2018 Grand Rapids Holiday Family Fun Guide

There is something magical about the holiday season in West Michigan, for kids and parents alike. The twinkling lights, fresh snow, and the excitement in the air all make this a memorable time of year. If you are like me, you want to soak in as many of these holiday moments as you can.

Tinsel, Treats & Trolleys – Ada

Our gigantic Holiday Family Fun Guide is your #1 resource for all things HOLIDAY this season. We’ll give you loads of ideas on places to go and things to do with the whole family.

Pin it, post it, save it, or print it.  And have loads of FUN!

Santa on the Riverwalk – Lowell

NorthPointe Christian Schools

NorthPointe Christian Schools partners with parents to help students PreK-12 thrive academically and spiritually. NorthPointe’s variety of programs help meet the needs of their variety of learners, including Nature-Based Preschool, Intergenerational Preschool, Spanish Immersion, Before/After Care, and more.

Learn more at NorthPointe’s Pancakes and Preview Night on January 17, 2019.

Jump to find…
Holidays Shows
Holiday Festivities
Day by Day Ideas
Active Gift Ideas
Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
Trains + Sleigh Ride Events
Holiday Countdown Calendar
Santa Photos + Visits
Eat with Santa
Santa Parades


Although the holidays can be amazing, they can also be exhausting. Sometimes just sitting and relaxing is one of the best ways to enjoy the season. And if you can be entertained all the while, I call that a win-win. Check out Huge List of Holiday Shows to find one that is right for your family.

Twas the Night Before Christmas – C.A.R.E. Ballet

One of my favorites is the Grand Rapids Ballet’s Nutcracker, complete with set design by Chris VanAllburg. This year the Civic Theatre is bringing us The Little Mermaid, which is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Kids will love cheering on Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen when C.A.R.E. ballet presents Twas the Night Before Christmas. A regional favorite is the Singing Christmas Tree in Muskegon, where the Mona Shores high school choir and orchestra form a human tree that belts out our favorite Christmas songs.

Blandford Nature Center

Our job is to invite our community to get their hands dirty in nature. This is accomplished through an active outdoor environmental lab, a team of passionate, knowledgeable people and a strong link from past to future promoting sustainability. By leasing more than 250 acres from the city of Grand Rapids with the Land Conservancy, we use both land and wildlife as the perfect backdrop to provide quality environmental education and community programs that engage people to actively use and interact with our environment and our connection to natural systems and empower people to embrace nature and sustainable practices.

1715 Hillburn Ave NW | Grand Rapids, MI 49504
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | 616-735-6240


If you like to share a truly memorable experience with your family and have a few in your house that enjoy the outdoors, explore the 250 acres of snowy outdoors at Blandford Nature Center, or check out our list of Living Nativities in the area.


Santa. Trains. Twinkling Lights. Parades. These five words inspire extreme excitement in all kids (and adults!). You’ll find all of these in our lists for Holiday Traditions this year.

Check out the Santa Sightings list for all the places you’ll find Santa around town.

Grand Rapids Santa Parade

Santa can also be found at many Holiday Parades and Tree Lighting Ceremonies. And in Grand Rapids on November 17, he’s the star of the ever popular Grand Rapids Santa Parade.

Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails

It’s Christmas time in the city and Santa Claus is coming to Wheelhouse! Join us December 15 & 16 for our third annual Brunch with Santa, featuring complimentary professional photos, a delicious scratch-made brunch buffet, drink specials, cookie decorating, kids activities & more!

$29.95 Adults, $14.95 kids. Seats fill up fast – reserve your spot at www.wheelhousegr.com!

67 Ottawa Ave SW | Grand Rapids, MI 49503
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | 616-226-3319


With all of the excitement of the season, sometimes a low key family night is in order. Load your car up with blankets and hot cocoa and visit some of the reader-recommended homes decked out in lights for the holiday season in our Holiday Lights Tour (updating soon!).

Have a little one who loves trains? Then come aboard, and check out list of Holiday Trains to see some amazing holiday train displays. While you’re out and about, don’t forget to pick out your Christmas tree at at local Christmas Tree Farm.

Woodland Mall

Santa’s Back! Make your child’s holiday wishes come true with a visit to Santa Claus in the Arctic Forest at Woodland Mall. November 10th – December 24th.

Fur babies have Christmas wishes too! Bring the whole family for Pet Photos every Monday starting November 12 through December 17th.

Reserve your time now and save time in line later!

3195 28th St SE | Grand Rapids, MI 49512



Giving kids an experience for Christmas instead of piles of toys is an idea that’s been taking off with parents. Honing your gift-buying down to just a couple of really meaningful gifts means that you have to be very intentional about which gifts you choose. Our list of over 50 holiday gift experience ideas for Grand Rapids families lays it all out for you so you can see what’s available and choose the perfect gift for each person in your family.


At BattleGR Tactical Games our goal is to provide a fun and entertaining experiences through strategic team on team games, bringing people and families together to create unforgettable memories. We have 8 different objective based games, like being in the middle of your own video game. We are the only tactical laser tag arena in West Michigan.

We provide a fun and memorable experience for birthday parties, bachelor parties, church groups, and schools activities, as well as corporate team building and events. We also can set up at your location. Dec 8th Laser Tag with Santa!

4735 Lake Michigan Dr NW Ste E | Grand Rapids, MI 49534
WEBSITE FACEBOOK | 803-385-0070


Get friends and relatives involved in this gifting approach, too! You can sign kids up for swim classes or dance lessons, bring the whole family to some of the fun attractions in the area, or take in a movie or play.

Catch Air

Catch Air is the perfection location to spend your holiday break! We would be happy to host a holiday party for your family, be a place to meet up with relatives and friends in town, or just for your own kids to get out some energy!

2978 28th St SE | Grand Rapids, MI 49512
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | 423-304-0808


Something Fun to Do With Kids All Season Long

If you are trying to make each day count this holiday season, this section is for you.

Anticipation is a hallmark of the holiday season. We’ve put together a CUTE and free printable Holiday Countdown Calendar (start whenever you want to) that gives you lots of “things to do” ideas.

You’ll also want to check out our 31 Days of December (updating soon!) to see a different activity each day that your family will enjoy. This list of Free Things to do in December in Grand Rapids (updating soon!) has ideas for affordable family fun.

If you are looking for something free and right in your neighborhood, check out your local library! Many branches hold different (and usually free) events to help you fully enjoy the holiday season. For more frugal fun, look at our big list of FREE holiday fun!

Kent District Library

Celebrate the season with us! We are hosting a variety of programs during holiday break that are sure to keep your kids happy, busy and entertained… and they might even learn something. The line-up includes KDL Lab Experience, Harry Potter Movie Marathon, Family Arcade, Wonderful Winter Animals and more. All programs are free! Visit www.kdl.org for dates, times and locations.

18 Branches throughout Kent County
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | 616-784-2007


Home with the kids this winter break and trying to get together a game plan of how you’ll spend your time? Check out our Winter Break Activity Guide, full of activities for everyone in your family. One that our founder Melody loves is the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex – it has an ice skating trail through the woods!

Muskegon Winter Sports Complex - Ice Skating Trail

Muskegon Winter Sports Complex – Ice Skating Trail


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No matter how you choose to celebrate the season, we hope it is full of joy and light.

GRAND RAPIDS Family Holiday Fun Guide