2020’s Top-Voted Outdoor Activities for Families – Plus Mega Idea List for Outside Summer Fun

things to do outside: go to lake michigan beach

Your Votes + Our Ideas = Impressive Summer To-Do List

Are you searching for outdoor activities to do with your family this summer?

We love living in West Michigan when the weather is warm because there are so many things to do outside.

Daydreams of how we’ll spend our summers helps us through our long, cold winters. From parks and playgrounds to hiking trails and beaches, there are so many fun things to do outside in West Michigan.

Read on to discover which summer outdoor things to do got the most votes, and find some of our favorites too. Hope we help you find some ideas for summer fun, Grand Rapids!

COVID-19 UPDATE: Many parks and public spaces have new rules regarding social distancing and some may still be closed. Additionally, many seasonal businesses are not yet open for the year. Check with the venue before heading out and be sure to have a plan B in mind in case your first option is closed  — or too busy.

TOP-VOTED OUTDOOR DESTINATIONS 

Top-Voted Top Outdoor Experience/Venue for Families

Families across West Michigan voted for their favorite outdoor destinations and here are the results.

With so many places to choose from across the area, these places are proud to see their names listed here.

1) Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

2) Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 

3) John Ball Zoo

4) Michigan’s Adventure

5) Deer Tracks Junction, LLC

Untitled design 6

Animal Fun at Deer Tracks Junction in Cedar Springs

6) Blandford Nature Center 

7) Critter Barn

8) West Michigan Whitecaps 

9) Millennium Park

10) Cannonsburg Ski & Ride Area

1 2

Deer Tracks Junction, LLC

7850 14 Mile Rd NE
Cedar Springs, MI 49319

Deer Tracks Adventure Park is hours of fun for all ages!

Tons of animals with up close and personal encounters, huge one-of-a-kind play areas, and delicious homemade ice cream!

Feed the animals or just enjoy time to love on ‘em. Adventures vary by season; check our website for the current schedule.

  THINGS TO DO OUTSIDE 

1) Play a Round of Disc Golf (Frisbee Golf)

The whole family can have fun outdoors with a round of disc golf (Frisbee golf) at one of nearly a dozen parks around Grand Rapids.

Disc golf is inexpensive and it’s a great thing to do outside while social distancing.. Kids – and adults – of all ages will have fun.

things to do outside: frisbee golf

2) Hit the Hiking Trails

Hiking West Michigan with your family is a snap.

With over 30 trails to choose from, it’s a perfect outdoor activity near you.  Many are free, some are near lakes, and some go through the woods. Check out a new one every day or revisit a favorite, from wooded trails through hardwoods to winding meadow paths. No matter what, hiking will become one of your family’s favorite things to do outside.

things to do outside: hiking trail walking path

If you enjoy hiking with your family, we’ve got a treat for you.

Join other local hiking families in our free Virtual Hiking Club. Weekly challenges and a helpful community are waiting for you!

Plus, plan your next trek with the GR’s Best Hikes for Families – Directory

3) Explore a New Bike Trail

Biking together can be a great thing to do outside together as a family.

Hitch up the bikes and head to one of over 20 bike trails throughout Grand Rapids and the lakeshore. Some offer a more scenic route while others have an urban feel.

Rollerblading is another family favorite among outdoor activities. Skate on the bike trails for a change of scenery.

things to do outside: bike trail near me

4) Make a Day of it on a West MI Beach

One of the best parts of a West Michigan summer is a trip to the beach– it’s one of our favorite things to do outside as a family.

There are fantastic beaches up and down the coast as well as a few in-land options. Some beaches have lifeguards, playgrounds or campsites so be sure to decide ahead of time what your family will need for your outdoor activities. Before heading out, take a look at these favorite beach hacks. 

things to do outside: beach day michigan

5) Plan Your Next Camping Trip

Many Michigan families spend the summer anticipating their next camping trip.

Both Michigan peninsulas are filled with large, picturesque campgrounds. Some are great for RV-campers and others are for more hardcore families. Additional amenities are often featured to provide extra outdoor activities. While you’re in planning mode, use some of these favorite camping hacks to make your adventure even more perfect.

things to do outside: camping michigan

6) Find a New Place to Hang Your Hammock

Families love to find a place to hang their hammock in West Michigan.

Spend some time relaxing outdoors and soaking in nature. Grand Rapids has great locations near the woods, close to the water or even downtown. Adding hammocking to your family’s list of things to outside this summer will be a hit.

things to do outside: hammocking

7) Paddle the Afternoon Away in a Kayak or Canoe

There are so many different options for activities on a lake or river.

Paddling or floating down a river is the perfect thing to do outside during a West Michigan summer. Families can enjoy time in a canoe or kayak. Or get more adventurous and go tubing, rafting or stand-up paddle boarding. With easy rivers and lakes all over Michigan, you can be sure to say there’s great outdoor activities near me.

things to do outside: kayaking

8) Make Up an Obstacle Course at a Nearby Park

Let your kids’ imagination run wild at one of many parks and playgrounds all over Grand Rapids and the lakeshore area.

Kids can enjoy play equipment, splash pads, beaches, hiking trails and more. Play tag, create an obstacle course, find great hiding spots and so much more. You can be sure there is more than one great park or playground near you.

things to do outside: obstacle course

9) Use that SmartPhone for a Geocaching Adventure or Downtown Tour

Families all over Grand Rapids are treasure hunters.

Geocaching and letterboxing are fun – and free – outdoor activities that families of all ages love to do. Enter GPS coordinates in an app on your SmartPhone and it guides you to a “treasure.” Sometimes it’s a coded message and other times hunters exchange swag.

Learn more about downtown Grand Rapids with a Tag Tour. Families can choose between an Art Around the Corner Tour or a History Tour. Grab your SmartPhone and scan QR codes around the city to complete the tour.

No matter which hunt you choose, your family will have a great time outside.

things to do outside: geocaching

10) Play Putt Putt or Go Ziplining

Amusement centers are filled with outdoor activities: miniature golf, go-karts, ziplining and more.

Some small places only have putt putt golf while larger ones have additional activities. Families can enjoy go-karts, bumper boats, batting cages and zip lines at some locations.

Looking for things to do outside that get the adrenaline pumping? Kids of all ages can go ziplining through the trees at Treerunner Adventure Park. Younger kids will have an adventure on a course closer to the ground while more daring older kids and adults will experience a higher course.

things to do outside: minigolf

11) Get Up Close and Personal with Animals

West Michigan has dozens of places where families can get outside and visit some animals.

Favorite things to do outside with animals include Critter Barn, John Ball Zoo, DeGraff Nature Center and Dairy Discovery. Whether you’re looking for a zoo experience, farm experience or something in between, you will be able to say there are animal outdoor activities near me.

things to do outside: visit animals

12) Saddle Up a Horse at a Local Stable

There are a several places around Grand Rapids where families can go horseback riding.

Some places offer lessons while others offer trails for riding on your own or with a guide. Be sure to research which locations are best for your family’s needs.

things to do_ horseback riding

13) Order Something New at the Ice Cream Stand

A West Michigan summer and ice cream just go together.

Whether it’s Superman, Mackinac Island Fudge or anything in between, visiting an ice cream stand is a treasured thing to do outside in the summer. Don’t miss out on trying a quirky ice cream treat. Grab a Chubby Unicorn in Kentwood, a Donut Sundae in Grandville or a Frosty Cove in Muskgon. Wherever your family travels this summer, your taste buds will thank you.

things to do outside: go to an ice cream shop near me

14) Treat Your Tastebuds at a GR Food Truck

Food trucks are exploding in Grand Rapids.

A few years ago, there weren’t that many. Now, you’ve got choices – breakfast crepes, tacos, BBQ, shaved ice, paella… you name it, you can probably find a West Michigan food truck serving your favorite street food. Food truck fare pairs perfectly with an outdoor summer – grab it on your way to the beach, at the farmers market, or at a festival.

patty matters food truck grand rapids

15) Go Retro with a Night at the Drive In Movies

Michigan has nine drive-in movie theaters remaining.

Pile the family into your vehicle and head out for a night of nostalgia. Bring blankets, get concessions, and hang out for the double feature on a big screen under the stars. It’s definitely a memory-maker that you’ll talk about well into the future.

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outdoor summer guid west michigan

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