There’s Endless Potential for Quality Time With These Grand Rapids Activities
“The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin
We all know how time flies. Whether your family consists of a single bambino or enough kids to create your own basketball team, there are always just 24 hours in a day.
I have always tried to spend one-on-one time with each of my children. That intentional time became more important this year when my daughter left for college. When she came home during a school break, I wanted to find something for the two of us to do together.
Boy, Grand Rapids did not disappoint when I went searching for fun things to do with my girl!
Active to artsy, toddler to teen, there is something for every mama and her special girl.
Where to Pamper Your Princess – Spa Experiences for you and Your Daughter
1: SHARE A SALON OR SPA EXPERIENCE
Mani-Pedis are always a go-to.
We have lots of salons and spas in Grand Rapids to choose from. Check out this handy guide to find a place that will treat you and your girl like royalty.
Get a new ‘do.
Enjoy a trip to the salon for a new hairstyle or cut and blowout.
Massages or facials for two.
Many spas offer couples massages that will happily accommodate a mother daughter duo. The Doubles Massage at Urban Massage will let you both relax and stay together in one room.
2: SHOP TIL YOU DROP
With over a dozen shopping malls and centers in Grand Rapids, there is bound to be something that delights your fashionista.
If unique finds is more your style, try one of our many amazing resale shops, like New 2 You . My friend gives her girls a budget and allows them to search for fun new outfits for each other!
Antiquing and vintage shopping abounds in West Michigan. We’ve got a huge list of places where you can hunt for treasures together.
3: TAKE TEA FOR TWO
Who doesn’t love a tea party? I was recently introduced to a fantastic event at the English Cottage. Cynthia and her husband open their home (by appointment only) to groups who wish to be spoiled with a treat of High Tea Service.
The teas are served with a fruit appetizer, tea sandwiches, fresh scones alongside Devonshire cream and homemade jam, and decadent desserts.
You can also enjoy tea time or a unique meal at the New Hotel Mertens .
Tea Trade Cafe offers a beautiful setting where you can feel good about supporting a cause.
4: RELISH IN THE AREA’S SWEETS AND TREATS
From age of 3 to about 10, one of my kids always requested donut dates. With the likes of Marge’s Donut Den, Cindy’s Donuts and Ice Cream, The Donut Conspiracy, and Sweetwater’s Donut Mill , West Michigan has no shortage of fried goodness.
Still not sure where to go? The West Michigan Donut trail lists some of the area’s most popular donut stops, complete with a map!
Ice cream never fails to make the little ones smile, either. You can go for a traditional treat at one of the area’s top-voted Grand Rapids ice cream shops, or try one of these quirky creations around West Michigan!
For a frilly feast, try one of these specialty shops!
Girl Power – Strong Bonding Time for Moms and Their Girls
1: GET ACTIVE
As a fitness instructor, I am constantly impressed with the abundance of health clubs in Grand Rapids. Even if you aren’t a member, many facilities offer a day pass or free trial to get in the game.
The Grand Rapids YMCA offers fitness classes, open gym time, swimming, youth sports, cooking and gardening classes, lifeguard training, and so much more. There is bound to be one near YOU.
MVP Sports Clubs have a great deal for families as well. West Michiganders find their gyms to be clean, safe, and well-stocked, with tons of fun ways to stay fit.
2: HIT THE TRAILS
Hike the paths of Gezon Park or bike White Pine Trail through Rockford, after a bite at Ramona’s Table.
3: DRIFT AWAY
Kayak, paddle, tube, or canoe for a peaceful day on the water. See this guide for locations.
4: OUTDOOR SPORTS
Play a round of foot golf, or enjoy all day play at Maple Hill Golf. My family did this for Father’s Day last year and it was a blast, even for a golf newbie like me.
Visit local parks. Our parks guide has a huge map of all the area parks and playgrounds, hiking trails, and dog parks.
You can also find specific amenities through the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks search tool. Is a round of tennis on your date agenda? Do you want to hit some balls at the batting cages? Here you go.
5: QUESTIONABLE FORECAST
Set up a living room campout. Pitch a small tent or build a fort across the couch like when we were kids. Eat microwaved s’mores and tell stories by flashlight. Best of all, it’s bug free!
6: Train together for those new to the active lifestyle
Try one of many free Couch to 5K programs like this one through Center for Physical Rehab.
7: ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM TOGETHER
Grand Rapids is the home to some awesome professional sports. Take her out to the ballgame with the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Creative Connection – Spend Time in Arts and Culture with Your Imaginative Child
1: DIY YOUR QUALITY TIME
Try a workshop and make something meaningful at Hammer and Stain . Your creation will last as long as the memories.
There are lots of hands-on options at The Mud Room. From story time to fused glass projects, painted pottery and more, you will have a great time creating together.
2: PAINT ROCKS and HIDE THEM AROUND TOWN
I’m sure you’ve discovered brightly-colored rocks hiding around Grand Rapids. Help spread the joy. A trip to the local craft store and a walk in the woods will provide the materials you need to brighten someone’s day.
We’ve got all the tips for making cute creations that you can hide around town for others to discover.
3: LISTEN TO OR CREATE POETRY TOGETHER
Read the works of your favorite poets or authors. Give the pen a whirl on your own. Use pretty stationary and pens or spice it up with clip art. If your older daughter is interested in more creative writing, try a workshop together.
Take in the beautiful flowers. Observe breathtaking butterflies. Admire works of art. Listen to talented musicians. The only thing better is your little girl at your side.
5: TAKE IN A SHOW OR EXHIBIT
Grand Rapids boasts an active theater and museum scene. With the local cultural hotspots below, you can’t go wrong.
- Grand Rapids Public Museum
- Grand Rapids Art Museum
- Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
- DeVos Performance Hall
6: SELFIE OR BEHIND THE LENS TOUR
This city is full of great photo ops. If your tween or teen is like mine, and EVERYTHING is captured on “film,” try visiting all of the most Instagrammable spots in Grand Rapids for some fun photos and lots of laughs.
Focus on Self-Improvement. Be a Mother-Daughter Duo that Makes the World a Better Place
1: LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Try an online class in anything from coding to astronomy through Outschool . With over 8,000 options, you and your daughter will fall in love with learning together.
Take an American Sign Language class. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services offers many ways that you can learn to communicate in this beautiful and needed way.
2: TAKE A COOKING CLASS
I have had so much fun learning new techniques and honing others at The Local Epicurean . I know my girl would also love to try her hand at from-scratch pasta. It’s even better to come home and practice your new skills.
Use this big list of local cooking classes to decide whether to make tapas, chocolates, french cuisine or maybe even… your own sausages? Yeah, you can even learn to make sausage in Grand Rapids.
3: LEARN OUR HISTORY
Study what makes Furniture City so awesome. See what is still there and how they’ve improved. Take in the grandeur of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel .
Members of the Y can participate in a historical walking tour of our city.
4: TOUR A LOCAL COLLEGE CAMPUS
If you are a Grand Rapids-area grad, show your daughter your alma mater. Tour campus and enjoy a packed or cafeteria lunch. Tell her stories of your time there.
If your young lady is approaching college age, show her the many campuses in town. Schedule visits and meet current students.
- Aquinas College
- Cornerstone University
- Grand Rapids Community College
- Kuyper College
- Grand Valley State University
- Grace Christian University
- Calvin College
- Davenport University
- Kendall College of Art and Design
5: DO ACTS OF KINDNESS TOGETHER
Go on a random acts of kindness spree. Ask your daughter to help you brainstorm ways to be kind to those around you. Research some of the work of Fox 17’s Janice Allen in her “ Pay It Forward” highlights for inspiration.
- Plant flowers for a neighbor.
- Pay for the car behind you at the drive thru.
- Take dinner to a sick friend.
- Collect books for children in the hospital.
- Or find a place to volunteer together.