Dynamic Variation:

Winter Activities in Grand Rapids

Whether you love to play in the snow or you prefer to stay warm and cozy, Grand Rapids is the winter destination of your dreams. 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 6 - March 5, 2023

Experience and enjoy winter in a whole new way during the World of Winter Festival in downtown Grand Rapids.

All World of Winter events and activities are FREE. Food and drink is available from downtown restaurants and food trucks. World of Winter sites overlap with the Downtown Refreshment Area, so you can walk around the Festival grounds with refreshments from participating businesses!

Art & Culture
Art & Culture

Local World of Winter Artist: Mandy Cano Villalobos

  • by Jordoun Eatman photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR Artwork: Carnevale by Mandy Cano Villalobos
  • GR text Must
  • 5 min story

Since it started in 2018, the World of Winter Festival (WOW) has invited all of us to rethink how we…


Budget-Friendly Ideas for Date Night

  • by Madey Lutenski photo by Experience Grand Rapids
  • GR text Must
  • 5 min story

When I first moved to West Michigan for college, I never imagined that I’d fall in love with…


Ideas for A Fun Family Winter Weekend

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

It’s winter time here in the Mitten state which means there are new activities to experience…


World of Winter Family Itinerary

  • by Jackie Kanyolo photo by Rashelle Whiteharris for Experience GR. Artwork: Passage of Shadow and Light by Laura Kloosterman.
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  • 6 min story

Grand Rapids is the city I’ve called home my whole life. And while I’ve traveled…

Winter Food & Drink

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‘Tis the season for comfort foods. Local restaurants, breweriescideriescoffee shops and distilleries are happy to do the cooking (and brewing and distilling) for you.

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 even in winter.

Warm up with big-bodied winter beers at the 50+ breweries on the Beer City Ale Trail – visit eight of them to earn a FREE Beer City Brewsader® t-shirt.

Meet a friend at a cocktail bar or wine bar for a leisurely post-holiday catch-up. Or hit a “dive bar” for a different kind of atmosphere.

Show Stoppers

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Really Big Shows

The Power of Poison at Grand Rapids Public Museum is a family-friendly exploration of poison’s paradoxical roles in nature, human health and history, literature, and myth. All season long.

The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited includes iconic puppets, historic costumes, TV clips and more celebrating the mind behind The Muppets. At Grand Rapids Art Museum through Jan. 14.

Comedy is alive and well in Grand Rapids this winter. Laugh along with:

There’s something for everyone at these DeVos Place shows:

Broadway Grand Rapids presents SIX, the Tony Award-winning musical that transforms the six wives of Henry VIII from Tudor queens to pop icons in a euphoric celebration of 21st century girl power. Jan. 10-15.

Double Take: Mel Chin & Elizabeth Turk presents sculptural works – primarily dealing with the natural world – from two winners of the MacArthur “genius grant.” At Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park through March 26.

Rethinking Monuments: American Sculpture in its Time, 1850-2000 is a Grand Rapids Art Museum exhibition that curates sculptures from four Michigan museums to explore the way artists think about and make changes through time. Opens Jan. 13.

Once On This Island is a musical journey to the Caribbean for a reinvention of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale The Little Mermaid. At Grand Rapids Civic Theatre Jan. 20-Feb. 5.

The Harlem Globetrotters bring their amazing basketball skill and outrageous athleticism to Van Andel Arena for a non-stop LOL good time Jan. 22.

America at the Crossroads: The GUITAR & A Changing America looks at the evolution of the nation through the lens of its most popular instrument. This exhibit at Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum includes 40 guitars, 10 video displays and more. Opens Jan. 27.

The PBR: Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tractor Supply Classic is two hours of pyro, music and the most intense bull riding action the world has to offer. At Van Andel Arena Jan. 27-28.

The Orchid Show at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park presents a stunning variety of beautiful, unusual, colorful orchids. Jan. 28-29.

Dancing with the Stars Live 2023 brings your favorite dance pros and special guests to the DeVos Performance Hall stage for a brand new celebration of dance and fun. Jan. 30.

Grand Rapids Ballet presents Shakespeare’s classic love story, Romeo and Juliet, featuring world premiere choreography and live accompaniment from the Grand Rapids Symphony. Feb. 17-19.

Shen Yun at DeVos Performance Hall invites you to travel back to the magical world of China through a stunning blend of dance, costumes, high-tech backdrops and an orchestra. Feb. 21-22.

The Creation of the World & Other Business is a Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids production that explores the theme of good vs. evil by way of a comedic retelling of the Book of Genesis. Feb. 2-5, 9 & 11-12.

WWE Raw returns to Van Andel Arena with all your favorite WWE stars in bruising action. Feb. 27.

Live Music

Winter Jam 2023 comes to Van Andel Arena with contemporary Christian acts Jeremy Camp, We The Kingdom, Andy Mineo, Anne Wilson and more. Jan. 19.

St. Cecilia Music Center hosts world-class talent this winter:

Pops Knockout with Caroline Campbell features the acclaimed violinist in concert with the Grand Rapids Symphony at DeVos Performance Hall. Jan. 21.

Concerts under the Stars at Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium project original video art onto the planetarium dome to accompany live music from local bands Earth Radio (Jan. 26-27) and Phabies (Feb. 23-24).

Rachmaninoff 3 + Sergi Babayan includes a Grand Rapids Symphony performance of Rachmaninoff’s towering Piano Concerto No. 3 as well as two Villa-Lobos pieces. At DeVos Performance Hall Feb. 3-4.

MANIA The Abba Tribute recreates the music of the enduring Swedish supergroup live on stage at DeVos Performance Hall, Feb. 5.

Country singer Cody Johnson comes to Van Andel Arena with special guests Randy Houser and Jesse Raub Jr. on Feb. 16.

Grand Rapids Opera presents The Last American Hammer, a bluegrass-infused tale of a one-man militia raging against the “tyranny of federal overreach.” At Irwin Seating Company Feb. 17 & 19.

Blues-rock superstar Joe Bonamassa brings his Spring Tour 2023 to DeVos Performance Hall Feb. 24.

Check out the winter schedules at GLC Live at 20 Monroe, The Intersection, Midtown (formerly Listening Room GR) and The Pyramid Scheme for 70+ concerts across a variety of genres.

Winter Sports

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  • 6 min

Snowshoeing has been around for almost as long as civilizations have interacted with deep snow. Historians believe snowshoeing traces its roots back…

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One of the great thing about Grand Rapids is the city’s close proximity to wildlife, nature, and beautiful outdoor scenes. You can easily find…

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.

Outdoor ice skating in downtown’s Rosa Parks Circle begins Nov. 25 and runs through Feb. 26 (weather permitting). The admission price – $4 for adults, $2 for age 17 and under – includes skate rental. You can walk up or reserve a spot online to ensure priority access.

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 inland lakes and river bayous.

Get your heart and your legs pumping at these popular events:

Cheer on the action at a Grand Rapids Griffins hockey game or Grand Rapids Gold basketball game. Check out the Meijer State Games of Michigan (Feb. 17-19) to see athletes compete in more than 20 winter sports, indoors and out. 

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From the heart of downtown to the coast of Lake Michigan, the Grand Rapids area offers all sorts of opportunities for cold-weather play. Some of our favorite winter pastimes require specialized gear in addition to warm coats, hats and gloves. If you don’t own gear – or you don’t…

Kids Stuff

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The Pigeon Comes to Grand Rapids: A Mo Willems Exhibit is a journey into the magical worlds of the beloved children’s book creator. At Grand Rapids Children’s Museum through Jan. 7.

Bring the kids to Preschool Story Time at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Tuesdays from Jan. 3-Feb. 28. Venture outdoors for FMG Adventure Walks: Trees and Sculpture! on select dates from Jan. 4-Feb. 24.

YouTube sensation Stephen Sharer brings his Share The Love Music Tour to DeVos Performance Hall on Jan 8.

John Ball Zoo hosts Animal Adventures: Surviving in the Wild! exploring the survival techniques of a snake, chinchilla, tarantula and rat, complete with live animal presentations, animal stories and art projects. Jan. 21-23.

Grand Rapids Symphony presents Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 In Concert – it’s a screening of the full film accompanied by a live symphony orchestra at DeVos Performance Hall. Jan 27-28.

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum presents Molly of Denali, a nationally acclaimed exhibit based on the animated PBS series. Opens Jan. 28.

Van Andel Arena hosts Disney on Ice: Let’s Celebrate, featuring more than 50 unforgettable Disney characters skating through 14 of the greatest Disney stories ever told. Feb. 2-5.

Winter Family Day at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is an afternoon of fun and learning. Feb. 4.

Blandford Nature Center offers a host of adventures geared to different ages:

Get ready for the Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies are Blooming exhibit at FMG (opening March 1) with a thoroughly delightful Butterfly Ballet at the Gardens, Feb. 25 & 26.

The fun never ends at Craig’s Cruisers, which offers indoor go-karts, bumper cars, laser tag, a trampoline park and more.

Indoor Fun

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Things to Do Inside

  • photo by Experience Grand Rapids
  • 3 min

If the weather isn’t to your liking or you just want to play inside, Grand Rapids offers a wide range of fun indoor activities for all ages, in all seasons. Exploration Delve into history, culture and…

Shop for brand names you know and love at Rivertown Crossings Mall, Tanger Outlets Mall and Woodland Mall. Find one-of-a-kind treasures in the neighborhood shopping districts of Ada, East Grand Rapids, Lowell, Rockford and Uptown.

Check out 13 local bowling alleys for some good fun, cheap drinks and friendly competition. Experience a different spin on the game at Woodrows Duckpin  – the lanes are shorter, the balls are smaller and you get three rolls per frame instead of two.

Work together with your group to find clues and solve puzzles that will enable your getaway from different room environments at Grand Rapids Escape Room, The Great Escape Room, Locked 460 and The Ruse.

Drop by Terra Firma Bouldering Co. and Higher Ground Rock Climbing Centre for an introduction to indoor climbing or just drop in for an open climb.

Get your skate on – whether it’s roller skating at GR Skate and Tarry Hall or indoor ice skating at Eagles Ice Center, Griff’s IceHouse and Patterson Ice Center.

Put some bounce into your step with trampoline games and courses at Altitude, Rebounderz and Sky Zone.

Go fowling – it’s a combination of football and bowling – at Fowling Warehouse Grand Rapids, featuring 30 lanes and two full bars for thirst-quenching game breaks.

Give your arms a workout with a few rounds of axe throwing ­­– it’s like darts on steroids – at FlannelJax’s and Wood-Splitters.

Join Spider-Man on a swing through New York City, travel the oceanic depths, make your way through a zombie apocalypse or an island of dinosaurs and tackle dozens of other exciting games at Amped Virtual Reality.

Take a guided tour of the Meyer May House, a meticulous restoration of a Frank Lloyd Wright design in GR’s Heritage Hill.

Hone your golf skills for spring with a golf simulator round at X-Golf or Thornapple Pointe Golf Club. Or hit the miniature indoor course at Great Lakes Glow Golf.

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