Moving to a New Town is a Big Deal

Moving to a brand new community is a major undertaking for anyone, and even more so if you have kids. There are so many factors to consider and you can get all the input you want from locals, but everyone has their own opinions on what’s good or not so good.

Allendale Park

What you need to do when moving to a new city is to check the place out yourself.

Be a “local” for a few days and take in the flavors of the different neighborhoods.

scouting out Grand Rapids

Find out what the city offers that is really important to you (do you like local cuisine? do you like a vibrant city? do you like a quiet small town? do you want a lot of neighbors or few neighbors?) and where you and your kids will flourish.

Wondering where to start? See which of these 99 reasons we love Grand Rapids sounds amazing to you.

The GRKIDS team is spread out across West Michigan, but while we could tell you all day why we each love the special places that we live, we think that your decision is best made by taking your own scouting trip to Grand Rapids. You know you better than anyone else!

Creston Neighborhood

Our Scouting Guide aims to give you real glimpses into all the places that make West Michigan great. It’s designed for you to customize at some points, based on your family’s personality and preferences.

Fellinlove Farm – Holland

We don’t know where you will end up in West Michigan, but we are pretty confident that you will love it no matter what!

Jump to find…
Moving to Grand Rapids Guide
Relocating to Grand Rapids
10 Things to Know Before Moving to GR
How to Dress for GR Weather Local Weather Stations
Scout out the Best GR for You
What’s it Like to Move to Grand Rapids?
The Different Grand Rapids Communities

Five Days to Scout Grand Rapids

Visiting a new city can be overwhelming. How will you know what to see and what you can’t miss? We’ve created an itinerary for anyone thinking about moving to Grand Rapids, so you can get the full flavor of West Michigan.

While we have major destinations listed for you below, you will also love our Restaurant Map and List that can help you find lunch or dinner near you. You’ll also want to have our GR Mural Crawl map handy, so you can tell the kids where to look for the colorful walls and streets as you drive around.

Day 1 in Grand Rapids: DOWNTOWN DELIGHT


Downtown Grand Rapids is a beautiful, clean city with lots to offer. We have several top notch museums, a state-of-the-art Medical Mile (be sure to admire the architectural beauty of the DeVos Children’s Hospital), tasty restaurants, several museums from art to children’s to presidential, and two wonderful venues for sports, concerts and other fun events (Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place).

We’ve found some of the highlights for you to enjoy, but for even more ideas that families will love, check out 20 Fantastic Things to do With Kids in the City of Grand Rapids. Not used to downtown travel? Our Parking Ramps and Meters post will help you figure out how and where to park.

  • BREAKFAST: Sundance Grill | Nothing beats Sundance Grill for breakfast downtown – traditional American specialties with Southwestern influences. May we recommend the breakfast tacos?
  • AM: Tour our Downtown by Foot | Grab your phone and walking shoes and do the GR Tag Tour to get a nice intro to our city and learn a little history along the way. If you make it to La Grande Vitesse, be sure to ride the giant tire swing while you’re there.

  • LUNCH: Downtown Market | The Downtown Market is more than food — it’s an experience. And after a long morning walking around town, you really need some Love’s Ice Cream to help keep you moving.

Zeroing in on Your Fave Community

In addition to a vibrant downtown, Greater Grand Rapids offers many family-friendly communities that surround the city. You can get a feel for the different communities here. Each suburban region boasts unique attractions and neighborhoods that any future GR resident should become familiar with.

Maybe you already know which part of town you want to call home, in which case you can either spend the day exploring your future neighborhood or follow these suggestions to get the lay of the land. If you’re still narrowing it down, spend the next two days of your scouting trip exploring Metro Grand Rapids’ four regions: Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest.

REALTOR Ready to Help With Your Move

Brooke A. Sines

Grand Allure Home Group – RE/MAX of Grand Rapids

Brooke’s Website

Specializing in communication & negotiation between the buyers/sellers we work with, Grand Allure Home Group focuses on education, reviewing trends, & more for you! Passionate about creating and maintaining solid relationships, Brooke has been told over and over by her clients that it’s her dedication to personalized service that sets her apart from the rest.

Day 2: Explore Northeast & Southeast Grand Rapids

Today you’re going to see what NE GR and SE GR have to offer: an impressive museum, many parks, and mouth-watering restaurants.

  • BREAKFAST: Wolfgang’s | A 40-year staple in Grand Rapids, Wolfgang’s is a great way to start your day. It’s so popular, you may find there’s a small wait, but it’s worth it. The breakfast skillets alone will convince you to live here!
  • AM: Head East | Now that you’ve had your fill, walk around Eastown, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and home to many eclectic shops and cafes. Hop in the car and travel east to East Grand Rapids, a picturesque community that is the perfect place to spend your morning. Visit John Collins Park, stroll around the banks of Reeds Lake, or play in the children’s area of the East Grand Rapids library.
  • LUNCH: Anna’s House | For lunch, drive to the NE region and visit the original Anna’s House. There are now six locations in Michigan (three in Greater Grand Rapids) because this place is too good to be contained.
  • PM: Sculptures, Airplanes & More | Now it’s time to experience the magic of Frederik Meijer Gardens, a 158-acre botanical garden and sculpture park and one of the most visited museums in the world. Afterward, grab a snack in Cascade and make our way to the Gerald R. Ford airport viewing area. Here you’ll find plenty of parking, picnic tables, and open space. When your aeronautic fascination is fulfilled, swing through Kentwood and stop at Horrocks where you can sip wine while you browse. On your way to dinner, do a drive-by viewing of the Ottawa Hills and Alger Heights neighborhoods.

  • DINNER: Beltline Bar | The Beltline Bar is on the westernmost edge of SE Grand Rapids and boasts some of the best mexican fare in town. It’s a great way to fill your belly after a long day!
  • BEFORE BED: Your Choice | Indulge in some retail therapy at either Woodland Mall or the Shops at Centerpointe (right across the street from each other!) or the boutique-like atmosphere at Breton Village. Catch a movie at Celebration Cinema North. Head back to East Grand Rapids for ice cream at Jersey Junction. Or, depending on the time of year (and how quickly you ate dinner), go north to Treetop Adventure Park where you can climb, swing, balance, and soar!

REALTOR Ready to Help With Your Move

Janet Romanowski

Romanowski Homes- Greenridge Realty

Janet’s Website

Janet Romanowski and her expert real estate team believe that success in real estate comes in many forms. As a top performer within the brokerage, as well as being credited with negotiating the largest residential sale in the history of West Michigan, we find the most satisfaction not in our proven sales record, but in the relationships we continue to develop with our clients.

Day 3: See What’s to Love About Northwest & Southwest Grand Rapids

  • BREAKFAST: Marge’s Donut Den | OK, it’s not the healthiest breakfast option. But you can’t visit SW Grand Rapids without trying a donut from Marge’s. They also have a variety of other breakfast pastries, but eat one donut and you’ll want a dozen.
  • AM: Shopping or Shipping | From Marge’s, cruise through Wyoming and down to Grandville where you’ll find lots of great shopping: Rivertown Mall, Cabela’s, and more. If you aren’t interested in shopping, head to Jenison instead and spend the morning aboard the Grand Lady Riverboat, a steamboat-style watercraft that takes you down the Grand River. Regardless of how you choose to spend your morning, your next stop before lunch is Millennium Park, a 1,400-acre park with a splash pad, and a beach.
  • LUNCH: Mr. Burger | You had donuts for breakfast, so burgers are probably not the best choice, but Mr. Burger is a Grand Rapids staple. We suggest the olive burger and onion rings! If you’re feeling like you need something more nutritious, there are several other eateries near the zoo, your afternoon destination.
  • PM: John Ball Zoo | Whether or not you bring the kids on your scouting trip, the John Ball Zoo is a worthy stop. After making some animal friends, hop in the car and navigate to Alpine Avenue, a busy retail corridor. From there, it’s a bit of a jog to The Ridge, an area of rolling slopes left behind by glaciers, and home to several farm markets. But all that fresh produce may be just what you need to balance out those donuts and burgers!

  • DINNER: Fricano’s | It’s been a day of gluttony, so why not top it off with some of the best pizza in West Michigan? Fricano’s is a family-owned restaurant famous for their thin crust pizza.
  • BEFORE BED: The West Michigan Whitecaps | If the season is right and the schedule works, we recommend taking in a baseball game at Fifth Third Ballpark. If that’s not an option, grab a brew at Perrin Brewing or stroll the White Pine Trail.

REALTOR Ready to Help With Your Move

Amanda DeLong

Evermark Realty

Amanda’s Website

At Evermark Realty, we strive to make lasting impression in the life of every client we serve. We are passionate about forming relationships with our clients, serving them with the highest level of integrity and professionalism, and providing them with a first class real estate experience from our initial meeting to the closing table (and beyond!).

Day 4: Hit up the Grand Rapids Countryside, Far and Wide

Now it’s time to explore the countryside. If you’re already in love with our downtown, your job is done. But if you want a small town feel or a bit more isolation, you’ll want to figure out which of these communities fit you best.

There are many outlying communities surrounding Grand Rapids, and rather than try to see them all in one day, select those that interest you most from the list below and discover what they have to offer:

North of Grand Rapids:

  • Cedar Springs – Home of the Kent Theatre, and known as the Red Flannel Town.
  • Rockford – Home of the Corner Bar, picturesque trails for walking and biking, a dam, the Art Van Sports Complex, and Kayla Rae Cellars.

East of Grand Rapids:

  • Lowell – Home of the James C. Veen Observatory and Flat River Grill and Kent County Youth Fair.
  • Ada – Home of the Ada covered bridge, the Amway World Headquarters, Roselle Park, Quail Ridge Golf Course, and Sietsema Orchards and Cider Mill.

lowell-alto covered bridge

South of Grand Rapids:

West of Grand Rapids:

Day 5: Epic West Michigan Lakeshore and More

The Lakeshore is a beautiful area full of sandy beaches and brilliant sunsets. Many people call the lakeshore area home, but even if you will not be living here, you absolutely must get an idea of what will essentially be in your backyard if you live in West Michigan.

Again, there are many communities to choose from, so decide what interests you and know you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the rest when you live nearby.

By now you have a good idea of what West Michigan has to offer but maybe you’re still undecided about whether to move here or where exactly to live when you do. Be sure to follow along with all the Grand Rapids Kids updates as we share ideas of things to do in the area, places to visit, and details of upcoming events. We’ll help you understand what it means to “do” Greater Grand Rapids as a family!

Regardless of when you come or which community you choose, we know you’ll love it here!

West Michigan Relocation Guide for Families – Local Lingo, Schools Info, Helpful REALTORS and More

A Guide for Relocating Your Family to West Michigan Thinking About Moving Your Family to Grand Rapids, MI? Considering a move to Michigan's fastest-growing metro area and second largest city? Maybe you have family here or maybe you grew up in West Michigan.   Allendale Park Perhaps, you're a fan of craft beer and living in Beer City USA seems irresistible. Maybe you're simply drawn to Midwest family values or the low cost of living found in West Michigan. There are many reasons to relocate your family here! La [...]

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