Grand Rapids Museums

Few cities the size of Grand Rapids can match the depth and breadth of our museum facilities. Downtown alone contains five museums within a few blocks of each other, and one of the world’s top 50 most visited art museums is 10 minutes from the city center. Nearby historic sites, nature centers and zoos are essentially museums without walls, and more traditional museums devoted to aerospace, automobiles and naval history are within an hour’s drive.

Here's a brief look at the many places to explore science, history, nature, art and culture in Grand Rapids.

Girls Trip at the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Explore the history, science and culture of Grand Rapids at the Public Museum. Plus, with rotating exhibits, there's always something new to enjoy!

Photo by Dorelle Brock for Experience GR

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

“America’s most entertaining presidential museum” is a tribute to the life and times of the man who represented Grand Rapids in Congress for 25 years – and ascended to the highest office in the land in 1974. Through historic artifacts and immersive experiences, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum sparks curiosity and enthusiasm about our nation's history and government. The President and First Lady Betty Ford are buried on the grounds of the Museum. See the Museum FAQ for hours, admission fees and more.

Grand Rapids Public Museum

Three floors of fascinating exhibits and artifacts at the Grand Rapids Public Museum focus on science, history and culture to inspire and engage visitors young and old. Ride the 1928 Spillman Carousel, wander the streets of “Old Grand Rapids,” learn about the area’s indigenous peoples, explore West Michigan’s natural habitats, see the nation’s top traveling exhibits and much more. Read the GRPM FAQ.

Grand Rapids Art Museum

Home to a permanent collection of more than 6,000 works of art and host to an ever-changing slate of exhibitions featuring local, national and international artists, the Grand Rapids Art Museum is a vital part of the city’s international recognized art scene. Take a moment to admire the Museum exterior, named one of the world’s best new buildings of 2007. See the GRAM FAQ.

Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives

Delve into the history, culture, art and accomplishments of local African Americans at the Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives. The Museum shares their stories through recorded oral histories, memorabilia, exhibits, pop-up displays and special events. Read the GRAAMA FAQ for more details.

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

With hands-on interactive exhibits and daily drop-in programs that inspire learning through play, the Grand Rapids Children's Museum is a must-visit for families with kids aged 2-10. Play with slippery bubbles, study a live beehive, “work” on a farm and much more. See the GRCM FAQ for more information, including sensory-friendly experiences.

Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium

Located inside the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium offers a daily schedule of immersive multimedia shows exploring the wonders of the universe. The facility is named after the Grand Rapids astronaut who was killed in a pre-launch test fire in 1967.

Heritage Hill

This residential neighborhood adjacent to downtown is one of America’s largest urban historic districts. Heritage Hill encompasses nearly every style of American architecture, from Greek Revival to Prairie, in 1,300 buildings that date back to 1844. Get the self-guided walking tour for historical details on the homes you’ll see strolling the sidewalks and take advantage of guided in-home tours (May) and garden tours (June) each year.

Meyer May House

Situated in the Heritage Hill neighborhood, this Frank Lloyd Wright home – known as “Michigan’s Prairie Masterpiece” was built in 1908 and fully restored to its original glory 80 years later. The Meyer May House offers free guided tours on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

John Ball Zoo

One of the nation’s oldest urban zoos – first established in 1891 – is located just one mile west of downtown Grand Rapids. John Ball Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals representing more than 200 different species, and it’s rich with experiences and events that connect visitors to the natural world and promote conservation. Explore more FAQ here.

Cherry blossoms at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a top destination in the area. A variety of gardens and artwork make this attraction the perfect destination, all year long.

Photo by Courtesy of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Named America’s #1 Sculpture Park by USA Today and #2 Botanical Gardens by TravelAwaits, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has become one of the world’s top 50 most visited art museums since its founding in 1995. One of the nation’s most significant sculpture collections is showcased amidst a variety of indoor and outdoor gardens – Arid, English Perennial, Japanese, Michigan Farm, Tropical, Victorian and more. Learn more about the Gardens in their FAQ.

Deer Tracks Junction & Site 57 Safari

Interact with domestic pigs, goats, bunnies, donkeys, camels and more at Deer Tracks Junction Adventure Park, and get face-to-face with yaks, bison, llamas, emus and other wild animals in Site 57, Michigan’s only drive-thru safari. They’re in Cedar Springs, about 25 minutes from Grand Rapids.


Also: The Rockford Area Museum explores the history and culture of this quaint community 20 minutes from downtown GR and the Cedar Springs Historical Museum, 25 minutes from town, includes displays of a 1900s home, old general store, Native American history and more.

Images of the landscape and wildlife experiences hosted at the Blandford Nature Center, 2023

Enjoy an experience like no other at the Blandford Nature Center.

Photo by Alina Albin for Experience GR

Blandford Nature Center

Dedicated to providing enriching experiences in nature, Blandford Nature Center encompasses 264 acres of woods, streams and meadows lined with trails. Its Wildlife Ambassadors – who live permanently at the Center due to injuries – give visitors a close-up view not often seen in outdoor exploration. Heritage Village, a collection of buildings dating back to 1853, are open with interpreters during festivals and events such as the Earth Day Celebration and Sugarbush Festival.

Fallasburg Covered Bridge 2024

The Fallasburg Covered Bridge has been operating since the 1800s, and is one of three that are still open to vehicle traffic in Michigan.

Photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR

Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum

Located on the campus of Calvin University, the Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum presents a rotating display of 400+ unique geological specimens collected from around the world. Displays include 100-million-year-old fossils, gold nuggets, copper leaves, meteorites, and an interactive ultraviolet case to showcase fluorescent minerals.

Calvin Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens

Also part of Calvin University, the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens offers walking trails through 100+ acres of native plants and natural habitats. It’s also home to West Michigan’s largest public nature gardens, featuring more than 40,000 native plants representing more than 200 native species.


Also: The Ada History Center and Lowell Area Historical Museum offer a glimpse into the storied pasts of these southeast communities. You can also visit the Ada Covered Bridge – originally built in 1850 – and Lowell’s Fallasburg Covered Bridge, built in 1871 and still open to vehicle traffic.

The city of Grandville is 10 minutes from downtown GR. There you can visit the Grandville Historical Museum, which includes a mastodon skeleton found in the area in the early 1980s, and the No. 10 Schoolhouse in Grandville’s Heritage Park, which features a hands-on exhibit allows children to interact with typewriters, rotary phones and various military uniforms.

The Byron Center Historical Museum is about 15 minutes southwest of Grandville. It’s housed in an 1860s-era building that includes displays on farming, veteran history, logging, a general store, post office and more.

A Pleasant Drive

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The USS Silversides Submarine Museum, 50 minutes northwest of GR, immerses visitors in World War II history, and includes tours of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and 1940s-era submarine.

Visit the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum, about 50 minutes south of GR, to experience 100+ rare and historic air and space artifacts, amusement park-style rides, full-motion flight simulators and more.

The Gilmore Car Museum, 50 minutes or so southeast of GR, exhibits more than 400 vintage and collector vehicles and motorcycles from all eras in several vintage buildings located on a 90-acre campus. 

Grand Rapids Area Museums: Fun and Educational

Save on Attractions with Our Culture Pass

Receive admission into many cultural attractions around Grand Rapids as well as additional exclusive discounts with our $28.00 Culture Pass.