Are you planning a trip to Michigan and looking for the best things to do in Grand Rapids?
Then you’ve come to the right place!
Grand Rapids Michigan is one of the best cities to visit in Michigan because it has tons to offer.
The city is on the Grand River, just east of Lake Michigan. The rapids from the Grand River are how it gets its name.
It’s no surprise that the Grand River plays a big part in the city’s culture and the many attractions in Grand Rapids.
You’ll find tons of museums, nature centers and parks, and some beautiful historic sites as well.
So, let’s take a look at the best things to do in Grand Rapids Michigan that you definitely shouldn’t miss!
17 Best Things To Do In Grand Rapids MI You Shouldn’t Miss
You Must Visit The Frederik Meijer Gardens And Sculpture Park
One of the most popular attractions in Grand Rapids Michigan is the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
The gardens and sculptural park are just over 150 acres and are full of cool things to do in Grand Rapids.
You’ll find it just outside of the city, in Grand Rapids Township.
It opened in 1995, and since its opening, the gardens and sculpture park have been a staple Grand Rapids attraction for visitors and locals.
On the grounds, you’ll find walking trails, a botanical garden, sculptures of varying sizes, and even an art museum.
One of the most popular areas in the garden is the 8-acre Japanese Garden.
With over 750,000 visitors annually, you’ll quickly see why this would make for an interesting Michigan day trip!
It is one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids Michigan.
While At The Gardens See Leonardo Da Vinci’s Horse
If you go to the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, you’ll want to make sure you see Leonardo da Vinci’s Horse.
The sculpture is one of the most recognizable ones in the park, and it also is one of the most popular to see.
It’s so popular that it’s often suggested instead of visiting the entire sculpture park itself.
Despite that, it is probably worth it to see all the sculptures in the park if you have time!
However, if you don’t have the time to walk through the entire 158 acres, you definitely want to take the time to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Horse.
The sculpture is over 24 feet tall and was designed by artist Nina Akamum.
It is an homage to da Vinci’s original bronze horse design that was commissioned by the Duke of Milan.
Unfortunately, da Vinci never finished the original sculpture, which is what inspired Akamum.
It’s epic and definitely one of the best things to see in Grand Rapids MI.
Bring The Whole Family To The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
For those traveling with kids, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.
The entire family will love this Grand Rapids activity!
It’s specifically designed for kids aged 2 to 10 and is full of hands-on exhibits.
They have a few permanent exhibits and then they also have some rotating exhibits.
The museum is open Thursday through Sunday, with various hours depending on the day.
Kids under 1 are free, and for everyone else, there is a $10 entrance fee.
Before you visit, you’ll want to check the museum’s calendar to see if they are offering any fun kid-friendly events in Grand Rapids.
The museum often holds seasonal Grand Rapids events throughout the year, especially in the summertime.
In the winter, Grand Rapids has some of the best Christmas lights in Michigan.
The Gerald R. Ford Museum Is One Of The Best Things To Do In Grand Rapids
When you’re in Grand Rapids, you’ll want to check out the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
President Ford was the 38th President of the United States.
He was also born and raised in Grand Rapids.
The museum is a top Grand Rapids attraction for history buffs.
Many people even make it a point to visit all of the Presidential museums and libraries in the US!
Inside the museum, you’ll find exhibits on Ford’s early childhood in Grand Rapids.
There are also exhibits about his family life, presidency, and more.
For children between 6 and 18, there is a $5 admission fee. Adults 18 and older have an $11 admission fee. Kids under 5 are free!
This is one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids Michigan as part of a Michigan road trip to learn about our 38th President and the First Lady.
The Meyer May House Is An Iconic Frank Lloyd Wright Design
Frank Lloyd Wright is a world-renowned American architect who spent most of his life in the Midwest.
In fact, scattered throughout the Midwest you’ll find a ton of different Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings and homes.
One of those can be found in Grand Rapids MI.
The Meyer May House was built in 1908 and 1909 and is a prime example of Wright’s ‘Prairie School’ era of architecture.
Like many Wright buildings, you can tour this historical landmark.
There is no charge to tour the house, but you will need to book tickets in advance.
Along with the tour, there is a short video about the history of the house that is also included in your free ticket.
It’s one of the best things to do in downtown Grand Rapids Michigan!
Admire The Art In The Grand Rapids Art Museum Is One Of The Things To Do In Grand Rapids MI
One of the best attractions in Grand Rapids Michigan is the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
The art museum was originally founded in 1910 and was located in a private residence.
Since then, it has moved to the historic Federal Building in the 1980s, to its current location.
It is a registered green museum building, which means it incorporates different sustainability features and programs into the design of the building.
Inside the museum, you’ll find artworks ranging from the Renaissance period to the Modern Art movement.
One of the most prominent collections in the museum is the 19th and 20th century European and American art collections.
There are over 5,000 works of art in the collection for you to view in this popular Grand Rapids attraction.
Visiting The Blandford Nature Center Is A Great Thing To Do In Grand Rapids
If you want to escape the city a bit and explore the local flora and fauna, you’ll want to check out the Blandford Nature Center.
The Blandford Nature Center is in northwest Grand Rapids.
While you’re there, you’ll be able to learn more about the natural areas surrounding the city.
The nature center has interactive exhibits, a farm, and injured and rehabilitated animals.
Because the animals at the nature center have been significantly injured, they can’t be safely reimmersed into the wild.
Instead, they are well taken care of by professionals at the nature center and used to educate visitors.
You’ll learn everything from basic facts about these animals to how you can protect them in the wilderness.
The nature center also has a few trails that you can explore and see more local plants and animals if you’d like.
Walk Through The Heritage Hill Historic District
Just outside of downtown Grand Rapids you’ll find Heritage Hill.
Heritage Hill is a large urban historic district. In fact, it’s one of the largest urban historic districts in the US.
It is a residential neighborhood that is full of historic homes and landmarks and it’s the city’s oldest residential neighborhood.
There are around 1,300 homes and the earliest home dates back to 1843.
Within the neighborhood, you’ll find just about every architectural style from the 19th and 20th centuries.
It’s also where you’ll find the Meyer May house.
Most of the homes are still privately owned.
So, if you walk through the neighborhood, please be respectful and remember that these are still people’s private residences.
The Fulton Street Farmer’s Market Is One Of The Best Things To Do In Grand Rapids MI
The Fulton Street Farmer’s Market was originally established in Grand Rapids in 1922.
That means it’s been open for over 100 years!
In those 100 years, it’s become a popular Grand Rapids activity for visitors and locals to enjoy.
Inside the market, you’ll find a ton of different vendors.
They sell everything from fresh fruits and veggies, to handmade items, and even a few food vendors.
Outside, you’ll find 118 booths to explore.
They also have additional booths and food vendors in the building.
The main season for the market is from May to October. That’s when you’ll find most of the booths full.
However, they also are open on Saturdays from November to April.
Learn About The City At The Grand Rapids Public Museum
One of the best things to do in downtown Grand Rapids MI is the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
The Public Museum is inside an old flour mill and has three floors.
On each floor, there is a series of exhibits that highlight the history of Grand Rapids and Michigan.
The museum also has a planetarium and a carousel from 1928.
It is open on weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm and on weekends from 10 am to 5 pm.
There is a $12 admission fee for adults, and children aged 3 to 17 have a $5 admission fee. Kids under 2 are free.
To explore the planetarium or ride the carousel, there is an additional fee.
However, it’s completely worth it if you want to experience a unique activity in Grand Rapids MI.
Spend The Afternoon At The Calvin Ecosystem Preserve And Native Gardens
The Calvin Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens are actually located on the campus of Calvin University, in Grand Rapids.
Calvin Ecosystem Preserve aims to preserve over 100 acres of natural habitats and plants within the city.
While you’re there, you can walk the trails or simply sit and enjoy the view.
Because it is part of the university, the preserve often hosts classes or educational programs that you can attend.
You don’t have to be a student at the university to attend them either.
They have a greenhouse that you can volunteer to work in and in the spring they host a native plant sale too.
Even if you’re just passing through, it’s a great place to see in Grand Rapids.
See Art From Around The World At The Urban Institute For Contemporary Arts
The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts is easily one of the best free things to do in Grand Rapids Michigan.
Admission to the institute is free for all ages.
Inside, you’ll find rolling exhibits that feature contemporary artists from around the world.
The institute’s galleries often also feature artwork done by students at Ferris State University.
That’s because the institute is partnered with the university.
Along with exhibits, there are often some really great events in Grand Rapids at the Urban Institute.
They often have performing artists and film openings and festivals.
If you’re looking for a unique Grand Rapids activity, head to the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts.
Pedal Around Town On The Great Lakes Pub Cruiser
This Grand Rapids activity is perfect for groups looking for some 21 and over fun.
The Great Lakes Pub Cruiser is a 16-person party bike.
So you and all your friends can rent this party bike and pedal around town!
When you rent the cruiser, you’ll have your own tour guide who will take you to different pubs around Grand Rapids.
There are a variety of tours, lasting anywhere from 2 to 3 hours.
It’s a super unique activity in Grand Rapids Michigan that you and your friends will not forget!
Go Apple Picking At Robinette’s Apple Haus And Winery
Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery is open all year and in the fall, it’s a great place to go apple picking!
They have over 125 acres of orchards and grow 35 varieties of apples.
The picking season depends on the variety. But typically, you can go apple picking at Robinette’s from late July into early November.
Along with apple picking, Robinette’s has a few other activities.
They have a petting zoo, hayrides, a corn maze, a cider mill you can tour, a winery, and wine tastings.
If you get hungry while you’re there, don’t worry.
Robinette’s also has its own bakery and restaurant!
Visit The Grand Rapids African American Museum And Archives
The Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives is one of the best things to do in Grand Rapids.
Inside the museum, you’ll learn about the history of the local African American community.
The exhibits include oral histories, archival images, and other rotating exhibits.
There are also artworks by local African American artists on display in the museum.
Along with the exhibits, the museum is often the host to many Grand Rapids events that highlight the city’s African American community and culture.
The events range from lectures, concerts, poetry and literature readings, and performances, to films and even workshops.
It’s a great way to learn more about the African American community that helped shaped this Michigan city.
The museum also holds exhibits for current events, like the recent BLM protests, that discuss their impact on the city and the African American community.
Try One Of The Many Amazing Restaurants
Foodies will love exploring Grand Rapids!
It is home to one of the top culinary schools in the country and has a thriving, and growing, culinary scene.
In fact, the city is full of some amazing and delicious restaurants to try.
Not many people think of the culinary scene when they are planning to explore the city, but they absolutely should.
You’ll be able to find pretty much every kind of cuisine too.
From vegetarian, Mexican, Ethiopian, Soul Food, and classic American cuisine, there is something for everyone.
Because the culinary scene is growing, there are many companies that now even offer food tours around the city.
So make sure you stop by one of Grand Rapids’ amazing restaurants when you visit.
Relax On The Beach At Millennium Park
When you say Millennium Park, most people think of Millennium Park in Chicago.
It’s one of the most popular things to do in Illinois, so Michigan’s Millennium Park often gets overlooked.
Although they share a name, the two parks are very different.
Chicago’s Millennium Park is very much a small urban park.
Millennium Park in Grand Rapids is anything but small.
It actually is the largest urban park in West Michigan.
So large that it actually connects 4 cities in Michigan: Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Grandville, and Walker.
It is also still being built and it’s estimated that by the time it’s done, it will be 2 times the size of Central Park in NYC.
So it’s really massive!
One of the top things to do at Millennium Park is to spend the day relaxing on the beach.
If you have the time, it’s one of the best Grand Rapids activities on a warm summer day.
Packing List When Exploring Things To Do In Grand Rapids
If you are searching, here are some tips on how to pack lightly when packing for Grand Rapids’ attractions.
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when camping exploring activities in Grand Rapids Michigan. It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.
This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind. You can place it under your clothes next to your body to carry your ID safely.
If you have a pouch already that does not come with the RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and is so easy to use.
It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking Insta-worthy selfies while visiting Grand Rapids MI attractions.
I never much believed in using packing cubes when traveling. That is until I tried them. Now I am hooked. These are the exact cubes I use to stay organized when I pack for a trip!
You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for your adventures and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.
Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium in your suitcase, or in your car. Then this set of collapsible silicone foldable water bottles would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.
You will want a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. . No matter the time of day or evening.
This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great. And it comes in many different colors.
As you can see, there are tons of fun things to do in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
No matter what you’re interested in, I think you’ll find something to interest you on this list.
This eclectic city would make a fabulous romantic getaway!
Have you ever been to any of these Grand Rapids attractions? This is certainly one of the best places to visit in Michigan.
If so, I’d love to hear about your trip in the comments!