Many people kick off the new year with resolutions to get healthier, save money, or learn new things while others eschew the entire notion. As a busy mom, one of my resolutions is to turn “I wish” into “I will” when it comes to fun, family activities. Regardless of where your other hopes are at the beginning of the year, you should make it a resolution, or goal if that suits you better, to get out and live some of these experiences when you’re in Grand Rapids.

Holiday lights display surrounding Rosa Parks Circle skating rink

Try ice skating in Rosa Parks Circle during the winter season, or enjoy the scene from the warmth of a nearby coffee shop.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Winter

Ice Skating

Whether you’re a regular Adam Rippon or just trying to stay vertical, ice skating is a great way to get outside and enjoy winter. I’m looking forward to trying the new ice skating area at Studio Park, as well as returning to Rosa Parks Circle. Skating amidst the downtown lights can’t be beaten! Adults can rent skates and enjoy the ice for $3 and kids are only $1 at Rosa Parks Circle.

Live Music

The newly opened Listening Room at Studio Park and 20 Monroe Live both offer the intimacy of a small venue in the big city. I can’t wait to check out The Listening Room and catch another show at 20 Monroe Live down the street. If you haven’t been, keep an eye on their upcoming shows and make it happen.

Two people biking through snowy trails

If you miss summer biking, give fat biking a try in the winter!

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Fat Tire Biking

In the winter, I end up really missing riding my bike. Since fat-tire bikes have come around though, enthusiasts can ride year-round. Enjoy exploring local golf courses and trails that are bike-friendly. For those looking to make trying a fat tire bike their resolution, rent one at Cannonsburg and see what you think!

Winter Beer Festival

This has been on my list of “must-do” items for a couple of years now. Especially when I hear my friends talk about what a great time they had at the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival. This is a great excuse to get together with friends and other like-minded folks outside…with beer! And we can help get you there and back safely with special offers. Buy your tickets now for this February 22, 2020 event. 

Christmas trees representing cultures around for the world on display a Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Parkt

Experience cultures from around the world at Frederik Meijer Gardens from late November through early January.

Photo Credit: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park


Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Stop into Frederik Meijer Gardens to experience the annual Metro Health Christmas and Holiday Traditions exhibit that runs from late November through early January. Over 45 trees and displays that represent countries from around the world get everyone in the holiday spirit.

Spring

John Ball Zoo

Everyone loves spring, including the animals at John Ball Zoo. I love enjoying the spring air and watching all the warmer climate animals enjoy being outside again too. Watch for the zoo to open for spring the beginning of March with many new exhibits including a giant anteater and adorable meerkats. 

Grand Rapids Griffins

If you haven’t been to a Grand Rapids Griffins game yet, 2020 is the year to make that change. While it’s always fun to watch the Griffs dominate on the ice, simply being in the stands can be a great time too. Special events, including Princess Day and Star Wars night, will ensure the whole family has a blast. Don’t forget $2 beer and $2 hot dogs during Friday home games.

Butterflies Are Blooming at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 

A highlight for my family is the Meijer Gardens Butterflies Are Blooming exhibit. Being able to see so many butterflies in a tropical environment makes it seem like summer is around the corner. We love trying to see who can get a butterfly to land on them first. You can too when they return in March.

Train for Amway Riverbank Run

For over 40 years, the Amway Riverbank Run has been a Grand Rapids tradition. I love running this race for the scenic course and enthusiastic spectators. While it might seem hard to believe, 15.5 miles just fly by. If you’ve ever considered doing this race, mark your calendar for May 9, 2020 and make this your year to run. 

West Michigan Whitecaps games are great family events, but they also plan special events for kids to enjoy.

Celebrate the arrival of warmer weather with an outing to Fifth Third Ballpark to see the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Photo Credit: West Michigan Whitecaps


Grand Rapids Whitecaps

As spring turns to summer, it’s a great time to sit outside and enjoy a Whitecaps baseball game. Check out their promotion schedule and plan a game around whatever your family likes. Between fireworks, character nights, themed games, and more, they have all the bases covered.

Summer

Tree Runner Adventure Park

Another experience I’m eager to try is an afternoon of ropes course fun at Tree Runner Adventure Park. I love that they offer courses for everyone from 5-year-olds to those looking for more of a challenge. We might even venture there in the evening for some lighted climbing. You should too!

Enjoy a bike ride with a view of the Grand River along the paved, tree-lined trails at Riverside Park.
Bring your picnic to John Collins Park to hammock, watch boats and paddlers, and enjoy the large, grassy park.

Grand Rapids area parks are a great and affordable way to enjoy a beautiful summer day.

Photo Credit: Paul Jendrasiak for Experience Grand Rapids


Visit Local Parks

With over 120 parks in the Grand Rapids area, ticking them off a summer bucket list is fun and affordable. From swimming and biking at Millennium Park to enjoying woodsy trails, there is something for everyone

Cannonsburg Zip Line

A winter ski park turns into a thrilling zip line location in the summer at Cannonsburg. The zip line adventures give a scenic view under a tree canopy for up to eight people at a time. Discover this ski property in a completely new light in the summer. You can even rent a GoPro for the day and relive the fun whenever you want.

Fireworks

Summer and fireworks go hand-in-hand. Whether you experience them at the end of a Whitecaps baseball game or head downtown for the fantastic Grand Rapids Fireworks presented by Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort during the Fourth of July weekend, you’ll find the best show for you. 

Grand Rapids celebrates its 50th Festival of the Arts this year.

Festival of the Arts is a three-day celebration of art with performances, food trucks, games, and more.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Festival of the Arts

For over 50 years the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts has been a summer highlight for families, mine included. Kids love the activities and downtown scenery while the adults enjoy beverages and music. And all enjoy the phenomenal food trucks and games at this annual summer tradition June 5 - 7.

Fall

5K Race

A 5K is a great excuse to get moving. Especially with all the fun races in and around Grand Rapids. Besides gaining health, you can also gain a new perspective of the city. I also love the camaraderie of running with friends, new and old. If you’re looking for a running partner, check out these running groups. You might gain a new friend and a new personal record! 

ArtPrize

ArtPrize returns to Grand Rapids in 2020 from September 16 – October 4 for Artprize 11. The radically open international competition is so fun to explore with kids and/or adults. If you have early risers, take advantage and hit ArtPrize in the morning to beat some crowds. Insider tip: another bonus to an early visit is you might even meet some artists setting up for the day.

Apple picking at Bloks Orchard

Locals and visitors alike flock to local orchards and farms to pick apples in the fall.

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of EXGR


Orchards and Farmers Markets

The Grand Rapids area is rich with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables readily available. When the sunny and brisk fall days roll around, one of my favorite ways to spend them is grabbing some of those tasty treats for myself and my family. 

I love giving my kids a few dollars to grab something they’ve never tried before at a farmers market. And eating freshly picked apples on the way home from an orchard is the best. Enjoy the outdoors and fresh treats at one of these local locations.

Downtown Market

Restaurants, artisan food vendors, ice cream, and cooking classes await you at the Downtown Market. I can’t wait for a no-plan Saturday to bring the kids here and try some new foods or activities. Try foods from around the world and even learn how to cook them yourself through the culinary classes. It’s a great way to spend some free time.

A group cheering at brunch in Grand Rapids.

Area restaurants, bars, and distilleries create new cocktails specifically for Cocktail Week GR.

Photo Credit: Eric Zuniga for Experience Grand Rapids


Cocktail Week Grand Rapids

Before the craziness of the holiday season starts, Cocktail Week Grand Rapids does. Restaurants and distilleries create new cocktails specifically for the event along with great appetizers. Grab some friends for a fun night, or more, on the town November 13 - 24, 2020.  

While New Year’s Resolutions can seem daunting, we hope these will inspire you to try something new, get out on the town, and make 2020 the best year yet! 

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