Our family loves going to Grand Rapids because this Michigan city doesn’t overwhelm us like larger cities do. While it’s smaller in size compared to places like Detroit, Chicago, or even Indianapolis, Grand Rapids has all the cultural, architectural, and recreational offerings of other Midwest cities. It’s hard to choose what to do in Grand Rapids, really, as there’s so much the city offers. I’ve managed to whittle the choices down to these top 4 things to do in Grand Rapids.
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When looking for things to do in Grand Rapids, this place hits on all the cylinders for a family visit. This 158-acre campus boasts both indoor and outdoor beauty for Mom and Dad, and plenty of room to run, explore, and play for kids.
The outdoor sculpture collection, one of the biggest in the world, takes you through meandering paths, waterways, wooded areas, and grassy lawns where you can experience more than 50 works of fabulous sculptures.
The park also features magnificent horticultural gardens as well as a tropical conservatory. In this location each March and April, you will see thousands of tropical butterflies from Central and South America, Africa, and Asia freely flying around. It’s like walking into a dreamlike field of ethereal beauty.
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary holiday experience, visit the Railway Garden from mid-November through January. As part of the overall holiday exhibition, you’ll see “toy trains weave their way through holiday-themed horticulture and 30 iconic Grand Rapids landmarks (meijergardens.org), creating a magical wonderland for kids and adults.Top 4 Things To Do In Grand Rapids Michigan Click To Tweet
This annual international art competition holds nearly 200 venues housing thousands of pieces of art in any and every medium. This is a free event, held each fall, and offers tons of fun interactive activities for kids. This past year’s exhibits included unicorns, dragons, music, and carnivals. A personal favorite (throw-back to my son’s marimba days) was the DNA-shaped marimba! Many vendors are set up for kids to become their own artists as well.
While the word “museum” might sound a little stuffy and slow, Grand Rapids museums are anything but that. Both the Grand Rapids Public Museum and the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum have so many interactive components, you won’t even realize you’re learning because you’re having so much fun! Currently the former has “Brain: The World Inside Your Head,” where you can “walk through a setup of neurons” (Grand Rapids Public Museum.org/brain).
You can spend more than a single day at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum where your kids can become construction workers, rescue workers, farmers, or they can climb a mini rock wall (kid size, of course) or a myriad of other indoor activities for all ages. There’s so much to do here, even Mom and Dad will have a great time.
I can’t talk about Grand Rapids without highlighting Van Andel Arena. Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos, co-founders of the billion-dollar multi-level marketing company Amway, hail from the Grand Rapids area and have contributed countless funds to the city.
The Van Andel Arena is one of those places, obviously named after the Van Andel family. This venue that opened in 1996 is gorgeous, and it brings the same big-name acts as the larger cities do. The acoustics in the DeVos Performance Hall are spot on. If you’re looking to attend a concert, sporting event, or an off-Broadway event, this is the place to come to.
Our family has taken mini-vacations to Grand Rapids, and each time I have left disappointed…that is, disappointed we didn’t stay longer. So when you go, plan to stay longer than a few days.