Things to Do in the City of Grand Rapids With Kids
I may be a little biased because it’s where I live, but I love downtown Grand Rapids. Our wonderful mini metropolis has so much fun squeezed into the city that families can come back again and again and experience something new each time.
How do I know there’s always something new? Because I’ve been taking my kids downtown for over eight years and there are five things on this list that I still haven’t done with them yet.
Tell us, what’s your favorite City of Grand Rapid activity? Did it make our list?
Summer Explorers offers a fun school-age day camp with a themed curriculum to keep your child’s mind active during the summer. We provide outdoor and indoor activities with plenty of exciting group games and field trips to local attractions.
THINGS TO DO
The Top 22 Things to Do With Kids in the City of Grand Rapids
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 throughout the year for even more hands-on learning.
02 – Play and Learn at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
With so much to do, your kids will have fun for hours. Exhibits rotate on a monthly basis, but some favorites include Little GR, Amazing Dinosaurs, Just Fort Fun, Wee Discover, Just Playing Around and Bubbles. Come on Thursday Family Night (every Thursday from 5 PM – 8 PM) for $3 admission!
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. Such a fun way to spend some time in the city of Grand Rapids!
Van Andel Arena is a 10,834-seat multi-purpose arena offering numerous entertainment options throughout the year. From concerts and hockey games to Disney on Ice and monster truck shows, you are guaranteed to find something to make your kids smile! Many shows make annual stops to the city of Grand Rapids.
05 – Settle in for a Story at Grand Rapids Public Library – Main Branch
Come for story time, play and learn in the kids area, and then check out some books to continue the fun at home! The Grand Rapids Public Library offers story time, classes, activities and special events for ALL ages.
06 – Take in a Musical or a Show at the Civic Theatre
A city of Grand Rapids icon, the Civic Theatre presents plays year round for all ages. See what’s playing and grab some tickets for the family. Many shows have daytime matinee performances for younger audience members.
07 – Spin on the Grand Rapids Public Museum Carousel
Your kids will love to take a magical ride on Grand Rapids Public Museum carousel. The city of Grand Rapids’ beloved carousel is made up of 44 hand-carved, elaborately jeweled wooden horses, two chariots and six menagerie animals.
11 – Splash Around at the Kroc Center
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. And if you’re not looking to swim, check out the fitness center, gym, climbing wall, game room or outdoor campus.
Stop in at the Downtown Market for some delicious food at their many eateries. 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.
Ah-Nab-Awen Park is the perfect place to take in the beauty of the city of Grand Rapids. The park runs along the Grand River with a nice paved sidewalk along the bank that’s perfect for strollers. And the kids will love to stop and enjoy the fountain in front of the Gerald R. Ford Museum.
10 – Climb on the Big Red Button
As you stroll through Ah-Nab-Awen, be sure to stop at the Big Red Button- always a favorite for kids!
Enjoy some outdoor ice skating right in the city of Grand Rapids at Rosa Parks Circle. Skate rental is free with admission, so grab the family and head to Open Skate.
12 – Grab a Sweet Treat at Furniture City Creamery
Furniture City Creamery 958 Cherry Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506 Gallons of ice cream made from scratch each week with ingredients from local Michigan businesses, a rotation of over 65 flavors, served up in an adorable local ice cream shop. What’s not to love? Treat yourself!
13- Cool off at the Cherry Park Splash Pad
Cherry Park 725 Cherry Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Cherry Park now includes a splash pad- the perfect way to let the kids cool off and have fun on a hot summer day!
14 – Learn and Discover at Frederik Meijer Gardens
You’ll never get bored at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, located at the edge of the city of Grand Rapids 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! And you definitely won’t want to miss the interactive Children’s Garden which includes sculptures, a sand quarry, a Great Lakes water feature, tree houses, a log cabin, a butterfly labyrinth, a sense garden and even a child-sized beaver lodge.
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. As a part of the city since 1969, it serves as a distinctive landmark and symbol of the city of Grand Rapids.
16 – Hop on the Tire Swing
The lawn behind the Gerald R. Ford building and Calder Plaza
This cool downtown sculpture is all hands on for kids… (and hey, even adults, too!)
Millennium Park boasts over 1,400 acres of outdoor activity for families, including paved hiking/biking trails, playgrounds, boating, splash pad and beach. While the beach and splash pad have a cost, most of the park is free. Fly a kite, pack a picnic, or bring some bikes. Millennium Park is your own gigantic backyard, right here in the city of Grand Rapids.
Art galleries, tours, programs… Grand Rapids Art Museum has so much to offer. You can enjoy it for FREE all day on Tuesdays and on Thursday nights from 5-9 PM! Be sure to come back on Saturdays from 1-4 PM for Drop-In Studio, where your child can take place in hands-on art making activities. It’s free with admission.
21 – Explore ArtPrize
Did you know ArtPrizeis the world’s largest art competition and takes place in the city of Grand Rapids? Nearly 200 Grand Rapids venues display art from artists around the world- and we get free front row seats! The event happens biennially (every other year) with the next one scheduled for the fall of 2020, but we’ll have fun art exhibitions in the off years, too.
22 – See What’s Fresh at the Fulton Street Farmers Market
This iconic 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. It’s fun to let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try later. Still need convincing? Check out our 5 favorite things about the Fulton Street Farmers Market.
Keri is a mom of four who enjoys "pizza and movie nights" at home with the family. When she is not managing ads for grkids, chauffeuring children, or trying out a new crockpot recipe, you can probably find her attempting to enjoy a cup of coffee before it gets cold.