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Family-Friendly Weekend Activities in Grand Rapids: Your Ultimate Guide

Family-Friendly Weekend Activities in Grand Rapids, Michigan: Your Ultimate Guide

John Ball Zoo


Introduction to Grand Rapids: A Family Paradise

Grand Rapids, Michigan, often referred to as “Beer City USA,” might be famous for its craft breweries, but it’s also a hidden gem for family-friendly activities. This vibrant Midwest city offers a perfect blend of urban excitement and natural beauty, making it an ideal destination for families looking for a memorable weekend getaway. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best family-friendly activities that Grand Rapids has to offer, ensuring your weekend is packed with fun, learning, and unforgettable experiences for all ages.

Must-Visit Museums for Curious Minds

Grand Rapids boasts a variety of museums that cater to different interests and age groups. These educational and interactive spaces are perfect for stimulating young minds and keeping the whole family engaged.

1. Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

GR Childrens museum
The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a wonderland of hands-on exhibits designed to spark creativity and learning through play. With two floors of interactive displays, your kids will be entertained for hours.


– Bubbles exhibit: Create giant bubbles and learn about surface tension
– Little Grand Rapids: A miniature version of the city for imaginative play
– Diagnosis: Fun!: Learn about the human body in a playful medical setting


Visit on a Thursday evening for “Family Night” when admission is discounted.

2. Grand Rapids Public Museum

This museum offers a fascinating journey through history, science, and culture. With three floors of exhibits, there’s something for everyone in the family.


– Planetarium shows: Explore the cosmos in the immersive Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium
– Streets of Old Grand Rapids: Step back in time to the 1890s
– Finned, Furred & Feathered: Discover Michigan’s diverse wildlife


Don’t miss the 1928 Spillman Carousel on the first floor – a hit with kids and adults alike!

3. Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

While politics might not seem kid-friendly, this museum does an excellent job of making history accessible and interesting for all ages.


– Watergate Gallery: Learn about this pivotal moment in American history
– Cabinet Room: Experience a replica of the White House Cabinet Room
– Betty Ford exhibit: Explore the life and influence of the former First Lady


Check the museum’s calendar for special family-oriented events and programs.

Outdoor Adventures for Nature Lovers

Grand Rapids is surrounded by natural beauty, offering plenty of opportunities for families to enjoy the great outdoors.

1. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

This 158-acre campus combines art and nature, providing a unique experience for visitors of all ages.


– Lena Meijer Children’s Garden: An interactive garden space designed for kids
– Butterfly Maze: Navigate through a maze while learning about butterfly habitats
– Sculpture collection: Explore world-class sculptures in a beautiful outdoor setting


Visit during the “Christmas and Holiday Traditions” exhibit for a magical winter experience.

2. John Ball Zoo

Home to over 200 species of animals, John Ball Zoo offers a fun and educational experience for the whole family.


– Zipline over the zoo: For the adventurous family members
– Budgie Aviary: Feed and interact with colorful budgerigars
– Red Panda Forest: See these adorable creatures up close


Check the zoo’s daily schedule for animal feedings and keeper talks.

3. Millennium Park

This expansive park offers a variety of outdoor activities for families to enjoy.


– Beach and splash pad: Perfect for hot summer days
– Fishing: Try your luck in one of the park’s lakes
– Paved trails: Great for biking, walking, or rollerblading


Rent bikes or paddleboats at the park for added fun.

Interactive Experiences and Hands-On Fun

Grand Rapids offers several unique, hands-on experiences that allow families to learn new skills and create lasting memories together.

1. Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park

GR Tree Runner Park
Challenge yourselves at this aerial adventure park, featuring ziplines and obstacle courses set high in the trees.


– Junior Explorer Course: Designed for younger children
– 3-hour climb time: Plenty of time to explore multiple courses
– Experienced guides: Ensuring safety and fun for all participants


Book in advance, especially during peak summer months.

2. Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery

This family-owned orchard offers seasonal activities and delicious treats year-round.


– U-pick fruits: Apples in fall, cherries in summer
– Corn maze: A fun challenge for the whole family
– Hayrides: Enjoy a scenic ride through the orchard


Don’t leave without trying their famous apple cider donuts!

3. Craig’s Cruisers Family Fun Center

For a day packed with excitement and variety, head to Craig’s Cruisers.


– Go-karts: Race against family members on multiple tracks
– Laser tag: Team up for an immersive gaming experience
– Pizza buffet: Refuel after all the activities


Look for combo packages to save on multiple activities.

Art and Culture for Young Minds

Expose your children to art and culture with these family-friendly options in Grand Rapids.

1. Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM)

The GRAM offers a range of programs designed to engage children with art.


– Drop-in Studio: Free art-making activities on weekends
– Family Day: Monthly event with special activities and performances
– Discovery Packs: Interactive tools to explore the galleries


Admission is free on Tuesdays from 5-9 PM.

2. Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA)

This contemporary art center offers thought-provoking exhibitions and family programs.


– Family Studio Saturdays: Hands-on art projects inspired by current exhibitions
– Film screenings: Including family-friendly options
– Rotating exhibitions: Exposing kids to diverse forms of contemporary art


Check their calendar for special family events and workshops.

Seasonal Activities and Events

Grand Rapids offers unique family-friendly activities throughout the year. Here’s a seasonal breakdown:


Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts: A celebration of local art, music, and food
Tulip Time Festival: A short drive to Holland, MI for this iconic Dutch festival


Movies in the Park: Free outdoor movie screenings
Grand Rapids Symphony Picnic Pops: Outdoor concerts perfect for a family picnic
Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Festival: Celebrate Asian-Pacific culture with food, performances, and activities


ArtPrize: A city-wide art competition with many family-friendly installations
Pulaski Days: Celebrate Polish culture with parades, music, and traditional food


World of Winter Festival: Ice sculptures, light installations, and winter activities
Grand Rapids Griffins hockey games: Catch a family-friendly sporting event

Family-Friendly Dining Options

After a day of activities, refuel at one of Grand Rapids’ family-friendly restaurants:

Founders Brewing Co.: Despite being a brewery, they offer a kid’s menu and a relaxed atmosphere
Harmony Hall: Great food with a fun, eclectic atmosphere
The Mitten Brewing Company: Pizza and baseball theme, perfect for families
Yesterdog: A Grand Rapids institution known for its hot dogs
Electric Cheetah: Creative comfort food with a dedicated kid’s menu

Where to Stay: Family-Friendly Accommodations

Choose from a variety of family-friendly accommodations in Grand Rapids:

Amway Grand Plaza: Central location with a pool and multiple dining options
Country Inn & Suites: Offers suites with separate living areas and complimentary breakfast
Drury Inn & Suites: Features an indoor/outdoor pool and free hot breakfast
DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Rapids Airport: Close to the airport with a pool and restaurant

Tips for a Successful Family Weekend in Grand Rapids

Plan ahead: Book popular activities in advance, especially during peak seasons
Use public transportation: The DASH downtown area shuttle is free and convenient
Check for package deals: Many hotels offer packages that include tickets to local attractions
Bring comfortable shoes: Downtown Grand Rapids is very walkable
Pack for the weather: Michigan weather can be unpredictable, so come prepared

Conclusion: Creating Lasting Memories in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, Michigan, offers a wealth of family-friendly activities that cater to a wide range of interests and ages. From interactive museums and outdoor adventures to cultural experiences and seasonal events, this vibrant city has something for everyone. By following this guide, you’re sure to create a weekend filled with fun, learning, and lasting memories for the whole family.
Whether you’re locals looking for new experiences or visitors exploring the city for the first time, Grand Rapids welcomes families with open arms. So pack your bags, gather the kids, and get ready for an unforgettable family weekend in one of Michigan’s most exciting cities. Adventure awaits in Grand Rapids!