How to Spend your Summer in West Michigan
Updated: Feb 17
It's finally summer! Check out some ways to make the most of the beautiful weather in West Michigan.
1. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
This attraction is rated as one of the Top 30 Must-See Museums on the planet. This 200 - acre venue combines botanical gardens with sculptures to create a unique experience. Highlights include: Japanese Garden, Michigan's Farm Garden, Tropical Conservatory (the largest in the state), Victorian Garden, a Children's Garden and much more! Don't forget to also attend the Summer Concert Series running from June through August. Major artists include Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett and Brandi Carlile. Sit underneath a ceiling sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly at the Taste of the Gardens Cafe. Acrylic painting classes are also available while drinking a glass of wine or beer. Family classes are available on the weekends!
2. John Ball Zoo
John Ball Zoo has been a desitnation for animal lovers since 1891. More than 1,800 animals reside here including habitats such as: Tigers of the Realm, Living Shores Aquarium & Penguinarium, Treasure of the Tropics, Mokomboso Valley Chimpanzee exhibit and much more! Kids can also be entertained through the Funicular to the Forest Realm (a tram ride to the 2nd highest ridge in Grand Rapids), a four story zipline over the zoo, Sky Trail Ropes Course, Camel Rides, and a feedable parakeet aviary. The open entrance includes a park perfect for picnics and hiking along the trails.
3. Become a Beer City Brewsader!
In 2012 and 2013 Grand Rapids was named Beer City USA. If you are a beer enthusiast consider becoming a Beer City Brewsader! Collect stamps and eventually become an ultimate brewsader where discounts and other perks are offered. Right now, Atwater Brewery is offering a free mug club for a year and Cedar Springs Brewing Company is offering a free sticker. Perks are always changing so be sure to check the app. Just by visiting 8 of the 35+ breweries on the Beer City Ale Trail you receive a free t-shirt! Pick up a passport at any participating brewery or the Welcome Center at Grand Rapids Art Museum. Want the app instead? Download here.
4. West Michigan Whitecaps
Fifth Third Ball Park is home to the West Michigan Whitecaps. The team plays April through September. You can see the Six-time Midwest League Champions play at one of their 70 home games. For schedule, promotions and special events visit their website. Get your tickets here!
5. Lake Michigan Beaches
Conde Nast Traveler named the Lake Michigan Shoreline one of the 25 best in the world. Through a variety of state parks, beaches, and local parks, the coastline of Lake Michigan can be explored in many ways. Have a picnic, watch the sunset, hike through trails, bring your kids to the playground, or walk along the coast. All 23 beaches are within 30 minutes or so from downtown Grand Rapids, making it easy to travel to for the day.
6. Unique Shopping
Shopping experiences range from boutiques to department stores with the many options available all within close proximity to the city. Woodland Mall, Gaslight Village, and Tanger Outlets are just a few. You can find a variety of items such as clothing, antiques, and oils/vinegars. The Downtown Market is the first LEED-certified market in the country. Open all week, this market offers 24 retail shops with a variety of food options.
7. Live Music
With over 100 music venues ranging from large arenas to small coffeehouses, there is variety of atmospheres for every music lover. Major artists are brought into Van Andel such as Bruno Mars and Bruce Springsteen. Local artists are also performing at a variety of nightclubs and outdoor venues. The Grand Rapids Symphony presents more than 400 performances each year. Want to see what's coming up this summer? View the events calendar here. The Grand Rapids Music Trail also serves as a guide with every venue listed in the Grand Rapids Area. For the full map click here.
The World Food Travel Association just named Grand Rapids #2 for Best Food/Beverage Destination Experience. With over 53 destinations it can be a bit overwhelming to decide where to start. Click here for the Food Trail Map that will guide you on everything from eating food, shopping for food, and even how to cook your own food. With a list of bakeries, breakfast places, breweries and more, the dining options are unlimited.
Beer isn't the only drink served in Grand Rapids. The coffee scene is full of variety. Madcap coffee, Ferris Coffee & Nut Co., and Rowster Coffee are just a few of the very popular coffeehouses. Biggby Coffee also was founded only 70 miles from here and is now the fastest growing coffee chain in the US. Need to get out of the city? Wineries are located all along the coast of Lake Michigan. Starting in Grand Rapids and moving West, there is over 30 wineries to tour. For a full map click here.
Get a sense of Grand Rapids History by visiting any of the six museums all located within a few blocks of each other. Historic homes are also spread out throughout the city. Heritage Hill has houses that date back to 1843 and represent more than 60 architectural styles. Michigan also has more lighthouses than any other state. Four of them are located in 60 miles or less from downtown Grand Rapids. Bridges built here date back to the 19th century. The famous Blue Bridge is one of the longest truss bridges in Michigan that is now converted to a pedestrian walkway.
For more information visit: www.experiencegr.com