A live event at Van Andel Arena is a guaranteed good time for ticket holders of any age. We’ve rounded up some fun ideas for families to enjoy before or after heading to the arena.

The following attractions are all within a 10-minute walk of Van Andel Arena, but be sure to arrive to the arena around 30 minutes prior to your event to account for security checks, nearby construction, and possible lines. You don’t want to miss a moment of the big show!

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum offers lots to explore – both inside and outside.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum offers lots to explore – both inside and outside.

Photo by Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Outdoor Attractions

Few things are more fun for a parent than seeing their child’s face light up when their favorite character, musician, or professional athlete comes to life in front of their eyes. But even with all the excitement, it can be hard for a child to sit still for several hours.

Here are some outdoor attractions to enjoy before visiting Van Andel Arena:

Rosa Parks Circle & Monroe Center

Located just steps away from Van Andel Arena in the heart of downtown lies Rosa Parks Circle. The 3.5-acre park is frequented by family-friendly concerts and festivals in the spring, summer, and fall, and transitions to an ice skating rink during the winter. It was even named one of five Great Public Spaces in America by the American Planning Association in 2017!

Chances are, there’s a family-friendly activity happening at Rosa Parks Circle prior to attending Van Andel Arena. While at Rosa Parks Circle, make sure to stop by the nearby shops along Monroe Center.

Ah-Nab-Awen Park

Make it a win-win for everyone and spend some time at Ah-Nab-Awen Park before heading to Van Andel Arena to let off some steam and energy! Bring a blanket and food for an outdoor picnic, enjoy a stroll along the Grand River, or simply roll down the grassy hills.

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum’s Outdoor Attractions

On your way to Van Andel Arena and right next to Ah Nab Awen Park, check out the fountain and reflecting pool outside the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Kids love splashing their hands in the water and watching the fountain. Honestly, who doesn’t?

Visit the Grand Rapids Children's Museum to put your children's creativity and imagination to the test.

Visit the Grand Rapids Children's Museum to put your children's creativity and imagination to the test.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Indoor Attractions

If the weather forces you to stay indoors, Grand Rapids has plenty of indoor attractions nearby the Van Andel Arena for family fun.

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

If you’re looking to incorporate some hands-on learning before heading to the arena, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is always a great way to spend time and provide children with an educational, yet fun experience.

Suitable for children of any age, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a great way to let the kids explore and/or burn off some much needed energy.

Amway Grand Plaza

For another fun way to kill time indoors, take a walk through the Amway Grand Plaza and marvel at the beautiful chandeliers and old world charm.

If your kids are older, and you feel like making the night truly something to remember, book a reservation at Cygnus27 for an unbelievable view of the city skyline and a delicious dessert. 

Are reservations too big of a commitment for you? Then stop into GP Sports on the Amway Grand Plaza’s main level for great food, a lively atmosphere, and plenty of TV’s for your viewing pleasure.

Exploring Grand Rapids’ Skywalks

Another way to get around Grand Rapids from the indoors is to use the city’s unique skywalks located throughout downtown!

Hotels including the JW Marriott Grand Rapids, Amway Grand Plaza, and Downtown Courtyard by Marriott offer entrances that connect you to DeVos Place Convention Center and the Van Andel Arena! Windows line the skywalk, providing skywalk users a different view of the city, making this a memorable experience for users of all ages.

Stop by Sweet Yo's downtown location to grab a sweet treat with the family.

Stop by Sweet Yo's downtown location to grab a sweet treat with the family.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Grabbing a Bite to Eat

Ready for a bite to eat? There are plenty of family-friendly places close to Van Andel Arena.

Peppino’s Sports Grille Downtown

Peppino’s Sports Grille Downtown has an energetic atmosphere perfect for letting kids simply be kids. With a variety of adult and kid-friendly meals, including fan-favorite pizzas, there is something on the menu for guests of all ages to enjoy.

One Stop Coney Shop

The One Stop Coney Shop owned by native Detroit residents gives a Detroit-style coney island experience within walking distance from the Van Andel Arena. Proudly serving Koegel hot dogs and food that is never frozen, stopping by One Stop Coney Shop is a great way to fuel your family before heading to the arena.

Note: Make sure to visit One Stop Coney Shop for lunch, as it closes at 3:30 PM Monday to Friday, and at 3 PM on Saturday!

Sweet Yo’s

What child (and adult) doesn’t enjoy a sweet treat?

Sweet Yo’s is just a short walk from the Van Andel Arena, and provides family members with a make-it-your-own frozen yogurt experience. The locally owned frozen yogurt shop offers an abundance of flavors, toppings, and treats for restrictive diets including fat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly.

Bangkok Taste Cuisine

Add some world exploration to your family outing by visiting Bangkok Taste Cuisine for Thai food, and Waan Waan Sweets located in the back of Bangkok Taste Cuisine for their famous Thai rolled ice cream.

Each dessert is made to order on an iced grill. Choose an ice cream flavor such as cookies and cream, strawberry, or even Thai tea, and watch the magic happen. Thai ice cream rolls can also be topped with a variety of items including fruit, cookies, mochi, or gummies.

Parking and Transportation Options

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to identify where you’d like to park prior to visiting Van Andel Arena. As Grand Rapids continues to expand, the city’s parking accommodations are ever-changing so make sure to do your research beforehand and identify a couple of areas to park.

Don't forget to download Grand Rapids' mobile parking app, Motu, for access to street parking availability and to pay for parking meters with a debit or credit card. Likewise, many private lots use the ParkMobile app for online payment.For a complete list of parking options, visit Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.’s website, which highlights parking ramps and lots, street parking, public vs. private parking, event parking, and charging stations for electric vehicles.

You could also skip parking altogether and take The Rapid to the arena. The Rapid's East Fulton line has two stops within easy walking distance of Van Andel Arena and The Silver Line service includes a No Fare Zone that encompasses the Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton hotel and the Downtown Market. The Rapid has also extended the hours of its DASH lines, which are free to use – just look for the pink shuttle buses.

What’s your favorite place to stop by before or after heading to Van Andel Arena? Let us know in the comments!