Hotspots in Grand Rapids, MI
For family farm fun year-round in the Grand Rapids area, folks flock to Fruit Ridge Hayrides. While the horse-drawn hayrides (which become sleigh rides in the winter months) through the farm’s woods and orchards are a main attraction, there’s plenty more to do. Come during the Fall Harvest to pick out a pumpkin, or pick your own apples from the orchard, then spend a little time chasing around the 15-acre corn maze. Come spring, you can stop by when the apple trees are blossoming to see the fields getting tilled the old-fashioned way -- by horse-drawn plows!
Spending family time together at the park can mean so many different things when that park is named Millennium. One of the largest urban parks in the U.S., Millennium encompasses over 1,500 acres that contain beautiful woods, wetlands and a 100-acre lake. For water fun, families can spend the day at the six-acre beach, frolic on the splash pad and rent a canoe, paddleboat, kayak or rowboat at the boat house. Millennium also has almost 20 miles of well-maintained trails connected with picturesque boardwalks and bridges that allow for bikes and rollerblades as well as foot traffic. There’s also a playground and picnic pavilions, along with well-maintained changing rooms and restroom facilities.
When you need to kick up the fun on your family activities, head to Michigan's Adventure, a premiere amusement park in the Grand Rapids area! Michigan's Adventure certainly is an adventure, if you don't mind us saying so -- from crazy thrill rides that will make you scream like your eight-year old daughter to classic rides like bumper boats and go-karts, there is something for every single family member here. Need a bit of intense family bonding? Get hooked up to the RipCord together -- a 180-foot free-fall experience! Don't worry -- there's plenty for even the littlest visitors to do at Michigan's Adventure for some low-key, low-thrill fun.
With a focus on cooperative learning, teaching problem solving and building self-esteem, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum has a whole host of exhibits designed to promote early childhood education. Science is the focus of the Spin Table, the Bell Run and the Funstruction tables where kids can experiment with physics while they play. Kids can learn all about how the world works as they discover agriculture at Aunt Daisy’s Farm, sell and shop for goods at the Mom and Pop Store, or the Play Day Cafe, send mail at the play Post Office and explore economics at the Wee Bank. For a little creativity stimulation, spend some time playing make believe at the Amigo Amphitheater, creating designs with the Giant Lite Brite, or putting on a show at the Puppet Show.
Grand Rapids Public Museum has all kinds of fun for families with kids of any age. Little ones will love taking a ride on the 1928 Spillman Carousel and participating in the A-Z challenge where they search the museum’s halls for the exhibits representing each of the letters in the alphabet. Middle schoolers love the sensation of stepping back in time as they explore the life-size recreation of Grand Rapids in the 1890s, or the life-like exhibit of Michigan’s animals and plants in the Habits exhibit. Teens can appreciate all the examples of Michigan craftsmanship on display in Furniture City and learning of Michigan’s cultural diversity through the museum’s exhibition --Newcomers: The People of this Place.
Farm animals are easily seen on Michigan’s many farms, but when you want to take a gander at exotic wildlife, it’s time to pay a visit to the John Ball Zoological Garden. Housing over 1,100 animals, the zoo has species from the wilds of Africa, Asia, South America, Australia and, of course, the U.S. The Mokomboso Valley Chimpanzee Exhibit -- housing one of the largest troops of chimpanzees in the country -- tops the list of popular attractions at the zoo. For some hands-on fun, visit the domestic farm animals in the petting zoo, get touched by a stingray at the Stingray Lagoon, or stop by the Living Shores Aquarium where you may get the chance to handle a sea urchin or a sea star.
Saturdays are the best day for families to visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum. On Saturdays the venue specifically focuses on making its art accessible for families by offering hands-on art projects and free Family Activity Guides that help parents and their children become “detectives” as they search their way through the galleries. Families must work together solving riddles and puzzles to receive clues that will lead them to find all the highlighted works of art --solve them all and you’ll earn a prize at the end. The museum’s family programs are specially designed to get kids and parents a longer time looking at and talking about specific works so that you can visit again and again while examining new art each time.
Celebrate works of art created by sculptors and mother nature by spending the day at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. There’s always something new to see at the park, as they play host to numerous temporary horticulture and sculpture exhibitions year-round. Families will especially enjoy the animal sculptures on display in the Michigan Farm Gardens and learning about “dangerous” species in the Carnivorous Plant House. Little ones especially love exploring the Children’s Garden where they can expand their senses in the Kid-Sense area, follow the bricks of the labyrinth, put on a puppet show in the Story-Telling Garden, climb into a bird’s nest in Treehouse Village, or sole the puzzle of the Butterfly Maze.