Grand Rapids: A kid-friendly destination for Thanksgiving weekend


Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to visit Grand Rapids. There is so much to experience and explore in this lovely, walkable city full of sculptures and interesting sights.


The Grand Rapids Art Museum offers up a weekly family education program called Saturday All Day With The Arts. Drop in any time from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. to enjoy an opportunity to learn about and create art as a family. Activities are designed with children in mind and include hands-on art projects, kid-friendly tours, and sketching in the galleries. Make sure to ask for the Free Family Activity Guides at the Visitor Services desk in the lobby.


Children and parents alike will find something to love at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Take a ride on a 1928 Spillman Carousel, hear the music of the Mighty Wulitzer Organ, or gaze at stars in the planetarium.

Kids can travel back in time and enjoy free root beer samples in Rudell Drug Store on the Streets of Old Grand Rapids.

  • (616) 929-1700
  • 272 Pearl St. NW, downtown Grand Rapids.

In the mood to take in a show? The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre performs the classic holiday play "A Christmas Carol" on Friday, Nov. 23, and Saturday, Nov. 24, at 7:30 p.m. There is a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday and Sunday.

  • (616) 222-6650
  • 30 N. Division Ave., downtown Grand Rapids.

Detroit Red Wings affiliate hockey team, The Grand Rapids Griffins, plays the Chicago Wolves at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23. Expensive concessions are tossed out like a bad goalie on this "dollar beers, dollar dogs" deal night. Take part in the annual Charity Teddy Bear Toss, where fans bring a Teddy bear to throw on the ice when the Griffins score their first goal. The Griffins also play 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, against the Milwaukee Admirals. Sunday is Fun Day at the Griffins with $1 soft drinks and $1 ice cream as well as a free post-game open skate.


For a unique way to see the city, Grand Carriages offers scenic tours of downtown Grand Rapids on Friday and Saturday evenings. Clippity-clop across the Grand River on a lighted bridge and view some of the architectural highlights of downtown Grand Rapids. Look for the carriages on the corner of Monroe Avenue and Lyon Street near DeVos Place.


Exploring works up quite an appetite, so grab a bite at the beloved hotdog joint Ritz Koney,, across from Van Andel Arena.

Have the best burger in town at the Cottage Bar,, 18 LaGrave Ave.

Or settle in for a tasty meal of tapas at San Chez,, 38 W. Fulton.

If the entire family likes different things, head over to the Big Old Building (The BOB for short),, 20 Monroe Ave., where you're sure to find something to please everyone!


Have a little extra time to explore? Meijer Gardens is the second biggest tourist destination in Michigan and has been listed as one of the 30 Must-See Museums in the World. Only a 15-minute drive from downtown, this is not your average botanical garden. It's also a sculpture park with pieces from renowned artists and a wonderful family experience. Kids especially enjoy DaVinci's 24-foot-tall horse and are charmed by the Children's Garden with a scale replica of the Great Lakes, giant tree house, log cabin, storytelling garden, and a rock quarry where they can dig for buried fossils.

The week of Thanksgiving kicks off the gardens' "Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World," an annual exhibition with more than 41 cultural trees and displays as well as Santa and the much-loved Railway Garden. Don't miss the Roof Top Reindeer 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24.

  • (888) 957-1580
  • 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
  • Meijer Gardens is just north of Interstate Highway 96 on East Beltline Avenue, between Bradford and Leonard streets.

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