Grand Rapids Summer Activities from A-Z

Photo courtesy of DGRI, Relax at Rosa 2016
Photo courtesy of DGRI, Relax at Rosa 2016

Chances are your summer calendar is filling up fast. But just in case, we wanted to give you a list of fun activities you can enjoy this summer in and around Grand Rapids. Enjoy our suggestions and share some of your own in the comments.

Action Wake Park

Head to Hudsonville for the day and enjoy Michigan’s only full-size cable park. Learn how to wakeboard, water ski and kneeboard in a controlled environment without the need for a boat.

Blandford Nature Center

Hike the trails at Blandford Nature Center, and don’t forget to check out the farm and wildlife exhibits. Visit Blandford Nature Center on Facebook for a full list of summer events taking place as well.

Community Legends Sculpture Project

Take a self-guided tour around downtown Grand Rapids and discover the legends of Grand Rapids. The Community Legends Sculpture Project is an effort to commemorate Grand Rapids’ most notable figures in bronze throughout the city. The Community Legends Sculpture Project is an ongoing initiative to erect 25 bronze statues honoring people who helped make Grand Rapids what it is today.

Dine Al Fresco

Grand Rapids has so many places to eat outdoors! From screened in porches and covered patios to outside spaces basked in the sunlight, Grand Rapids offers so many restaurants where you can dine outdoors.

Eastown Bizarre Bazaar

Annual Eastown Bizarre Bazaar takes place this summer on June 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bizarre Bazaar features over 80 local artists and craftspeople selling their wares and local bands perform throughout the day.

Fulton Street Farmer’s Market

The Fulton Street Farmers Market is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  You’ll find 118 outdoor booths and an additional nine indoor booths the market hosts an amazing assortment of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and hand-crafted foods each market day.

And, this summer the market has launched its new Summer Nights Series on Wednesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can also find local goods on Sundays from 11 p.m. to 3 p.m. from through Sept. 30 at the Artisan Market.

Grand River

While the Whitewater Project is still in its visionary stages, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the Grand River right now. From fishing to picnicking in one of the many parks along its shores, you can definitely make an afternoon or evening along the riverbank. Strike a pose anywhere along the river for an Instagram-worthy shot.


Visit the Heartside neighborhood’s South Division corridor for First Fridays. Brought to you by Avenue for the Arts, First Fridays feature artwork by local artists, handmade goods, food and drink specials. This eclectic neighborhood offers a bustling corridor with restaurants, retail, and art galleries, and it’s still home to some of Grand Rapids’ most important nonprofits serving community members in need.

Ice Cream

Grand Rapids has so many great places to get ice cream, why not try out all of them this summer? We’ve got a list to get you started, too.


Dinner & drinks on the Jdek is a must this summer. Bring a group of friends and enjoy a night of culinary delights and craft cocktails. You can also catch live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

Kayak, Canoe or Paddleboard

Rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard this summer from one of several rental companies. Looking for a guided excursion, GR Paddling offers themed outings to fit any mood. Excursions include Paddle & Picnic, Paddle & Art, and moonlight/sunset paddles.

“Leading Ladies” at Circle Theatre

Escape the heat with Circle Theatre’s production of “Leading Ladies,” a hilarious comedy about two Shakespearean actors who find themselves down on their luck. When they hear that an old lady in York, PA is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her beloved relatives and get the cash. The trouble is, when they get to York, they find out that the relatives aren’t nephews, but nieces!

You can also see productions of Snow White (June 27 -30), Fun Home (July 12 – 28), and Bullets Over Broadway (Sept. 6 – 22) this summer at Circle Theatre.

Movies on Monroe

One of the best free events in the summer, Movies on Monroe brings beloved films to its outdoor venue along the banks of the Grand River every other Friday from June through August.

Guests are invited to treat the evening like a picnic and bring your own blanket, chairs, beer, wine and snacks for a special night under the stars. Gates open at 6 p.m. Pre-movie entertainment begins at 6:30 p.m. First film starts at 7: 30 p.m. followed by an additional feature shortly after the first ends.

Natural Areas

Did you know the city of Grand Rapids owns 74 parks? Spend your summer visiting all of them.  Several Grand Rapids parks have received updates recently as well, so be sure to take advantage of those new features. If you are looking for a little more wilderness, head out onto one of the many Kent County trail systems.

Olympic Style Sports

The 2018 Meijer State Games of Michigan provides an opportunity for anyone to show off his or her athletic ability. Offering 39 sports at 49 different venues across the city, the Meijer State Games of Michigan offers an Olympic-like experience, complete with Opening Ceremonies and Olympic Day (Michigan Olympians will be recognized for their accomplishments& will hand out medals to competitors).

People of all ages, genders and abilities sign up to compete. This year’s event takes place June 22-24. Sports include: 5k, Archery, Archery Tag, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, BMX, Bocce Ball, Bowling, Boxing, Cricket, Cycling, Disc Golf, Field Hockey, Figure Skating, Footgolf, Golf, Hockey, Judo, Lacrosse (Girls), Ninja Warrior Competition, Paintball, Pickleball, Pinball, Rowing, Rugby, Shooting Sports, Skateboarding, Softball, Soccer, Swimming, Tae-Kwon-Do, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Weightlifting and Wrestling.

Pools & Splash Pads

Take advantage of Grand Rapids’ three city pools and numerous splash pads to stay cool this summer.

Quick Bite

Grand Rapids has an impressive lineup of food trucks and during the summer season, you can find them at events all across the city. There have been some additions this year too.  Be sure to try shaved ice from Kona Ice Truck and try your favorite summer flavor with Furniture City Creamery’s new truck.

Relax at Rosa Parks Circle

Every Thursday throughout summer you can find free entertainment at Rosa Parks Circle from noon to 1:30 p.m. The event series features a diverse lineup of 20 local bands, a variety of food trucks and oversized outdoor games. So take a lunch break and soak in the sun, sounds and flavors of Grand Rapids.

Stairs, Trails, & Beaches Bootcamp

Sign up for fitness this summer with Pop Up Fitness’ outdoor workouts along the lakeshore.  You’ll run and hike the trails, wade in water, and climb dunes and stairs at a variety of West Michigan parks including Tunnel Park and Kirk Park.

The Color Run

The most colorful race around, The Color Run comes to Grand Rapids on July 28. Grab your friends and register for this fun run.


Enjoy the air conditioning and a movie at the UICA this summer. Several indie films are playing throughout the summer and you can catch films that are part of the Local Director Series.

You can also see the Color of the Year Presented by Pantone and X-Rite exhibit through July 29 and “Transitions: New Photography from Bangladesh,” on view through Aug. 26.

Veen Observatory

Stargaze this summer at Veen Observatory. Veen Observatory is open to the public on a number of evenings in the summertime. Want to see a particularly impressive show, visit the observatory Aug. 11 for a chance to glimpse Perseid meteors. The Veen Observatory has extended hours until 4 a.m. that night to help increase your chances of seeing these amazing meteors.

West Michigan Whitecaps

Head out to Fifth Third Ballpark and cheer on the West Michigan Whitecaps. For extra fun, grab tickets for one of the ballpark’s theme nights such as Dog Day on Sunday, July 1, when you can bring your furry buddy with you, or Harry Potter night on Friday, Aug. 17.


Head to Belknap Park to see Grand Rapids Project “X,” a monumental sculpture of earth, asphalt and natural grasses created by Robert Morris in 1974.  Project “X” is known as the first major art earthwork, also known as land art, to be supported by government funds, including the National Endowment for the Arts. The piece was commissioned as part of “Sculpture off the Pedestal”, a public/private partnership supporting major public artworks throughout Grand Rapids.


Take your yoga practice outdoors this summer with one of several classes being offered by area studios. Check out GR|MAG’s list of classes to get you started. Plus, there are many more offerings throughout the summer including Yoga & Brunch at 7 Monks taproom and Funky Buddha’s Triathlon, which pairs yoga, biking and bourbon.

John Ball Zoo

Head to John Ball Zoo this summer and visit the animals. You can also enjoy monthly adults-only event Rock, Roar & Pour, taking place July 12, Aug. 16 and Sept. 13 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be beer, wine, cider for purchase, a specialty concession menu, live music from local bands, animal encounters, and much more

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