Southeast Grand Rapids is booming. What used to be a more rural, quiet community has seen unprecedented growth in recent years.
Trails and parks are intermingled with play centers and shopping, giving us both indoor and outdoor entertainment options. You can find splash pads and ice cream, and ice skating and river fun.
Kentwood has grown into a popular hub for families who want to raise their kids in diverse communities and schools. With the 28th and 44th street corridors in their zip code, there’s no end to shopping, food and fun.
You’ll also see areas sprawling beyond Kentwood grow into popular hubs. Dutton/Cutlerville is a growing part of the M-6 area, where you can find more shopping and a Celebration! Cinema theater.
And if the urban sprawl is a little too busy for you, drive a little farther south to Caledonia, one of our area’s favorite small towns.
If you’re wondering just how much fun your kids can have in Southeast Grand Rapids, here’s your list!
What it’s Like to Live on Grand Rapids’ Southeast Side
See what these southeast Grand Rapids towns are known for, and what their vibe is like. Which one do you think your family would dig?
Life in Kentwood
Why people love to live here: Points go to Kentwood for diversity. Schools and neighborhoods celebrate many cultures and family types, and residents love that. It’s also a very affordable area, with housing options ranging from rentals to condos to homes. Families often start out in Kentwood for the affordability and end up staying for the great neighbors, proximity to GR, great shopping, and an active parks and rec program.
You should know: Most people identify Kentwood as the Woodland Mall area, but Kentwood is so huge and has such an unusual shape that chances are you’ve been in Kentwood and didn’t even realize it.
Known for: » Woodland and CenterPoint Malls » Horrocks » Active Parks & Rec department » Activity centers like Sky Zone, Amped Virtual Reality and Catch Air
Life in Caledonia
Why people love to live here: Locals love that they’ve found a modern-day small town. This tight-knit community has the quiet vibes of yesteryear, coupled with great updates and community hotspots like a brand new trails system, and exciting new developments in front of the library that include an amphitheater and dog park.
You should know: Caledonia is really into parades and celebrations. Celebrate Western Week, Harvest Festival, Memorial Day, Christmas and 4th of July with neighbors and friends in Caledonia.
While Legacy Stables (Karin’s Horse Connection) offers numerous horse riding opportunities and classes for all experience levels, the KinderPony Program is designed specifically for children ages 2-6.
A KinderPony ride includes 30 minutes of whatever your child would like to do, including riding your pony indoors or outdoors, learning to feed and care for your pony and meeting other animals on the farm.
05 – Out of This World Ice Cream at Underground Cookie Club
And for those wondering, yes, they have GF, vegan and dairy free options!
06 – Tube Down the Thornapple River
Hop in at the 84th Street Dam in Caledonia and float your way down the river! This part of the Thornapple River offers calm, shallow waters and beautiful scenery along the 3.1 mile stretch to where you can exit at 68th Street.
Woodland Mall’s play area got a facelift recently and kids dig it. Located near the food court, kids can explore a bi-level structure with slides, as well as climb on multiple colorful monster friends. There’s so much to do it’s hard to believe it’s free.
Following along a former railroad corridor and in close proximity to the Thornapple River, the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail is a multi-use recreational trail. Put the little ones in a stroller and take a walk, go rollerblading with your middle schooler or bring the whole family for a bike ride!
Remember how Kentwood likes food? Horrocks has a hand in that. This is a grocer like no other. In addition to their huge array of fresh goods, they make gourmet popcorn, offer items like loose leaf tea, and are a popular spot to catch lunch with a friend.
Horrocks is constantly introducing new items and exciting areas of the store. They have a huge greenhouse and garden center. You can buy clothes and home goods here. Their candy department is off the hook. You can find all the local beer and wine.
This is the place to take an out of town friend and wow them with how GR does food.
10 – Play Disc Golf or Just Run the Playgrounds at Jaycee Park
If it’s raining outside and your kids need to get out of the house, head to Catch Air! There is plenty there to keep them jumping, sliding, bouncing and playing.
Their equipment and floors are padded and they even have a separate Tiny Town for the little ones. Plus, if you need to leave for lunch or nap time, you can head back afterward- your stamp is good for the entire day!
Splash Pads are always a fun summer option for kids of all ages. If you’re in the Kentwood area, check out the splash pads at Veteran’s Park or Pinewood Park. And once the kids have cooled down there, they can head to the playground!
With its convenient location and trails that are shorter in length and easy to walk, Lepard Nature Preserve is the perfect place to bring the kids to enjoy the outdoors! There are even signs along the way to help point out and explain what nature you will observe.
Whether you’re craving ice cream or a hot dog and fries, be sure to check out Sweet Rewards Ice Cream. Family-owned and operated, this little ice cream shop is happy to serve its loyal customers and community. Walk up or drive thru, but make sure you don’t miss out!
23 – Watch the Parade at Dutton Days
Once a year in June, you can find food, fun, friends and more at Dutton Days. Enjoy a pancake breakfast, parade, vendors, food, music- and a free Kids Zone!
There’s so much to do at Orchard Hill Farm Market in Caledonia! Feed the animals in the petting zoo, hike the nature trail, visit the pumpkin patch, make your way through the corn maze, check out the bee hive and enjoy a hay ride. And don’t forget to visit the fresh produce and bakery while you’re there!
25 – Experience All the Fun at Cutlerville Days
Each summer, Cutlerville hosts a fantastic weekend of family-friendly fun! You can always find plenty to do including parades, races, carnival rides, food, train rides, ice cream, animals and fireworks!
KDL Branches 6260 92nd St SE, Caledonia, MI 49316 421 68th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49548 4950 Breton Rd SE, Kentwood, MI 49508
There are story times galore at the Caledonia Township, Gaines Township and Kentwood Branches of Kent District Library! Babytime, Toddler Time, Preschool Storytime, Family Storytime… even Rhyme Time Music and Movement!
27 – Bike, Scooter or Skate Caledonia’s Paved Trail System & Community Green
Caledonia recently added to their trails system, connecting many popular community spots, including the Caledonia’s KDL branch library, Lakeside Park, Paul Henry Trail and downtown Caledonia (which includes Ice Cream Express).
Locals are super excited about the new Community Green in front of the library. This renovated space includes pickle ball courts, an amphitheater, dog park and picnic areas, and is looking forward to splash pad expansion too.