Whether you’re an out-of-towner or a local looking to burn an afternoon in the city, downtown Grand Rapids has plenty of destination-worthy attractions. From the plethora of museums and galleries to picturesque parks, theatrical venues and eateries, there are always things to do in downtown Grand Rapids. Kids can find hands-on activities and events to stimulate their minds and express their creativity at many of these hotspots, too. So get to reading; the fun awaits.
- Address: 303 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-456-3696
This park hugs the banks of the Grand River and provides picturesque views of the Grand Rapids skyline. The former site of a Native American village, the Three Fires Council proposed the name Ah-Nab-Awen, which means Resting Place. Find artistic statues and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, here.
- Address: 20 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-356-2000
- Hours: Vary by venue
Built as a grocery warehouse in 1903, this Big Old Building is now an incubator for evening fun. It features restaurants, comedy gigs, a nightclub and sports bar. Bobarino’s, the only joint open for lunch, is a prime pick for families looking for tasty wood-fired pizza.
- Address: 122 Lyon St. NW, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-235-6285
- Hours: Vary by event/show
A hotspot to see theater shows, you needn’t be a thespian to enjoy expert staging, admire alluring costumes, appreciate a good story, or recognize superb talent on this stage. Singers and bands put on sound concerts here, too.
- Address: 18 LaGrave Ave. SE, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-454-9088
- Hours: Restaurant hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, closes at 12:30 a.m. Friday-Saturday; bar closes at 2 a.m. Monday-Saturday
There are plenty of reasons this restaurant has been thriving since its doors opened in 1927. From the casual atmosphere to its succulent burgers, pineapple-infused carrot cake and spicy chilies (vegetarian options, too), Cottage Bar offers tasty grub at reasonable prices. There’s a kids’ menu, too.
- Address: 435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-774-9463
- Hours: Market hall hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday; hours vary for eateries with their own storefronts
With 21 indoor vendors, two full-service restaurants, monthly outdoor markets, cooking classes, event venues, an incubator kitchen and rooftop greenhouses, there’s no shortage of things to do or fare to try in Downtown Market. Dining options include Rák Thai, Blue Spoon Pasta Studio, Rocket Pies, Tacos El Cuñado and many more. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Love’s Ice Cream. Get your espresso at Madcap Coffee. Buy your fresh produce at Relish Green Grocer and prepared foods at Sushi Market, Carvers Grand Rapids’ Finest Meats, Pho616 and more.
- Address: 40 Pearl St. NW, Suite 100A, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-459-6257
- Hours: 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
Located in the historical Michigan Trust Building, Ferris features woodsy tones, quartz countertops and modern light fixtures. With flavors from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and more, it’s the ideal place to sip and chat.
- Address: 1147 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-454-4118
- Hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday, the first Saturday of May-the last Saturday before Christmas; 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays, January-April
The oldest and largest market in Grand Rapids, Fulton Street Farmers Market stays open year-round to provide loyal customers with the produce and goods they require, regardless of hairy weather.
- Address: 101 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-831-1000
- Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday
- Costs: $10/adult, $6/ages 6-17, free/kids 5 and under; memberships available
GRAM has been “connecting people through art, creativity, and design” for more than 100 years. And they make it easy to get involved and admire the exhibits. Meijer Free Tuesday and Thursday Nights ensure free admission for the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays. The Studio has drop-in programs, workshops, and courses for adults and kids alike, so they can observe artistic techniques and apply them to their own design.
- Address: 11 Sheldon Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-235-4726
- Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday* (*open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays), noon-5 p.m. Sunday
- Costs: $8.50/ages 1-64, free/under age 1, $1.75/person on Thursday Family Night (5-8 p.m.)
Kids can get hands on at this museum. Toddlers can explore shapes and textures at Wee Discover. Explore Grand Rapids on a mini scale at Little Grand Rapids. Climb a tiny rock wall. See the inside of a beehive. Step into the bubble tower. Play some music on the piano or whale drum. And interact with the “Classics,” including Lincoln Logs, Legos, and Keva Planks.
- Address: Main Library: 111 Library St. NE, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-988-5400
- Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday; Sunday hours Labor Day-Memorial Day only
Not only a labyrinth of good books, GRPL’s main library also hosts events geared toward kids and family fun throughout the year. On Workshop Wednesdays, kids can learn about STEAM through interactive activities. On Mindstorm Saturdays, kids 10-plus can use Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits to practice coding skills and problem solving. There are computer classes, business classes, and group story times, too. The program Ride to Read lets kids ride the bus to and from the library for free.
- Address: 272 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-929-1700
- Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday
- Costs: Kent County residents: $5/adult, $3/student with ID, free/ages 3-17; non-residents: $8/adult, $3/student with ID and ages 3-17; memberships available; additional costs for temporary exhibits and planetarium shows may apply
Explore the streets of 1890’s Grand Rapids. Learn about the more than 45 ethnic groups that call West Michigan home. Admire West Michigan habitats. Read and hear about the Native American people who once called the Grand Rapids region home. Listen to the 1928 Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. Ride the carousel. See a planetarium show. Visit a temporary exhibit, and more. There’s no shortage of things to learn at this epicenter of history and modern knowledge.
- Address: 300 Ottawa NW, Suite 100, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-454-9451, ext. 4
- Hours: Office hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; additional hours vary by event
Hear the powerful music of the strings with Grand Rapids Symphony. The orchestra accompanies popular theatrical productions, films and singers – and puts on their own thematic concerts throughout the year.
- Address: 851 Bond NW, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-774-3100
- Hours: 5-10 p.m. Monday and Friday, 3-10 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Wednesday (College Night), noon-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday
- Costs: Passes: $11/day, $5/belay only, $3/spectator; equipment rentals: $5/shoes, $3/harness, $1/grigri, $2/chalk bag; lessons, memberships, and group rates available
No matter the season or the weather, rock wall climbing is a great way to keep active. So pack the family in the van or grab a willing friend and get to Higher Ground.
- Address: corner of Monroe Avenue and Pearl Street, downtown Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-456-3696
- Hours: 2017-2018 season ice skating: Vary, Nov. 24, 2017-Feb. 25, 2018
- Costs: 2017-2018 season ice skating: $3/ages 18-plus, $1/ages 17 and under; free skate rentals with admission
Rosa Parks Circle is the outdoor place to be in downtown Grand Rapids. It’s the only outdoor ice rink in the city, and the go-to gathering spot for free musical events, such as Blues on the Mall, GRandJazzFest and New Year’s on the Grand. During the warmer months, you can dine here on your lunch break.
- Address: 2 Fulton St. W, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-454-7000
- Hours: Gallery hours: noon-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday
- Costs: Gallery admission: $5/ages 6-plus, free/ages 5 and under and families of active military and veterans; memberships available; move admission: $4/member, $8/nonmember (gallery admission included)
A microcosm of Grand Rapid’s diverse community, UICA strives to bring people together through art. Explore the exhibit, admire the artistic expression, or see a creative film in the handicap-accessible theater.
- Address: 130 Fulton St. W, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-742-6600
- Hours: Vary by event/show
From Grand Rapids Griffins’ hockey games to monster truck shows, rock concerts, Disney productions, and stars on ice, there’s always something to see at Van Andel Arena.
- Address: 95A Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids
- Phone: 616-776-9013
- Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday
Self-professed “ambassadors for all things geeky,” the folks behind this comic shop chain shelve all your favorite reads and new releases, cartoon- and anime-themed wares, and host board game nights. You can even throw a party, here.