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Winter Activities in Grand Rapids

Winter in the City

If you’re dreaming of an easy, affordable and option-rich winter getaway, Dream Grand and Go to Grand Rapids! From big-city excitement to bountiful outdoor recreation, Grand Rapids has it all – and it’s all close and convenient, so you can experience more in less time. Make plans now to make your winter special!

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued a three-week epidemic order: Pause to Save Lives, in effect through December 8. Under this order, entertainment venues and recreational facilities must be closed. Museums and libraries may remain open but guest counts are limited to no more than 30% of capacity. Please check individual websites for details.

Working together, we can also make the season safer. Please review our travel updates for the latest COVID-19 information – including the state’s requirement to wear a mask in all indoor spaces.

Make Merry for the Holidays

The pandemic is altering some of our usual holiday plans, but there are still plenty of fun and festive ways to celebrate the season – including virtual presentations of some our most beloved traditions. Many event details are still being finalized, so check this page often for new additions.

Holiday Sights

Wander through 46 international trees and displays, 300,000 colorful lights, rooftop reindeer and more at the annual Metro Health Christmas & Holiday Traditions show at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Nov. 24-Jan. 3.

Drive through The Christmas Lite Show at Fifth Third Ballpark – more than one million lights and 50 animated displays over a two-mile course. Nov. 25-Jan. 2.

Book the BYOB Holiday Lights Trolley for a private tour of the area’s best holiday light displays – bring your own beverages! Dec. 4-5 & 11-12.

Take the Polar Express walking tour through charming downtown Rockford – start off with a reading of the beloved children’s book, them collect ticket punches (and goodies) at local merchants. Dec. 4 & 5.

Attend the Drive-Thru Lighted Santa Parade at the Kent County Fairgrounds in Lowell. Dec. 5.

A horse-drawn carriage from Common Gentry Carriage Company in Grand Rapids Go dashing through the snow-covered streets of downtown Grand Rapids on a horse-drawn carriage – Classic Carriage and Common Gentry Carriage Company offer Friday and Saturday evening rides.

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre See A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play on stage at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, complete with theatrical lights and sound, projections, live music – and plenty of social distancing for the cast and audience. Date TBD.

Soak up some small-town holiday charm at these community events:

Santa Visits

The Grand Rapids Public Museum and Rivertown Crossings Mall are offering virtual visits with Santa from the comfort of your home. You can visit Santa for in-person photos at Cabela’s, Rivertown Crossings Mall and Woodland Mall.

Board the Santa Train for a 90-minute ride with elves, a storytelling princess and the Jolly One himself.  Saturdays and two Sundays from Nov. 28-Dec. 20.

Follow the Holiday Hunt clues to find Santa in Wyoming’s Pinery Park. Kids and families hunt on their own, all day Dec. 12.

Season’s Sipping

Brew some holiday cheer with these Ferris Coffee classes: Make Your Own Holiday Lattes & Cappuccinos and Making Coffee Taste Better At Home. Both Dec. 19.

Holiday Shopping

Visit dozens of stores in one place at Breton Village Shopping Center, Rivertown Crossings Mall, Woodland Mall and the Ada, East Grand Rapids, Lowell, Rockford and Uptown shopping districts. Shop Tanger Outlet Mall (an open-air shopping center) for discount prices on designer goods. Many stores continue to offer curbside pickup, so you can shop online and have your purchases loaded into your vehicle.

Mark your calendar for artisan markets and neighborhood shopping celebrations:
Saugatuck Winter’s Eve Market, Nov. 20
Shop Sparta Holiday Stroll, Nov. 20 – 21
Holiday Market on Main (Lowell), Nov. 20-22
Festive Fridays at Eastern Floral, Nov. 20 & 27
Blandford Nature Center Nature Makers Market, Nov. 21
Allendale Artisan & Craft Marketplace, Nov. 28
Sustainable Products Small Business Saturday Market, Nov. 28
Holly Jolly Ada Village Passport, Dec 4-5
Saugatuck Outdoor Holiday Market, Dec. 5
Christmas Fair at Coopersville Farm Museum, Dec. 12
Holiday Market at The Goei Center, Dec. 12

A family exploring sweet tweets at the Downtown Market Grand Rapids. Visit Downtown Market Grand Rapids for Holiday Home Favorites, when merchants offer specials inspired by traditional holiday foods. Nov. 15-22.

Pick up gourmet gifts along the Grand Rapids Food Trail, gifts for beer lovers on the Beer City Ale Trail and gifts from local brands at GrandRapidsStore.com.

Virtual Performances

Enjoy these holiday traditions from the comfort of your home:

Make Tracks in the Grand Outdoors

Winter weather brings new opportunities to explore and enjoy our natural landscape. Hike the trails at Blandford Nature Center and area parks to savor every shift of the season, as snow comes and goes and comes again.

Explore marked trails for fat tire biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing at Indian Trails Golf Course. The clubhouse is open select hours for hot chocolate sales and snowshoe rentals. Click here for more prime snowshoeing spots.

Cannonsburg Ski Area Skiing more your style? You can tackle 21 downhill runs at Cannonsburg Ski Area, just 20 minutes from downtown. Bittersweet Ski Resort (20 runs) and Mulligan’s Hollow (six runs) are 30 minutes or so away. All three offer excellent cross-country trails, as do numerous close-by parks and nature areas.

All Cannonsburg classes are taught by certified Level 1, 2, and 3 ski and snowboard instructors. Cannonsburg is also a favorite with snowboarders, thanks to a terrain park filled with 80+ jibs and jumps. Bittersweet and Mulligan’s Hollow are also popular snowboarding spots.

Family snowshoeing at Blandford Nature Center. Want to take the kids sledding? Our favorite fun (and free) sledding locations include Richmond Park, Belknap Park, Johnson Park and Cascade Township Park.

Fat tire biking If you love fat tire biking, you’ll love the groomed trails at Cannonsburg Ski Area, Indian Trails Fat Bike Park and the Merrell Trail in Rockford.

Person ice fishing on Reed's Lake. Ice fishing is a major pastime here – grab your auger and head to one our many inlands lakes and river bayous.

Ice Skating at Rosa Parks Circle You can ice skate in the heart of downtown at Rosa Parks Circle, which opens early December, weather permitting. COVID-19 precautions are in effect.

Frederick Meijer Gardens in Winter Bring the kids for Winter-Time Walks at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park – this outdoor discovery walks let young ones investigate the Children’s Garden in new ways. 

Dynamic Variation:

Make Memories with Indoor Fun

If you prefer a warm and cozy approach to winter, plan a visit to one of the great indoor spots featured below. By state order, capacity is limited at indoor venues, so you may have to purchase tickets or make reservations in advance – check venue websites. Remember to wear masks and stay at least 6’ away from anyone not in your household.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued a three-week epidemic order: Pause to Save Lives, in effect through December 8. Under this order, entertainment venues and recreational facilities must be closed. Museums and libraries may remain open but guest counts are limited to no more than 30% of capacity. Please check individual websites for details.

Check out these great ideas for indoor exploration, entertainment, activity and enlightenment.

GRPM See Sean Kenney’s Wild Connections Made With LEGO® Bricks at Grand Rapids Public Museum – beautiful works of art that explore animal endangerment, the balance of ecosystems and mankind’s relationship with nature. Under the Arctic: Digging into Permafrost, which includes a 30-foot-long Alaskan permafrost tunnel replica, is also on display at GRPM.

Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) Don’t miss Mathias J. Alten: An Enduring Legacy at Grand Rapids Art Museum – it features paintings and works from one of the city’s most esteemed and beloved figures as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth.

George Segal: Body Language is on display at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park through January 3 – it’s an amazing collection of work from one of the most recognized 20th century sculptors.

Make a memory that will last forever – bring your crew and enjoy a drive-in movie at Celebration Cinema! North & IMAX theatre. Price includes one car of 6 moviegoers!

Culture Pass GR - See and Save! Get Culture Pass GR to save on admission prices to some of the area’s top attractions – it’s just $20 through the end of December!

Make Time for Food & Drink

It’s such a busy season, be sure to take time to relax and let someone else do the cooking (and brewing and distilling) once in awhile. Browse our restaurant, brewery, cidery, coffee shop and distillery lists for something that’s sure to hit the spot.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued Pause to Save Lives, a three-week order pausing indoor restaurant service from November 18 through December 8. During this period, many restaurants continue to serve guests through outdoor dining and carryout/delivery service. We encourage you to check with an establishment directly to confirm hours of operation, takeout services, and outdoor dining availability.

Taste something new – try one of the restaurants that opened here recently:

  • Art Caribbean Fusion Cuisine brings a taste of the islands to downtown Grand Rapids.  
  • The Spanish-inspired MDRD (pronounced “Madrid”) has replaced the legendary Cygnus 27 on the 27th floor of the Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton.
  • Tupelo Honey, just steps away from downtown’s Rosa Parks Circle, offers a fresh new take on Southern cuisine.
  • KCM is a Korean/Japanese café that took over the vacant former Gaia café space in Uptown.
  • Hamburger Mary’s is an LGBTQ-friendly restaurant (complete with drag-queen performances) in Cascade.
  • Morning Belle West Side is a breakfast-brunch-lunch-and-daytime-cocktail destination in the Bridge Street entertainment district.
  • Margaux, the French-inspired eatery inside downtown’s JW Marriott, reopened in October with an updated menu, new cocktails and a redesigned dining area.
  • Mertens Prime is the new name for the New Hotel Mertens Brasserie and Mertens Café has replaced New Hotel Mertens Bakery. Both feature new French-inspired menu items, from steaks and chops to beignets.
  • Quarantino’s (named for the lockdown we all endured in spring) serves square-shaped Detroit-style pizza in Eastown.

New(ish) beverage destinations to try include Adesanya Mead (Grandville), Alt City Beverage Company (Downtown Market), Kaffeine Place (Medical Mile), Speciation Cellars (Uptown) and Two James Spirits tasting room (Medical Mile).

If you don’t feel comfortable entering an establishment for food and drink, remember that many operations also offer carryout and delivery. Restaurants may also equip outdoor Social Zones with heaters and fire pits for milder days.

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