Dynamic Variation:

Grand Rapids Area Lakes & Rivers

Grand Rapids is a great place to experience the fun and adventure of a day in and around the water. You can enjoy the Pure Michigan Lake Effect at more than 50 lakes and four spectacular rivers just minutes from the city center. Plus, the glorious beaches of Lake Michigan are as close as 30 minutes away. Come see why National Geographic Adventure named Grand Rapids one of the country’s top waterfront towns!

Winter Fishing on the Grand River

From fishing to kayaking, the Grand River offers a variety of recreational activities in all seasons.

Photo by Shafi Subhan/Bryan Esler Photo for EXGR

Grand River

The river that runs through downtown Grand Rapids on its way to Lake Michigan is the longest river in the state – and it offers the greatest variety of recreation activities:

  • Fish for salmon, steelhead, walleye and other species in the heart of downtown and elsewhere along the 260-mile waterway.
  • See migrating fish leap up a series of graduated steps at downtown’s Fish Ladder Park in spring and late summer.
  • Take a scenic cruise aboard the Grand Lady Riverboat, constructed in the style of paddlewheel steamboats from the 19th century.
  • Tour the Grand via canoe or kayak with expert guides from GR Paddling or Grand River Kayak & Canoe.
  • Launch your own boat at nine public access sites in Kent County – Ada, Grand River Riverfront, Grandville, Johnson Park, Knapp Street, Lowell, Riverside Park, Rogue River and Sixth Street Dam.
  • Stay tuned for a downtown river restoration project that will enhance the river ecosystem and expand recreational amenities.
  • Row the Grand north of downtown – a stretch regarded as a world-class rowing course – with the Grand Rapids Rowing Club, which offers free Learn to Row days, classes, and competitive recreational teams for adults and young people.
Millennium Park

Millennium Park is just five minutes from downtown Grand Rapids, and the perfect place to cool off in the summer.

Photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR

Millennium Park

One of the largest urban greenspaces in the country is just five minutes from downtown Grand Rapids and it includes many water features:

  • Swim in the clean, clear man-made lake and bask on the sandy six-acre beach, with close-by concession stand, locker and changing rooms, restrooms and picnic tables.
  • Rent a kayak, paddleboat, canoe or stand-up paddleboard to explore two lakes and four miles of shoreline.
  • Let kids play in the sprayers, buckets and splashers at the Mehney Splashpad.
  • Hike 18 miles of paved trails that meander along the Grand River and amongst numerous lakes and ponds.

Swimming & Fishing Parks

Free public swimming beaches are available at Long Lake Park, Myers Lake Park and Wabasis Lake Park.

Rogue River

This 48-mile long tributary of the Grand River runs through the town of Rockford and is a popular destination for trout fishing and scenic cruises.

  • Take a canoe, kayak or innertube float trip with equipment and service from AAA Canoe Rental.
  • Get a guided tour of this “country scenic” river via GR Paddling.
  • Fly fish the river with equipment and lessons from Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company.
  • Stroll the 4.5-mile boardwalk along the Rogue and stop at the Rockford Dam Overlook, which provides a spectacular view of the river.

Reeds Lake

This picture-perfect 283-acre lake and waterfront park 10 minutes east of downtown Grand Rapids offers four-season fishing of bluegill, black crappie, bass, perch and pike. There are separate launches for motor boats and canoes/kayaks. The Grand Rapids Yacht Club is situated here and hosts a full schedule of races and sailing classes.

Riverside Park, 2023

Riverside Park is 100 acres and home to nearly one mile of Grand River frontage.

Photo by Paul Jendrasiak for Experience GR

Riverside Park

The largest park located entirely within the city of Grand Rapids features nearly one mile of frontage along the south bank of the Grand River. Fishing is allowed along the riverbank and from a barrier-free fishing dock on a large pond. There is a boat launch as well as paved walking and biking trails, two nine-hole disc golf courses, playgrounds, soccer fields and ample picnic space.

Thornapple River

This 88-mile-long tributary of the Grand River is a popular fishing, boating and tubing destination. Fishing access is plentiful and watercraft rentals are available from several businesses along the river route. GR Paddling offers guided tours ranging in length from three to 10 miles. A 125-foot-long wooden pedestrian
bridge spans the Thornapple in Ada, 10 miles east of Grand Rapids.

Flat River

This Grand River tributary flows peacefully through the city of Lowell, where the Flat River Grill offers patio views of the water and the historic Lowell Showboat. The Flat has a reputation as an excellent smallmouth bass stream and different stretches are ideal for float-type fishing and wading. Much of the river is canoeable, especially in the spring and summer.

Bostwick Lake

Lined with cozy cottages and magnificent estates, this 221-acre all-sports lake offers a public boat launch via a small park that also includes a well-marked swimming area. The Bostwick Lake Inn offers lakeside patio seating as well as a small beach area where you can pull up a chair and dig your feet in the sand.

The “Grand Outdoors” video series introduces you to a few of the many ways you can play, relax and have fun in the fresh, clean air of Grand Rapids and Kent County. Take a look – then come explore our outdoor offerings for yourself!