Traveling to Grand Rapids with a teenager? The city and region offer plenty of possibilities to satisfy even the hardest-to-please adolescents. Whether your teen prefers outdoor adventure or indoor entertainment, sporting events or shopping sprees, quests for knowledge or kickin’ it on the beach, Grand Rapids will give them forever memories of a fun family vacation.
Outdoor AdventureBack to Top of List
Teens have energy to burn – and Grand Rapids is a perfect place to get out and get active. Hike, bike, blade, snowshoe and cross-country ski on 60+ trails in and around the city. Rent a kayak, paddle boat, canoe or row boat at Millennium Park, just five minutes from downtown. Golf at 30+ courses within 30 minutes of the city center.
Tackle a sky-high ropes course at John Ball Zoo or TreeRunner Adventure Park. Play a round of paintball or disc golf. Gather in downtown’s Rosa Parks Circle for Tuesday night swing dancing (in warm weather) and everyday ice skating (when it’s cold). Pack the skateboard and grind it up in downtown’s 555 Monroe Skate Park. Head to Cannonsburg for winter skiing and snowboarding, and Craig’s Cruisers for outdoor go-karting from spring through fall.
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Indoor EntertainmentBack to Top of List
Rainy day? Outdoor-adverse teen? Just move the excitement inside. Check out 13 area bowling (and fowling) alleys. Get in on the duckpin bowling craze. Play laser tag or archery tag in an indoor arena. Tee up for a round of miniature golf under the glow of black light. Roller skate at Tarry Hall or GR Skate. Work together to make your way out of an escape room.
Enjoy some “vertical entertainment” at Higher Ground Rock Climbing Center and Terra Firma Bouldering Co. Visit Dave & Buster’s for arcade, tabletop and air hockey games. Venture into other realities at the Amped Reality virtual arcade.
Race indoor go-karts at Craig’s Cruisers. Bounce around at Altitude, Sky Zone, Launch and Rebounderz trampoline parks. Get a game on at House Rules Board Game Lounge.
For a different kind of adventure, try Skelletones, an all-ages (no alcohol) music venue. Take in a blockbuster movie at Celebration Cinema or an immersive sound & video experience at Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium. See a show at Broadway Grand Rapids or Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. Make your own candles at Wax Poetic Candle Bar or create all sorts of art at one of Grand Rapids Art Museum’s Drop-In Studio Saturday sessions.
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Sporting EventsBack to Top of List
Watch the West Michigan Whitecaps (a Detroit Tigers affiliate) play baseball in LMCU Ballpark. Cheer the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings) hockey team and Grand Rapids Gold (Denver Nuggets) basketball team at Van Andel Arena. Attend youth and amateur baseball/ tournaments at the Meijer Sports Complex. See race cars in action at Berlin Raceway, a NASCAR Home Track.
Shopping DestinationsBack to Top of List
Brand-conscious teens will want to head to Breton Village, Rivertown Crossings and Woodland Mall to shop stores like Aeropostale, Francesca’s, Game Stop, H&M, Lululemon and Urban Outfitters. Shop Tanger Outlets Mall for discount prices on such brands as American Eagle, Nike and Under Armour.
If your teen is more into one-of-a-kind finds, check out these unique shopping destinations, consignment shops, vinyl record stores and comic book stores.
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Learning OpportunitiesBack to Top of List
Knowledge-hungry teens can explore Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, the Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives, Grand Rapids Art Museum and Grand Rapids Public Museum to learn about history, culture, art and science.
Visit Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park to appreciate natural and manmade art, Blandford Nature Center for farming and wildlife insights, and the Meyer May House to tour a meticulously restored Frank Lloyd Wright house. John Ball Zoo is a great place to learn about animals and conservation, and it offers special educational experiences throughout its season.
Hit the BeachBack to Top of List
Teens tend to be a beach-loving bunch. They’re in the right place here. The Millennium Park beach, five minutes from downtown Grand Rapids, is the perfect place to soak up some sun or cool down on a hot summer day. It encompasses six acres of the 1,400-acre park, and includes a swimming lake, boat rental facilities and concession stand.
For a day trip, consider a drive to Lake Michigan. It’s the largest lake entirely within U.S. borders – think of it as an ocean without salt or sharks – and the shoreline includes 22 beaches within 30-50 minutes of Grand Rapids. All of them feature clean, sugary sands and crystal-clear water. They’re close to the lakeshore communities of Grand Haven, Holland, Muskegon and Saugatuck/Douglas, each of which offers lots of shopping and dining options.
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Lakeshore Community: Grand Haven
Lakeshore Community: Saugatuck/Douglas
Food & DrinkBack to Top of List
All this activity is going to require some nourishment. There are hundreds of restaurants to choose from in Grand Rapids – including traditional teen favorites like pizza parlors, taco joints, ice cream shops, confectionaries and brunch restaurants (so your kid can sleep in).
While we’re known for our beer and other adult beverages, Grand Rapids also has plenty to pour for teens. Try a juice bar or a craft soda from High Tide Soda in the Grand Rapids Downtown Market.
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Selfie SpotsBack to Top of List
Can it truly be considered a vacation if it’s not captured and shared on Instagram and TikTok? Many teens would say no. Fortunately, Grand Rapids is filled with great photo ops. Pose in front of a downtown mural or sculpture – including Alexander Calder’s massive red La Grande Vitesse. Stand under the 24-foot-tall horse sculpture at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park or amidst one of many lush outdoor gardens for a breathtaking shot.
Picture yourself on downtown’s iconic Blue Bridge with the Grand River in the background or at a family farm surrounded by apple trees. Capture the city in the background from the top of Lookout Park. Visit our Instagram page for more inspiration!