10 Bucket-List Experiences You Must Have In Grand Rapids, Michigan

experience grand rapids
Natália Cagnani
Natália Cagnani 

Walking around Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, joining a brewery party bike tour, or greeting goats at the farm of Blandford Nature Center, are some of the amazing bucket-list experiences you can try in Michigan. More than a list of items to tick off, you should turn it into a collection of trip goals to accomplish during your travel. Did you know that Grand Rapids is known as the Beer City in the USA? You can check this out while visiting craft breweries. Between a glass of beer and another, you can add breaks to admire art, watch concerts, pass through beautiful gardens, or enjoy some outdoor recreation. To give you some inspiration, here are the best bucket-list experiences you must have in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

1. Immerse yourself in nature and art at Frederik Meijer Gardens

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
Source: Photo by Flickr user Kari used under CC BY 2.0

As you walk around Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, you’ll notice that nature and art come together to delight your senses in a unique sculpture and botanic experience. There are 158 acres (104.4 hectares) to be explored, with a large variety of artwork and plants. Immerse yourself in indoor and outdoor gardens, sculpture galleries, horticultural landscapes, nature trails, picturesque pathways, tropical birds, butterflies, fragrant flowers, and Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Address: 1000 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525, United States

Website: Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Opening hours: Mon: 9am - 5pm; Tue: 9am - 9pm; Wed - Sat: 9am - 5pm; Sun: 11am - 5pm

Price: From 4 USD to 14.50 (USD)

2. Admire the exhibits at Grand Rapids Art Museum

Grand Rapids Art Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Why.architecture used under CC BY-SA 4.0

A rich art scene is a must-have on any bucket-list. After all, masterpieces can be really inspiring during a trip. In the heart of downtown, the Grand Rapids Art Museum - also known as GRAM - is the world’s first LEED Gold-certified museum. This international recognition is based on green metrics such as energy savings and water efficiency. In order to connect people through art, creativity, and design, GRAM carries more than 5000 pieces of art, including dynamic exhibitions and hands-on workshops.

Grand Rapids Art Museum

Address: 101 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, United States

Website: Grand Rapids Art Museum

Opening hours: Tue: 12pm - 6pm; Thu: 12pm - 9pm; Sat: 10am - 6pm (closed on Wed & Fri - Sun)

Price: From 6 USD - 10 USD

3. Spend a day at Grand Rapids Public Museum

Grand Rapids Public Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user John Eisenschenk used under CC BY 2.0

More than inspiration, museums can also release other sides through interactive experiences. Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium, in Grand Rapids Public Museum, gives you a chance to learn about the galaxy and discover distant planets, constellations, and more. After exploring space, enjoy a ride on the carousel at GRPM. Choose from one of the 44 hand-carved wooden horses or pick a different animal to ride on: a giraffe, whale, deer, goat, tiger, and camel.

Grand Rapids Public Museum

Address: 272 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504, United States

Website: Grand Rapids Public Museum

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 5pm

Price: 3 USD - 8 USD

4. Have fun at John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo entrance
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user WMrapids used under CC0

An adventure should also be part of the bucket-list experiences in Grand Rapids, Michigan. John Ball Zoo is a place you can take part in fun activities as well as visiting and interacting with the more than 2000 animals in the 140 acres (56.6 hectares). If you are looking for a pinch of adrenaline, ride the epic zipline that goes through the zoo. Prepare to fly through the trees, and enjoy the panoramic views of the rainforest below you.

John Ball Zoo

Address: 1300 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504, United States

Website: John Ball Zoo

Opening hours: Mon: 10am - 4pm; Tue - Thu: 10am - 4pm, 7pm - 12am; Sat - Sun: 10am - 5pm, 7pm - 12am

Price: Trom 9 USD (senior and youth) - 11 USD (adults)

5. Go on a pub crawl with Great Lakes Pub Cruiser

Source: PickPik

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Craft beers are also popular in the area, which leads to the city earning the title of “Beer City”. About 30 craft breweries, including the world’s third-best brewery and America’s best brewpub, are found nearby. The best way of reaching them is with Great Lakes Pub Cruiser. The minivan-sized cruiser has five wheels, 12 seats, and 24 pedals, and you and your group will get to pedal around the area, with two stops or more at various pubs.

Great Lakes Pub Cruiser

Address: 514 Bond st NW Next to Icon on Bond Apartments, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, United States

Website: Great Lakes Pub Cruiser

Opening hours: 9am - 11pm (daily)

Price: From 40 USD - 500 USD

6. Reconnect with nature at Blandford Nature Center

Barn at Blandford Nature Center in Springtime
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Cklane90 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Imagine yourself greeting the goats, as well as some pigs, chickens, rabbits, and owls, in a natural environment. At Blandford Nature Center, after a short walk west of the visitor center, you will find the farm, home to these animals, and many more. Here, you can stand knee-high in water to learn about the area’s ecology, or plant some seeds in the garden.

Blandford Nature Center

Address: 1715 Hillburn Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504, United States

Website: Blandford Nature Center

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 3pm (closed on Sun)

Price: 3 USD (non-members), Free (members)

7. Go hiking at Provin Trails

Provin Trails Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gpwitteveen used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Outdoor recreation is almost mandatory to have as your bucket-list experience. The adventure starts at Provin Park, an undeveloped area with nature trails just outside the limits of the city. Among dense pine stands and open sand barrens, you will find a 0.8-mile (1.3-kilometer) loop trail with some elevation. Many other trails are interconnected along the way, in the scenic hills and valleys. There’s also a dune in the middle of the park.

Provin Park

Address: 2900 4 Mile Rd NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525, United States

Website: Provin Park

Opening hours: 7am - 8pm (daily)

Price: Free

8. Admire the fishes at Fish Ladder Park

Fish Ladder
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Grand Rapids offers an unusual spot that combines both art and nature in a very unique way. Receiving its water from the Grand River, there is a piece of artwork — designed by Joseph Kinnebrew — that provides a beautiful view to visitors. At Fish Ladder Park, you will be able to see the migrating fishes like salmon, steelhead, and carps jumping the “concrete staircase” that forms a low-grade waterfall. Their journey into the water can be seen during the spring and late summer.

Fish Ladder Park

Address: 606 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504, United States

Website: Fish Ladder Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

9. Catch a performance at DeVos Performance Hall

Grand Rapids Symphony - Marcelo Lehninger
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Terry Johnston - ... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Michigan is one of America’s largest community theaters. So, whether you are visiting the city for a concert or a play, DeVos Performance Hall should be on your bucket list. With more than 2000 seats, the stage showcases many performances, including from local groups such as The Grand Rapids Symphony, The Grand Rapids Ballet, Broadway Grand Rapids, and Opera Grand Rapids. Singers like B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, and Alice Cooper, have performed here. There are lots of concerts to enjoy, as well as comedies and family shows.

DeVos Performance Hall

Address: 303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, United States

Website: DeVos Performance Hall

10. Stroll through Millennium Park

Gray to Green
Source: Photo by Flickr user Drew Tarvin used under CC BY 2.0

Millennium Park is one of the largest urban parks around, reaching Grand Rapids, Walker, Grandville, and Wyoming. It’s a place rich in natural resources and unique wildlife, besides trails and spots for recreation and outdoor activities. There is even a 6-acre beach (2.4 hectares) with boat rental facilities to enjoy.

Millennium Park

Address: 1415 Maynard Ave SW, Walker, MI 49534, United States

Website: Millennium Park

Price: Free

Experience the fun and excitement of Michigan

From outdoor activities and reconnection with nature to art exhibitions and craft beer tours, there are many things to do when you visit Michigan, and countless incredible memories to create. While planning your trip, make a point to include all the activities on our list above, on your itinerary and finally cross them off your bucket list.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hey, I'm Naty! A freelance writer, travel addict & photography lover based in Brazil. Japanese culture and K-pop music make my eyes light up as much as when I am writing, traveling or building some...Read more

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