Spring Break Ideas for Kids (and Everyone Else)
Although some of these are kids or family oriented, many of them will appeal to just about all of us (nature hike at Blandford, anyone?).
The Great Outdoors
- Hike a trail at Blandford Nature Center. For just $3 a person (free for members), your whole family can enjoy a hike through the beautiful wilderness at Blandford—you can even bring your dog as long as he’s on a leash (except on the wildlife trail: no dogs allowed there!).
- Blandford also has Spring Break Camps for kids in grades K-5th that run from 9AM-4PM, April 4-8. Kids will learn about animals and nature, explore the great outdoors, and try their hand at making a shelter. The cost is $125 for members and $155 for non-members.
- Blandford isn’t the only place to shake off the winter dust: West Michigan has lots of awesome trails to hike or bike. Check out the Kent County trails, the Paul Henry-Thornapple trail, or, one of my favorites for bike rides, the White Pine trail.
- Visit the John Ball Zoo. Always a hit with both kids and adults, during Spring Break kids can participate in Zoobilee, which includes daily activities and animal demonstrations from 10AM – 3PM each day, Monday – Friday, April 4-8.
- John Ball Zoo is also offering Spring Break Day Camps and an Overnight adventure! The day camps are two-day events. Monday and Tuesday (April 4 & 5) the theme is Just Zoo It. At that camp, kids get to see where the animals sleep, where their food is kept, and explore some of the Zoo’s wild park places! The second camp runs Wednesday and Thursday (April 6 & 7) and is called Who Dung It? During this camp, kids learn how to track and identify animals in the wild and how zookeepers use animal scat to check the health of their animals. Friday, April 8 is the Overnight Starlight Safari for kids in the 3rd – 6th grade. Kids will tour the zoo under the starts, enjoy animal encounters, sleep near the chimpanzees and watch the animals while they eat their breakfast. So much fun!
- Visit Dairy Discovery at Swisslane Farms. This fourth generation farm in Alto, just outside GR, is a great place to take kids anytime, but they’re offing a Spring Break Bash that includes hayrides, bottle feeding calves (doesn’t that alone make it worth the trip?!), and much more. The Bash lasts about 2-hours and costs $8 per family. Click here for more info.
- Don’t put those ice skates away yet—give it one more go during Spring Break. Check out these nearby facilities which offer open skating at various times of the week.
- Spring Break in Grand Rapids almost always includes a trip to our treasured Meijer Gardens, and this year is no exception. The beautiful butterflies are back, the horse never disappoints, the farm will be getting ready for spring, and the new Japanese Garden is good for the soul at any age. Meijer Gardens has several Spring Break Spectacular and Spring Break Sensations classes for kids, some of which are already full. They also offer ongoing classes for adults—check out the possibilities for both, here.
The Warm and Dry Indoors
- Spend a day—or several—at the museums. In Grand Rapids you have your pick from several different museums, all of which make a great day trip. Some of them are also offering special Spring Break activities. Whether you participate in an activity or pop in to check out the latest exhibits, our museums are a great Spring Break stop.
- Spring Break at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Activities will take place April 2-9 from 11AM to 3PM. The GRPM will also be open late—until 8PM!—during Spring Break.
- The Grand Rapids Art Museum offers Drop-In Family Saturdays all year long from 1PM-4PM. In April, the theme is Wonderful Wall Hangings, where you’ll learn about Sally England’s richly textured wall hangings, then experiment with color, texture, and repeated patterns to make your own textile wall hanging.
- In addition to the usual bubble and balancing fun at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, they’re offering something different every day from April 2 – 10. Click here for the schedule of events.
- The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum: Don’t try it over Spring Break! The presidential museum is currently closed for renovations and will reopen June 7, 2016. Mark your calendar to check out the new digs over this summer.
- Check out the Star 105.7 West Michigan Pet Expo at the DeltaPlex, April 2-3 (Sat 10 – 7 & Sun 11-5). The Pet Expo will feature live animal entertainment, a reptile and amphibian exhibit, pony rides, and a petting zoo in addition to lots of pet products and samples. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids (4 and under are free).
- See if you can solve the puzzles and make the Great Escape. My family—from ages 13 – 70+—had a blast. Working towards a common goal, with a one-hour deadline, encourages teamwork, creative thinking, and spurs lots of conversation. Click here for more info and reservations.
- Take the family to see a kid-friendly performance of Peter and the Wolf by the Grand Rapids Ballet. On April 5-7, 2016, there will be two performances each day at 11:30AM, with activities beginning at 11AM. Pre-show activities include a free trail ballet class and a costume dress-up. Tickets are $5 per person, reserved seating. Click here for more info and to purchase tickets.
Spring Break Ideas for Grown-Ups (and some older kids)
- Take a carriage ride. Classic Carriage and Common Gentry both offer rides downtown on Friday and Saturday nights. See their website for more information and to make a reservation.
- Book a brewery tour with Grand Rapids Beer tours. All of their tours include 3-4 brewery stops, with a tastes and a peek behind-the-scenes. Visit their website to see all of their options, prices, and dates.
- Catch an Opera GR performance of Orpheus and Eurydice April 8 or 9.
- Take advantage of something local that you usually don’t make time for: a leisurely trip toSchuler Books, a free Wednesday night yoga class, or treat yourself to dinner at one of the restaurants at the historic Amway (or just stop into the Starbucks there and soak in the hotel’s beauty). The concierge desk should have a free self-guided tour brochure.
- Explore the Downtown Market. (Note: They’re offering a Culinary Spring Break class for kids, ages 6-11.)
- Try a restaurant you haven’t visited before. Consider the Old Goat, Osteria Rossa, Slow’s BBQ and/or Donkey Taqueria.
- Visit the fun and unique shops at MoDiv downtown.
- Sign up for a class at the Local Epicurean to make pasta, chocolate truffles or infused butter. Yum!
- Sneak away for a little romance and R&R at one of Grand Rapids Bed and Breakfasts.
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An authentic, wallet-friendly Mexican eater, Donkey Taqueria is housed in a converted 1920s service station on Grand Rapids’ Wealthy Street. Opened by restauranteur Paul Lee in 2013, Donkey grew out of Lee’s food truck business. Everything from the salsa verde to the guacamole is prepared on-site by chef Craig Svozil and his team. Bright patterns decorate the walls and a long bar serves cocktails to diners as they choose between the array of tacos, chili and sandwiches on offer. Donkey’s special guacamole is a must-try, as are their churros (traditional Mexican fried doughnuts served with chocolate sauce) and flavoured margaritas.
Sandy Point Beach House
Sandy Point is up near West Olive, with beautiful views of the beach, and decor that’s somewhere between a beach house and an upmarket brasserie. The rotating menu takes its lead from whatever’s fresh at the market, with an emphasis on seafood caught in the nearby lakes. Fresh scallops, mussels and tuna tacos come highly recommended, while burgers offer a non-seafood alternative, with patty toppings including brie and onion marmalade, making these some of the best gourmet burgers in the state. There’s outdoor dining for good weather, while inside white-painted wooden walls and paintings of Michigan’s landscapes complete the cosy beach house atmosphere.
Phil’s Bar and Grille
Phil’s Bar and Grille, a drive outside Grand Rapids near Kalamazoo lake, serves a great martini and a mean broasted chicken, cooked to a special recipe. The chefs serve seafood, grills and salads and specialise in twists on the everyday, like lamb lollipops with pomegranate and risotto or grilled ham and cheese on special pretzel bread. The staff, meanwhile, are known for their little touches – If you book in advance, the staff will put your name on the cinema-style marquee out front, and every meal comes with a free cup of animal crackers for dessert.
Reserve Wine & Food
This cheery winebar and restaurant, with its elegant stone exterior, red chairs and extensive wine list, is the perfect place for a long dinner with friends. The recipes and produce are seasonal and local, and the staff are experts in choosing the best food and wine to suit your palate. Menus are carefully chosen to complement the wine, so you’re guaranteed a pitch-perfect taste experience here. The in-house charcutier ensures that every cut is perfectly chosen and cooked; try the chicken and dumplings or steak if you’re a meat-lover. Pastas and quiche are also on the menu for a lighter bite, and the cheese board for afters is not to be missed.
Cygnus 27, the upmarket restaurant perched on the top floor of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, offers high-end, delicious food and the best views over the city. The food, prepared by chef Werner Absenge, is American with global influences, while the decor is inspired by the Cygnus constellation, the Grand Rapids skyline and restaurant’s world menu; Turkish rugs and modernist lighting create an eclectic mixture of design styles. The food is served in small plates, so you can have a single dish with a drink or three for a hearty meal. A favourite is the shrimp and scallop brochette – grilled shrimp and scallops on a skewer served on black pasta with vegetables.
GQ magazine has declared Stella’s burgers as the best in the United States, so the restarant is an unmissable stop if you’re in the area. The walls are decorated with colourful murals and the laid-back bar atmosphere (their motto is ‘strong drinks, cheap beer, loud music’) belies the serious culinary talent on offer. The burgers themselves are huge, and stuffed with cheese, accompanied with onion rings and salad, and of course there’s Stella’s famous quarter pound of beef, speared with a steak knife so the towering stack doesn’t topple over. Elsewhere on the menu, there’s bacon popcorn, nachos, tacos, and steak sandwiches – if you’ve got room left after your burger, that is.
This quaint cafe with its romantic vintage decor is famous for its breakfasts, but serves excellent fare throughout the day. French classics like croissants, French toast and eggs Benedict are on offer alongside authentic Michigan crab cakes, pancakes and hash browns. Situated in the business district, the Cherie Inn is also Grand Rapids’ oldest restaurant, and has been open since 1924. It hasn’t changed much since then, and retains authentic tin ceilings, artwork and Stickley furniture. Expect great service, fresh flowers and a cosy atmosphere – but get down there early, as queues often form at breakfast and lunch times.
Amore Trattoria Italiana
Amore Trattoria Italiana is generally thought of as the best Italian in West Michigan. Head chef and owner Jenna Arcidiacono, known to customers and staff alike as Chef Jenna, won Grand Rapids’ Chef of the Year award in 2014 and her cooking is no disappointment; fresh local fish and meats are combined with Italian seasonings to produce menu highlights like the lobster pasta or the Mangia Fuoco salami and sausage pizza. Imported Italian cheeses and handmade pasta complete the picture, and guests should look no further for the best in Italian home cooking. The atmosphere is cosy, with regular live music during the week and friendly staff.
Grove sources everything from its berries to its maple syrup from environmentally friendly local providers, and the menu changes accordingly. Clams, crab, pork and lamb make up the backbone of their menu, with local cheeses, beans and vegetables determining the accompaniments from day to day. The restaurant itself is low-lit, with a dedicated cocktail and drinks bar (try their special-recipe Moonraker cocktail) and striped booths in the restaurant’s signature browns and greens. Grove defines itself as part of Michigan’s ‘farm to fork’ restaurant tradition, but ‘farm to fine dining’ would be a better description – their original recipes and flavour combinations make them a stand-out choice.
Bartertown Diner serves all-American diner food, but not as you know it. Here, all the meals are vegan or vegetarian, and the sandwiches and curries are stuffed with chickpeas, beans and other healthy ingredients. Their pun-filled menu is a delight to read as well as eat from: the Pretzeldential sandwich and Michigander black bean burger are worth ordering as much for their names as their flavour. Authentic booths and chequerboard flooring complete the atmosphere. The diner aims to promote fresh, local ingredients, and is co-owned by its workers, so is the perfect place for a guilt-free diner meal.
Valent-ICE is an annual festival celebrating winter and love in Downtown Grand Rapids. This FREE EVENT is organized around Valentine’s Day, the festival features live ice carving, a walking tour of whimsical ice art, ice skating and other snowy season fun.
– Unveiling of 50+ Ice sculptures Downtown (12-7pm)
– Bubbles on ICE Happy Hour at the Downtown Market’s ice lounge (4-7pm), free 80s’ Trivia at 5:30pm hosted by Thom Hunt
– 80’s on ICE themed ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle, free 80’s trivia at 7pm and 8pm hosted by Lauren Smith ‘Shmitty’ from 104.5 SNX, photobooth, hot chocolate and a chance to win prizes. (7-9 PM)
-Vote for your favorite and enter to win Downtown Business prizes. Codes will be listed on event signage.
– Live carving of the Voters’ Choice 6,000 lb public ice sculpture. Kids activities provided by LaughFest, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum, John Ball Zoo, The Home Depot, and Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities. There will also be appearances from Disney’s Frozen characters and other local GR mascots, free hot chocolate, and free ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle(12-3 PM).
– Love Potions to Melt the ICE at the Downtown Market’s ice lounge (2-7pm)
– ICE Cold Brewskies with a Whiskey Warmer at the Downtown Market’s ice lounge.
– Free professional photography for Valentine’s Day sweethearts, families and others at Rosa Parks Circle (6-8pm)
We all know The BOB as that fun place to grab a drink on the weekend, listen to live music, grab dinner or catch a comedy show. Currently you may be noticing some construction going on around the building. ORion Construction and the Gilmore Collection are building a tower in the area where the parking lot used to be. The tower will include studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. As well as living space, a venue will be built featuring indoor and outdoor spaces with a beer garden. This exciting project is estimated to take 16 months to complete. Check out the concept photos below!
Frederik Meijer Gardens brings to you a beautiful exhibit featuring 40 different Christmas trees based on the traditions and customs of countries throughout the world. Located very close to downtown Grand Rapids, Frederik Meijer Gardens is the perfect place to take the family and and learn about how the world celebrates Christmas. For example, many in the Ukraine decorate their tree with spidery webs. This stems from an old story of a family so poor, they couldn’t afford decorations. In the night, spiders wove beautiful webs around the tree that turned into silver and gold when the suns rays touched them. The German tree with its glass ornaments and springerle cookies makes an appearance yearly. The England tree charms with antique Christmas cards and mistletoe. With wonderful storytelling and over 400,000 lights decorating the various trees makes this an exhibit you don’t want to miss!
Grand Rapids recently named No.1 on Trulia’s list of “Hottest Real Estate Markets To Watch In 2016”
Ranking 14th in affordability and 22nd in strongest job growth this past year, Grand Rapids is the perfect place to call home!
Grand Rapids is quickly becoming a foodie’s paradise! The Grand Rapids Downtown Market has opened some mouth watering restaurants in recent years, including the highly anticipated Slows Bar-B-Q and Fish Lads (Which has some absolutely amazing fish-n-chips!). The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck was introduced quite recently and is gaining popularity fast with it’s high quality and delectable cuisine. Of course, there is always The Chop House, which never disappoints with it’s perfect, mouth-watering steaks. Also in the downtown area is the 2015 Restaurant of the Year, Osteria Rossa that offers heavenly Italian cuisine.
Check out the full article to see more popular restaurants in nearby neighborhoods
A big thank you to Jim Hargar of M-live for taking the time to write a fantastic article about this amazing condo in River House in downtown Grand Rapids!
Click Here to see the complete article.
The minute you enter this condo, you know right away you’re walking into a home of high-style and sophistication. Take in the views of downtown Grand Rapids from the floor-to-ceiling windows of this 27th floor penthouse in the prestigious River House Condominiums building.
Designed by Mary Witte of r.o.i. Design, this 3 bedroom 3 bathroom home is contemporary yet comfortable with an open living/dining room area and cozy family room. The kitchen features custom cabinets by Handorn Custom Cabinetry with white quartz counter tops. The open floor plan spreads out before you and reflects the city views and stunning light shows of the city after dark.
The master suite boasts beautiful North & South City Views, two walk-in closets, a private balcony overlooking the river, a large oasis shower and his & her bathroom vanities. The two additional bedrooms share a view of Ah-Nab-Awen Park and a spacious bathroom. Laundry and utility rooms come fully equipped.
Come experience a luxurious lifestyle in this stunning downtown home.
Grand Caroling takes place from 6pm-7pm on the steps outside of the Welsh Auditorium at DeVos Place, on the first three Fridays in December! The next dates and area choir schedule includes:
- Friday, December 11: Grand Rapids Chorus of Sweet Adelines International
- Friday, December 18: Girls Choral Academy & Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus
Come enjoy holiday melodies all for FREE!