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Online Visitor's Guide

2015 Visitors Guide

Chock-full of information to help you plan your trip... more

Grand Rapids Insider

Grand Rapids Insider

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bicycle in the grass in a Grand Rapids park

Nature Nearby: Parks, Trails, Woods, and Wildlife Within 10 Minutes Of Downtown Grand Rapids

Though Grand Rapids' downtown is often bustling, nature is never far away: green havens can be found throughout the city and all along the Grand River corridor. More than two dozen natural environs ca...more

Posted March 26, 2015


Fun for Kids

Forbes Magazine says Grand Rapids is America's best city for raising a family - thanks in part to these kid-friendly attractions!

Grand Rapids Children's Museum celebrates childhood and the joy of learning with interactive, hands-on exhibits that inspire learning and encourage self-directed exploration.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum, less than a mile west, offers something for every age and interest - including a working antique carousel, lifelike animal habitats and a planetarium.

John Ball Zoo is just 1.5 miles away. See 2,000 animals, visit the petting zoo, ride the four-story zipline, tackle the sky trail ropes course and much more.

Just across the street is an access point for Kent Trails, a 15-mile paved trail for hiking and biking. It will take you alongside the Grand River to Millennium Park, which encompasses a six-acre beach, swimming lake, SplashPad and even more trails. You can also drive the four miles to the park.

You're just five miles away from Rivertown Crossings, a kid-favorite shopping mall with 100+ stores, a 20-screen movie theater and a working carousel.

It's a 10-minute drive to Craig's Cruisers, a family fun center with indoor and outdoor go-karts and kiddie karts, min golf carts, bumper boats, laser tag and the area's largest game room.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is 20 minutes away. It includes a children's garden with sensory plantings, log cabin, treehouse, water features and more. There's plenty of indoor fun, too - like Butterflies are Blooming, an annual exhibit of 6,000 butterflies flying free in a tropical conservatory (March/April).

The West Michigan Whitecaps, a Detroit Tigers affiliate, play in a classic baseball park 10 minutes away. The Whitecaps offer family-friendly promotions from April - August.

Riverside Park, less than three miles away, offers a disc golf course with huge trees and challenging water. Bring a picnic lunch!

Short Drive

No kid can resist the charms of Lake Michigan beaches - great for swimming, sunbathing, kite flying and more. They're just a 30-40 minute drive from downtown Grand Rapids.

Also along the lakeshore:

Grand Haven's waterfront musical fountain is a choreographed extravaganza of lights, music and water.

Saugatuck Dune Rides offers fun, exciting tours over and around the towering sand dunes of Lake Michigan.

Michigan's Adventure, Michigan's largest amusement and water park, has more than 60 rides for all ages.

Nelis' Dutch Village is a theme park celebrating the area's Dutch heritage, complete with a giant wooden shoe slide, a working antique carousel, petting zoo and more.

Tell us what kids' stuff you'd add to this self-guided tour!

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Grand Rapids is a destination like no other: art, culture, dining, and nightlife. From a hip and friendly downtown to an endless array of outdoor activities, Grand Rapids will surprise, excite and delight you!

Maps and Transportation

Psst! One of Grand Rapids' best kept secrets is ...getting around. Grand Rapids is only a few hours' drive from most major midwestern cities. Maps, Drive times ... more