[note] Welcome to our 3-day series on making the most of your visit to Grand Rapids, brought to you by grkids.com reader and guest writer Jenny Baker. Here is part two![/note]
[pullquote_left]by Jenny Baker[/pullquote_left]

Challenge: See the best of greater Grand Rapids in just three days.

If you have visitors with kids coming this summer or are planning a trip to Grand Rapids and want to make sure you see the best the area has to offer, we’ve got you covered.

Grand Rapids is an ideal vacation destination for families. With its big city benefits and close proximity to Lake Michigan, there is never a shortage of things to do.

Let Jenny’s three-day guide help you plan the perfect Grand Rapids’ getaway!

Day One:

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

People literally come from all over the world to visit this famous landmark in Grand Rapids, which is comprised of 132 acres of wetlands, woodlands and meadows that are home to an incredible variety of plants, flowers and sculptures. Home to the largest indoor tropical conservatory in Michigan, Meijer Gardens has new exhibits featuring famous artists each season.

Meijer Gardens June 2012 Aprils

The outdoor children’s garden will keep your children entertained for hours. It includes a tree house, play boats that can travel five small pools in the shape of the Great Lakes, a hands-on sensory garden, a fossil garden for digging, and various other activities.

The park also offers many meandering trails and boardwalks for exceptional views of nature. Meijer Gardens is located approximately five miles outside the heart of Grand Rapids. Plan about two-four hours for this visit.

  • Hours are Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Open Tuesday from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
  • Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and students with id, $6 for ages 5-13, $4 for ages 3-4, and ages 2 and under are free.

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

After all that walking, give your legs a rest and take a ride in the car towards one of Grand Rapids’ hidden treasures: Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park. This park in Alto (about 26 miles east of Grand Rapids) is home to zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, nilgais, servals, and other animals whose names we can’t pronounce.

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What started as a small hobby farm 20 years ago has grown into an 80-acre wildlife park with a strong emphasis on education and conservation. Boulder Ridge boasts that they are “not the average zoo” and they are right. This is a can’t-miss destination for everyone. Plan approximately three-four hours including drive time.

  • Open May 1- mid October. Hours are Mon-Sat 10:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sunday noon – 5:00 pm.
  • Admission is $10 for ages 12 and over, $8 for senior citizens and ages 3-11. Children under 3 are free.

West Michigan Whitecaps at Fifth-Third Ball Park

Whether you are a sports fan or not, the sounds of baseball bats snapping out base hits, crowds cheering, and an organ playfully tapping out renditions of “take me out to the ballgame” is enough to bring out the kid in all of us.

Whitecaps game

Watching the West Michigan Whitecaps, a Class A minor league baseball team, is a perfect conclusion to a home run of a day. Fifth Third Ball Park provides big league atmosphere, offering a variety of concessions stands, seating options, souvenirs, and an outdoor play land for the kids. Approximately seven miles north of Grand Rapids, set aside the entire evening for this event.

  • For game dates and ticket info please visit the Whitecaps’ website.


Tired yet? Come on back tomorrow for a list of fun on Day 2!


Jenny Baker headshotJenny Baker is a freelance writer, blogger, mother of two, and wife of one who lives in Grand Rapids. This past spring Jenny left the corporate world to be with her kids full-time at home, leaving her to question if she’s courageous or insane. She invites people everywhere to see her decide at www.wherearethebonbons.com.




Visit Grand Rapids in three days for families