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Grand Rapids Activities in Spring

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

Birds are chirping again, flowers are sprouting up, and I can smell my neighbors grilling burgers from my backyard. Yes, Spring is finally here! After a long winter, many Grand Rapidians just need to go outside and do something to shake the winter blues.

Luckily for you, I have compiled a list of a few of my very favorite outdoor and socially distanced springtime activities in West Michigan.

Forest Hike in West Michigan

1. Butterflies at Frederik Meijer Gardens

The Frederik Meijer Gardens property is immaculate. It is an absolute blast to walk around the grounds and see the sculptures, flora, and fauna. This is excellent in any season but spring can be particularly fun to see all the flowers blooming. After a long, cold winter I’ll take any reason to be outside!

If you are comfortable going inside you can see and experience the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibit in the nation, from March 1-April 30. Each year the exhibit contains around 7,000 butterflies from 60 different species spanning 4 continents. It really is a sight to behold but, because of this, it can attract some long lines so plan accordingly. I encourage any and all to see this event at least once in their lifetime!

2. John Ball Zoo

Another awesome GR gem: our very own zoo! The John Ball Zoo officially opened for visitors on March 27th so be sure to grab a day pass and check out all the reptiles, birds, animals, and insects you want. The zoo is a great day trip for families with young kids, too. Masks are required at all times when exploring the indoor and outdoor exhibits for your safety. There is plenty to see but you can almost assuredly do it all in one day. My wife and I got a season pass so we will be there with our son almost every week. Be sure to say hi if you see us!

3. Beachside towns

What better way to bring on the spring than on a patio overlooking the water with a drink in your hand? West Michigan has so many cute beachside towns that are all worth stopping by, but make sure you put Saugatuck on the top of your list. With endless restaurants and shops to visit, it is sure to be a fun day! Pro tip: Restaurants and bars get super busy at usual meal times so eat lunch around 11 and dinner around 3:30 or 4.

Don’t forget to hop on the other side of the Kalamazoo river and visit Douglas as well. And while you’re there, check out Borrowed Time. With their live music and ample outdoor seating, this is my personal favorite in the Saugatuck/Douglas area!

4. Breweries, wineries, and cideries

West Michigan is known for its many breweries but the wineries and cideries aren’t too shabby either! And many of them have a ton of space so dogs and kids can roam about freely and socially distanced. Some of that are on the top of my list are Fenn Valley Vineyards, Modales Wines, and Round Barn Winery. Fenn Valley Vineyards also has pigs and other animals on the property so don’t leave until you see all that they have to offer. Of course, you can’t forget the amazing breweries in town as well that have ample outdoor seating. Be sure to put City Built, Brass Ring Brewing, Perrin, and Oddside on your list to check out this spring.

5. Hiking trails

Another regional favorite. Lace up your hiking boots, grab a jug of water, and explore the great outdoors. One of my favorite hikes is at PJ Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon County. There are so many trails that you can go a few times and not go the same way twice! Plus the payoff at the end (depending on your route) is a beautiful view of Lake Michigan.

There are a few nature centers located near downtown Grand Rapids as well. Check out Blandford Nature Center on the west side, Garfield Nature Center near Garfield Park in SE Grand Rapids, and Riverside Park on the NE side of Grand Rapids. These little nature bubbles are perfect if you don’t want to drive too far to get out of the city.

BONUS: Just walk around downtown and/or small towns in the city

One of my favorite things to do in spring is to walk around downtown Grand Rapids. It really feels like the city is coming back to life after an extended hibernation. The energy is so contagious! While there, pop into restaurants you’ve never seen before. Or shop at a new store that just moved into the neighborhood. There are other small towns throughout the city that are great to explore as well. Eastown, Ada, Alger Heights, East Grand Rapids to name a few.

There you have it. Email me at if you have any recommended additions to the list!


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