Whoever said nothing in life is free hasn't been to Kent County, Michigan. The greater Grand Rapids area offers a wide variety of no-cost activities to keep you busy throughout the year. Downtown Grand Rapids even offers free transportation – just hop on the bright pink DASH Bus, which runs seven days a week. Save some money and have a great time with these 20 fun and free things to do!

ArtPrize 2023 - Raining Wisdom by Abdoulaye Conde (elephant mural). Photography by Nick Irwin.

Massive murals that don the side of buildings are a frequent entry in ArtPrize.

Photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR. Artist: Raining Wisdom by Abdoulaye Conde

1. ArtPrize

ArtPrize is the world's most attended public art event, and it takes place every fall in Grand Rapids, for free! View hundreds of creative, and frequently colossal, works of art just about anywhere you look in downtown Grand Rapids – parks, sidewalks, bridges, storefronts, restaurants, museums and more. The competition runs from mid-September to early October every year, though several art pieces remain in town all year round.

2. Disc Golfing

When the weather gets nice, get your throw on at 14 free disc golf courses and see for yourself why Grand Rapids is one of America’s top 15 disc golf cities.

Family walking by Ah-Nab-Awen Park, 2023

Explore the waterfront of the Grand River and enjoy gorgeous views.

Photo by Ideology for Experience GR

3. Riverwalks

Stroll the paths alongside the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids, and make stops at nearby parks along the way like Ah-Nab-Awen, Sixth Street, and Riverside. Visit surrounding areas like the Rogue River in downtown Rockford and the Flat River in downtown Lowell too – keep your phone ready for photo ops! 

4. Trailventures

Bike, hike, rollerblade, snowshoe or cross-country ski on endless miles of non-motorized trails through all sorts of terrain. Many paved trails are accessible to people with disabilities.

5. Downtown Skate Park

Grind the rails on your BMX bike, skateboard, scooter or skates at the 555 Monroe Skate Park alongside the Grand River. It’s open year-round and is often home to various public art installations during ArtPrize, Return to the River, and World of Winter!

Fallasburg Covered Bridge

Cross the Flat River by way of the Fallasburg Covered Bridge, built in the 19th century.

Photo by Drew Links Photo

6. Fallasburg Covered Bridge

Built in 1871 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Fallasburg Covered Bridge near Lowell is one of only three covered bridges in Michigan that allows car traffic. Fallasburg Park, home to the covered bridge, offers plenty of amenities including three playgrounds, fishing, disc golf and hiking trails.

7. Museums

Browse fascinating exhibits at the Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives at no charge. (Donations are gratefully accepted.) Enjoy free general admission at the Grand Rapids Art Museum during Meijer Free Tuesdays (noon-5pm) and Thursday nights (5-8pm). The Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum at Calvin University hosts over 400 unique geological specimens collected from around the world. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday (noon-5pm) and is free of charge!

Fish Ladder Park, 2023

The Fish Ladder serves both a practical and aesthetic purpose.

Photo by Paul Jendrasiak for Experience GR

8. Fish Ladder Park

Visit downtown’s Fish Ladder Park to watch migrating fish jump up a sculptural artwork to get around the powerful water flow of the Grand River. Fish species that utilize the fish ladder include Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, steelhead, and brown trout. Salmon migrate in the fall, and steelhead run from February to April, and occasionally in the early winter months. 

9. Walking Tours

Download the free GR Walks app to access self-guided tours exploring local art, culture, history, neighborhoods and more.

10. Lookout Park

A favorite among many residents for its famous bird's-eye views of downtown GR and the Grand River. Plus, Lookout Park is a prime spot for picnics and sunset watching. Be sure to follow GR Parks and Recreation for updates on free outdoor fitness classes beginning in the early summer. Lookout Park has previously been a popular host for weekly yoga! 

Millennium Park in the winter 2024

Although Millennium Park is especially popular in the summer, the trails are just as active in the winter!

Photo by Paul Jendrasiak for Experience GR

11. Millennium Park

There’s a small fee to use the beach and splash pad at this 1,400-acre park, but everything else is free at Millennium Park– including 20 miles of trails, a Ninja Warrior Playground, picnic shelters and tables, birdwatching and even parking!

12. Gerald R. Ford International Airport

As many as 300 aircraft take off or land at Gerald R. Ford International Airport on any given day. You can watch them from a special Viewing Park equipped with parking spaces, picnic tables and restrooms.

Meyer May House - Winter

Visit the original design of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright at the Meyer May House.

Photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR

13. Meyer May House

Tour the Meyer May House designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1908, and restored by Steelcase in the '80s. This classic example of Prairie School Architecture is open to the public on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays (online reservations required). Located in the Heritage Hill Historic District, be sure to take a stroll around the neighborhood to witness Grand Rapids' history through the preserved homes. 

14. Music

Treat your ears to a free concert at numerous venues throughout the city, from no-cover-charge bars to community festivals.

Grand Ravines South & Dog Park

Get outside with your pup at the Grand Ravines Dog Park.

Photo by Alina Albin for Experience GR

15. Dog Parks

Bring Fido for some free exercise at Covell Dog Park, Downtown GR Dog Park, Grand Ravines Dog ParkHillcrest Dog Park, Lowell Dog Park at Stoney Lakeside Park or Rockford Dog Park.

16. People Parks

Explore 75 city parks and 43 county parks ­– picnic, play ball, hike trails, watch wildlife, swim, boat, sled, ski and more.

17. Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens

Connect with nature on trails through preserved woods, meadows and wetlands at the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens. Explore other areas outside at the nine sites managed by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan.

Je-Shawna and Shay at the 2023 Pride Festival in Downtown Grand Rapids

A variety of public festivals take place in Grand Rapids.

Photo by Alina Albin for Experience GR

18. Festivals

Celebrate our diverse cultures, arts tradition, and LGBTQIA+ community at free-to-the-public gatherings throughout the year. LaughFest, our annual festival of funny, offers many free events as part of its comedy lineup every March.

19. World of Winter

Experience and enjoy winter in a whole new way at this festival that brings outdoor entertainment, activities, events and giant art installations to downtown Grand Rapids. World of Winter runs from early January to early March each year.

20. Public Art

From Ecliptic, a sculpture by Maya Lin located in the heart of Rosa Parks Circle, to the country's first artwork funded by the Art in Public Places program of the National Endowment for the Arts, La Grande Vitesse by Alexander Calder, there is art to enjoy around almost every corner.