Spring might be the most anticipated time of year in West Michigan. Heavy coats and boots are put away, the days get longer, and things start to get a little greener. If you're thinking spring, read on for eight ways to embrace this most welcome time of year in Grand Rapids.

Butterflies at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids
Photo credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Butterflies are Blooming

Flowers aren't the only things blooming in West Michigan this spring. More than 7,000 beautiful butterflies will be welcomed into the world during the annual Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibit at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. The exhibit is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the U.S., featuring more than 50 species of tropical butterflies flying freely in the Tropical Conservatory. Be sure to bring your camera and wear bright colors to attract the butterflies. If you're lucky, you might just get one to rest on your shoulder.

While you’re there, you can also enjoy the permanent family-friendly exhibits at Frederik Meijer Gardens, including the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, Lena Meijer Children's Garden, and Michigan's Farm Garden. There are also limited-engagement exhibits throughout the year, such as Ai Weiwei at Meijer Gardens: Natural State, which is on display through August 20.

 

West Michigan Whitecaps players on the field
Photo credit: Experience Grand Rapids

West Michigan Whitecaps

Grab some peanuts and crackerjacks and head to Fifth Third Ballpark for the 24th season of the West Michigan Whitecaps. The Whitecaps are celebrating the start of the season with their Opening Day Bash, and the early bird will get the worm, or in this case, a hat. The first 1,200 fans will receive a Whitecaps Alpine Hat. Once the game wraps, be sure to stick around for the Family Fare Fireworks spectacular.

Thursday is College Night, guests with a college or military ID get a reserved seat for only $5. Tiger Fridays kick off on June 2 with former Detroit Tiger Jack Morris. Visit the Whitecaps promotions calendar for a complete list of events.

Tickets are available for purchase on the Whitecaps website.

 

Women Shopping in Downtown Grand Rapids
Photo credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Tuesdays on the Town

Take a stroll along downtown Grand Rapids' shopping districts for Tuesdays on the Town when many local shops stay open until 8PM. Many shops provide refreshments, demonstrations, featured products and live music. Participating retailers include the shops located in MoDiv as well as the shops at the Grand Rapids Public MuseumGrand Rapids Art Museum, and the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts.

 

Biking in Grand Rapids across bridge
Photo credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Hiking and biking

Now that spring is in the air, many people are eager to hit West Michigan's vast hiking and biking trails. Kent Trails in the Kent County Parks is a 15-mile, non-motorized paved trail that stretches from Grand Rapids to Byron Center. Four convenient trailheads provide easy access to the trail. Additionally, there are multiple road and off-road biking trails available around the Grand Rapids area, including the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail, which is also great for walking, running, and dog walking.

 

Family feeding birds at the John Ball Zoo
Photo credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Astonishing animals

The residents at John Ball Zoo and Blandford Nature Center are coming out of hibernation to enjoy the spring sunshine.

John Ball Zoo is open now, featuring the Crawford Tigers of the Realm, Van Andel Living Shores Aquarium, and Treasure of the Tropics. Be sure to wear walking shoes to take full advantage of the Forest Realm Trail which takes you along the back portion of the zoo overlooking the maned wolves and grizzly bear exhibits. If you don't want to walk back down the trail, just hop on the Funicular for a smooth and leisurely cruise back to the entrance of the zoo. 

Exploring Blandford Nature Center's 143 acres of mother nature is the perfect way to spend a spring day. Kids can get up close to the chickens and goats at the farm and romp around the Nature Nook playscape.

 

boy driving go-kart at AJ's Family Fun Center
Photo courtesy of AJ's Family Fun Center

Family fun centers

What better way to enjoy the beauty and warmth of spring than by visiting a center focused on family fun? If you love go-karts, mini-golf, arcade games and bumper boats, Craig's Cruisers in Wyoming and AJ's Family Fun Center in Comstock Park will provide hours of enjoyment for kids and kids-at-heart.

 

Man crossing rope bridge at Treetop Adventure Park in Grand Rapids
Photo courtesy of Treetop Adventure Park
 

Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure

Are you ready to spend your spring season climbing, swinging, balancing, and soaring through the great outdoors? Treetop Adventure Park in Grand Rapids offers man-made treetop trails comprised of zip lines, swinging logs, and large fisherman nets of varying difficulty and height, some as high as 42 feet above the ground. Trailblazers ages four and up are welcome to enjoy the twists, turns and thrills of a self-guided treetop tour. If you're ready to use muscles and critical thinking skills you don't use every day, Treetop Adventure Park reopens on the weekends in early May.

 

People riding the Cannonsburg Ski Area zip line
Photo courtesy of Cannonsburg Ski Area

Cannonsburg Zip Line Adventure

Speaking of zip-lining, Cannonsburg Ski Area in Belmont offers three different zip line tours for all levels of adrenaline junkies. The East Zip Line Tour is ideal for beginner zip-liners. It includes five zip lines where you'll cruise through the air at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. The West Zip Line Tour is a bit more daring for those searching for more height and speed. With a total of five zip lines, the West Tour will quench the thirst of anyone looking for more advanced action.