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Things To Do With Kids in Grand Rapids

This Michigan city was named by a French trader, Louis Campau, in the mid-1800s. He bought 72 acres of land from the government and established a trading post he later called Grand Rapids. This bit of land is now known as the city’s downtown business district and is attributed today as one of the nation’s largest urban historic districts. Grand Rapids was also ranked by Forbes as the best place to raise a family in the U.S. Browse fun things to do with the family in the city ranging from tourist hot spots to local favorites.

Grand Rapids is full of fun attractions for families to enjoy. Frederik Meijer Gardens is one of the world’s 100 most visited art museums and the city is littered with renowned arcades, parks, historic landmarks, and more. If you want to get to know Grand Rapids, start with the following family-friendly activities:

  • Explore an array of outdoor sculptures at Frederik Meijer Gardens and let the kids run and play in the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden
  • Explore interactive zoo exhibits and an aquarium at John Ball Zoo
  • Get tickets to a family show or comedy skit at Van Andel Arena or DeVos Performance Hall
  • Walk, eat, and shop in the Heritage Hill Historic District — one of the largest urban historic districts in the U.S.
  • Race go-karts, bat in the cages, play bumper boats, and more at AJ’s Family Fun Center

In Grand Rapids, family fun is easier to come by than bodies of water. Why just entertain the kids when you can entertain the whole family? Browse fun things to do as a family in the category below:

  • Catch a West Michigan Whitecaps minor league baseball game
  • Shop in the seasonal Fulton Street Farmers Market during summer
  • Visit Calder Plaza for the food truck fare from May to September during Truckin’ Tuesdays, Wonderful Wednesdays, and Food Court Fridays
  • Have a picnic, see a summer concert, or ice skate in the winter at Rosa Parks Circle, named one of America’s Great Public Spaces
  • Grab a drink at Robinette's Apple Haus & Winery while the kids enjoy hayrides and corn mazes, open year round with seasonal events

Several popular attractions and landmarks in Grand Rapids have kid-oriented features as well. You can leave your wallet at home to enjoy these fun, free Grand Rapids activities. If you’re sticking to your budget, going sightseeing at the following places can save a buck or two:

  • Tour the Meyer May House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 1900s, also known as Michigan’s Prairie masterpiece
  • Take a ride on the Spillman antique Carousel at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, free for kids and students
  • Make the most of free Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Grand Rapids Art Museum
  • Take a weekend afternoon trip to old time flower and vegetable garden at the Averill Museum in Ada, open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Catch a view of the Grand River at one of Grand Rapids’ famous bridges like Gillette Bridge or Blue Bridge.

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Take the kids out for a day of unforgettable adventure including theater performances, bike rentals, and a trip to the ice cream parlor. To let out your inner child, try:

  • Rent and ride bikes along the Kent Trail System just a mile and a half from downtown
  • Save on family climbing packages at Terra Firma Bouldering
  • Grab a sweet treat at Jersey Junction or Love’s Ice Cream
  • Catch a world-class performance at Broadway Grand Rapids
  • Ice skate at Patterson Ice Center or Griff’s Icehouse

Entertaining groups of kids is easy in Grand Rapids. Between the famous parks and deals on equipment rentals, a fun day in the city is just a few Groupons away. Start with the following options:

  • Grab a snack and play some mini golf at Double Dip Ice Cream
  • Rent stand up paddle boards and float across one of Grand Rapids rivers or lakes
  • Roller skate at the Kentwood Fun Spot, just 15 minutes from downtown
  • Disc golf at Johnson, Brewer, or Fallasburg parks
  • Score all-access passes or book a party at Sky Zone

Many of Grand Rapids’ museums and learning centers have kid-oriented exhibits or are focused entirely on kid entertainment. Browse educational activities in Grand Rapids below:

  • Schedule introductory music classes at Southtown Guitar
  • Explore the interactive exhibits at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
  • Celebrate rural life at Coopersville Farm Museum
  • Learn African-American history at Grand Rapids African-American Museum and Archives
  • Enjoy the gardens, play areas, pioneer village, and more at Blandford Nature Center

Schedule some time to unwind while the kids hone in on their creativity ranging from performing arts classes to drawing, painting, and sculpting. Give these Grand Rapids classes a try:

  • Buy dance classes half-off at the Sparkling Angel Dance Academy
  • Score a free ballet class at Grand Rapids Ballet
  • Spend an afternoon painting at ArtEngage Creation Station, a studio focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) activities
  • Book a pottery class at The Mud Room
  • Sign up for art classes at Abrakadoodle Inc.

Explore a variety of things to do indoors for when the weather gets gloomy. Trampoline parks, play centers, and escape rooms only scratch the surface when it comes to fun, indoor activities in Grand Rapids. Start here:

  • Jump from tramp to tramp at Altitude Trampoline Park, Planet 3 Extreme Air Park, or AirTime Trampoline & Game Park
  • Send the kids to play in Jesters Court, the largest play center in West Michigan
  • For younger kids, try Playworld instead, an indoor play center for kids 12 and younger
  • Purchase discount lanes at AMF Bowling Co.
  • Try one of Grand Rapids’ popular escape rooms like The Great Escape Room or Locked 460