Grand Rapids, and all of West Michigan, is great for exploring, hiking, dining, and adventuring! It is home to some of the most beautiful and fun attractions in America. No matter where you happen to end up, there will always be something new for you to try! To help you experience Grand Rapids, and all of West Michigan, in the best ways possible, we’ve made a Summer Bucket List of all the events, restaurants, and places you’ve GOT to try this summer. Experience your favorite parts of summer in new ways:
Food + Drinks
- Enjoy beer or spirits in a new way by taking a tour! Get a look at the behind the scenes and learn things you never knew. Some great tours: Grand Rapids Beer Tours, Beer City Runner, The Big 4 Brewery Tour, Beer City On Tap Walking Tour, GR Hopper, Elk Brewery Tour, and Long Road Distillery.
- Shop for local and fresh produce at Fulton St. Market (who’s been serving the area since 1922!) (see image below).
- Gather your friends for drinks and a ping pong tournament: head to the Rez Lounge in Grand Rapids, a bar that has a ping pong table!
- Learn how to cook a delicious meal at the Downtown Market’s Teaching Kitchen! Find a class by clicking here.
- Dine on any of the wonderful patios in Grand Rapids. See a list of 24+ GR Patios.
- Pedal around town while sipping a drink on the Pub Cruiser with Great Lakes Pub Cruiser (see image below)! This 15-person party bike brings smiles not only to those riding it, but the patrons who see it on the street. Read more about it here.
Photo credit: Great Lakes Pub Cruiser
- Love wine? You don’t have to go all the way to Traverse City to experience wine tasting – Robinettes and Cascade Winery have great wines and are only a short drive from anywhere in Grand Rapids.
- Bars and games: Tin Can had outdoor games, Stella’s and Pyrimd Scheme for arcade games.
- Or check out any one of these food and beverages events this summer:
- Signature Chef – Each event will run from 6:00pm-8:30pm and will feature all four local chefs completing one of the five courses. Each event will feature a different local produce, picked at the height of the season at Ingraburg Farms. These chefs include Chef Alcid from Wheelhouse, Chef Mick Rickerd and Ed Werner from Mangiamo, Chef Daniel Cook from Creston Brewery and Chef Greg Bastien from Vander Mill. Get tickets here for the Creston Brewery event.
- Love multiple courses and wine? Sign-up for Trivento Wine Dinner – A very special Wine Dinner featuring a 5 course meal from Chef, Eli Justice (Mangiamo!), and the wines of Bodega Trivento, Argentina.
Adventure + Nature
- Fly through the air on a zipline (or be fearless on a high ropes course): Cannonsburg, Tree Top Adventure Park, and John Ball Zoo.
- Make it a paddle party and canoe with GR Paddling Tours! They are not in the business of renting, instead they provide “kayak and canoe experiences” of the Grand River.
- Animal lovers rejoice! Here’s places where you can get your animal fix: John Ball Zoo, Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park (Alto), Blanford Nature Center, and Humane Society of Grand Rapids.
- Ever considered beer and river floating? Paddles n’ Pints is perfect for you then! Rockford Brewing has an annual event for beer and water lovers everywhere: drink and float down the Rogue River! You can do so in tubes, kayaks, canoes, or even in your own floatation device. Sign up here to reserve your spot for this July!
- Have you every been paintballing? If not, you should try out your tigger finger at TC Paintball in Grandville.
- The clock is ticking and there are puzzles you have to figure out in order to escape the room at Escape Michigan. Not only is it great for family and friend bonding but also to beat the heat on obnoxiously hot days.
- Visit the Fish Ladder, a hidden gem that “allows people to engage with the fish run in an architecturally designed space”.
- Splash around at Millennium Park “with 1,400 acres of rolling terrain and six miles of frontage on the Grand River, the park is rich in natural resources, featuring unique habitats and large natural areas for wildlife to thrive. Facilities within the park include a six-acre beach and splashpad, boat rental facilities, nearly 18 miles of trails, and other diverse opportunities for recreation and relaxation”.
Health + Fitness
- Nothing beats summer evenings: spend one taking a late-night bike ride around Reed’s Lake then grab a bite to eat on the Rose’s patio.
- Grab your golf clubs and play a 36-hole game at Saskatoon Golf Club and find out why they were ranked one of the “Best Places Play 2008-2009” by Golf Digest! (Caledonia).
- Great Escape Fitness now offers Group Hiking through parks like Provin Trails.
- Grand Rapids is perfect for 5Ks and other races: Day of The Dog, Bike Camp, and GRAAHI Rhythm Run.
- Running is fun but running through the city while learning about GR history with Grand Rapids Running Tours is even more fun! So, get to know the city and get in some exercise.
Date Night + Out with Friends
- Have a picnic in a West Michigan Park – Martha’s Vineyard offers a grab-and-go picnic! In Grand Rapids, you can watch sail boats go by at John Collins Park, or enjoy an urban setting at Rosa Parks Circle.
- Go to a West Michigan Whitecaps game for fun that everyone will enjoy! Click here for their upcoming games.
- A classic “who done it” with a twist… Murder Mystery Dinner is serving up “mystery and a delicious three course dinner” at Pietro’s.
- Love to laugh? Head to a comedy club or improv show: River City Improv, Dr. Grin’s, and Holly’s Landing Lounge.
- It’s closing time and you want another activity? “Last Call” by Celebration Cinema is for you! For your viewing pleasure and only $5, Celebration has picked cult classics and horror movies to mock and they all start at 11:30pm. Don’t worry, there are beverages for purchase too. Celebration Cinema North now has a bar, Oscar’s.
Art + Theatre
- Explore the wonderland of artistic and natural beauty at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
- Listen to the GR Symphony with Picnic Pops! Pack a picnic, set up on the grass lawn (at Cannonsburg Ski Area), and enjoy the live music. The event ranges from July 14th – July 29th and there’s 5 concerts you can go to!
- Music is one thing that GR has…nightly! Head to one of these bars/venues to find live bands on the regular: Flanagan’s, Billy’s Lounge, Steel Cat Bar, Pyramid Scheme, and 20 Monroe Live.
- Go gallery gazing! Stop by Richard App Gallery, Lions and Rabbits, or Mercury Head for local art. Don’t forget to check out Avenue for the Arts to see if an art event is happening or to get recommendations on more galleries.
- From fish to glittery walls and a HUGE face (or three), there are plenty of amazing murals all over Grand Rapids to get a photo of!
Events in West Michigan
- Shop at the (Made in) Michigan Pop-Up Marketplace on one Saturday of each summer month! You can shop Michigan made treats and gifts and then stroll through the Downtown Market: August 26th, and September 23rd.
- Experience the streets of downtown Holland come alive with the Summer Street Performer Series from June 15th – August 31st on Thursdays. Enjoy street performers of all varieties, including mimes, musical acts, and aerial acrobats! Find out more on their Facebook here.
- Attend a fair with the family or loved ones and indulge in the rides, food, and entertainments that each provide! The Kent County Youth Fair is August 7th – 12th
- Attend some of the August Festivals to explore music, culture, and new experiences at the Polish Festival, GrandJazzGR, or Breakaway Music Festival.
Other things to do in West Michigan
- Fly a vintage airplane (or ride and let someone else pilot) with Waldo Wright’s Flying Service in Portage!
- Go to Art in the Park in Holland on August 5th in Centennial Park for a fine arts and crafts fair! Up to 3oo artists from around the country will be displaying their work, which will draw a huge crowd (and is one of the largest Holland events, second only to the Tulip Time Festival!)
- See a film at the Getty Drive-In Theater, one of the only drive-in theaters left in the state.
- Discover some light houses, be it in Holland, Grand Haven or somewhere along the coast. West Michigan light houses are great if you’re looking for an unforgettable view. Check out Big Red, or the Holland Harbor Lighthouse, if you’re looking for a classic.
- This bucket list item is for bike lovers: bike the Kal-Haven Trail! (see image below) 33.5 of beautiful scenery, all the way from South Haven to Kalamazoo. This former railroad path crosses over bridges, passes through small towns and goes by historical sites.
Photo credit: https://indulgy.com/post/HTgZNJYge2/this-is-the-black-river-covered-bridge-located-o
- If you want to picnic in other parts of West Michigan, consider checking out Castle in the Country (Allegan), which is a great romantic spot, or Pier Cove Beach (Fennville) for a picnic on the beach.
- Head to a lake beach to enjoy the West Michigan sun setting over the water. It’s truly an experience that can’t be missed. Photo credit: Melanie Mrozek, Central Michigan
No matter what you do, Grand Rapids (and West Michigan) is a pretty cool place! Did we miss any activities or destinations that you think are ESSENTIAL to get the most out of summer? Let us know!