Score Family Fun at Grand Rapids’ Top 3 Spring Sports

Hockey, basketball and volleyball games + dynamite food = a great visit.

Regardless of whether you’re a parent of a budding athlete or a family that likes to watch sports, there are several teams you’re going to want to watch in Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids Rise is a professional women’s volleyball team in its inaugural season. Grand Rapids Gold is an NBA G team that is fast and fun to watch. And when the puck drops at the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team, you’re going to want to be there.

All these games take place in the Van Andel Arena, which is walkable via an indoor Skyway that also connects to hotels and restaurants. It’s especially fabulous when it’s cold or rainy outside. Jump on this opportunity to make a spring getaway to Grand Rapids and take in all these energetic sporting events.

Read more: Exciting Spring Family Getaways for a Change of Scenery

Grand Rapids Rise Women’s Volleyball

Grand Rapids Rise
Photo credit: Nicolas Carrillo

Be a part of history and witness something wonderful watching the inaugural season of the Pro Volleyball Federation. Grand Rapids Rise is Michigan’s only major league volleyball team and Grand Rapid’s first major league women’s sports team.

The popularity of volleyball has exploded and I’ll tell you attending a game was inspiring. There were so many wow-worthy moments as these hard-working athletes attacked, dinked, slid and saved.

We were captivated by the movement on the floor during every bump, set and spike; but most of all I was enthralled by how much it inspired my daughter. She already wants to return for another game and is looking forward to playing again herself. Home games are on through May 12th.

Grand Rapids Gold Men’s Basketball

Grand Rapids Gold Men's Basketball
Photo credit: Cortney Fries

An NBA G league affiliate playing for the Denver Nuggets, the Grand Rapids Gold are so quick you’ll be on the edge of your seat. Did you know that over half of the NBA players spend part of their career in the G league, the official minor league of the NBA?

We scored courtside seats to a Grand Rapids Gold game and it was fascinating to be in the midst of the action. You can see the calls the teammates make to each other, their eyes scanning the court for the ball, plus I even had to return a ball.

We couldn’t believe how high these players can jump and how much energy the stadium exudes with music pumping and people dancing. Over 5,000 fans fill the stadium most weekend games. Catch a game this season by March 30th.

Grand Rapids Griffins Men’s Hockey

Grand Rapids Spring Sports
Photo credit: Nicolas Carrillo

An affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, the Grand Rapids Griffins pack the Van Andel Arena with an amplifying energy. Part of the American Hockey League, a developmental league for the National Hockey League, the Griffins offer the excitement of awesome players on the ice with tickets that are easier on the wallet.

We saw an incredible overtime shootout when they faced off against the Chicago Wolves. Games go on through April 12th. Look out for special promotions like $2 hot dog night and post-game autograph sessions.

Food families love in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Food
Photo credit: Cortney Fries

Grand Rapids has been called a foodie city and for good reason. The second largest city in Michigan boasts many local, delicious eateries that we would definitely visit again and again.

Morning Belle is a breakfast, lunch and brunch restaurant with several locations around Grand Rapids. We stopped for breakfast, ordered five dishes, and completely cleaned our plates. Our favorites were the Crème Brulee Banana French Toast with berry compote, the Morning Belle Omelet, which featured eggs over medium cooked omelet-style and the Morning Belle Benedict, piled on rosemary focaccia with paprika hollandaise. The restaurant is light and airy, with a large citrus fruits painted on the wall.

Anna’s House is another exceptional choice for breakfast, brunch or lunch. This local chain serves up yummy foods in a vibrant setting with friendly service. People rave about the Breakfast Lasagna and cinnamon rolls. We were super happy they offered a gluten-free cinnamon roll, and may additional options inclusive of dietary needs. The fresh juices, lemon poppyseed crepes, and Tator Tot Casserole were the dishes we’d return for.

Terra GR is a rustic farm-to-table restaurant in a neighborhood filled with eclectic stores. We enjoyed the apple and cheddar crisp salad topped with grilled salmon. On the long brunch cocktail list, I chose the non-alcoholic beet margarita and was enamored with its bright pink color. Down the street, Fruition Acai & Juice Bar captured our hearts with dreamy acai bowls and creamy smoothies.

Of course, the kids are going to hit you up for all the snacks at the games. Van Andel Arena has all the hot dogs, popcorn and Dippin’ Dots you would expect. When we sat courtside for the Grand Rapids Gold basketball game, we had access to a concession stand called Founders Brewing Company Beer Garden that was awesome.

For $15 per person you could visit it once or for $25 it was all-you-can-eat. They served banh mi sandwiches and ramen, spring rolls, charcuterie, ice cream and cake pops. It was an excellent opportunity to score something fresh and tasty for a pretty reasonable price at a game.

Where to stay in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids
Photo credit: Cortney Fries

JW Marriott Grand Rapids is modern and swanky with a fancy French restaurant downstairs, a swimming pool and steam rooms. Our kids are getting older, so we stayed in two connecting rooms with picture windows framing spectacular views of the Grand River and the Blue Footbridge. There was live music with saxophones playing in the lobby Friday and Saturday evenings. Our kids were so snuggly in the comfy beds, and the bathrooms with multiple shower heads were much appreciated.

Earlier I mentioned the awesome Skywalk, which connects the hotel to the Van Andel Arena, where the sports teams play, plus you can see concerts and events like Monster Jam. The JW is across from the Grand Rapids Public Museum, which showcases the history of Western Michigan. There’s a huge whale fossil hanging from ceiling. You can view antique dolls, all sorts of native animals and even play arcade games. The new Nelson Mandela exhibit, which explores the life and legacy of this world-renowned freedom fighter and political leader, is inspiring. It’s another opportunity to demonstrate that with hard work and passion, anything is possible.


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Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.

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