25 Things You’re Invited to Do and See – For Free!

See the sunset at Look Out Hill

lookouthillgrandrapids

One of the most reputed romantic locations in Grand Rapids is Belknap Lookout, also known as Lookout Hill, a 160 ft high bluff overlooking downtown Grand Rapids. Find it just south of Belknap Park just off Fairview NE, or take the steps from north Division near Newberry.

Celebrate at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum Birthday Party

Join the GR Children’s Museum at 11 Sheldon Ave. NE on July 31 from noon to 4 p.m. for free fun and games! The outdoor street party will celebrate the museum’s 19 years of play and education.

Tour the Meyer May House


The Meyer May House at 450 Madison SE provides a rare opportunity to experience a house exactly as Frank Lloyd Wright intended, complete with Wright-designed furnishings. Allow an hour and a half to enjoy the complete experience, which includes viewing a film, The Renewing of a Vision. Sundays 1-4 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (closed holidays). Please make reservations for groups 10 or more by (616) 246-4821.

Live it up at Wine and Cheese Saturdays

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Visit the Cheese Lady at 315 Fuller NE on Saturdays 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to sample wine from around the world and complimenting cheese varieties.

Try Disc Golf

Take a break from the challenges of golf and tee-off with a frisbee or disc. For the newbies, basically, everyone take turns playing until all players reach the basket. The official game has rules, certain techniques and scoring is similar to golf. Play for free at Riverside Park, Johnson Park or Brewer Park.

Be entertained at Thursday Night GRAM on the Green

Visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum on Thursday nights filled with FREE outdoor live music, dancing, food trucks, and a cash bar. Start out with a guided tour from 5 to 6 pm, and stay for a concert. The museum is also open late for Meijer Free Thursday Nights. For schedule click here.

Take in some ArtTuesday

Experience a full day of free general admission to the Grand Rapids Art Museum every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Collection in Context, Mirror Memory, Modern Design and Whistler and His Circle are currently on Display, as well as Honorable Ordinaries by Maureen Nolette.

Dig That Jazz in the Park

Visit Ah Nab Awen park Monday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 for Jazz in the park concerts July 11 through August 15. Click here for full schedule.

Watch Movies in the Park

moviesintheparkDowntownGR

Make it an evening picnic with your own blanket, chairs, beer, wine (make sure you are carrying your ID) and snacks while viewing a movie on a 50-foot screen starting at dusk. Hosted in Ah-Nab-Awen Park, local food vendors will also be on-site. Pre movie entertainment starts at 7 p.m. Anyone under 15 must be accompanied by an adult. If it rains, the show won’t go on and will be cancelled. Click here for film line up and tips.

View East Grand Rapids Movies in the Park

Families and friends are invited to grab a patch of grass and set themselves up for a big screen viewing of a selected movie, fun for all ages. All shows are free to the public and begin at dusk, with snacks available for purchase. All proceeds benefit EGR Parks and Recreation Department and the Kent District Library (KDL) teen programs. For the lineup, click here.

Enjoy 5th Annual GrandJazzFest

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West Michigan’s only free, weekend-long jazz festival is August 20 and 21 at Rosa Parks Circle. Click here for schedule.

Enjoy Lowell Showboat Sizzlin’ Summer Concerts

The free concert series takes place in front of the Lowell Showboat on Thursdays and Fridays starting at 7 p.m. Click here for schedule.

Visit the 2016 Rogue River Concert Series

Every Tuesday evening at Garden Club park in downtown Rockford. In the case of inclement weather, the event will take place in the Rotary Pavilion. Click here for schedule.

See the River

Grand River
photo by Victoria Upton

Take a walk along the river from downtown to Canal Park, see people fishing and watch the river flow. Then there’s the Fish Ladder. Not just a ladder for fish, it’s also a functional piece of artwork designed by sculptural artist Joseph Kinnebrew. Located at 560 Front Avenue, it is along the Grand River accessible where Front street ends about a half mile south of Leonard.

Fish Ladder Grand Rapids
photo by Victoria Upton

Watch the planes at the Airport Observation Deck and Viewing Area at Gerald R. Ford International Airport

A viewing area for aviation enthusiasts is located on Kraft Avenue, north of 52nd street, and is the perfect place to watch the 300 planes flying in and out of Grand Rapids on a daily basis. The viewing area is an ideal and unique picnic spot, with picnic tables and trash barrels available. If you want to get a more up close and in depth view of the airport process, check out the observation deck. It’s located on the mezzanine level of the terminal building, overlooking 10,000 feet of runway. Here, besides just seeing the planes land and take off, you can watch the airplanes refuel or see passengers and their luggage boarding the plane. Click here for a map to the viewing area.

Enjoy National Night Out

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On August 2nd, the 33rd annual National Night Out—started to raise crime prevention awareness—will be taking place. Residents in specific areas are encouraged to get outside, lock their doors, and spend time with their neighbors. Various neighborhood associations have different plans; check with you neighborhood association. We’ll post updates when we receive them.

Browse the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve

Calvin College’s 1000 acre Ecosystem Preserve is welcome to all Greater Grand Rapids residents and boasts not only 40 acres of forest, wetlands and meadows, but also a mile of nature trails. Over two hundred species inhabit this area and Calvin College does a great job of providing addition information in their Bunker Interpretive Center. In fact, the center has won multiple awards: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council and a Blueprint Award from the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council. Along with their butterfly house, this is a great, free alternative to Fredrick Meijer Gardens. Click here for details on visiting the Ecosystem Preserve. 

Walk Around the Heritage Hill Historic District

Look for the signature Heritage Hill plaques mounted on these beautiful homes that have been well maintained throughout the years and offer a glimpse back in time to an older Grand Rapids. Click here for a walking tour brochure featuring 37 places to see.

Yoga in the Park

Courtesy of the Funky Buddha Yoga HotHouse, there are free yoga classes in the park every Sunday at 7:30 p.m. this summer. Head to either Wilcox Park in Eastown or Centennial Park in Holland with your yoga mat and enjoy a great way to de-stress and relax with a professional yoga instructor.

Tour the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

 

While staying in the Amway Grand can be a bit pricy, you can still experience the history and beauty of the hotel for free—and the concierge desk will even provide you with a self-guided tour brochure. This is perfect if you have some historical architect buffs to entertain, or simply enjoy learning more about the rich history of Grand Rapids.

Relax at Rosa

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Add a groove to your lunch hour by breaking from the desk and heading downtown to Rosa Parks Circle for a free concert every Thursday from noon until 1:30 pm. Delicious lunch items available for purchase at local food trucks.

Enjoy The Averill Museum in Ada

Open Friday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every weekend, the Averill Museum is a great place to enjoy some time in an old-school flower and vegetable garden. Learn more about the process from some local master gardeners that will be on hand during this time.

Go Geocaching

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With 7,666 geocaches near Grand Rapids, this new twist on a treasure hunt is free and family friendly. Simply download the Geocaching app and make an account onto your smart phone, and let the hunt begin! This isn’t simply limited to Grand Rapids, either—there are thousands of geocaches hiding all over the country, making any trip a hunt.

Walk Kent Trails

Millennium Park photo by Two Eagles Marcus
Millennium Park photo by Two Eagles Marcus

With over 15 miles of trails linking five different county parks, there’s always something new to see on these premium nature trails. They’re available to be enjoyed all year, so lace up your hiking boots and get out there to see the best part of West Michigan—the natural environment.

See the Fallasburg Covered Bridge

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One of only three Michigan covered bridges open to vehicle traffic, the current bridge was erected in 1871 and has retained its historical character since then. Take a lazy summer drive one day and be sure to check out this quaint piece of Michigan’s history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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