Holiday school breaks are a great time to explore Grand Rapids with family and friends. In addition to our usual robust lineup of winter and holiday diversions, a number of attractions offer special kid-focused programming during this period. Say no to cabin fever and yes to entertaining, engaging and enlightening experiences this year!
In no particular order, here are some excellent ways for you and your kids (or your kids’ kids or your friends’ kids) to make the most of winter break 2022.
Celebrate the HolidaysBack to Top of List
Celebrate the holidays with these favorite Grand Rapids traditions!
Photo by Dean VanDis
The Christmas Lite Show Drive Thru offers a two-mile drive through more than one million lights, animated displays, lighted tunnels and more at LMCU Ballpark through Dec. 31. Hop on board the Memory Lane Train to let somebody else do the driving. It’s one of many dazzling holiday light displays in and around town – check out our list of favorites.
University of Michigan Health-West Christmas & Holiday Traditions at Frederik Meijer Gardens Sculpture Park dazzles with the glow of more than 350,000 lights, strolling carolers, rooftop reindeer and 46 international trees and displays. In its 28th year, this crowd-pleasing exhibition is launching a new tradition – an immersive outdoor light experience at the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater that dazzles visitors the evenings of Dec. 19-23 & 26-30.
Grand Rapids Ballet presents The Nutcracker, one of the region’s most beloved holiday traditions, at DeVos Performance Hall, featuring incredible dancers, beautiful sets and live musical accompaniment from the Grand Rapids Symphony. Dec. 16-18.
The Grand Rapids Choir of Men and Boys presents its annual holiday show at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, Dec. 16-17 & 20.
Let it Snow! at the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at Grand Rapids Public Museum is a festive light show set to a soundtrack of seasonal favorites from pop artists. Dec. 17-Jan. 2.
For KING & COUNTRY: A Drummer Boy Christmas brings the Grammy Award-winning musical duo to Van Andel Arena for a remarkable night of holiday spirit. Dec. 17.
Holiday Dreams Cirque! Is a jaw-dropping, modern holiday show incorporating cirque artists, comedy, daredevils, music, holograms, interactive lasers and more at Forest Hills Fine Arts Center Dec. 21.
stageGR’s Christmas Carol is a musical version of the classic Dickens novel, presented at downtown event venue The Lit. Dec. 21-22.
Don’t panic, there’s still time for kids to see Santa (and parents to get photos of them with the big red guy). Santa’s winter break schedule includes these local stops:
• Cabela’s, thru Dec. 24
• Rivertown Crossings Mall, thru Dec. 24
• Woodland Mall, thru Dec. 24
• Christmas Lite Show Santa House, Dec. 16-18 & 21-23
• Santa Skate at Tarry Hall Roller Rink, Dec. 17
• Coopersville & Marne Railway Santa Train, Dec. 17-18
• Lowell Showboat, Dec. 17 & 21
• St. Julian Winery & Distillery, Dec. 17
• Brunch with Santa at FireRock Grille, Dec. 18
• Creston Brewery, Dec. 18
• Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Dec. 20
• Peppino’s Pizzeria Allendale, Dec. 21
Visit a MuseumBack to Top of List
The science of Michigan winter is a major focus during the Grand Rapids Public Museum's winter break programs.
Photo by Grand Rapids Public Museum
Kids and former kids of all ages will love The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. See puppets, costumes, videos and more from the worlds of The Muppets, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal and more.
The Power of Poison at the Grand Rapids Public Museum is an engaging all-ages exploration of the role poisons have played in our natural and collective history. While you’re there, be sure to take a spin on the newly renovated 1928 Spillman Carousel and view the many special holiday displays.
In addition to its regular lineup of interactive exhibits, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum presents The Pigeon Comes to Grand Rapids: A Mo Willems Exhibit, featuring the whimsical world of the beloved children’s book author and his cast of lovable characters.
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Express rolls into the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum for the holidays. See this miniature train display and all the other fascinating artifacts from the life and times of the 38th president.
Stop by the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives for a look into the history and present of the local Black community – and check out the multicultural books in We Are Lit Bookstore, located inside the museum. Lots of great children’s books for gift giving! Before or after your visit, explore local Black history on a self-guided walking tour of downtown. Just download the FREE GR Walks smartphone app.
Learn, Make, PlayBack to Top of List
Are you ready to see the world covered in snow? This bear doesn't seem to mind.
Photo by Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Winter Break at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is 12 days full of special activities and performers, from Dec. 16-23 & 26-30. GiftWorks! Is an opportunity to create a new handmade craft every day from Dec. 16-23.
Create your own Puppet Portrait at The Grand Rapids Art Museum’s Drop-In Studio on Dec. 17, 29 & 31 – it’s a perfect companion activity to GRAM’s Jim Henson exhibit.
Camp Curious: Snowflake Break sessions at the Grand Rapids Public Museum are learning labs for 1st-6th graders, as participants dive into the wonders of history, science, culture and holiday festivities. Dec. 19-22 & 27-30.
The Solstice Celebration at Blandford Nature Center commemorates the longest night of the year with traditional winter crafts including wreath bird feeders, paper bag luminaries and cinnamon applesauce ornaments. Dec. 17. Families can make Edible Wreaths for the Animals and meet Blandford’s wildlife ambassadors on Dec. 21.
Blandford Nature Center also offers an outdoor-oriented Winter Break Camp for ages 7-9 and 10-12, from 9 am - 3 pm each day from Dec. 19-22.
Wintertime Walks at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park are outdoor discovery tours of the Lena Meijer’s Children’s Garden. Dec. 16-17, 23-24 & 30-31.
Holiday Camp at BattleGR Tactical Games & Sports offers 6-14 year-olds the opportunity to play laser tag, archery tag, court games and more – lunch included. Dec. 19-22, 27-29 & Jan. 2.
Head OutdoorsBack to Top of List
If you're new to winter sports, snowshoeing is a great place to start and Blandford is a fun, close-by place to try it.
Photo by Experience Grand Rapids
Snow willing, Cannonsburg Ski Area will be open for tubing and downhill & cross-country skiing. Cannonsburg Kids is a weekend learn to ski and ride program for kids ages 6-12 at any ability level.
Cold weather willing, Rosa Parks Circle in downtown GR will be open for outdoor ice skating under the sun and stars. Admission (which includes skate rental) is $4 for adults and $2 for 17 and under.
Explore local parks and nature centers on snowshoes or cross-country skis – both are great family activities (and a great way to burn off those holiday calories). Fat tire biking is even more of a workout. And if sledding is your thing, check out the hills at Belknap Park (downtown), Mary Waters Park and Wabasis Lake Park (northeast) Richmond Park and Covell Dog Park (northwest), Cascade Township Park and Manhattan Park (southeast) and Johnson Park and Pinery Park (southwest).
Snow or no, a hike through the woods and meadows of Blandford Nature Center, the Calvin University Eco System Preserve and Wittenbach Wege Center for Agriscience and Environmental Education is an inspiring and invigorating way to spend a few hours.
Have Some Indoor FunBack to Top of List
In search of indoor winter fun? Take the family bowling!
Photo by Experience Grand Rapids
Cheer on the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team at three home games during winter break: Dec. 16 vs. the Hartford Wolf, Dec. 23 vs. the Cleveland Monsters and Dec. 31 vs. the Milwaukee Admirals.
See the Grand Rapids Gold basketball team in their new home at Van Andel Arena as they play the Delaware Blue Coats on Jan 2.
Craig’s Cruisers offers a whole host of indoor activities throughout the winter season, including go-karts, bumper cars, laser tag, a ninja course and trampoline park.
Winter Break Afternoon Skating at Tarry Hall Roller Rink runs from Dec. 26-30 and Jan. 2-6 – and the facility is also open for its normal weekend schedule (except. Dec. 25-26 & Jan 1).
Swing around with Spider-Man, explore the deep sea, take care of cute kittens and battle dinosaurs – they’re four of 50 virtual reality games kids can play at Amped Virtual Reality.
Play mini golf and mini bowling under black light at Great Lakes Glow Golf – there’s also an arcade filled with vintage-style games.
Take the kids to a stage show:
• Mary Poppins, a musical based on the beloved movie, runs through Dec. 18 at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.
• CoComelon Live! Brings the kid-favorite character to DeVos Performance Hall for a Broadway-style musical production. Dec. 20.
Ring in the New YearBack to Top of List
New Year’s Early Eve at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a two-hour celebration the day before NYE, from 4 pm - 6 pm. Dec. 30.
Ring in the new year with skates on at Tarry Hall Roller Rink, Dec. 31 from 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm.
Neon New Year’s Eve at Walker Ice & Fitness Center is an open-skate event on the facility’s indoor ice rink. Dec. 31 from 5 pm - 6:50 pm.
The Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team hosts their annual New Year’s Eve Celebration featuring post-game fireworks and open skate. Dec. 31.