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25 Fun & Best Things to Do in Grand Rapids, Michigan

25 Fun & Best Things to Do in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Located about 160 miles west of Detroit and 180 miles northeast of Chicago, Grand Rapids boasts countless museums, breweries, buildings with landmark architecture, and dozens of parks. Named “Beer City USA” by USA Today, this city in Kent County straddles the Grand River, 30 miles from Lake Michigan’s shores.

There are roughly a dozen private and public universities and colleges in Grand Rapids, and it is famous as the boyhood home of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States, and home to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. On the city’s outskirts, the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park has a tropical conservatory, multiple gardens, and an extraordinary art park with famous sculptures by artists Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore.  

But there is more to this mid-western city than just museums. Grand Rapids is a family-forward town with an immersive Children’s Museum, the renowned John Ball Zoo, and the ultimate scavenger hunt – the Kcymaerxthaere Plaques.

But what is Grand Rapids known for? It used to be famous for its plethora of regional furniture stores and manufacturers. Now nicknamed Beer City, Grand Rapids is known for its over 40 breweries and tap rooms.

Summer or fall, there are plenty of things to do. So, if you are still deciding what to do in this diverse city, here is a list of the best things to do in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
1. Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton Top Recommendation

The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel is a luxurious Michigan hotel that overlooks the beautiful Grand River. The hotel is connected to the Grand Rapids Convention Center, making it the perfect choice for business or leisure travelers. Every room in the hotel includes a flat-screen TV, and guests can enjoy dining at the on-site Ruth's Chris Steakhouse restaurant. The fitness center and on-site shops are ideal for those who want to stay active and explore during their stay. The hotel is also conveniently located near top attractions such as the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Van Andel Arena.

Residence Inn by Marriott Grand Rapids Downtown
2. Residence Inn by Marriott Grand Rapids Downtown

When you stay at the Residence Inn by Marriott Grand Rapids Downtown, you'll be in the heart of all the action. This hotel is just 300 meters from the Van Andel Arena, making it the perfect place to stay for a concert or event. It's also less than 1 km from DeVos Place and just a short walk from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. The Aquinas College is also nearby, making this hotel ideal for those visiting students or attending college events. The hotel has an indoor pool, fitness center and 24-hour front desk, so you can always find something to do.

Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown
3. Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown, an IHG Hotel

When it comes to finding the perfect place to stay during your next trip to Grand Rapids, look no further than the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown. This hotel offers everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable stay, including an indoor pool, on-site bar and grill, and free WiFi throughout the property. Guest rooms are spacious and well-appointed, with 55-inch flat-screen TVs, in-room movies, and comfortable work desks. You'll also appreciate the little extras like coffee makers and microwaves in select rooms. And if you're looking to stay active during your visit, the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown has you covered with a free fitness center and business center.

TLDR

  • Most significant landmark – The Basilica of Saint Adalbert
  • Best park –  Millennium Park
  • Best free activity – Fish Ladder Sculpture
  • Best activity for kids – Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
  • Best activity for adults – Frederik Meijer Gardens
  • Best food – The Chop House Grand Rapids
  • Best nightlife – Brewery Vivant
  • Best all-around accommodation – Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

Best & Fun Things to Do in Grand Rapids, Michigan

1. John Ball Zoo

Penguins at John Ball Zoo

Address: 1300 W Fulton Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Grand Rapids John Ball Zoo provides a chance to understand the individual continental habitats of some of the world’s most exotic creatures. The John Ball Zoo also houses The Van Andel Living Shores Aquarium, a40,000-gallon Kelp Forest tank home to fish and Magellanic penguins. A tidal pool exhibit encourages an understanding of reptiles and sea creatures.

The Idema Forest Realm habitat is a wooded nature walk accessible by foot or the unique Idema Funicular. The area includes a look at wolves, grizzly bears, and the magnificent Crawford Tigers of the Realm. Behind-the-scenes tours of Africa explore the daily needs of primates, especially chimpanzees, and give visitors a chance to feed spider monkeys.

Visitors can ride a camel or brush a goat. Walk the Red’s Hobby Farm Trail searching for Ring-tailed lemurs, howler monkeys, and parrots. 

The zoo’s many residents are African savannah lions, forest tigers, tree-loving sloths, and even a pair of bald eagles. With unforgettable experiences and educational programming, the John Ball Zoo is one of the best things to do with kids in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

See Related: Best & Fun Things to Do in Troy, Michigan

2. Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Address: 1000 East Beltline NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is an extraordinary 158-acre attraction and one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids. It offers both indoor and outdoor exhibits integrating nature and fine art. 

The peaceful green spaces showcase hundreds of flower species through over a dozen themed indoor gardens, including the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, a rock garden, and an English Perennial Garden. Trees and waterways surround outdoor sculptures amid winding paths.

At the same time, the five-story glass and steel Lena Meijer Conservatory provides a tropical setting with exotic plants. There is even a carnivorous plant house. 

The park also contains indoor sculpture galleries with works beginning with the second half of the 19th century. The collection includes masters such as Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, Degas, and Auguste Rodin. The outdoor sculpture gallery is ranked in the top 45 most-visited art museums worldwide, with more than 200 works by contemporary masters such as Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso.

Another component of this impressive attraction is the open-air amphitheater which hosts summer concerts, music clubs, and symphony performances. 

3. Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts Building
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 17 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA), is a catalyst for artistic expression and houses a wide variety of contemporary, visual, and performance artwork. 

Working as an auxiliary enterprise with the Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris State University, student and local artists have access to sales support, work studios, and educational programming. 

If interested in a tour of the museum, docents are available to explain the latest film, music, dance, and even literary trends. There are regular community events like film screenings, concerts, and lectures.

And the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts is the location of the annual Grand Rapids Holiday Artists Market. It is easily one of the top things to do in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

For a comfortable and affordable hotel option near the museum and other attractions, the Residence Inn by Marriott Grand Rapids is a few blocks away. Stop by the famous Wahlburgers, a short walk from the hotel, for a quick meal.

See Related: Most Beautiful & Best Vacations in the US

4. Fish Ladder Park 

Fish Ladder Park
Gpwitteveen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 606 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Artist Joseph Kinnebrew constructed the Fish Ladder Sculpture to assist salmon in migrating upstream. Kinnebrew installed the salmon ladder on the western banks of the Grand River Edges Trail West. This walking path connects the Fish Ladder Sculpture with the Indian Burial Mounds at Ah-Nab-Awen Park further south. 

This one-of-a-kind piece of eco-friendly artwork consists of a five-step concrete environmental ladder. The Fish Ladder is used by migrating Chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, and brown trout making their way upstream. Suckers, walleye, and smallmouth bass have also taken advantage of the artistic shortcut.

After cheering on the salmon on their way upstream, just a few blocks away is a great location to relax and enjoy yourself – the upscale eatery and whiskey bar, Butcher’s Union.

5. The Kcymaerxthaere Plaques

Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Do you like treasure hunts? If so, one of the coolest things to do in Grand Rapids is to seek out the Kcymaerxthaere Plaques. The plaques are part of Eames Demetrios’ art project. There are five in the Grand Rapids area, and hunting for each is one of the more unique local activities.

The marker plaques cover the planet. The unbelievable stories are fascinating and can be found in over 30 countries and on 140 sites. There is even one planned for installation on the Moon. Each unique creation honors a person, place, or event in the parallel Universe. 

The first plaque, entitled Forest’s Rest, is located on the banks of the Grand River and tells the tale of Forrest Bess. Then, Handfuls of Small Stones near the city’s old bridge is the creation story for an alternate world.

The third is titled Erailen Gwome in Fountain and Division and tells of political woe. It is close to the Kendall College of Art and Design.

The Grwostlaven at Hopcats Brewery plaque defines extra Kcymaerxthaere dimensions. The final art plaque in Grand Rapids is Waiting for the Grwost outside the Grand Valley State University.

Whether you believe it or not, searching for the Kcymaerxthaere Plaques is one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids and connects you with thousands of people worldwide who enjoy this fantastical journey.

See Related: Things to Do in Michigan & Best Places to Visit

6. Grand Rapids Public Museum

Grand Rapids Public Museum
image by multitrack is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address: 272 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

A great place to spend the afternoon is the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Its exhibits are related to the people and history of Michigan. The Museum houses over 250,000 regional artifacts. It is home to exhibits, classrooms, a planetarium, and the Meijer Theater.

Visitors can stroll down an 1890s Grand Rapids street recreation, explore a working 20th Century furniture factory, or ride an authentic 1928 Spillman Carousel on the banks of the Grand River. Several exhibits celebrate the Anishinabek people – indigenous people who settled in the Great Lakes region during The Great Migration from Canada. The Museum is also home to the Chaffee Planetarium, named after Apollo 1 astronaut and Grand Rapids native Roger B. Chaffee. 

If you need a snack on your visit, The Grand Rapids Public Museum Cafe overlooks the Grand River and downtown Grand Rapids. It is a great place to take a break with beverages, baked goods, and lunch items. There is even a gift shop for history-themed souvenirs. 

Suppose you have spent the afternoon exploring the city’s history and need a great room to rest and relax. In that case, the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown is located along the Grand River and across from the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

See Related: Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

7. Grand Rapids Symphony

Grand Rapids Symphony
image by TripAdvisor

Address: 300 Ottawa NW, Suite 100, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Grand Rapids Symphony is most certainly one of the better things to do in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for adults and children.

The Grand Rapids Symphony annually gives over 400 performances at the DeVos Performance Hall and St Cecilia’s Music Center. One of the primary duties of the Symphony is backing the city’s ballet and Opera Grand Rapids in 10 concert series and 16 educational programs.

The Symphony holds longstanding partnerships with its affiliates, the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony. Nationally recognized, the Grand Rapids Symphony has twice played at Carnegie Hall.

Whether you are lucky enough to catch the Symphony’s performance of Beethoven’s Fifth or Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, the Grand Rapids Symphony is one of the city’s top attractions. Before or after the performance, stop by Reserve Wine for a glass of wine, small plates, or a sweet treat. 

8. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meyer May House

Frank Lloyd Wright's Meyer May House
image by User:Jaydec is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Address: 450 Madison Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

One of the city’s architectural landmarks is the Meyer May House. Frank Lloyd Wright designed this exquisite home in 1908 for a wealthy businessman and his family. The original modest-sized Prairie-style home contained over 1008 leaded glass windows and skylights. 

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed over 1000 houses and commercial buildings throughout the United States. This modest home was Wright’s first significant commission in Michigan.

The Meyer May House was gradually altered over the years but purchased in 1985 and restored to its original form. It is filled with original and reproduction furniture.

The house is free for the 90-minute tour and open to the public. A film chronicles the history and complete restoration of the grounds and home. 

9. Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

Kids Playing inGrand Rapids Children's Museum
image by TripAdvisor

Address: 11 Sheldon Avenue NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The two-story Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a great way to spend the day with the kids learning and playing together. Interactive temporary and permanent exhibits range from playing with bubbles to exploring a uniquely redesigned VW Bug.

A hugely popular area is “Little Grand Rapids.” This miniature town has a bank, and a doctor’s office, where kids can play with money or x-ray their friends.

The Spin Zone, three-tiered tables, and specially designed toys safely teach about the power of centrifugal forces. Daily creative programming includes art, costume-making, storytelling, and an onsite cafe for everyone who needs snacks.

See Related: Best Road Trips in the USA

10. Fulton Street Farmers Market

Fulton Street Farmers Market
Gpwitteveen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 1145 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Fulton Street Farmers Market in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a must-visit. First opened in 1922, it is the city’s biggest and oldest Farmers Market.

Over 200 different vendors attend each Saturday to sell their products and homemade items. There are baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, syrup, honey, jams, dairy, and meats.

Food trucks are always on-site for street-styled food and hand-crafted pints. There are also festivals and regular local live music performances.

Your family pup deserves a break for patiently waiting while you shopped for dinner. Once you are done browsing the market, spend a couple of hours at Hillcrest Dog Park, just a few blocks from the Farmers Market.

11 Heritage Hill Historic District

Heritage Hill Historic District
image by TripAdvisor

Location: Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Near downtown, Grand Rapids’ Heritage Hill District was the city’s first neighborhood. Over 4,000 area houses date from 1844 to the 1920s and represent more than 60 architectural styles. These styles include Tudor, Colonial Revival, Chateauesque, Gothic and Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Federal designs.

Notable historic houses on-site include the red-bricked Queen Anne Voigt House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meyer May House, and the Gallup McCabe-Marlowe House – one of the oldest Victorian houses in the district.

The Heritage Hill Association has protected the historic neighborhood since 1968 and was listed in 1971 by the National Register of Historic Places. A self-guided walking tour of the area highlighting 37 of the most treasured historical homes is available through the Association.

12. Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens

Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens Trail
image by TripAdvisor

Address: 1750 East Beltline Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Calling all nature lovers! The Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens is one of the best places to visit in Grand Rapids. Crisscrossing tails and relaxing areas make it a good place for bird watching and wilderness hiking. In fact, there are 44 trailed acres, 13 ponds, a mature deciduous forest, terrestrial prairie, and vernal pools to explore.

The Calvin College Ecosystem is a teaching and research venue for Calvin College. This 100-acre region is home to more than 200 animal species, 179 bird species, and 260 native Michigan plant species. And the preserve’s Bunker Interpretive Center offers early childhood to adult education programs.

See Related: Best Unknown Places to Visit in the US

13. Downtown Market Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Downtown Market Building
image by TripAdvisor

Address:  435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Downtown Market Grand Rapids is a gourmet chef’s paradise. One stop with plenty of choices for a quick bite, full meal, or tasty treat.

Among the heartier options are Neapolitan-style pizzas, Vietnamese, and Mexican “street food.” A fresh fish market also features a catch-of-the-day and raw oyster bar menu.

At the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, shoppers can browse fresh produce, artisanal mixes of spice, cold-pressed olive oils, personal care items, baked goods, and honey. The market boasts the freshest meats, produce, and rare artisanal spices.

A gourmet coffee shop provides visitors with a quick pick-me-up or a few scoops of organic hand-crafted sweet treats. The downtown area location is also home to the Incubator Kitchen, with 4954-square feet of inclusive space for food start-ups seeking resources and support. 

The new Hampton Inn & Suites Grand Rapids Downtown is a stylish option and well-situated, just a 10-minute walk from the downtown attractions. 

14. Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum Building

Address: 303 Pearl Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Gerald R. Ford Museum is the official Presidential Museum for the Grand Rapids native. Permanent collections of childhood and college items sit intertwined with Ford’s political career. Eagle Scout memorabilia and his college football uniform complement 1976 presidential campaign souvenirs and unique gifts he received as president.

The Gerald R. Ford Museum is a fascinating look at 20th-century history. It is a top attraction in Grand Rapids that is well worth visiting. 

Numerous museum sections highlight the First Lady Betty Ford and the Ford children. And rotating exhibits from the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institution add historical context.

Near the Museum, at the other end of the Plaza, is the meeting place for one of the quirkier ways to explore Grand Rapids – The Grand Rapids Scavenger Hunt: Grand Hunt Round River City. Participants utilize a phone app to wander around the city seeking vital clues and snapping photos of cultural, historical, and artistic attractions. Some of the highlighted sites include Calder Plaza, Ah-Nab-Awen Park, and places on Rosa Parks Circle near the Van Andel Arena, where the Grand Rapids Griffins play hockey.

Across the river from the Museum is The Chop House Grand Rapids, an elegant fine-dining steak house. And after a good meal, Hilton’s iconic Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, a short stroll from the Gerald R. Ford Museum, offers contemporary rooms, an indoor pool, and five restaurants in a beautifully restored 1920s-era hotel. 

See Related: Best Unusual Museums in the US

15. ArtPrize

ArtPrize Michigan
image by rkramer62 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Location: Grand Rapids, MI

ArtPrize is a unique Urban Art Adventure that incorporates the entire city. It is an independent multi-media art competition for local and international artists that encourages individuality and creativity.

Artists compete for a total of $450,000 in prizes. Winners receive grants, direct gifts, and other resource compensation.

Each fall, roughly 200 venues open their doors for this fun event, including private homes, cafes, and restaurants. Visitors can also find the art competition in churches, museums, parks, and commercial buildings throughout Grand Rapids.

This 18-day international event is considered the largest street art competition in the world and is free to the public. In fact, public votes determine many of the competition’s winners. 

16. Brewery Vivant

Brewery Vivant
image by hanahwy /TripAdvisor

Address: 925 Cherry St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Brewery Vivant is among the top attractions in Grand Rapids for beer. Nestled in the trendy neighborhood of East Hill, this unique building was once a historic funeral parlor, renovated into an eclectic brewery and taproom. The brewery design is inspired by French and Belgian chapels, with high faux-vaulted ceilings and Gothic-styled stained glass creations. 

Free tours of the two-barrel brewery are available. Once finished with the brewing tour, it is on to the taproom. Guests can eat and drink in the chapel, the walloon room, or out back in the Bier Garden.

Brewery Vivant produces small-batch, European-inspired beers paired with outstanding locally sourced dishes. The menu ranges from the familiar to the sublime such as Duck Confit Nachos dressed with caramelized onions and tomato concasse.

But this is no ordinary pub grub. Whether you wander in for a pint or make an evening of your visit, Brewery Vivant is one of the best adult activities in Grand Rapids.

17. Blandford Nature Center

Blandford Nature Center Barn
image by Cklane90 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Address: 1715 Hillburn Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI

Blandford Nature Center is a wildlife rescue area that cares for injured animals. It sits on a 143-acre rural multi-environment property of fields, streams, and ponds. Some animals are rehabilitated and returned to the wild, while others, with injuries that jeopardized their survival, stay at the center as permanent residents. 

These animals are known as “wildlife ambassadors” and participate in presentations to educate the public. The center offers wildlife education programming for adults and children, encouraging interactions with the animals.

The Blandford Farm is also onsite. The Farm hosts open community gardens. This area is excellent for learning basic gardening, farming, and sustainable agriculture.

It is one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids with kids. The petting area includes resident sheep, goats, and chickens.

See Related: Essential Tips for Hiking with Kids

18. Great Lakes Pub Cruiser

Great Lakes Pub Cruiser
image by Kaitlin B/TripAdvisor

Address: 514 Bond St, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Great Lakes Pub Cruiser provides a unique perspective of Grand Rapids. A 16-person bike-and-bar mobile allows you to pedal between restaurants, attractions, and breweries. 

Each attraction is about 20 minutes of pedal power apart, and some routes are easier than others. There are eight different tour options, including the Downtown Loop that takes in the Heartside Loop and the Ionia Street Corridor of bars. There is even a Comedy Cruise with a single stop, the Comedy Project.

The entire tour lasts two to three hours. At the same time, the Great Lakes Pub Cruiser gives you the chance to sightsee.

The exercise will keep you healthy and interested in the next stop. Plus, there are some historical sites along the way.

19. La Grande Vitesse

La Grande Vitesse
image by Scottb211 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address: La Grande Vitesse, 525 Ottawa Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

La Grande Vitesse was installed in Calder Plaza in 1969. The name means “the great swiftness” in French.

This undulating piece of modern art was designed to symbolize the spirit of the arts in the city. Created by iconic American sculptor Alexander Calder, it was instrumental in Grand Rapids’ artistic renewal. This red-painted steel construct was the first project of the National Endowment for the Arts’ public art initiative.

Near La Grande Vitesse is a 1/23rd scale bronze model covered in Braille lettering explaining the sculpture and its importance to the city. This iconic mega landmark has been the centerpiece of festivals and the gathering place for food truck courts in the large plaza. La Grande Vitesse weighs 42 tons and is 54 feet long and 43 feet high, with a bright red color that can be easily seen from a distance!

20. Basilica of St. Adalbert

Basilica of St. Adalbert
image by rossograph is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Address: 654 Davis Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

The Basilica of Saint Adalbert is one of Grand Rapid’s architectural treasures. It is a stunning structure and an area landmark. This building is a must-see on any visit to Grand Rapids.

Facilitated by the Saint Adalbert Aid Society, the church was a request from the early Polish immigrant population of the area. First, a small wooden church was built in 1881. Then in 1907, the cornerstone of the current magnificent edifice was laid.

The church’s namesake, Adalbert of Prague, was known in Poland and Slovakia and was a Bohemian missionary who was martyred for trying to convert the Baltic Prussians to Christianity.

The Basilica of St. Adalbert was dedicated the honored rank of a minor basilica in 1980 and only one of few in the United States. As a working church, visitors are welcome around normal religious operations.

See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in the USA

21 Millennium Park

Millennium Park Aerial View
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 1415 Maynard Ave SW, Walker, MI 49534

Millennium Park is a vast urban park, five miles from downtown Grand Rapids. It is one of our nation’s largest city parks with sections in Grand Rapids, Walker, Wyoming, and Grandville. 

This West Michigan park has over 1,400 acres of rolling, reclaimed terrain and a 6-acre beach. The beach borders a 100-acre lake with four miles of shoreline.

VanAndel Beach House provides changing facilities and rental facilities, and the DeVos Family Boathouse provides kayaks, paddle boats, and even stand-up paddle boards for rent. There is also the onshore Mehney Splashpad accommodating younger beachgoers. 

The park is perfect for a day at the beach or a family picnic. This fantastic city oasis provides over 18 miles of hiking and biking trails.

The park’s trails connect with the Fred Meijer Millennium Trail Network and the Kent Trails for an expansive Grand Rapids hiking experience. Motorized traffic and horses are not allowed on the trails, but all human-power devices are welcome.

While swimming and the park are closed during the winter, the trails are open. Dependent on weather severity, some routes are groomed for cross-country skiing, fat tire biking, and hiking.

These trails are weather dependent. A loop around the recreation core is plowed for walkers. 

22. John Collins Park

John Collins Park
Gpwitteveen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 650 Lakeside Dr., SE, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506

John Collins Park on Reeds Lake is a beloved community destination in the western part of the city known as East Grand Rapids, Michigan. Situated between the Grand Rapids Yacht Club and Rose’s Restaurant, it is within easy walking distance of Gaslight Village. 

The park is a well-loved lakefront, home to a boat launch and a crew team boathouse, and named for John A. Collins, mayor of East Grand Rapids, for over 2o years. This beautiful green space is home to many community events, including concerts and outdoor movies.

The three acres of beaches and picnic areas are open year-round. The garden-like paths are even dog-on-a-leash friendly and highlight many wildflower species that are common in Western Michigan.

And the 265-acre freshwater lake is a favorite for area anglers looking to catch northern pike, largemouth bass, or bluegillon the park’s designated fishing dock. There are also extensive hiking paths on Reeds Lake Trail north to Hodenpyl Woods and a popular four-mile bike route around the lake.

23. Craig’s Cruisers

Craig's Cruisers
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 5730 Clyde Park Avenue, SW, Wyoming, MI 49509

Craig’s Cruisers is a family-centric amusement park a short seven miles south of downtown Grand Rapids in Wyoming. A little bit for everyone, Craig’s Cruisers is a sprawling 120,000 square feet of fantastic indoor fun. Arcade-styled games and laser tag are just a couple of the park’s best activities.

There are four outdoor attractions, including a fully immersive trampoline hall. Parkgoers can play miniature golf, ride the bumper boats, and compete indoors and outdoors on the go-kart tracks.

The zip line passes high above the park. All this fun certainly works up an appetite, and Craig’s has you covered. The pizza-centric menu also offers salads and pasta, ensuring something for everyone.

See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends

24. Riverside Park

Riverside Park Scenery

Address: 2001 Monroe Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505

Riverside Park sits along the eastern bank of the Grand River in the city’s center. This unique park is well-loved for its numerous nature trails, including hiking, rollerblading, biking, cross-country skiing, and bird-watching. Kayakers appreciate the easy river access. 

Anglers love the spot for a little in-city day-fishing. The park has Little League fields and houses the Riverside Park Disc Golf course.

The Riverside Park North Trailhead of the White Pine Trail is at the park’s northern tip. This Kent County section of the statewide trail covers 17.5 miles from Riverside Park to Cedar Springs and makes for a pleasant two-hour ride.

25. Grand Rapids Golf Courses

Golf Course in Grand Rapid

Address: 7211 48th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512

Over 14 golf courses in the Grand Rapids area take advantage of the exquisite native scenery and untouched wetlands. Most are situated north and west of the downtown area. One popular course is a municipal course, the Indian Trails Golf Course. 

Indian Trails Golf Course was established as a West Michigan public golf course in 1928. A recent redesign included a 25-acre driving range and West Michigan’s largest short-game practice area.

Traditional play can be 9-hole or 18-hole with cart and club rentals. The golf club also offers private lessons for beginners or those looking to improve their game, and several leagues run throughout the year.

Another favorite of Michigan golfers is Thornapple Pointe. The unique course offers panoramic views of the breathtaking Thornapple River east of Grand Rapids. 

Over 7,000 feet of river frontage provide a backdrop for this sprawling 18-hole course. Fairways are lined with impeccably groomed bentgrass and are moderately challenging, with elevated tees and hazards, although adaptable for all levels of play.

There are also 39 golf courses within 20 miles of Grand Rapids, including 31 public, one municipal, and seven private courses, making Grand Rapids a golfer’s heaven and haven.

FAQ

What are the best tourist attractions in Grand Rapids, Michigan?

The John Ball Zoo is one of the best tourist attractions in Grand Rapids. It is home to exotic animals, primates, big cats, and endangered grassland animals.

It also houses The Van Andel Living Shores Aquarium, a 40,000-gallon Kelp Forest tank highlighting various marine species. For adults, the Great Lakes Pub Cruiser provides a unique perspective of Grand Rapids, with a lot of fun and a little bit of exercise.

What is the best thing to do with kids in Grand Rapids, Michigan?

Kids have their choice of fun in Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum will keep them playing and learning for hours with interactive exhibits and hands-on displays. Or they can learn about the Mound Builders and the Anishinabek – indigenous people of the Great Lakes region – in a day exploring the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

What are some things to do in Grand Rapids, Michigan, when it’s raining?

Finding fun things to do in Grand Rapids when it’s raining is easy. Wander through the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art and join a docent-led tour explaining the latest film, music, dance, and even literature trends.

Or, if you prefer something out-of-this-world, discover the Universe as you attend a spectacular show at the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

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