When school’s out and summer camp’s not in session, it’s hard to keep the kids entertained, especially on a budget! Keep in mind these places you’ll find free (or almost-free!) summer fun for families in Grand Rapids, and you and yours will be adventuring all season long – all while stashing away a few extra bucks for that summer vacation!
Movies on Monroe (formerly Movies in the Park at Ah-Nab-Awen Park) is a guaranteed good time, no matter how many ages you’re accommodating. Now in its first year at an all-new site (555 Monroe NW), Grand Rapids’ premier outdoor film series invites you to pack up your blankets and lawn chairs (even beer, wine, and snacks!) and enjoy an outdoor screening experience under the stars, every other Friday from June to August.
Last year’s lineup featured favorites from Zootopia to Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, and the 2018 lineup is every bit as impressive, including classics like The Princess Bride and newer family favorites like Shrek. Be sure to take advantage of easy transportation options, including free bike parking, the DASH North bus route, and four Rapid bus routes that’ll bring you within a five-minute walk.
One of the best places for your kids to find free summer fun in Grand Rapids is a place you’ll love equally as much: our West Michigan farmers markets. Let your kiddos pick their own produce and choose special treats from the many well-loved, local vendors. Then, play and picnic together afterward in a local park, with nothing but your blanket and your basket of goodies! And be sure to check out our list of some of the best farmers markets in West Michigan before you go!
Thanks to a generous gift from Meijer, every Tuesday from 10AM-5PM and every Thursday night from 5PM-9PM, you can take the kids to enjoy the Grand Rapids Art Museum, absolutely free. Experience some of summer’s best exhibitions, including an ArtPrize 2014 favorite, Anila Quayyum Agha’s “Intersections”. While you’re there, be sure to browse the Museum Store, do a drop-in tour with a knowledgeable docent, and top it all off with a stop at Sweet Yo’s (just up the street) to let the kids build their own frozen yogurt treat, with toppings from fresh fruit to cookie crumbles and candy!
Venture Out Together
When the sun’s shining and the grass has never been greener, there’s no better time to venture outside for a fun and free day as a family! Explore eight incredible trails that wind through wetlands, meadows, and forests inside Blandford Nature Center (just $3/person, free for members). Or, explore another local favorite for free – the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve – where 44 acres of public forest and wetlands (plus a native plant garden) make for priceless summer memories. And be sure to check out all of our favorite kid-friendly trails in Grand Rapids before you set out on your active adventure!
Nothing keeps kids loving summer and learning quite like Kent District Library’s Summer Reading Programs! Sign them up online at READsquared or stop into your local KDL branch, and say hello to a season of learning that feels fun for your little ones, stretching all summer long from June 4 – August 11.