of town has lot of shopping, theatres, eateries and quick access to Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
It also boasts world-renowned Frederik Meijer Gardens, and many families enjoy annual memberships here for kids to explore the expansive children’s garden and acres of incredible sculpture park.
East Grand Rapids and Cascade both boast the two top-ranked libraries in West Michigan plus KDL’s newest branch in Ada.
Residents also enjoy easy access to shopping, from locally owned shops and breweries to mainstream stores at Woodland and Centerpoint Malls and Knapp’s Corner.
What it’s Like to Live on Grand Rapids’ East Side
There’s a lot that people love about living east of GR. Read on to see which town speaks to you the most.
Life in East Grand Rapids
Why people love to live here: Reeds Lake Life. Their local lake is a big draw for families, with miles of beautiful boardwalk around the 265 acres of Reeds Lake, as well as public lake access at John Collins Park.
You get that smaller town feel coupled with urban amenities. A very walkable, shoppable downtown is just a few minutes from more fun neighborhoods like GR’s Eastown and Cherry Hills, and Downtown.
You should know: Their school is continually ranked in the top 20 in the state. You pay a premium for property taxes, but you get cool perks like roadside leaf cleanup and plowed sidewalks in the winter.
East Grand Rapids
East Grand Rapids Public Schools
» Reeds Lake
» super popular library
» Jersey Junction ice cream
Life in Ada Village Township
Why people love to live here: In addition to the “new” downtown, Ada brags some great parks, including Ada Park, a popular community spot, with fields and a playground, fishing pond and arboretum.
You should know: Residents can head west down Fulton to the “big city” of Grand Rapids or east on Fulton to enjoy the rural trails and and Flat River in Lowell.
Ada Village Township
Forest Hills Public Schools
» Roselle Park, Seidman Park, and the Grand River
» The village of Ada just underwent a huge reconstruction project and is loaded with cute shops and lots of walkability.
Life in Cascade
Why people love to live here: Lots of housing options, from condos to apartments, popular high end subdivisions to older homes on acreage. It’s close to the airport and tons of shopping and restaurants on 28th Street.
You should know: Covering about 68 square miles, including rural backroads, Forest Hills Schools is known to have more snow days than other area schools.
Forest Hills Public Schools
» Gerald R. Ford airport (and its popular airport viewing & picnic area)
» Kent District Library’s Cascade branch
» Lots of popular parks like Cascade Twp Park and Peace Park, and several golf courses.
Life in Grand Rapids Township
Why people love to live here: A mix of rural and suburban housing opportunities here, but with a fast-growing Knapp’s Corner shopping district that includes the ever popular Celebration! Cinema North, a huge D&W, Meijer, eateries and more.
A quick drive to the north and you’re in rural GR, head south and you’ll find the popular 28th Street corridor.
You should know: GR Charter Township includes 3 highly popular school districts, depending on where you live.
Grand Rapids Township
Forest Hills Public Schools (Northern and Eastern High Schools), Northview Public Schools, East Grand Rapids Public Schools
» World-renowned Frederik Meijer Gardens as well as Provin Trails
» Knapp’s Corner shopping
» TreeRunner Adventure Park & Robinette’s Apple Haus
The Top 25 Things to Do With Kids in the East Grand Rapids and Ada Area
The area east of Grand Rapids is vast, from long standing East Grand Rapids to the newer and fast growing Ada and Forest Hills communities. They brag two very popular libraries, lots of community interaction, and many families who take advantage of all the activities in this area.
If you’re wondering just how much fun your kids can have in the East of Grand Rapids area, here’s your list!
Spend All Day at Cascade Township Park
Cascade Township Park
3810 Thornapple River Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
There’s plenty to keep the kids busy at Cascade Township Park.
The 55-acre park includes playgrounds and a swing set, two baseball/softball diamonds, a multi-purpose field for soccer/football, a one-mile pedestrian path, four horseshoe pits, a sand volleyball court, an 18-hole Frisbee golf course, four tennis courts and restroom facilities.
Bring your lunch and use any of the picnic tables around the park or if you have a large group, there are also three shelters available.
See Airplanes Up Close at the Airport Viewing Park
Airport Viewing Park
4820 Kraft Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Did you know you can get front row seats to watch airplanes take off and land from Gerald R. Ford Airport?
Take the kids to the Viewing Park and they will be thrilled to see all the action up close. You can even bring your lunch and enjoy a picnic as you watch.
Tune your car radio in to 1650 AM to listen to air traffic controllers, pilots, and airfield operations staff as they coordinate the safe passage of airplanes. The airport viewing park is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Discover and Learn at Frederik Meijer Gardens
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
1000 East Beltline Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
You’ll never get bored at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park!
Covering 158 acres, Meijer Gardens has Michigan’s largest Tropical conservatory, five indoor theme gardens, outdoor gardens, nature trails and boardwalk, sculptures and more!
Don’t miss out on major outdoor fun by stopping by the interactive Children’s Garden which includes sculptures, a sand quarry, a Great Lakes water feature, tree houses, a log cabin, a butterfly labyrinth, a sense garden and even a child-sized beaver lodge.
Butterflies at FMG >>
Holidays at FMG >>
Experience Fall at Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery
Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery
3142 4 Mile Rd NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Kids love Robinette’s for the apples, adults love it for their wine selection, and everyone loves it for the giant Michigan chair. Boasting a bakery, lunch counter, cider mill and wine, this place is open year round.
But fall is when it really comes alive. Belgian horse wagon rides, apples, pumpkins, orchard tours, an exciting corn maze and delicious donuts.
Take In the Views at Cascade Peace Park
Cascade Peace Park
8900 Grand River Dr SE, Ada, MI 49301
This park in Ada is fun for an amble up, up, up! Big climbs means big views once you get to the top.
Trails aren’t well marked, but the smaller size means you’re never too far from a trail back to the parking lot.
Celebrate Summer at Jersey Junction
652 Croswell Ave SE, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Jersey Junction serves up delicious Hudsonville ice cream in its iconic red building in East Grand Rapids.
Founded by the mother of famed author Chris Van Allsburg, you’ll find a model of the Polar Express running overhead as you wait your turn to get a scoop or pick a piece of candy that lines the walls.
Splash Around at Goldfish Swim School
Goldfish Swim School
2845 Thornhills Ave SE s, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Spend a fun afternoon bonding and swimming at Goldfish Swim School. Goldfish offers weekly Family Swim sessions, which are open to the public, not just members.
Family Swim is Monday – Thursday 12:00-1:00 PM, Sunday 5:00-6:30 PM.
Ice Skate at Patterson Ice Center
Patterson Ice Center
2550 Patterson Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Lace up your skates and take advantage of Open Skate at Patterson Ice Center at various times, any day of the week!
Head to the Library
East Grand Rapids Branch: 746 Lakeside Dr SE, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Cascade Township Branch: 2870 Jacksmith Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Amy Van Andel Library (Ada): 7215 Headley Street SE, Ada Michigan 49301
KDL Libraries have so much to offer! Each branch has its own unique children’s area, including hands-on activities, puppet shows, dress up stations, interactive toys, iPads and more – you can swing by at your convenience for a ton of educational fun.
KDL branches also host storytimes with musical sing-alongs, classes and special events for ALL ages, so be sure to check their website for upcoming classes and events.
Sled (or Swing or Run) at Manhattan Park
Manhattan Park: 331 Cascade Rd SE, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Manhattan Park is a year round park in East Grand Rapids where loads of teams play volleyball, soccer and baseball. Kids love running the playground and ambling up the sandstone arch.
And on snowy days, if you walk through a sort of hidden trail in the woods, you’ll find a big sledding hill for a winter thrill.
Tassell Park is a Quiet Hidden Gem
Leslie E. Tassell Park: 2900 Thornapple River Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Located next to the Thornapple River, Leslie E. Tassell Park provides a tranquil spot for parents to relax while the kids play in the interactive fountain.
The picnic tables and benches, fire pit, and shelters also create a perfect place to enjoy a picnic lunch.
Try Ice Skating On a Softball Field
Leonard Park: 7490 Thornapple River Dr SE, Ada, MI 49301
For some outdoor winter fun, try ice skating at Leonard Park!
Leonard Field serves as a softball field in the spring and summer, but becomes an ice skating pond in the winter months.
Conveniently located right in the heart of Ada, the kids can easily walk through the downtown shops and cafes.
With a hot chocolate in hand, the kids can also enjoy a walk over the historic Ada Covered Bridge which is lit up with beautiful lights during Christmastime.
Pick Fresh Farm Fruit at Blok Orchard
Blok Orchard: 6365 4 Mile Rd, Ada, MI, 49301
Blok Orchard is your local destination for fresh, seasonal fruit picking!
Take the opportunity to teach your children where food comes from and enjoy the day walking the farm and picking delicious fruit.
Take Advantage Of Lunch Bunch at Gymco
Gymco: 2306 Camelot Ridge Court SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Pack a lunch, drop off your potty-trained child at Gymco, and enjoy two uninterrupted hours to do whatever you want!
Lunch Bunch is every Monday-Saturday from 12:00-2:00 PM. Your kid will have a blast playing games, reading stories and burning off energy- and you can enjoy two productive (or relaxing!) hours. Win-win!
Ride Bikes Around Reeds Lake
Reeds Lake Access: 650 Lakeside Dr SE, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Grab your bikes and take the family to Reeds Lake!
Reeds Lake is a beautiful lake located in East Grand Rapids with a 4.2 mile path around the perimeter.
The path is a combination of paved trails, boardwalks and sidewalks which will take you through wooded areas, wetlands and parks. It will also bring you near Gaslight Village, where you can stop off for some dining or shopping.
Explore The Outdoors at Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve
Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve: 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Looking for free, fun AND educational?
On the first Saturday of the month, Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve offers an education program for families, exploring topics through discovery hikes, stories, games, and nature art projects.
Registration is not required, so just show up and have fun exploring!
Get Moving at R-Athletics Open Gym
R-Athletics: 2845 Thornhills Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Let the kids burn off that energy on Saturday afternoons at R-Athletics!
Open Gym is from 1:00-2:00 PM and BOTH gyms are open so you can keep an eye on the little ones in the Rec ‘n’ Rollin Center while the big kids enjoy the equipment in the Rockin Gym.
Check out their drop off programs like Lunch & Learn and Date Nights!
Dare To Experience TreeRunner Adventure Park
TreeRunner Adventure Park: 2121 Celebration Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
You’ll definitely experience fun and excitement as you climb, swing and soar your way through Grand Rapids TreeRunner Adventure Park!
Treetop obstacle courses, zip lines and swinging logs are all part of the fun.
But don’t worry, they have able and supportive staff who are there to train and help along the way.
And if you come with little ones, they even have a Kid’s Course. This parent-guided course is ground-level and consists of a series of zip lines for the little kids.
Release Your Inner Chef at YMCA Mary Free Bed
YMCA Mary Free Bed: 5500 Burton St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
For the kid who loves to cook, eat, or both, check out Book & Cook at YMCA Mary Free Bed.
Learn to cook with an instructor in a fun, social atmosphere. The Book & Cook classes start with a children’s book then you follow along with a healthy cooking option.
They have a wide range of cooking classes available for age groups: Little Sprouts, Kids cook, Family Night, Teens cook, Teens bake. Check out their site for more programs and classes!
Get Creative at The Mud Room
The Mud Room: 1971 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
There are tons of creative options at The Mud Room!
Open Studio, pottery classes, Family Crafternoon, Handprint Happy Hour and more. And no studio fees!
Your project price includes your materials, help from staff, use of the studio and supplies, and any glazing or firing needed.
Full Day of Fun at Ada Township Park
Ada Township Park: 180 Buttrick Ave SE, Ada, MI 49301
Take the kids on an adventure to Ada Township Park!
Take a walk through nature trails and head towards the fishing pond for some fishing fun, which is reserved for those under age 12, senior citizens or physically challenged individuals.
After fishing, have a snack on a bench or lunch under a covered picnic table. Lastly, to really top your day off, let your children run free at the many playground stations designed for specific age groups.
Have a Blast at Kids Night Out at MVP
MVP: 4035 Burton Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Head to MVP on Friday night and let the kids enjoy swimming, structured games, pizza and a snack- while you enjoy an evening out!
Kids Night Out is 5:30 – 9:00 PM on select Fridays and reservations are required – so be sure to call or check the website!
Climb a Silo and Hike at Roselle Park
Roselle Park: 1010 Grand River Dr. NE, Ada, MI 49301
Roselle Park is the perfect place to enjoy nature and wildlife with your children!
This 240 acre nature preserve has a 2 mile paved loop (for strollers and bicycles), which will take you along the Grand River through wetlands, prairies and forests.
Take natural trails for a closer look at wildlife. Be sure to stop at the wetland observation deck along the way- and when you complete the loop, the kids will love exploring the silo climbing wall, natural-themed park climbing equipment and rope “spider web”!
Try Baby Gymnastics
Grand Rapids Gymnastics: 1601 Galbraith Ave, Ste 301, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Give Baby Gymnastics a try at Grand Rapids Gymnastics– it’s FREE! GRG Babies is every Tuesday at 11:00 AM and is open to babies 6 months- walking. Tummy time, sensory exposure and movement are all part of the fun.
Celebrate Flick’s Family Film Festival at Celebration! Cinema
Celebration! Cinema North: 2121 Celebration Dr. NE , Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Flick’s Family Film Festival runs through the winter and early spring with a variety of movies showing from week to week. Movies are free for kids under 12 and discounted for those older than 12!
Special needs families will love their sensory showtimes, where the lights are up and kids are welcome to move around during the show.
Build Something Fun at Home Depot
Home Depot: 4646 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Did you know Home Depot offers FREE weekly workshops for kids?
Each month a new theme gives children exciting, hands-on experience with each creative, skill-building project within a safe environment.
All kids get to keep their craft, receive a free certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin.
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