Dynamic Variation:

Grand Rapids Summer Activities

Grand Rapids is the perfect warm-weather playground for all ages and interests. Our compact size and long hours of sunlight make it easy to pack in all the fun you can handle – hit the golf course, the bike trail, the beach and the downtown in one glorious day. Even better: Extend your stay to sample more of our restaurants, breweries, museums, music venues and family fun spots. Grand Rapids is no ordinary town … and it makes for an extraordinary summer getaway!


Outdoor Recreation

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Grand Rapids is an outdoor paradise in every season – but summer is especially near and dear to our hearts. Reason #1: perfect weather for golfing at 30+ local courses.

Warmer water means this is also prime season for boating, paddling and tubing. Bring your own gear or rent everything you need.

Hundreds of miles of paved trails in and around Grand Rapids give bikers and hikers ample opportunity for scenic exercise. These trails are particularly accessible for people with disabilities – and these trails are dog-friendly.

For more dog-centered recreation, check out these local dog parks (and hotels, stores and beaches).

Feel like a picnic in the park? Order takeout from a local restaurant and take your pick of 130+ nearby greenspaces.

Feeling competitive? Test your skills in the Grand Rapids Color Run  (July 23), Millennium Triathlon  (July 30), Michigan Titanium (Aug. 14) and Shake Your Teal Feathers 5K and Car Parade (Aug. 21).

Feel the beat? Head to downtown’s Ah-Nab-Awen Park every Tuesday evening for outdoor Swing Dancing – no partner required!  

Lake Break

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Downtown GR is just 30-45 minutes away from the beaches and beach towns of Lake Michigan. Spend a day on the coast and get back to GR for a night on the town!

Find your vibe – secluded or close to city amenities, bustling or laid back, dog-friendly or not – at 20+ Lake Michigan beaches. Or hit the six-acre sandy beach at Millennium Park beach five minutes from downtown GR.

Shop, dine and enjoy the sights in the beach towns of Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon and Saugatuck/Douglas – each boasts its own unique personality and style.

Mark your calendar for some of the lakeshore’s biggest events

Art & Culture

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Washed Ashore at John Ball Zoo is a collection of 16 giant sea-life sculptures made entirely of marine debris collected from the beaches of Oregon. A powerful environmental statement.

Yinka Shonibare CBE: Planets in My Head showcases the work of this British-Nigerian artist best known for his playful combination of colorful Dutch wax-fabric patterns popular in West Africa with the fashion of upper-class Victorian culture. Many of these works have never been shown in the U.S. before.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum invites visitors to experience Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, an exhibition reproducing every detail, brushstroke and color of the artist’s 34 frescoes. Get up close to these life-sized images for a never-before-seen perspective. May 20-Sept. 11.

In a New Light: American Impressionism 1870-1940 is a Grand Rapids Art Museum exhibition tracing the evolution of a truly American style of art through groundbreaking paintings, prints, and drawings from acclaimed artists. June 11-Aug. 27.

Two interactive exhibits at Grand Rapids Public Museum are full of wonder and discovery for kids from 1 to 92 – don’t miss Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs and Fashion + Nature.

Circle Theatre presents The Music Man (July 14-30) and On Golden Pond (Aug. 11-27), all featuring talented local performers. Circle also hosts a Summer Concert Series of timeless tunes and pop-up concerts.

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre launches its 97th season with School of Rock, a rollicking musical based on the big-screen movie. Aug. 5-28.

The One Peace Hip Hop Festival welcomes all ages for a day of art, live music, basketball, and healthy food and drinks. At Garfield Park Aug. 20.

Stroll John Ball Zoo and enjoy animal activities, music, craft beer and wines, specialty foods and more during Roaring Nights, July 28, Aug. 9 & 25. No kids allowed!

Shop the Vendor Merchant Mall and view the gallery of award-winning quilts from across the country at the AQS Quilt Show, Aug. 17-20 at DeVos Place.

The Dahlia Show at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park dazzles with stunning blooms the size of dinner plates and lovely dahlia-centered floral arrangements. Aug. 27-28.

Food & Drink

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Fresh food just tastes better in fresh air – check out 60+ restaurants with great outdoor dining & drinking spaces.

Take advantage of the Downtown Refreshment Area to stroll the center city while enjoying delectable food and alcoholic beverages. There are plenty of places to sit and relax along your journey! Similar outdoor refreshment areas are available in Uptown GR, adjoining suburbs and lakeshore communities.

Visit the Grand Rapids Downtown Market to shop butcheries, bakeries, patisseries, fishmongers, coffee roasters, chocolatiers and other artisan vendors, all under one roof. Refuel yourself after shopping with a restaurant meal – the Market hosts American, Asian, Hispanic and Mediterranean eateries, and you can dine indoors or out.

Summer’s the perfect time to become a Beer City® Brewsader – download the app and visit eight breweries to earn a FREE t-shirt. Consider a guided beer tour to let someone else do the driving.

Did you know that USA Today dubbed Grand Rapids the “Craft Beverage Capital of the U.S.” in addition America’s Best Beer City? Yes, we’ve got great breweries – but you should also visit our amazing cideries, coffeehouses, distilleries, meaderies and wine bars.

Shop the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market five minutes from downtown GR and other farm markets to enjoy fresh-picked fruits, vegetables, flowers and more, all summer long.

Get a look at downtown’s newly refurbished Rosa Parks Circle during Relax at Rosa, featuring food trucks, yard games and live bands, noon-1:30 pm Thursdays from June 30-July 28.

Bring your appetite to Riverside Park for Food Truck Fridays, from 5pm-9pm every week through Sept. 2. It’s GR’s biggest and best food truck rally!

Attend the Grand Rapids Tequila Fest to sample some of the finest brands and varieties of premium and ultra-premium tequilas, poured straight or in handcrafted cocktails. At DeVos Place Aug. 13.

Enjoy a sweet summer treat at one of locals’ favorite ice cream parlors or frozen yogurt shops.

Live Music

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The annual Meijer Gardens Summer Concert Series kicks off June 1 with Blind Boys of Alabama + Marc Cohn – the 1st of 33 superstar concerts. Local and regional performers take the stage Tuesday evenings in July and August.

Outdoor concerts are a highlight of summer in Grand Rapids. Slather on your sunscreen, grab a lawn chair and check out these music events:

Many of these concerts are FREE. Click here for even more FREE music events.

Van Andel Arena hosts some of music’s hottest tours this summer:

DeVos Performance Hall welcomes the Glenn Miller Orchestra (Aug. 16) and Vince Gill (Aug. 19) to its concert stage.

If laughter is music to your ears, you have a decision to make: comedic all-stars Tim Allen and Kevin Hart both appear live in GR on July 16.

Music Festivals

Tours coming to Grand Rapids

Holidays & Festivals

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Celebrate the Labor Day in Grand Rapids – check back closer to each date for more events and activities.

The Hispanic Festival presents live entertainment, kid’s activities, dancing, food and beverages that showcase the various Hispanic cultures present in West Michigan. Aug. 5-7 at Calder Plaza.

The Dozynki Polish Festival is the annual celebration of Polish culture and heritage featuring authentic food, beer, music and more in downtown GR. Aug. 26-28.

The 28th Street Metro Cruise includes 28 food trucks and concessionaires, 12 live bands and 13 miles of cool cars, plus lots more. Aug. 27.

Family Fun

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Head to Cannonsburg Ski Area for Dawg Days of Summer, featuring mountain bike and foot races for kids aged 2-15 as well as a carnival games, inflatables, a healthy living expo and more. July 31.

Bring a chair or blanket to downtown’s Studio Park to enjoy a free double feature of crowd-pleasing movies July 30, Aug. 6 & 27.

Take a walk on the wild side with kid-friendly events at Blandford Nature Center:

Head to LMCU Ballpark for a White Michigan Whitecaps baseball game and family-friendly promotions like Pirate Day (Aug. 19), Marvel’s Defenders of the Diamond (Aug. 26) and post-game fireworks (Aug. 27).

Kick off Labor Day weekend at the Grand Rapids Public Museum for The Pigeon Comes to Grand Rapids, an exhibit showcasing the whimsical world of beloved children’s book author Mo Willems and his cast of lovable characters. Opens Sep. 1.

Join the fun at the GrandCon Gaming Convention, Michigan’s premier tabletop gaming show. It’s three days of board games, card games, family games, role-playing games and more. At DeVos Place Sep. 1-4.

It’s all fun and games at Craig’s Cruisers, AJ’s Family Fun CenterTreeRunner Adventure Park and Battle GR – so the challenge will be getting your kids to leave.

No family trip to GR is complete without a visit to John Ball Zoo, home to 2,000+ animals and thrilling adventure activities. Two new koalas join the zoo crew this summer!

Play in the splashpad or Ninja Warrior playground, rent a canoe or kayak, or have fun on the beach at Millennium Park, five minutes from downtown GR.

Wander eight miles of trails through woods, wetlands, meadows and farms at Blandford Nature Center. Say hello to the farm animals as you pass by!

Explore the new Rapid River Farm, one of 10+ interactive exhibits just for kids at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.

Browse the diverse and inclusive kid’s books at We Are LIT! Multicultural Bookshop inside the Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives.

Take a day trip to Michigan’s Adventure Amusement & Water Park, home to 60+ rides, slides and attractions, including seven roller coasters. It’s about 50 minutes from downtown GR.

Rainy day? No worries – check out these ideas for things to do indoors.

  • by Sasha Wolff photo by Experience Grand Rapids
  • GR text Must
  • 10 min story

West Michiganders anticipate summer with joy for good reason: the weather is gorgeous, the sparkling lakeshore beckons, and every weekend holds the promise of something new and exciting to do around Grand Rapids. Whether you live in West Michigan or are visiting, you can take advantage of…

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