26 Best Things to Do in Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Grand Rapids

Situated on the Grand River, Grand Rapids takes its name from the fast-flowing waters that used to carry logs for the local furniture manufacturer. But there’s a lot more to this bustling Michigan city than being the office furniture capital of the United States.

Located 25 miles east of Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids offers a diverse selection of historic, artistic, and cultural attractions. World-class museums and galleries display eclectic and dynamic works. There are plenty of parks and greenspace to explore, charming riverside walks, fun and games for sports fans, and engaging curiosities to keep children content.

Known historically as “Furniture City,” USA Today recently dubbed Grand Rapids as “Beer City,” given that it is a haven for grain lovers. There are over 40 craft breweries in and around the town, which ensures it might even rival Milwaukee when it comes to producing (and consuming) the suds.

Home to some of the best things to see and do in Michigan, Grand Rapids is well worth a stop if you’re in this neck of the woods. The Ford International Airport will likely be your entry and exit point if you’re coming from further afield. Hit up Skyscanner for cheap flights from where you are.

Downtown Grand Rapids Michigan view from the Grand River
Suzanne Tucker / Adobe Stock

But before you arrive, you can use this handy guide to the best things to do in Grand Rapids. You’ll also find a selection of places to stay and eat throughout and other top tips for visiting this part of the Great Lakes State.

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – The Grand River
  • Park to visit –  Millennium Park
  • Free activity – Free museum days
  • Activity for kids – Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
  • Activity for adults – Frederik Meijer Gardens
  • Place to eat – The Chop House
  • Nightlife – Brewery Vivant
  • Place to stay – Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

Things to Do in Grand Rapids, Michigan

1. Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

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

I’m a big fan of nature and art, so visiting the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park was a no-brainer. It’s an extraordinary 158-acre attraction with indoor and outdoor exhibits and is one of the most popular things to do in Grand Rapids.

Considered one of the finest sculpture parks in the United States, Frederik Meijer Gardens boasts a collection that includes masters such as Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, Henry Moore, and Auguste Rodin. The works are connected via winding walkways through the park’s beautiful natural surroundings.

Aside from famous sculptures, the park has a stunning five-story tropical glass house, an eight-acre Japanese garden, and plenty of nature trails to explore throughout.

There’s an on-site gift shop with handmade gifts for that special someone. And if you’re feeling peckish, the artisan cafe features a breathtaking ceiling sculpture by world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.

A summer concert schedule is well attended in the warmer months, but a year-round program of events ensures there’s always something to see and do. A must for artsy plant lovers, The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is not to be missed when you visit Grand Rapids. Stay at the Country Inn & Suites, which is just down the road.

2. Grand Rapids Public Museum

Aerial view of Grand Rapids Public Museum
Grand Rapids Public Museum / Facebook

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

Ideal for a rainy day, a great place to spend the afternoon is the Grand Rapids Public Museum. A science and history center, its eclectic exhibits are related to the people and history of Michigan, with over 250,000 regional artifacts across three floors.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved museums that feature life-size historic recreations, and this one did not disappoint. Visitors can stroll down an 1890s Grand Rapids street, 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, an 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. 

One of the best Grand Rapids attractions for families, the Grand Rapids Public Museum offers a fascinating insight into this corner of the Midwest. For a place to stay, the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown is ideally located next door.

See Related: Family-Friendly Spring Break Ideas

3. Grand Rapids Art Museum

Grand Rapids Art Museum building exterior
Grand Rapids Art Museum / Facebook

Address: 101 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Local art galleries and history museums will always be on my radar whenever I visit a new town or city. Affectionately known as GRAM, The Grand Rapids Art Museum is one such location, housing over 5,000 works in a modern building in the city center.

The GRAM’s collection includes a wide range of pieces from the Renaissance to the present, specializing in US and European artworks. Founded in 1910, it has showcased paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture for over 100 years.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum is refreshed every quarter with rotating exhibits. This ensures the experience never gets stale, and you can find something new every time you visit. Notable works include pieces from Picasso, Rembrandt, Richard Diebenkorn, and Andy Warhol.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum is one of the best free things to do in Grand Rapids if you’re visiting on Tuesdays or Thursdays when there is no charge to enter. The Rosa Parks Circle Park is opposite the museum entrance and features seasonal events such as ice skating and outdoor concerts.

4. The River Edge Trail

Grand River and Grand Rapids  Skyline
MeganKobe / Adobe Stock

I’ve always felt disappointed and sad for towns and cities that don’t make use of their waterfront for recreational purposes. Thankfully, Grand Rapids isn’t one of them, and walking the River Edge Trail is just one of the many activities you can do by the water.

Part of a larger 5.4-mile route, this is a paved path that runs for around 2.2 miles in downtown Grand Rapids. It incorporates some of the city’s key attractions and makes for a charming walk to help you get your bearings.

There are dedicated bike lanes if you’d prefer to tackle the route on two wheels, and new paths and trails are being introduced and improved all the time. Fulton Street to the 6th Street bridge is the most popular section for visitors and locals alike.

Alternatively, you can come at night and view the city from a different perspective. This Grand Rapids Haunted Walking Tour meets at the Riverwalk Promenade, and it’s a chilling way to explore and learn about the town’s sinister side if you dare!

5. Fulton Street Farmers Market

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

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

Fulton Street Farmers Market has been serving the Grand Rapids community since 1922. Scheduled across two, six-month seasons, it takes place on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday during the summer months. And on Saturdays from November to April.

Located in downtown Grand Rapids, it is the city’s largest, oldest, and most popular market. Over 200 vendors attend to sell their products and homemade items. The market still operates at the location it was established, making it one of the key historic sites in Grand Rapids.

There are baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, syrup, honey, jams, dairy, and meats. Food trucks are always on-site for street-style food and local ales.

There are also festivals and regular live music performances held throughout the calendar. A roof was added in 2012, so the market is held come rain or shine.

Fulton Street Farmers Market is a Grand Rapids institution, and it’s not to be missed if you want to rub shoulders with the locals and sample some Michigan Midwest delights. And if you’ve brought the family pup along, when you’re done shopping head to Hillcrest Dog Park, which is just a few blocks away.

6. John Ball Zoo

Penguins at John Ball Zoo
Michael Deemer / Adobe Stock

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

Located in John Ball Park on the west side of Grand Rapids you’ll find John Ball Zoo. This seasonal zoological garden provides a chance to understand the continental habitats of some of the world’s most exotic creatures.

The zoo is packed with interesting exhibits, including the Van Andel Living Shores Aquarium, a 40,000-gallon Kelp Forest tank home to fish and Magellanic penguins. The Idema Forest Realm habitat offers a look at wolves, grizzly bears, and the magnificent Crawford Tigers of the Realm.

Behind-the-scene tours explore the daily needs of primates, especially chimpanzees, and give visitors a chance to feed spider monkeys. There are plenty of up-close-and-personal experiences to be had, too.

You 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 include African savannah lions, forest tigers, tree-loving sloths, and even a pair of bald eagles. With unforgettable encounters and educational programming, the John Ball Zoo is one of the best things to do with kids in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

7. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meyer May House

Frank Lloyd Wright's Meyer May House
User:Jaydec / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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

One can never get enough of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterful work. The world’s most famous architect designed over 1000 houses and commercial buildings throughout the United States. Meyer May House was his first significant commission in Michigan.

One of the city’s architectural landmarks, the house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and constructed in 1908 for a wealthy businessman and his family. It is regarded as a perfect example of Wright’s Prairie School era, with the original home containing over 1008 leaded glass windows and skylights.

The Meyer May House was gradually altered over the years but purchased in 1985 and fully restored to its former glory. Filled with original and reproduction furniture, you can explore the house and grounds, and there’s a film chronicling its history and restoration.

The house is open to the public and free to tour. However, since FLW continues to be extremely popular, I highly recommend you make a reservation in advance on the Meyer May House website. And for a delightful place to stay nearby, The Parsonage Inn is a truly charming B&B on the other side of the road.

8. Fish Ladder Park 

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

You’ve heard of trainspotters? Well, get ready for fish spotters. This truly unique Grand Rapids experience is a surprisingly serene way to pass the time. The brainchild of artist Joseph Kinnebrew, Fish Ladder Park features exactly that—a migrating fish ladder to help fish continue the circle of life.

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, brown trout, and carp, all vying to make their way upstream. Suckers, walleye, and smallmouth bass have also taken advantage of the artistic shortcut.

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. 

Cheering on the leaping salmon is thirsty work, and so after you’re done encouraging fish, head to Butcher’s Union for some refreshments. The upscale eatery and whiskey bar is one of the best gastropubs in Grand Rapids.

9. Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum Building

Address: 303 Pearl Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, former President Gerald R. Ford was raised in Grand Rapids. As the site of Ford’s childhood stomping ground, it’s fitting that this is where you’ll find the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum.

Unelected by the American people, Ford took the reigns following Nixon’s Watergate disgrace, and you can learn all about his subsequent tenure here. The museum offers a fascinating look at 20th-century history through the life and times of the United States’ 38th Commander-in-Chief.

Permanent collections of childhood and college items intertwine Ford’s political career. Several sections highlight the First Lady Betty Ford and the Ford children. Rotating exhibits from the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institution add historical context.

On the grounds of the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum is Gerald and Betty’s final resting place, in a picturesque setting next to the Grand River. The Ah Nab Awen Park with Indian burial mounds, art, and sculpture is also worth exploring while you’re there.

See Related: Best Unusual Museums in the US

10. The Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra

Grand Rapids Symphony Performance in Michigan
Grand Rapids Symphony / Facebook

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

For classical music lovers, catching a concert at the Devos Performance Hall is one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra gives over 400 performances annually at the hall and St Cecilia’s Music Center.

Established in 1930, this community-backed orchestra is a well-loved group of talented musicians and passionate arts practitioners. One of the primary duties of the orchestra is backing Grand Rapids Ballet and Opera Grand Rapids. Visiting Grand Rapids might give you a surprising cultural fix!

The GRSO holds longstanding partnerships with its affiliates, the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony. Nationally recognized, the orchestra has twice played at Carnegie Hall and has produced over a dozen professional recordings.

Whether you are lucky enough to catch a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth, Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, or a live rendition of the Godfather soundtrack, a GRSO concert is one of the city’s top attractions. Be sure to check out their latest program of events and pick up tickets here.

11. Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

Kids Playing inGrand Rapids Children's Museum

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

If you have kids, the two-story Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a great way to spend the day learning and playing with them. Since opening in 1997, the museum has been visited by over three million people, with around 200,000 guests a year.

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 children can play with money or X-ray their friends.

The Spin Zone, three-tiered tables, and specially designed toys teach about the power of centrifugal forces. Daily creative programming includes art, costume-making, storytelling, and an on-site cafe for anyone who needs a snack.

The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is sure to be a hit with the little ones, but don’t kid yourself – you’re going to enjoy it just as much as they are! If your family still has boundless energy, why not try this Grand Rapids Scavenger Hunt? It’s a great way to have fun and explore the city simultaneously.

See Related: The Best Travel Insurance for Children

12. Heritage Hill Historic District

Heritage Hill Historic District
pfibjo / TripAdvisor

Location: Grand Rapids, MI 49503

History and architecture collide in this fascinating area of the city. Located close to downtown, Grand Rapids’ Heritage Hill District was the city’s first neighborhood. Here, you’ll discover over 4,000 houses built between 1843 and the 1920s, representing more than 60 architectural styles.

Styles include Tudor, Colonial Revival, Chateauesque, Gothic and Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Federal designs. This district covers around one square mile and was once the residential area of the city’s early movers and shakers.

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. In May each year, some of the homes throw open their doors for you to explore inside.

The Heritage Hill Association has protected this historic neighborhood since 1968 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Self-guided walking tours of the area, highlighting 37 of the most treasured historic homes, are available through the association. Visit their website for more information.

13. The Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens

Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens Trail
Management / 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. 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.

The preserve’s Bunker Interpretive Center offers early childhood to adult education programs. Crisscrossing tails and relaxing areas make it a good place for bird watching and wilderness hiking. Trails are well signposted and maintained, and the hikes are suitable for walkers of all ages and abilities.

The trails are open every day from 7 a.m. until dusk, while the center is open from Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Note that dogs are not permitted on the trails, which are for hikers only.

14. The Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Grand Rapids Downtown Market Building
Management / TripAdvisor

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

Step into the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, and all your senses will tingle – especially if you’re hungry! The market is an eclectic food hall that offers international cuisine choices for a quick bite, full meal, or tasty treat.

Sample Neapolitan-style pizzas, Vietnamese Pho, and Mexican street food, among many others. There’s a gourmet coffee shop for a quick pick-me-up or scoops of organic hand-crafted ice cream. Butchers, bakers, and fishmongers offer the freshest goods, and the fish market also features a catch-of-the-day and raw oyster bar menu.

Open seven days a week, shoppers can browse fresh produce, artisanal spices, cold-pressed olive oils, personal care items, baked goods, and honey. It reminded me of a similar food court I visited in Indianapolis. Cities that can boast these multi-national eating hubs are doing things right.

As a base to explore all of the best sights in Grand Rapids proper, Leonard at Logan House is a charming bed and breakfast, a pleasant 20-minute walk from the Downtown Market Grand Rapids.

15. The ArtPrize Festival

Crowd in ArtPrize Festival
ArtPrize / Facebook

Address: Citywide, annually

Not many cities showcase the world’s most-attended public art festival, but Grand Rapids can claim such a boast. Every September, ArtPrize is an independent multi-media art competition for local and international artists that encourages individuality and creativity.

This 18-day international event is considered the largest street art competition in the world and is free to the public. Public votes determine many of the competition’s winners, with artists competing for $450,000 in prizes. Winners receive grants, direct gifts, and other resource compensation for their skills and passion.

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

If you are planning to attend, make sure you book well in advance, as this is a hugely popular festival that attracts people from all over the world. Try the Canopy Hotel, which displays its art collection in super-stylish surroundings. They even offer free bikes to explore the city from the comfort of a saddle.

16. Brewery Vivant

Brewery Vivant
image by hanahwy /TripAdvisor

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

Nestled in the trendy neighborhood of East Hill, this unique building was once a historic funeral parlor, now renovated into an eclectic brewery and taproom. In “Beer City USA,” Brewery Vivant is among the top attractions in Grand Rapids and a must for craft brew fans.

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, which produces small-batch, European-inspired beers paired with outstanding locally sourced dishes, are available.

Guests can eat and drink in the chapel, the Walloon room, or the Bier Garden. The menu ranges from the familiar to the sublime, with delights like the 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. Stay at this delightful penthouse loft so you don’t have far to go when the session ends.

17. Blandford Nature Center

Blandford Nature Center Barn
Cklane90 / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 1715 Hillburn Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI

If you have any animal lovers in your family, then a trip to the Blandford Nature Center should be on your list of things to do in Grand Rapids. This wildlife rescue area cares for injured animals and offers educational programming for adults and children interested in the natural world.

The center sits on a 143-acre rural multi-environment property of fields, streams, and ponds. The Blandford Farm is also on-site, which hosts open community gardens for learning basic gardening, farming, and sustainable agriculture. The petting area includes resident sheep, goats, and chickens.

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.

There are hiking trails to explore, natural education and play areas, and many other popular points of interest. Open Monday to Saturday, the Blandford Nature Center is one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids with kids. Note that some wildlife experiences need to be booked in advance.

See Related: Essential Tips for Hiking with Kids

18. Great Lakes Pub Cruiser

Great Lakes Pub Cruiser
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 mobile bike-and-bar allows you to get the party started. Make new friends and enjoy some quality beverages as you 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 a cruise with a single stop at the Comedy Project, a stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy club.

Participants must be over 21, and it’s a great way to meet strangers or bond and team-build with your group. The company also offers a booze cruise option on the Grand River if you prefer something less energetic.

Each tour lasts two to three hours. At the same time, the Great Lakes Pub Cruiser allows you to see the sights, while the exercise will help trim those calories. Who said drinking alcohol wasn’t healthy?!

19. La Grande Vitesse

La Grande Vitesse
Scottb211 / Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

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

Created by iconic American sculptor Alexander Calder, La Grande Vitesse was installed in Calder Plaza in 1969. This red-painted steel construct was instrumental in Grand Rapids’ artistic renewal and was the first National Endowment for the Arts public art initiative project.

The name means “great swiftness” in French, and it was designed to symbolize the spirit of the arts in the city. La Grande Vitesse weighs 42 tons and is 54 feet long and 43 feet high, finished in a bold red that can be easily seen from some distance.

Near La Grande Vitesse is a 1/23rd scale bronze model covered in braille explaining the sculpture and its importance to the city. This iconic mega landmark is a regular hub and centerpiece for festivals and a gathering place for food trucks in Calder Plaza.

Known affectionately as “the Calder,” you should stop by this symbol of the city when you’re exploring other downtown attractions. There are plenty of hotels in the area, but the Homewood Suites by Hilton is highly rated and just a four-minute walk away.

20. Basilica of St. Adalbert

Basilica of St. Adalbert
rossograph / Wikimedia Commons, 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 to the honored rank of a minor basilica in 1979 and is only one of a few that exist in the United States.

As an active church, visitors are welcome around normal religious services and events. After you visit, there’s a nice selection of places to eat and drink at the corner of Stocking Ave and 4th Street NW. Try the historic Blue Dog Tavern for craft beer and traditional American fare.

See Related: Most Famous Historic Landmarks in the USA

21. Millennium Park

Millennium Park Aerial View
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 the largest urban park in West Michigan, and you’ll discover over 1,400 acres of rolling, reclaimed terrain and a six-acre beach. The beach borders a 100-acre lake with four miles of shoreline.

Hikers and bikers will love exploring over 18 miles of trails. They connect with the Fred Meijer Millennium Trail Network and the Kent County Trails for an expansive Grand Rapids hiking experience. Motorized traffic and horses are prohibited on the trails, but anything human-powered is welcome.

When the weather is fine, the park is perfect for a day at the beach or a family picnic. VanAndel Beach House provides changing and rental facilities, and the DeVos Family Boathouse provides kayaks, paddle boats, and even stand-up paddle boards for rent.

The onshore Mehney Splashpad also accommodates younger beachgoers, and recreational and urban fishing are also available. Note that anglers need a suitable license, which you can purchase here.

22. John Collins Park & Gaslight Village

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

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 the popular Rose’s Restaurant, it is within easy walking distance of Gaslight Village. 

Named after John A. Collins, a former city mayor, the park is a well-loved lakefront and beautiful green space. The three acres of beaches and picnic areas are open year-round, and community events are scheduled throughout the calendar.

Winding garden paths highlight many wildflower species common in Western Michigan. Routes are dog-friendly, provided your four-legged friend is on a lead. There’s a boat launch and a crew team boathouse, and the waterways are popular for canoeing, kayaking, and angling.

Gaslight Village is also well worth a stop, with its charming vintage vibe and flickering streetlamps. There are some excellent shops, boutiques, and restaurants located here, and as a quaint lakeside community, it’s one of the most romantic things to do in Grand Rapids.

See Related: The Best Romantic Getaways in the USA

23. Craig’s Cruisers Family Fun Center

Race in Craig's Cruisers
Craig’s Cruisers / Facebook

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

Don’t let the address of Craig’s Cruisers fool you. This family-centric amusement park is seven miles south of downtown Grand Rapids in Wyoming, Michigan. Although it’s not technically in Grand Rapids proper, it’s certainly not as far away as Wyoming state!

Offering something for everyone, Craig’s Cruisers is a sprawling 120,000 square feet of fantastic indoor and outdoor fun. Arcade-styled games and laser tag are some of the park’s best activities, but the thrilling go-karts are the main attraction here.

There are outdoor and indoor tracks, with single and double electric and gas karts to choose from. You’ll find miniature golf, a zip line, bumper cars, boats, and an immersive trampoline hall elsewhere. Just looking at those dodgeball and basketball trampolines is exciting.

Craig’s Cruisers isn’t just a great spot for the family, as it’s the ideal place to go with a group of friends or as a team-building and ice-breaking experience. They also do birthdays, holiday parties, and more. And just next door, there’s the Spectrum Entertainment Complex with bowling, bars, and live music.

See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends

24. Riverside Park

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

Riverside Park sits along the city center’s eastern bank of the Grand River. Aptly named, this unique park is well-loved for its nature trails that run alongside the water. Popular with locals and visitors alike, it’s a beautiful oasis just north of the downtown area.

The park was designed to be a recreational hub for Grand Rapids residents. Hiking, rollerblading, biking, cross-country skiing, and bird-watching are all available.

There’s a boat launch for keen kayakers, but you must bring your craft. That’s why we never leave home without our Sevylor QuickPak inflatables.

Anglers will also appreciate the easy river access, as the park can be a great location for day fishing. Other sports include baseball, soccer, and a disc golf course.

Playgrounds, picnic areas, and public restrooms are readily available, making the park a great lunchtime destination. Hikers might like to try the White Pine Trail, which runs along the length of this pleasant urban greenspace.

25. Grand Rapids Golf Courses

Indian Trail Golf Course in Grand Rapids
Indian Trail Golf Course / Facebook

Address: Citywide

Grand Rapids is a golfer’s delight, with over 14 courses within a 30-minute drive of the city. The links take advantage of the exquisite local scenery and untouched wetlands, mostly located north and west of downtown.

Popular courses include Indian Trails and Thornapple Pointe. The former 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 club also offers private lessons for beginners or those looking to improve their game, and several leagues run throughout the year. Thornapple Pointe offers panoramic views of the breathtaking Thornapple River east of Grand Rapids. 

All in all, some 39 golf courses are within 20 miles of the Grand Rapids area, including 31 public, one municipal, and seven private courses. Such a selection makes Grand Rapids a certified golfer’s paradise. Be sure to pack one of these excellent travel golf bags, and check out this article for some of the best golf resorts in America.

26. Grand Rapids Griffins Ice Hockey

Grand Rapids Griffins Ice Hockey Players in Michigan
Grand Rapids Griffins / Facebook

If you plan to visit Grand Rapids in winter, cheering on the famous Grand Rapids Griffins ice hockey team is a great way to spend some time. Part of the American Hockey League, their busy schedule runs from October to April each year.

Calder Cup champions in 2013 and 2017, the Griffins have fiercely partisan support, and their matches are always well-attended. Even if you’re not an ice hockey fan, I highly recommend you check out a game for the experience alone.

The Griffins play their matches at the Van Andel Arena. This custom-built stadium in downtown Grand Rapids boasts a 10,000-seat capacity. The arena also showcases live music concerts, basketball and volleyball matches.

Aside from the thrilling spectacle of catching a game, the club offers many interactive events and promotions throughout the season. You can pick up tickets here, or check their website to see a full calendar of exciting programming. Go Griffins!

Places to Stay in Grand Rapids

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.

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.

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.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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