Dynamic Variation:

Winter Activities in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids is a haven for those who embrace the cold and snow of winter – and do those who want to escape it. From skiing and snowshoeing to stage shows and festivals, Grand Rapids has you covered … indoors and out!

World of Winter

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January 7 - March 6, 2022

Now this is how to make the most of cold and snow! Our annual World of Winter Festival brings people together in downtown Grand Rapids to view 40+ interactive art installations and 50+ ice sculptures, watch movies and performances, take walking tours and fitness classes, play games and more – and it’s all free, all outdoors and awesome for all ages! Bundle up and come on down, there’s plenty of room for social distancing and lots of opportunities to enjoy outdoor food and drink in the Downtown Refreshment Zone, which overlaps with World of Winter locations. Jan. 7 - March 6.

Indoor Fun

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Looking for a little warm and cozy to complement your outdoor excursions? Check out these great ideas for indoor exploration, entertainment, activity and enlightenment – from antiquing and bowling to karaoke and candle-making.

Hit the stores for post-holiday sales and new-for-spring merchandise – you can visit more shops in less time at Breton Village Shopping Center RiverTown Crossings Mall Tanger Outlet Mall Woodland Mall  and the AdaEast Grand RapidsLowellRockford and Uptown shopping districts.

Get Culture Pass GR and take a whirlwind tour of local museums. You can visit Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum and Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts over the course of three days for just $20. Plus, you’ll enjoy special discounts at other area attractions.

See Another Antigone, an Off-Broadway success about the problems besetting present day academia, presented by Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids. Feb. 17-27.

Experience a shattering story masterfully told: Opera Grand Rapids presents Stinney: An American Execution, the true story of a wrongfully accused 14-year-old boy who became the youngest person legally executed in America. Feb. 26-27.

Explore even more fun things to do inside

Food & Drink

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Browse our restaurantbreweryciderycoffee shop and distillery lists to satisfy any craving you might have, any day of the week. Consider starting the new year with a trip to a new restaurant (or six) – including these acclaimed destinations that opened in 2021:

Downtown

  • MDRD is the Spanish-influenced restaurant atop the Amway Grand Plaza that was named one of USA Today’s 20 favorite restaurants for 2021.
  • K-Rok Korean Barbecue & Karaoke brings authentic Asian dishes and entertainment to Grand Rapids.
  • Wahlburgers, the fast-casual burger chain operated by actor Mark Wahlberg and his brothers, is now open in downtown’s Marriott Residence Inn.
  • Social Misfits, also in the Residence Inn, offers savory and sweet scratch-made waffle dishes alongside delectable craft cocktails.
  • Portico, on the first floor of downtown GR’s Canopy by Hilton hotel, serves upscale modern cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients.
  • Wise Men Distillery has opened a tasting room in downtown’s historic McKay Tower. 
  • Café de Miro, a Kurdish-style Mediterranean restaurant, Gaby’s Gourmandise, offering sweet and savory authentic French foods, and Squibb Coffee Bar opened in the Grand Rapids Downtown Market in 2021.
  • Stan’s Tacos opened a third location in downtown GR, featuring an upbeat beach party atmosphere.
  • Condado Tacos, home of the build your own taco, has made Bridge Street even more of a dining destination.
  • Bobcat Bonnie’s is a popular Detroit-based restaurant now delighting diners at Breton Village.
  • Café Mamo combines French cooking techniques with traditional Midwestern food in the Cheshire Village neighborhood.
  • Creston Brewery reopened in 2021 with a blend of old and new beers and food dishes. 
  • Basalt, an “inclusive and intentional” Tex-Mex restaurant is open in Uptown.
  • Tamales Mary has opened a second location in Uptown for lovers of authentic Mexican cuisine.
  • Archival Brewing recreates historic fermented beverages while serving regional cuisines with a local twist, just northeast of the city.
  • Ada Garage Bar & Grill is the third location for the popular local restaurant brand, which also continues to serve downtown and Wyoming.
  • Painted Turtle Hard Cider opened a new tasting room at the Red Barn Market in Lowell.

Attend the 16th Annual Winter Beer Festival at LMCU Ballpark, which features hundreds of fresh, local beers from Michigan’s finest breweries, plus live music, ice sculptures and carving demonstrations, fire pits and more. Feb. 26.

Enjoy a delicious meal in the Grand Outdoors – or, at least, a heated enclosure offering a clear view of the outdoors. Dozens of local restaurants and breweries have created outdoor dining spaces that will keep you comfortable in any weather.

Share some new year cheer with friends at eight of 40+ local breweries and earn a FREE Beer City Brewsader® t-shirt. If beer isn’t your beverage of choice, meet up for coffeeciderspirits or wine instead!

Visit the Downtown Refreshment Area to stroll around the city center while enjoying drinks and food from participating vendors. Other Refreshment Areas around the region offer similar opportunities.

Ward off the winter chill with a unique warm drink at these 10 beverage destinations.

A Couple Drinking Craft Beer at Dusk Outside
Cheers to Craft Beer, Friends, and Great Food

Indoor and outdoor dining is available throughout the area.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Winter Holidays

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Make plans to celebrate Black History Month, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day in Grand Rapids. This year’s events and activities will be added as the dates draw nearer.

Show Stoppers

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AB Variation:

See a movie on a huge outdoor screen in the piazza at Studio Park. Bring your own chair and settle in next to a fire pit to watch Mulan and Cruella (Feb. 6), The Princess Bride and The Bodyguard (Feb. 13), Cool Runnings and I, Tonya (Feb. 20), Hook and Bohemian Rhapsody (Feb. 27), and Spies in Disguise and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (March 6).

Get your funny bone ready for LaughFest, a five-day celebration of comedy featuring nearly 50 hilarious events, social media contests and more. Performers to be announced soon. March 16-20.

Winter Sports

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Recreation

Skiing

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Every season brings great outdoor recreation opportunities that are easily accessible from downtown Grand…

Recreation

West Michigan Winter Sports

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One of the distinct benefits of living in West Michigan is that we can enjoy the beauty of all four…

Winter weather brings new opportunities to explore and enjoy our natural landscape. Hike the trails at Blandford Nature Center and area parks to savor every shift of the season, as snow comes and goes and comes again.

Check out the area’s best snowshoe trails (and find out where to rent or buy a pair) for a scenic, at-your-own-pace workout.

Skiing more your style? You can tackle 21 downhill runs at Cannonsburg Ski Area, just 20 minutes from downtown. Bittersweet Ski Resort (20 runs) and Mulligan’s Hollow (six runs) are 30 minutes or so away. All three offer excellent cross-country trails, as do numerous close-by parks and nature areas.

Cannonsburg is also a favorite with snowboarders, thanks to a terrain park filled with 80+ jibs and jumps. Bittersweet and Mulligan’s Hollow are also popular snowboarding spots.

Want to take the kids sledding? Our favorite fun (and free) sledding locations include Richmond Park, Belknap Park, Johnson Park and Cascade Township Park.

If you love fat tire biking, you’ll love the groomed trails at Cannonsburg Ski Area, Indian Trails Fat Bike Park and the Merrell Trail in Rockford.

Ice fishing is a major pastime here – grab your auger and head to one our many inlands lakes and river bayous.

Bring the kids for Wintertime Walks at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park – these outdoor discovery walks let young ones investigate the Children’s Garden in new ways. Nov. 30-Dec. 28.

If you’re more of a watcher than a doer, get tickets for a Grand Rapids Griffins hockey game or Grand Rapids Gold basketball game. Check out the Meijer State Games of Michigan (Feb. 18-20) to see athletes compete in more than 15 winter sports, indoors and out. 

Live Music

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Sit back and enjoy Concerts Under the Stars at Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Jan. 13, Feb. 10, and March 10-11.

Check out the full concert schedules at GLC Live at 20 Monroe, The Intersection, Listening Room GR, The Pyramid Scheme, Skelletones and Tip-Top Deluxe Bar & Grill for even more great live music. Or visit our Events listing to find concerts by date.

Save on Attractions with Our Culture Pass

Receive admission into many cultural attractions around Grand Rapids as well as additional exclusive discounts with our $20.00 Culture Pass.