Family-Friendly Things to Do in Grand Rapids in May

Warmer temps mean more outdoor fun for families and more things to do in Grand Rapids. Check out this list of family-friendly events happening on the west side of the state.

The school season’s winding down and the kids are itching for some outdoor play. Well, we’ve got you covered! Rein in the warmer weather with these urban events in Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas. From compelling theatre productions to Holland’s annual Tulip Time Festival and GR Paddling, LLC’s paddle excursions, springtime is in full swing and it’s time to have some fun. So take a break from the schoolbooks, check out this list of things to do in Grand Rapids and get planning.

Paddle Excursions

Ongoing through Oct. 31, 2018

  • Phone: 616-558-2609
  • Time: call ahead to book a time
  • Costs: rates vary per group and paddle experience

Paddle Grand Rapids’ scenic rivers and lakes for a relaxing bout out on the water with the family. GR Paddling, LLC, picks bookers up from home or another GR location of your choice. Offering up a wide range of experiences, participants can go on moonlit paddle rides, paddle-and-art excursions, paddle-and-dine outings and more. Paddlers must be 12-years old or above.

Imagination Laboratory at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

May 2, 4, 9, 11, 16, 18, 23, 25 and 30, 2018 (Ongoing) 

  • Address: Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, 11 Sheldon Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
  • Phone: 616-235-4726
  • Time: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Costs: $8.50/person, $7.50/seniors, $6.50/school faculty members with ID

Every Wednesday and Friday explore mud, slime, cloud dough, water and other sense-stimulating goop.

Tulip Time Festival

May 3-13, 2018

  • Address: downtown Holland area
  • Phone: 616-396-4221
  • Times: vary; check ahead
  • Cost: varies; check ahead

April showers bring May flowers – and just in time for the annual Tulip Time Festival in Holland! Celebrate Dutch culture and heritage with a week’s worth of springtime fun, including concerts, art exhibitions and craft fairs, culinary demonstrations, parades, Dutch dances and lessons, friendly competitions, a carnival, trolley tours, fireworks and much more. Consult the daily schedule for event times and places, and click the links to view costs for special events.

Into the Woods at Circle Theatre

May 3-19, 2018

  • Address: Circle Theatre, 1607 Robinson Road SE, Grand Rapids
  • Phone: 616-456-6656
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. May 3-5, 9-12 and 16-19, 5 p.m. May 13
  • Costs: $26-$28/person

This modern classic puts a twist on some fairy tales faves. In it, Cinderella, Jack, the Baker and his wife and other classic fairy tale characters wish for something. Their wishes are granted but with consequences beyond what they ever could have imagined. Rated PG-13.

First Fridays Gallery Hops

Ongoing (first Fridays): May 4, 2018

  • Address: Avenue for the Arts, 100 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids
  • Phone: 616-454-0928
  • Time: 6-9 p.m.
  • Costs: Free

Visit South Division Corridor on the first Friday of each month to check out exhibits at local galleries, buy handmade goods and art by local artists, and take advantage of food and drink specials at participating shops and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for nighttime entertainment or artistic inspiration, Gallery Hops are a great way to connect and admire artsy works.

The Happy Prince & Other Wilde Tales at Peter Martin Wege Theatre

May 4-6 and 11-12, 2018

  • Address: Peter Martin Wege Theatre, 341 Ellsworth SW, Grand Rapids
  • Phone: 616-454-4771
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
  • Costs: $46/person

Experience fairy tale classics by Oscar Wilde come to life in this onstage adventure. Included in the show are The Happy Prince, The Selfish Giant, The Nightingale and others.

Free Comic Book Day at the Vault of Midnight

May 5, 2018

  • Address: Vault of Midnight, 95A Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids
  • Phone: 616-776-9013
  • Time: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Costs: Free

Every year on the first Saturday in May, Vault of Midnight combines efforts with comic shops worldwide to grace the masses with free comic books. Early visitors get first pick from the comic book wall then can head outside for the Sidewalk Festival, where there’s fun to be had until 3 p.m. (shop closes at 10 p.m.). Arrive as your favorite comic character for the Cosplay Contest, then check out the local artists with popup stalls out front.

Super Arts: Draw Out Your Inner Hero at ACT Studio

May, 11, 2018 

  • Address: ACT Studio, 1140 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
  • Phone: 616-885-5866
  • Time: 9 a.m.-1:20 p.m.
  • Costs: Fees may apply; check ahead

This 33rd annual fest welcomes nearly 1000 special education students to celebrate the arts and all abilities. Kids that attend this fest will experience art through a series of hands-on art workshops that focus on dance, painting, drumming, singing and more.

Star Wars and More: The Music of John Williams at the DeVos Performance Hall

May 11-13, 2018

  • Address: DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
  • Phone: 616-742-6500
  • Time: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
  • Costs: $38-$105

The Grand Rapids Symphony performs music by John Williams, the talented mind behind the tracks featured in Jurassic Park, Jaws, Indiana Jones and, of course, Star Wars. 

Fifth Third River Bank Run 

May 12, 2018 

  • Address: Steps off at Lyon and Monroe Streets
  • Phone: 616-771-1590
  • Time: 7 a.m.
  • Costs: $20-$130

Get active this spring at this annual race, which features a 5K, 10K and 25K run, 25K handcycling and wheelchair races, a kids run and more.

Farm2Root Gravel Ride at Farmhaus Cider Co.

May 12, 2018

  • Address: Tripelroot (146 E. Main Ave, Zeeland) to Farmhaus Cider Co. (5025 Stanton St., Hudsonville)
  • Phone: 616-953-0050 or 616-920-1867
  • Time: 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Costs: $10

Fancy a bike ride featuring professional fare shared with good company? Bring your bike to Tripelroot Brewery at 9:30 a.m., coffee supplied. Cycle the gravel route to Farmhaus Cider Co. in Hudsonville and back, and you’ll be rewarded with ciders, ales, and artisanal grub at both locations.

Cider Week GR 

May 13-19, 2018 

  • Address: Various venues in Grand Rapids
  • Time: varies; check ahead
  • Costs: vary; check ahead

All across Grand Rapids, well-respected cider makers showcase their creations in bars, restaurants and cider mills.

Barley, BBQ and Beats at the Van Andel Arena

May 19, 2018

  • Address: Van Andel Arena, 130 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids
  • Phone: 616-742-6600
  • Time: 5 p.m.
  • Costs: $40/in advance, $45/at the door

It’s all in the name – sip handcrafted cocktails and grub on finger-lickin’-good barbecue, while you rock out to homegrown bands, all courtesy of local eateries and artists. All proceeds go to Hospice of Michigan. Tickets on sale now.

Roll’n Out Food Truck Fest at the Downtown Market Grand Rapids

May 20, 2018

  • Address: Downtown Grand Rapids area and Heartside Park, 301 Ionia Ave., SW Grand Rapids
  • Phone: 616-862-2460
  • Time: noon-8 p.m.
  • Costs: Free to walk, additional prices vary

Bring your empty bellies and dive into your favorite truck fare at this second annual, which will feature 30 food trucks and trailers. After you eat, kick back and relax in Heartside Park for music and other entertainment.

GRAM’s Parent and Child Workshop: Pop-Up Nightlights at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

May 26, 2018

  • Address: Grand Rapids Art Museum, 101 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids
  • Phone: 616-831-2927
  • Time: 10 a.m.-noon
  • Costs: $15/person

Parents and kids can get artsy together in this workshop. Meld your summertime excitement with art design to create a one-of-a-kind nightlight to take home. Recommended for ages 3-plus. Prior registration is required and space is limited; register today.

This post was originally published in 2017 and is updated regularly. 


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