family friendly itinerary grand rapids
Explore Cities,  Weekend Trips

Family-Friendly Itinerary for Grand Rapids, MI

Our family loves a good road trip and Grand Rapids, MI checked off all the boxes for a family-friendly destination for us to visit! Located near the Grand River, on the east side of the state, it’s just over a four hour drive from the Cleveland area.

My husband and I visited a few years ago when I was pregnant with our first child, so we were excited to return with two more members of our family to enjoy everything the city had to offer. Here is a breakdown of all the family-friendly activities we did while in Grand Rapids.

*Special thanks to Experience Grand Rapids for curating a wonderful itinerary for our weekend!

John Ball Zoo

I loved the size of this zoo for our kids – we were able to see almost everything within an hour and half! Some unique experiences to this zoo include camel rides, a ropes course, a zipline, the budgie aviary, the gem Company (my son’s favorite!) and the Tree Top Play area. We went to the gem company, where they offer different size bags full of sand and rocks. You take the bag over to the water chute and sift through the sand to find all the gems. My son is really into gems and rocks right now so this was the perfect activity for us! We also spent about twenty minutes playing in the tree top play area.

Check their website for all of their ticket information and hours.  

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

The sculpture park was easily my favorite part of this place – it is so unique and there are such a wide variety of artists and sculptures. It was so fun walking around and wondering what we would discover next! There is also Lena Meijer Children’s Garden near the front of the park once you step outside. This area includes a treehouse play area, a Kid-Sense Garden, a Rock Quarry to dig for buried fossils, and the

Great Lakes Garden which is an interactive water table that is a replica of the Great Lakes. Our kids spent an hour playing around the different spots of this area alone!

Check their website for ticket information and hours.

Millennium Park

We were so happy to head to this park as it hit 90 degrees during the day, and we desperately needed somewhere to cool off.  This is one of the largest urban parks in the Grand Rapids area. This park features trails, three playgrounds, a beautiful 6-acre beach, and a splashpad that was recently voted one of the top splashpads in the country by USA Today. There is a fee to gain entrance to the beach and splash pad, however the playgrounds are free. You can also rent kayaks, paddle boats, canoes and paddle boards for rent.

Check their website for ticket information, hours and rental fees!

Deer Tracks Junction

This was the further drive for us, which was still only about 20 minutes from downtown. I am so happy we made our way out here, it was our kid’s favorite activity! The Deer Tracks Junction Adventure Park lets kids interact with farm animals such as: bunnies, goats, pigs, mini cows, camels, and more! Located at the same site is a drive through Safari where you can experience wild animal enclosures from the comfort of your car.

In addition to feeding and petting the animals, there are several play areas and playgrounds here as well! We spent just over an hour here doing all the activities. My son said his favorite part was petting the soft baby bunnies!

Check their website for ticket information and hours.

Where to Stay

We stayed in the heart of the city at the Amway Grand Plaza, which I highly recommend if it’s in your budget. There are several restuarants and bars within the hotel, as well as a gym, swimming pool and pickle ball court! We loved the sweeping views of the city from our room. It is incredibly clean and comfortable here.

Just down the street is another great family-friendly option is the Embassy Suites.

Where to Eat

The options are endless in Grand Rapids, but here are a few of the places we went to and loved:

  • Morning Belle: We came here for brunch and it did not disappoint! Everything was incredibly fresh tasting. The décor is adorable and it was the perfect brunch spot to start our day. They also have a kid’s menu available.
  • Founders Brewing Co: This is a repeat for us, as we also came here during our first trip. It’s one of our favorite breweries, so we couldn’t resist going again! I enjoyed a nitro cold brew while my husband tried two of their IPA varieties. They also have some food to munch on. This is a huge space with a big patio and indoor seating.
  • New Holland Brewing – The Knickerbocker: Considering Grand Rapids is the Beer Capital, we had to try a new (to us) brewery. It was another huge location with tons of seating and a curated kids menu. My husband said the brews were pretty good, too!
  • Love’s Ice Cream and Chocolate: Of course we had to treat ourselves to some delicious ice cream, and we loved this spot! It’s located inside a building that is essentially a market, filled with other food vendors inside. I loved this place because they offer ice cream flights, so it’s a fun way to try a few flavors! A good option for a family to share as well.

If you need some more inspiration for family-friendly activities to do in Grand Rapids, head to the Experience Grand Rapids website for more information!

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