The holiday season is the perfect time to round up the family and plan some fun activities around town. Grand Rapids has a variety of interesting activities that family members of all ages will enjoy. 

Beat cabin fever and explore the city with one of these ideas for getting your family out of the house and into some fun.

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

Experience the holiday season in many cultures at Frederick Meijer Gardens.

Photo Credit: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park


Take a trip to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and travel around the world!

Exhibit: Metro Health Christmas and Holiday Traditions
Location: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Dates available: Until January 5, 2020 

Learn how other families around the world celebrate the holidays with this beautiful exhibit. New this year, the Metro Health Christmas and Holiday Traditions exhibit will highlight iconic symbols that are used in holiday festivities worldwide. There will be icons on display that give a deeper meaning to holiday cheer, and visitors will celebrate both fact and folklore, past and present.

This dazzling wintertime display features carolers, rooftop reindeer, and 300,000 glowing lights along with more than 40 international trees and authentic cultural displays. As you walk through the display, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the trolleys and trains that are part of the exhibition.

In addition to Metro Health Christmas and Holiday Traditions, there will also be an original film, joy, for visitors to enjoy inside the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s Hoffman Family Auditorium. The film joy explores the diverse festive fabric that is holiday life across our local communities.

Grand Rapids Art Museum offers several classes and programs for children.

Discover "David Wiesner & the Art of Wordless Storytelling" and "Billy Mayer: The Shape of Things" at the GRAM this holiday season.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Stop by the Grand Rapids Art Museum for thought-provoking exhibits.

Exhibit: Billy Mayer: The Shape of Things
Location: Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM)
Dates: Until February 2, 2020
*Note: The GRAM is closed on Mondays

The Grand Rapids Art Museum is showcasing an interesting exhibit that examines the idea of human existence. Billy Mayer: The Shape of Things features more than four hundred handcrafted, clay skulls, each topped with a different everyday image or object. The late Michigan native has created and arranged the sculptures in a way that brings to mind a parallel reality or dream state.

Exhibit: David Wiesner & The Art of Wordless Storytelling
Location: Grand Rapids Art Museum
Dates: Until January 12, 2020

This exhibition highlights David Wiesner’s picture book illustration career. You may not know the name, but you certainly may recall some of his beloved children's books: Tuesday, The Three Pigs, and Flotsam, just to name a few. The colorful display features 70 original watercolors from some of Wiesner’s most cherished books, which explore the complexity of human imagination through richly layered imagery, clever composition, and humor.

Wiesner’s wordless narratives demand attention and deduction from their readers and encourage expressive language and predictive reasoning skills. Activities within the exhibition have been created to further inspire these skills and create fun experiences for visitors of all ages.

Spending school breaks at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. There are plenty of fun, educational activities to enjoy.

From exhibits about toys to creative design demonstrations, the GR Public Museum has something for everyone.

Photo Credit: Grand Rapids Public Museum


Visit the Grand Rapids Public Museum to find an experience for all family members.

Exhibit: TOYS!
Location: Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM)
Dates: Through August 2020

Take a trip down memory lane with this fun exhibit that displays toys all the way from the 1950s. TOYS! is an interactive, multi-generation exhibition of toys and games to rekindle childhood memories and create new ones. The exhibit even includes a 1980s style arcade. TOYS! is presented in English and Spanish and has elements of Braille.

Exhibit: Design Zone
Location: Grand Rapids Public Museum
Dates available: Through May 2020

The Design Zone will let visitors explore the work of video game developers, music producers, roller coaster designers, and other creative problem solvers. This hands-on exhibition teaches the creative concepts to learn the processes and tools needed to create a successful design. 

The activities featured in the Design Zone highlight the importance of science and mathematical thinking to creativity and innovation in art, music, and engineering.

Exhibit: Snowflake Break
Location: Grand Rapids Public Museum
Dates available: December 21, 2019, to January 5, 2020

After witnessing all that the Grand Rapids Public Museum has to offer, stop by Snowflake Break to create your own unique holiday decor. Located throughout the museum's main galleria, Snowflake Break is ideal for visitors of all ages to express their creativity and holiday spirit.

The GRPM has plenty more to explore, including other temporary exhibits, like Bodies Revealed, which features real preserved body specimens to teach guests about the complexity of the human body. You’ll also find permanent features like the Spillman Carousel

Visit the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts to learn more about modern culture.

Exhibit: Larry Cook: On the Scene
Location: Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts
Dates available: Until January 26, 2020

Larry Cook: On the Scene explores the cultural aesthetic of “club” photography and painted backdrops. Club photography is when a photographer works with dim lights and fast movements. There is a significant difference in technique when photographing people and products in club or nightlife settings.

Cook examines the formal, social, and cultural aspects of this photographic practice, including photographs of subjects posing in front of backdrops that focus on elements of performance, expression, and spectacle. These works are featured with archival photographs dating back to 1980, highlighting the pose, gesture, and choreography in this visual art.

Exhibit: Mark Rumsey: Memory Map: Roof Line - State Street
Location: Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts 
Dates available: Until January 26, 2020

This installation features braids of repurposed textiles strung into planes floating in space by Grand Rapids-based artist Mark Rumsey. The exhibit represents the artist’s memories of growing up in poverty – memories like living in a dilapidated rental house and being raised by his mom and five older sisters.

Memory Map will allow visitors to reflect on excess versus scarcity, privilege versus misfortune. This exhibit is both a personal narrative, reflecting memories of Rumsey’s childhood, and a larger conversation, dealing with the social issues of wealth and poverty in American society.

During Project 1, don't miss out on the Ford Museum's exhibit, "Extraordinary Circumstances," which showcases photographs of President Ford taken by his White House photographer, David Hume Kennerly.

The historic Breton Village Holiday Train Display has a new home this year in the lobby of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Find a free, historical, holiday exhibit at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

Exhibit: Breton Village Holiday Train Display
Location: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum 
Dates: Until January 5, 2020

The historic Breton Village Holiday Train Display has a new “home” within the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, and the display is free for guests to view! The train display will be located in the museum’s lobby so guests can easily access the work of art.

For 30 years, the Breton Village Holiday Train Display was located within the Breton Village Mall, but after the mall’s recent renovation, the train display needed to find a new home. Now located within the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum as of 2018, the Breton Village Holiday Train Display will include pieces from past exhibits, as well as new pieces that pay tribute to President Ford.

As a bonus, the entire Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum will have free admission to guests from December 23, 2019 through January 3, 2020, with the exception of holidays. Check out the museum’s historical exhibits with the whole family this holiday season for ample learning and affordable fun.

Before checking out these family-friendly exhibits, make sure to purchase a Culture Pass GR for discounted entry to many of these attractions and more. Please keep in mind that local attractions may have different hours of operation around the holidays. Check the holiday page for even more happenings. 

What exhibits are you most looking forward to visiting with the family? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to tag us in your adventures #ExperienceGR on Instagram.

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