Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Kent County, MI

  • Published 2023/11/19

In the heart of Michigan lies Kent County, a region rich in diverse landscapes and culture.

This area, nestled between vibrant cities and lush farmlands, offers a unique blend of urban and rural experiences.

Kent County’s town centers exude historic charm while breathtaking nature views add to its vitality.

Kent County is a destination filled with a plethora of experiences, featuring a curated list of top-tier things to do.

Take Pictures at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Waterfall setup at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

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The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a mesmerizing destination, known for its stunning collection of sculptures.

The park is home to the majestic “American Horse” and timeless pieces like “Eve”.

The Children’s Garden and the serene Japanese Garden are among its many attractions.

The Michigan’s Farm Garden showcases the state’s rich agricultural heritage.

The Sculpture Park is a highlight, offering a visual feast set against a verdant backdrop.

Sculptures of playing children at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

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The collection ranges from classical to contemporary, offering a variety of exhibits.

Visitors can expect a new surprise at every turn, from indoor art exhibits to summer concerts in the amphitheater.

The park also provides spots for quiet pastimes like reading or photography.

Accessibility is prioritized, with a mobility center providing wheelchairs and scooters, and a narrated tram for those who prefer not to walk.

Beautiful view of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

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Solve Puzzles at The Ruse Escape Rooms

One thrilling option is The Ruse Escape Rooms, located in a charming corner of the city.

Upon entering, visitors are intrigued by the diverse options available, including The Inventors Guild.

This escape room stands apart with its cleverly designed puzzles and a compelling narrative that captures attention from the start.

Participants feel like detectives, piecing together clues and cracking codes, with a few surprises adding to the excitement.

The Ruse Escape Rooms emphasizes teamwork, creating a collaborative and enjoyable experience.

For those seeking a unique adventure, an outdoor escape room is available.

This option allows participants to explore the town while solving puzzles, uncovering the city’s hidden gems over a span of three hours.

Marvel at Architectural Masterpieces at Meyer May House

Exterior of Meyer May House

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The Meyer May House, nestled in the heart of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a living testament to Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural genius.

This early 1900s home underwent a meticulous restoration by Steelcase in 1985, mirroring Wright’s original design in every detail.

The house showcases Wright’s Prairie House designs, from the structure to the furniture, flooring, and table settings.

Stained-glass windows cast vibrant hues across the rooms, adding to the house’s charm.

Guided tours offer a deeper understanding of the house and its history, and they are free of charge.

The Meyer May House, built in 1908, remains a strong and beautiful symbol of Wright’s timeless elegance.

This attraction is a must-see for architecture enthusiasts and those who appreciate restored historic homes.

Walk through the Bunker Interpretive Center

The Bunker Interpretive Center stands out as a tranquil escape from urban commotion.

Its natural allure captivates, even on the most overcast days.

Visitors can explore numerous trails, all well-indicated for easy navigation.

These routes cater to all ages, balancing leisurely walks with ample scenic vistas.

It’s not just for hiking enthusiasts; the center is a treasure trove for those who savor nature’s minute details.

Inspirational and educational quotes abound, making each visit a learning opportunity.

Wildlife sightings are common in this pristine outdoor space.

Above all, the center is renowned for its outstanding cleanliness, maintained consistently.

Hike through Aman Park

Trail at Aman Park

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Aman Park, located just west of Grand Rapids, is an ideal escape from the city’s hustle.

The park boasts well-maintained hiking and cross-country ski trails that are accessible all year round.

Each season brings its unique charm, with lush greenery in summer and a snowy landscape in winter.

The trail intersections may be slightly challenging, but effective trail markings ensure minimal confusion.

A descent from the parking area to Sand Creek offers stunning valley views.

Dog walkers and geocache enthusiasts often frequent the park, adding to its lively atmosphere.

The park’s extensive paths and intriguing bridges across streams keep the exploration engaging.

Catch a Jazz Concert at The Meadows at Millennium Park

Visitors to The Meadows at Millennium Park are greeted by verdant landscapes and fresh air.

This park isn’t merely an open space; it’s a haven of beauty and tranquillity, offering something for everyone.

The well-maintained trails, ideal for runners or leisurely strollers, provide a connection to nature.

These walking trails serve as conduits to peace.

The Meadows also presents a picturesque backdrop, perfect for capturing memorable photos.

Every corner is a potential shot for photographers.

Unique to The Meadows are its amenities, such as air-conditioned restrooms, especially appreciated during hot summer months.

Moreover, live Jazz performances every Monday evening add a magical touch to the natural setting.

Unveil History at The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Exterior view of Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

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The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum offers a journey into American politics, history, and culture.

Located on the Grand River banks, it provides an aesthetic treat alongside historical exploration.

With an affordable entrance fee starting at $12, visitors can explore three major exhibits: the 1976 Presidential Election, ‘A Heartbeat Away,’ and ‘Exploring Watergate.’

The visit typically lasts about 3.5 hours, offering an immersive, knowledge-filled experience.

“A Heartbeat Away: The American Vice-Presidency” stands out, providing insight into the decisions of the 38th President.

Interactive exhibits include a Berlin Wall segment, an Oval Office replica, and a Cabinet Room reimagining.

Astronaut statue infront of Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock.com

The Betty Ford exhibit celebrates her achievements, such as advocating for Equal Rights for Women and establishing the Betty Ford Clinic.

The museum’s architecture is notable, featuring heavy glass doors and large coin replicas for handles.

The gift shop, offering replicas of the museum’s sculptures and art prints, rounds off the visit.

Walkway at Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

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Take in the Views from the Rockford Dam Overlook

The Rockford Dam Overlook provides a serene retreat amidst the city’s hustle.

Visitors can observe fish running up the river, a sight especially captivating in early October when the leaves change color.

Beyond the dam and river, a charming riverwalk passes a variety of shops and restaurants.

Highlights include indulgent ice cream and unique finds at a store named Era.

Rainy days offer their own charm, with local cafes providing warm coffee as the rain falls on the river.

For the active, the park surrounding the dam features miles of paved trails suitable for running or biking.

The Rockford Dam Overlook caters to outdoor enthusiasts, food lovers, shoppers, and those seeking tranquility, making it a versatile destination.

Have an Evening Stroll on The Blue Bridge

View of The Blue Bridge

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The Blue Bridge in Grand Rapids offers an enchanting late-evening experience.
Its vibrant blue steel beams, beautifully illuminated under the night sky, are a sight to behold.

The wooden deck resonates with the city’s stories, linking the west side with downtown.
A pause midway provides a captivating panoramic view of the Grand River and the city’s skyline.

The bridge also serves as a multipurpose route, frequented by pedestrians and cyclists alike.
It’s more than a passage; it’s a vibrant part of the city.

Nearby, inviting eateries and shops complement the bridge experience.
Overall, the Blue Bridge isn’t just an architectural marvel; it’s a snapshot of the city’s pulse, encapsulated in blue steel and wooden planks.

Break a Sweat at John Collins Park

Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids is a serene beauty, with John Collins Park providing a picturesque escape. The park, a tranquil retreat, is beloved by locals who enjoy its various amenities, regardless of the weather.

Visitors can engage in various activities, from jogging and cycling to roller-skating along the paved trail that skirts the lake. Picnics are a common sight, with visitors often choosing a spot on the grass to soak up the lake views.

Sailboats, water skiers, and kayakers add to the lake’s charm. The park also boasts unpaved trails through dense tree cover for those seeking a bit of adventure.

Benches are strategically placed throughout John Collins Park, offering opportunities to enjoy the scenic beauty or engage in people-watching. After a few hours in the park, Rose’s restaurant, located adjacent to the park, offers excellent food, great service, and an inviting atmosphere.

Ski through Provin Trails Park

Lush greenery at Provin Trails Park

Michael Deemer / Shutterstock.com

Provin Trails Park offers a serene retreat amidst the fast-paced modern life.
Its 46 acres of lush forest feature interconnected natural trails, ideal for hiking or cross-country skiing.

The trails, often likened to a treasure hunt, branch out in all directions.
However, sticking to marked trails, particularly the yellow one, is advised to avoid occasional poison ivy encounters.

The park’s sandy terrain gives it a unique charm.
It’s also a haven for pets, with its hilly trails providing a vigorous exercise setting.

Not just for exercise, the park serves as a great spot for stunning family photos, with its natural beauty acting as the perfect backdrop.
Despite large visitor groups, the park never feels crowded, offering a delightful experience for children and pets alike.

Go Birdwatching at Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve

Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve offers a close connection to nature. Its enchanting charm is enhanced by mossy areas that add a fantasy element to the landscape.

The trail around the bog presents an adventurous path, strewn with roots and rocks. The boardwalk, albeit sinking in one part, doesn’t deter frequent visitors.

Dog owners and their pets are regulars, appreciating the preserve’s natural beauty. It’s also a haven for bird watchers.

A walk during the lupine bloom season in early June is a highlight, with the sight of blooms and bird songs.

Immerse in Local History and Culture at Ah-Nab-Awen Park

Sculpture at Ah-Nab-Awen Park

Malgosia S / Shutterstock.com

Starting the day with a walk in Ah-Nab-Awen Park, located by the Grand River, can bring a sense of tranquility amidst urban hustle.

Ah-Nab-Awen is a unique park in the heart of Grand Rapids, offering serene views of the river and city skyline.

The park symbolizes history, culture, and the resilience of nature, providing a space to appreciate nature within the city’s historic context.

Named “Resting Place” in the Ottawa language, Ah-Nab-Awen resonates with visitors, offering a place for rest, rejuvenation, and connection with Grand Rapids.

Nearby, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum provides insight into the life and legacy of the 38th U.S. President, complementing a relaxing park stroll.

Ah-Nab-Awen Park transforms with the seasons, from vibrant green spaces for picnics and community events in spring and summer, to a colorful spectacle in fall, and a serene white landscape in winter.

Try Different Outdoor Pursuits at Millennium Park

Millennium Park, an urban oasis, boasts a remarkable transformation from a previously heavily used land to a haven of natural beauty, featuring a 6-acre beach, wetlands, and hiking trails.

The park offers a variety of trail options, catering to both leisurely strolls and challenging hikes.

Trails range from paved paths suitable for biking or walking, to gravel or dirt paths that wind through the woods for a more rustic experience.

A notable spot within Millennium Park is the footbridge that leads to the meadow side, offering a tranquil space to appreciate nature’s beauty.

Cycling enthusiasts can enjoy a 6-mile circuit without exhausting the park’s offerings.

The park’s landscape, with vibrant greens, tranquil blues, and ever-changing sky colors, provides a breathtaking visual spectacle.

Beyond being a venue for fun and exercise, Millennium Park is a place to deeply connect with nature.

Activities such as fishing, kayaking, mountain biking, running, and bird watching are available.

The park’s sunset, against the backdrop of maple, birch, and poplar forests, presents a captivating sight, further enhancing the appeal of Millennium Park.

Soak in the Aesthetics of La Grande Vitesse

Daytime view of La Grande Vitesse

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The city plaza, dominated by the red sculpture, La Grande Vitesse, crafted by Alexander Calder in 1969, serves as a landmark and event hub.

This abstract piece is often surrounded by bustling crowds and a fee-charging parking lot, contributing to its unique charm.

During city-organized events, the plaza transforms into a festive venue, featuring stages, bleachers, and tents filled with handmade crafts.

People from diverse backgrounds flock to the plaza, their faces aglow with anticipation and enjoyment.

The venue’s design reflects the politically charged 1960s, with its large open paved area, monolithic buildings, and absence of amenities.

Despite its stark environment, La Grande Vitesse remains a hub of fun and activity.

When not hosting events, it’s common to see people riding bikes around the sculpture, sliding down the steel pyramid, or swinging on the tire swing.

The picturesque setting makes it an ideal spot for gatherings with friends and family.

Catch the Sunset at Lookout Park

Lookout Park in Grand Rapids offers a tranquil setting for stress relief.

The panoramic view and wide grassy expanses make it ideal for quiet picnics or introspective moments.

The park features two swings that provide an elevated feeling.

Despite its popularity, overcrowding is rarely an issue.

While tree placements may limit seating, there are ample spots to enjoy the sunset.

The park’s beauty is consistent throughout the day.

Its serene ambiance often attracts musicians, adding to the charm.

Read a Book at Sixth Street Park

Bridge at Sixth Street Park

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Seeking a peaceful retreat in the heart of a bustling city? Sixth Street Park might be the answer.

This park offers a delightful space to unwind and enjoy nature.

Equipped with picnic tables in tranquil spots, it’s a haven for those craving peace.

A walk through the park, accompanied by soft bird chirping and leaf rustling, clears the mind.

Under shady trees, one can immerse in a good book.

It’s spacious enough for dogs to run free.

Its proximity to the river adds charm, providing opportunities for fishing.

The park connects to Canal Park via the historic Sixth Street Bridge.

An extended walk to Canal Park allows use of outdoor exercise equipment.

The paved trail is suitable for strolls or bike rides.

The park balances solitude and community vibes, maintaining a welcoming atmosphere even when accommodating unexpected visitors.

The gazebo, surrounded by flowers and frequented by locals, is a focal point.

The southern lookout is a gem, where fishing and river dipping are common activities.

These moments are worth capturing for memories.

Observe Birds at Prairie Wolf Park

Prairie Wolf Park is a vast and beautiful expanse, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.

It boasts various hiking trails, each offering a unique perspective on the park’s beauty.

The well-paved trails even connect to the Gaines Town Hall parking lot, making it a convenient spot for morning jogs.

Apart from the trails, the park offers an extensive plain, ideal for picnics or simply enjoying the open air.

The old wooded area in the park adds a sense of serene beauty, worth exploring.

For bird watchers, Prairie Wolf Park is a paradise with its variety of colorful birds.

Dog owners would also appreciate the park’s dog-friendly trails.

Observe Fishes at Fish Ladder Park

Grand River flowing at Fish Ladder Park

Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

Fish Ladder Park, located a short distance from the city center, serves as an oasis from the urban hustle.

Situated by the river, it’s an ideal location for a peaceful afternoon.

Visitors often bring a picnic lunch to enjoy while observing the local wildlife.

View of North Lansing Dam from Fish Ladder Park

T-I / Shutterstock.com

Its standout feature is the fish ladder, an impressive mechanism assisting fish to swim upstream past a dam.

Watching the fish battle the current to ascend the dam is a captivating display of nature’s tenacity and human innovation.

In addition to viewing, the park is a favored fishing spot, reputed for its excellent catch.

Unleash Curiosity at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum offers an engaging experience for children, particularly those aged between 2-10.

With its vibrant energy, the museum is a hands-on learning environment featuring a live beehive and unique workshops, including robot building.

Despite large crowds, the spacious museum maintains a comfortable atmosphere.

The staff’s commitment to cleanliness and organization is noteworthy, ensuring a pleasant experience for each visitor.

Though best suited for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, the museum also appeals to children up to 12 years old, thanks to a variety of interactive play features, cultural exhibits, and learning opportunities.

Final Thoughts

Kent County, Michigan boasts a multitude of activities, blending natural beauty, cultural history, and engaging pursuits.

The Ruse Escape Rooms provide an exciting challenge for puzzle enthusiasts.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a must-visit, offering stunning landscapes and artistic installations.

Every trip to Kent County promises a unique adventure, with a variety of experiences waiting to be discovered.

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