While we all love the sweet, simple joys of summertime in West Michigan, it can still be hard to keep your kids learning, laughing, and adventuring all season long when the school year ends and the battle cry of “Mom, I’m bored!” begins. Try these 5 local Grand Rapids summer activities for kids to keep your little ones loving summer until it’s time for back-to-school:
#1) Make a big splash
On hot, summer days when playing in the yard means too much sweat and too many sunburns, find a way to beat the heat while enjoying a little Pure Michigan water play! We love grkids.com’s go-to list of Grand Rapids Area Splash Pads & Water Playgrounds, but if you don’t have time to search for the perfect place for your kids to get their feet wet, go with the one most-loved by locals: Millennium Park Beach & Splashpad! Here, your littles will love the six-acre sand beach and oversized Mehney Splashpad, featuring over a dozen sprayers, buckets, splashers, and other water features, offering fun for all ages, toddler on up!
#2) Enroll in a summer reading program
We (and the 30,000 people who participated in last year’s program) love the Create! Summer Reading Program at Kent District Library, with 18 locations across Kent County. This program offers summer reading fun from Monday, June 5 to Saturday, August 12, along with activities and prizes that’ll encourage your young readers to stay sharp all summer long. Best of all, all completers of this year’s Create! Summer Reading Program @ KDL will be entered for the chance to win 1 of 10 iPad minis!
#3) Get up close & personal with the animals
There’s no better time than summer to take your kids for a visit to some of their favorite furry (or scaly… or slimy…) friends. And this list of 21 Places You Can Get Close To Animals Around West Michigan from grkids.com will leave you with plenty of animal encounters to check off your kids’ summer bucket list. And while we highly recommend John Ball Zoo for wow-factor adventures like camel rides and sting ray touches, there are plenty of smaller-scale and off-the-beaten path animal adventures to be had, too (like holding chickens at Zeeland’s Critter Barn, bottle feeding a calf at Dairy Discovery in Alto, or taking a goat for a walk at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland!)
#4) Sign the kids up for a summer day camp (or two!)
Sometimes, in the summer, your kids need a break from the norm just as much as you do. Sign them up for one on this list of more than 50+ summer day camps, gathered by grkids.com (and act now: many may already be filled… or filling up fast!)
#5) Cool off with Celebration Cinema Woodland Free Kid Flicks
When the dog days of summer have left your little ones burnt (and burned out!) from active outdoor play, give them a chance to chill out and cool down with Celebration Cinema Woodland’s Free Kid Flicks, offered all summer long! From favorites like The Sandlot and Back To The Future to newer releases like How To Train Your Dragon, there are plenty of kid-friendly favorites for your little ones to enjoy in air-conditioned comfort (free for kids 12 & under, and only $5 for everyone else!)