34 Exciting Things to Do in Grand Rapids With Kids

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Things to Do in Grand Rapids With Kids

Grand Rapids has so much fun squeezed into the city that it can be a little overwhelming to choose the perfect activity for you and your family.

But, have no fear! With this curated list of things to do in Grand Rapids with kids, you’ll have no trouble finding your next adventure.

Dive in and explore the most exciting activities Grand Rapids has to offer and do it like a local.

The Top Things to Do in Grand Rapids With Kids

Adventuring in Grand Rapids with kids is probably one of the easiest city experiences in the country.

It’s such a walkable city with little traffic. Each neighborhood has its own good eats, fun shops, and friendly people.

1 – Visit the Animals at John Ball Zoo

1300 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Lions and tigers and bears- and more! Every kid loves a trip to the zoo!

Not only can you enjoy the many animal exhibits, but John Ball Zoo in the city of Grand Rapids also offers classes, camps, Twilight Tours, Overnight Adventures, Animal Adventures and special events, like the Grand Rapids Lantern Festival, throughout the year.

John Ball Zoo is a favorite place to visit in Grand Rapids with Kids
The adorable wallabies got a new exhibit in 2022

It’s one of the best zoos around for hands-on experiences like camel rides, zip line, feeding budgies and even a petting zoo.

2 – Spend the Day at Frederik Meijer Gardens

1000 Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525

You’ll never get bored at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, located at the edge of the Grand Rapids city limits.

Covering 158 acres, Meijer Gardens has Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory, five indoor theme gardens, outdoor gardens, nature trails and boardwalk, sculptures and more!

Great Lakes Garden Frederik Meijer Gardens Grand Rapids
Great Lakes water play

And you definitely won’t want to miss the large, interactive Children’s Garden.

Find sculptures, a sand quarry, a massive Great Lakes water feature, tree houses, a log cabin, a butterfly labyrinth, a sensory garden, and even a child-sized beaver lodge.

3 – Dive in at a City Pool

MLK Pool
900 Fuller Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Briggs Park Pool
350 Knapp St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505

Richmond Park Pool
1101 Richmond St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

From mid-June to mid-August, city residents and guests can cool off at one of three mega pools in the city.

Boasting huge slides and shallow and deep ends, pools are big fun in the city and great thing to do in Grand Rapids with kids.

Richmond Park Pool in the City of Grand-Rapids, MI
Richmond Park Pool in Grand Rapids, MI

What they love even more is the price: historically for residents it’s just $1/kid and $3 for ages 18+ to take a dip! Non-residents rates are $3 for ages 17 and under, $5 for adults.

You can even get punch cards or season passes at all three pool locations.

4 – Play & Learn at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

11 Sheldon Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

With so much to do, your kids will have fun for hours at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.

Exhibits rotate on a monthly basis, but some favorites include Little GR, Amazing Dinosaurs, Just Fort Fun, Wee Discover, Just Playing Around and Bubbles.

Playing at the Spin Table at the Grand Rapids Children's Museum
Playing at the Spin Table at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

2024 Admission Details:
– Ages 1 – 64: $12
– Under 1: Free
– Active military, healthcare workers, first responders, and school faculty families: $10
– Family Night every Thursday from 4 – 7 PM: $6
Museums for All: (EBT or WIC card holders, up to 12 people per card): $1.75 per person

5 – Wave to Finny at Grand Rapids Public Museum

272 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Finny is a staple at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. The fin whale’s skeleton soars over the first floor as you enter the exhibits, welcoming visitors.

Finny waves and greets you upon arrival

But he’s not the only larger-than-life sight at GRPM. This amazing museum is also home to a massive antique steam engine that is also suspended in air near the second floor (and weighing over 30 tons!).

The planetarium can take you on space adventures, and their beloved vintage carousel is a must-do when visiting (closed until spring 2025).

All this and we haven’t even touched on their world-class exhibits. This place is well curated (and is free to kids who live in Kent County).

6 – Shop & Play the Iconic Brick Streets of Eastown

Wealthy St SE, between Diamond & Lake Dr SE

You know you’re in Eastown when the streets turn to brick. This eclectic neighborhood is a great spot to spend the afternoon in Grand Rapids with kids. We recommend you bring the stroller.

Start with coffee for the adults at either Scorpion Hearts Club or Squibb Coffee Bar.

Squibb Coffee and Wine Bar Front counter
Grab a hot or iced coffee at Squibb Coffee and Wine Bar

Next, head east on Wealthy and scope out fun eateries and shopping.

Don’t miss historic Wealthy Theatre on the right and plan to catch a retro movie or live show sometime.

Take a left on Lake Drive and treat the kids to a candy wonderland at Sticky Fingers (1503 Lake Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506).

Sticky Fingers in Eastown is candy heaven

Or if you want to bypass that ultimate sugar rush, keep walking down Lake and lunch at either Terra Bagel (best bagels in GR!) or That Early Bird.

Eastown has a lot of great food, and cute shops. Rebel is picture perfect, quirky home goods. Find gifts at Yours Truly or Gallery 154.

Give the kids a chance to run, climb and play with a pitstop at Wilcox Park (100 Youell Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506).

7 – Catch a Concert or Show at Van Andel Arena

130 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Van Andel Arena is a 10,834-seat multi-purpose venue offering numerous entertainment options.

From concerts to Grand Rapids Griffins hockey games or Rise Pro-Volleyball, to Disney on Ice and Monster Truck shows, you are guaranteed to find something to make your kids smile!

Disney on Ice regularly comes to Van Andel Arena

Many national touring shows make annual stops to the city of Grand Rapids.

8 – Explore Grand Rapids Public Library Downtown

111 Library Street NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Come for story time, play and learn in the kids area, and then check out some books to continue the fun at home!

things to do in the city of grand rapids: grand rapids public library
Play for hours at Grand Rapids Public Library Main Branch play area

Grand Rapids Public Library offers free story time, classes, activities and special events for all ages.

In total there are eight GRPL branches in the city, each offering something unique for anyone in Grand Rapids with kids – or without!

9 – Find Endless Outdoor Rec at Millennium Park

1415 Maynard Ave SW, Walker, MI 49534 

Millennium Park has over 1,400 acres of outdoor activity, including paved hiking/biking trails, playgrounds (including a ninja warrior course), boating, splash pad and beach.

Entrance to Millennium Park Splash Pad and Beach

While the beach and splash pad have a cost, most of the park is free, making it a very popular thing to do in Grand Rapids with kids.

Rent a paddle boat (for a fee) and go fishing on surrounding lakes at the park

Fly a kite, pack a picnic, or bring some bikes. Millennium Park is your own gigantic backyard, right here in the city.

10 – Visit the Famed Alexander Calder Sculpture

“The Calder” – La Grande Vitesse
351 Ottawa Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

A visit to downtown Grand Rapids is not complete without a stop at La Grande Vitesse, the massive red sculpture affectionately referred to as “The Calder” by locals.

Calder Plaza is home to La Grande Vitesse, an iconic sculpture in Grand Rapids, MI

As a part of the city since 1969, it serves as a distinctive landmark and symbol of the city of Grand Rapids.

11 – Walk the Blue Bridge and See all the Murals

GR Walking Loop + Mural Crawl 
Blue Bridge, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Have you really experienced Downtown GR if you haven’t taken the Blue Bridge walking loop?!

2.5-mile Blue Bridge Walking Route – click for details

Start anywhere on the river trail and it will loop you around the downtown area. We like to start near the blue bridge so we can experience it twice.

One of the best parts about this walk is the art you experience along the way.

Creston Mural - Downtown Grand Rapids
Mural in the Creston District, off of Plainfield Ave, listed on the Mural Crawl

If that whets your whistle for art in our city, start a bucket list with this comprehensive mural crawl throughout West Michigan.

12 – Take in River Views and Relax at Ah-Nab-Awen Park

220 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Ah-Nab-Awen Park is the perfect place to take in the beauty of the city of Grand Rapids.

things to do in the city of grand rapids: ah-nab-awen park
Ah-Nab-Awen Park runs along the Grand River near the Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum

The park runs along the Grand River with a nice paved sidewalk along the bank that’s perfect for strollers.

13 – Cheer on the Home Team, no matter the season

Van Andel Arena – 130 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
LMCU Ball Park – 4500 West River Dr, Comstock Park, MI 49321

Adults and kids of all ages will have a blast cheering on our Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team- so bring the whole family!

Cheer on our home team, the Grand Rapids Griffins

Not only is this AHL team super fun to watch, but the Griffins are regularly hosting themed nights like Star Wars night and offer family 4-pack deals.

In spring and summer, take the family out to a ball game with the West Michigan Whitecaps.

run the bases west michigan whitecaps
Run the bases after every Sunday game

Every Sunday, the first 1,000 kids (under 12) eat free. Round out your experience by running the bases after the game.

Have a volleyball fanatic at your house? Check out the Grand Rapids Rise Rise N’ Spike Kids Club for special events, merch, and more.

Your family will have a blast cheering for the Grand Rapids Gold – check our event calendar for specials like Space Jam Night.

14 – Climb the Big Red Button

220 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids 49504

As you stroll through Ah-Nab-Awen, be sure to stop at Lorrie’s Button (aka the Big Red Button).

things to do in the city of grand rapids: big red button

This is always a favorite thing to do in Grand Rapids with kids. You’ll find it at the north end of the park, towards Michigan Street.

15 – Marvel at our Local Talent at the Civic Theatre

30 Division Ave N, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

One of the largest community theaters in the nation, you’ll be awed at what our local talent brings to the stage.

From costumes to props to the incredible performers – shows at the Civic Theatre are tops.

Matilda at GR Civic Theatre

Find musicals and plays, including many family-friendly pieces, each season.

16 – Grab a Bite at Downtown Market

435 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Stop in at the Downtown Market for some delicious food at their many eateries. Kids especially dig Love’s Ice cream and boba from Rak Thai.

Once you’ve bought your treats, head upstairs to enjoy them, along with some fun overhead views of the bustling market or their incredible greenhouse.

Grand Rapids Downtown Market
Dine on the Rooftop Patio at the Downtown Market

Keep an eye on their calendar to find cooking classes and events throughout the year that are geared toward children, teens, families, and everyone in between.

17 – Get Lost in a Board Game at House Rules Lounge

404 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

With over 550 board games at House Rules Lounge, you’ll never run out of options of what to play next.

House Rules Board Game Lounge
Over 550 games to choose from at House Rules Board Game Lounge

This family-friendly lounge is equipped with a bar (also includes non-alcoholic drinks) and at just $5 per person, you can’t beat an afternoon of friendly competition!

18 – Ice Skate at Rosa Parks Circle

135 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Enjoy outdoor ice skating in the city of Grand Rapids at Rosa Parks Circle.

Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink
Ice Skating at Rosa Parks Circle

Skate rental is free with admission (just $2 for kids and $4 for adults) so grab the family and head to Open Skate.

19 – Watch Fish Climb the Fish Ladder

Fish Ladder Park
560 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

With free parking and bathrooms, Fish Ladder Park is a convenient place to drop by with the kids – and they will love watching the fish try to jump their way up the ladder or fisherman reeling in a big catch.

Fish are most active on the ladder in fall, but also make some debuts in the spring.

Grand Rapids Fish Ladder Park
Grand Rapids Fish Ladder Park

The ladder itself is something to marvel. Designed in 1974 by artist Joseph Kinnebrew, it is one of the many large-scale art pieces around downtown.

20 – Cider, Donuts and Farm Animals at Ed Dunneback Farm

3025 6 Mile Rd, Grand Rapids, MI 49544

Ed Dunneback and Girls Farm Market offers fun food and activities for the entire family in every season.

ed dunneback farms
Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market Main Barn

Pet the farm animals and enjoy live music on the patio during the summer months or catch a hay ride to the apple orchard in the fall.

Seasonal events are always happening around the farm, including an adult Easter egg hunt and the great pumpkin smash.

21 – Ride the Massive Tire Swing (Motu Viget)

Calder Plaza (NW Corner) – behind the Federal Building
110 Michigan St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The giant tire swing is actually a piece of interactive art named Motu Viget. It was created by Mark di Suvero in1977.

This cool downtown sculpture is all hands on for kids… (And hey, even adults, too!)

tire swing Grand Rapids
Swing for hours on the tire swing

To find the tire swing, walk past the Calder (#10) and go behind the Federal Building. You’ll be overlooking Monroe Ave.

22 – Ride the Lazy River at the Kroc Center

2500 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids, MI 49507

There’s tons of stuff to keep the kids busy at the Kroc Center!

The aquatics center features three 25-yard lap lanes, a 28-foot water slide, a lazy river, a 17-person hot tub and a “zero–depth” entry area with a play structure, as well as an outdoor splash pad during the summer months.

indoor pools near Grand Rapids
Aquatic Center at the Kroc Center features a Lazy River

And if you’re not looking to swim, check out the fitness center, gym, climbing wall, game room or outdoor campus.

23 – Play in the Marshlands at Huff Park

2399 Ball Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505

A northeast gem, Huff Park has a fun wooden playground and a beautiful new boardwalk that winds through woods and marsh areas teeming with wildlife.

The new nature-inspired playground at Huff Park

The city deer are plentiful here, making it easy for kids to spot one on the hike.

Huff Park trails include a lengthy boardwalk running through the middle of the park

Note: The trail entrance, parking lot, playground, and picnic area are located off of Aberdeen, not Ball as the address suggests.

Use “1435 Aberdeen NE” as the address in your map app. You should see a sign and a parking lot on the south side of the road.

24 – Explore the Gerald R. Ford Museum

303 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI  49504 

The Gerald R. Ford history museum captivates kids from the moment they see the astronaut sculpture outside. (The museum is on the grounds of Ah-Nab-Awen Park.)

Its fascinating exhibits bring the history of our 38th President, Gerald R. Ford, to life.

25 – Immerse Yourself at Grand Rapids Art Museum

101 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Art galleries, tours, programs… Grand Rapids Art Museum has so much to offer and they love being accessible to the next generation.

Explore the Grand Rapids Art Museum one exhibit at a time

You can enjoy it for FREE from 12 – 5 PM each Tuesday and on Thursday nights from 5 – 8 PM. Exhibitions are always changing and they offer lots of cool events. This is a place you can visit time and time again.

26 – Experience World-Renowned Art Prize

Downtown Grand Rapids

Did you know ArtPrize is the world’s largest art competition? And we get free front row seats!

Every fall we are home to this incredible cultural experience where nearly 200 Grand Rapids venues display art from artists around the world.

With so much variety, there are always larger-than-life exhibits or other enchanting art pieces that kids love.

charging forward artprize 2021
ArtPrize 2021 entry titled “Charging Forward”

It’s one of the most unique things to do in Grand Rapids with kids each September. Art-goers can expect to celebrate the same creativity they’ve come to know and love while exploring new parts of our amazing city.

27 – See What’s Fresh at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market

1145 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

This historic Fulton Street farmers market is always worth a stop.

You never know what you’ll find there–but you can count on it to be fresh and local.

Fresh and local fruits and vegetables can be found at the Farmer’s Market

It’s fun to let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try later. You can also find fresh flowers, handmade goods and plants for the garden.

28 – Get a Cityscape View at Lookout Park

Lookout Park in the Belknap Neighborhood
801 Fairview Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505

Find a spot on a swing – this is one of the best sunset spots in Grand Rapids.

Lookout Park Grand Rapids
Lookout Park in Grand Rapids is great for sunsets

You can see the whole town from Lookout Park.

For extra adventure, arrive by climbing the stairs connecting to the park from Division Ave.

Stairs on Division in the City of Grand Rapids

29 – Walk Wildlife Trails at Blandford Nature Center

1715 Hillburn Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Venture just north of Grand Rapids to Blandford Nature Center.

It boasts beautiful trails filled with wildlife and nature unlike anything you’ll find in the city. It’s the perfect adventure and outdoor experience.

map of Blandford Nature Center trails
Blandford Nature Center Trail Map

While there are many things to highlight, don’t miss out on the Timpson Tower overlooking the wetlands when you first arrive.

30 – Grab a Bite and Watch a Flight at GRR Airport

5500 44th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512

What better place to watch planes take off all day long than the Grand Rapids Airport viewing area itself!?

grand rapids summer activities - airport viewing park
Airport viewing area at GRR Airport

May – September, plane watchers can grab a bite from rotating food trucks on the first and third Wednesday of the month.

You’ll also find restrooms, drinking fountains, picnic tables, and more than 100 parking spaces that face the airfield for a prime viewing experience. Tune your car radio to 1650 AM to listen to air traffic controllers & pilots coordinating planes into and out of GRR.

The airport viewing park is open daily from dawn to dusk.

31 – Problem Solve at an Escape Room

The Great Escape – 233 Fulton St E #211, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Load up the kids and encourage them to put on their thinking caps at an escape room.

Grand Rapids Escape Room
Grand Rapids Escape room – Hacker Corruption Disruption Room

Make it a challenge – who can solve more clues, the kids or the adults? With different themes at each location, there will be a room to appeal to all.

Can you escape before time’s up?

Note: Most Escape Rooms require an adult supervisor of children under the age of 16. Prices vary by location and most locations require appointments.

32 – Cats and Coffee at Happy Cat Cafe, the Pur-fect Combo

447 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Grab a coffee or specialty drink and snuggle up with the cats of Happy Cat Cafe, downtown Grand Rapids.

Happy Cat Cafe
Happy Cat Cafe kitten

Every month the cafe holds cat-inspired events to bring fellow cat lovers together.

If you’re looking for a cuddly companion to bring home, the cats of the cafe are up for adoption.

33 – Aerial Adventures at TreeRunner Adventure Park

2121 Celebration Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Put your abilities to the test – all while suspended high above the ground – at TreeRunner Adventure Park.

TreeRunner Adventure Park Obstacle
Obstacle at TreeRunner Adventure Park

From pint-size preschoolers to full grown adults, the park offers beginner, intermediate and expert courses to its dare-defying adventurers.

Reservations are required

34 – Hidden Gems Walking Tour of Downtown Grand Rapids

Downtown Grand Rapids

Discover what Downtown Grand Rapids has to offer with a 2.5-mile walking tour of the city.

Walking Tour through Downtown Grand Rapids

There are countless hidden gems to discover along the way including fish ladder park, the skate park and a gorgeous view of the river. Bonus: each of these stops are free!

Map of Things to do in Grand Rapids with Kids

Find things to do with kids near me

What Did We Miss?

Grand Rapids is such a fun place to visit. With so many activities, it will keep you coming back time and time again.

Try a new activity each time and make a list of your favorites.

Did your favorite Grand Rapids gem make the list? Let us know!

2 thoughts on “34 Exciting Things to Do in Grand Rapids With Kids”

  1. Thank you for the list of 34 things to do with children in Grand Rapids. I am planning a trip next month with my grandsons. I will definitely be using many of the places on your list. This is so helpful for people coming from out of town.

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