There are lots of great things to do in Grand Rapids, whether that’s spending some time at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park or touring the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Yet, sometimes, you just want to get away.
If you don’t want to worry about a hotel but want to explore the state and all it has to offer, consider these fabulous day trips from Grand Rapids. Each of these destinations is within a few hours of the city, making it possible to spend a long day exploring and having fun.
Learn About the Dutch Lifestyle at Nelis’ Dutch Village | Holland Michigan
30-minute drive from Grand Rapids
Quite the fascinating experience, Nelis’ Dutch Village is the perfect place to explore Dutch culture. You can become a Dutch dancer by learning how to Klompen dance or exploring the nearby tulip farm.
The village, which has roots that date back more than 100 years, is a testament to the way things used to be. There are fun things to do for the whole family, including wooden shoe carving and rides. Also, there are often farm animals to pet and some authentic food to enjoy.
Splash & Warm Up at the East Lansing Family Aquatic Center | East Lansing Michigan
1-hour, 10-minute drive from Grand Rapids
The East Lansing Family Aquatic Center is an exceptional kid-approved experience for those who love the water. You can visit throughout the year, which means that you don’t have to put off a trip. It features a 190-foot tube water slide, water play structures of various styles, and a 140-foot body water slide.
After spending a day here, you can check out the ice cream parlor and Jimmy’s Pub nearby for some additional treats. And if you’re looking for a bit more to do, check out the art galleries and historic cities in the Cherry Hill neighborhood of East Lansing.
Take to the Sand at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes | Mears Michigan
1-hour, 20-minute drive from Grand Rapids
The Silver Lake Sand Dunes is the perfect experience for beach lovers who want more. You can build a sandcastle, swim in the water, bodysurf, and even catch some fantastic lake trout. There’s much more to do as well.
Many people come to jump on the back of an ATV to topple over the sand dunes, but you can also check out the dunes on horseback or use a motorbike. Rentals are available for most items. If you need more to do, visit the dairy farm nearby, head to the go-kart track, or check out one of the local restaurants.
Fall in Love with the Historic White Pine Village | Ludington Michigan
1-hour, 25-minute drive from Grand Rapids
The Mason County Historical Society operates the Historic White Pine Village, a fantastic location to visit if you want to step back in time. It’s a must to have ice cream at the old-fashioned parlor and to tour some of the historic buildings here.
Depending on when you visit, you may be able to interact with period characters dressed from the late 1800s who are happy to tell you about their lives and trials. Be sure to check out all of the exhibits and artifacts on display at the Mason County Historical Society for an in-depth look at local history.
Check Out the Art at First Fridays Ypsilanti | Ypsilanti Michigan
2-hour, 5-minute drive from Grand Rapids
First Fridays Ypsilanti is a long-held tradition that welcomes the community out to listen to music, check out local artwork, and take in the beautiful city. It is a monthly arts and cultural walk located near the Huron River.
If you have the day off and want to get out to support artists, this is an easy way to do so. Nearby, you’ll find numerous vintage shops, small bistros, and Riverside Park for a nice stroll along the waterfront.
Spend the Day on the Links at Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club | Arcadia Michigan
2-hour, 25-minute drive from Grand Rapids
As one of the most recognizable golf clubs in the state, Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club is nothing short of stunning. It offers two courses, the Bluffs Course and the South Course, both of which are seaside with rolling fairways and tricky sand dunes.
The links-style layout of this golf course boasts everything from sod-walled bunkers to native grasses, creating a more difficult challenge. Enjoy dinner at the fine dining restaurant called The Bluffs, take in the captivating views from the patio, and enjoy a cocktail with a view of the waterfront.
Fall in Love With Charming Kerrytown | Ann Arbor Michigan
2-hour drive from Grand Rapids
Kerrytown is a neighborhood in Ann Arbor noted for its Irish roots. This community, which dates to the mid-1800s, is home to numerous fun restaurants and shops, including Zingerman’s Deli and the Kerrytown Market & Shops. If you enjoy tea, visit TeaHaus for fantastic brews and delectable snacks.
As you walk along the streets of Kerrytown, plan a tour of the Kerrytown Concert House, which sits in a 19th-century home. It has quite a unique range of musical history. Also, you can check out the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum that’s perfect for kids who love to explore.
Soak in the Sun at Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park | Traverse City Michigan
2-hour, 15-minute drive from Grand Rapids
Pack a picnic lunch and some swim gear when you head to Keith J. Charters Traverse City Park. The 75-acre park sits on Grand Traverse Bay, providing fantastic opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and sandcastle building.
You can rent a boat to take out onto the water, and do some fishing or bring along a bike and take it to the 10.5-mile TART Trail that runs next to the park. It’s a beautiful trip that’s worth a visit most times of the year.
Find Vintage Treasures at the Bay City Antiques Center | Bay Center Michigan
2-hour, 20-minute drive from Grand Rapids
If you’ve never made the trip to Bay City, do that this weekend. One of your stops here should be the Bay City Antiques Center and the surrounding area’s numerous vintage and antique shops.
It’s considered one of the largest antique regions in the state, and there are plenty of fun eclectic boutiques worth exploring. You never know what you will find here, and you’re sure to enjoy some long conversations with the artisans too.
Plan to spend some time exploring this 60,000-square-foot, two-story multi-dealer shop.
Explore Belle Isle Park | Detroit Michigan
2-hour, 25-minute drive from Grand Rapids
Belle Isle Park is just a few miles from the downtown Detroit area, but it has much to do for the whole family. Plan a trip to the Belle Isle Aquarium (consider getting tickets in advance) for an impressive, educational space. You can even book a private tour.
Also, make a trip to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory — a botanical garden and a greenhouse. Belle Isle Park itself is 982 acres of forest and parklands. You can swim and fish on the waterfront or rent a boat for a paddling adventure as well.
Take to the Water on Lake Charlevoix | Boyne City Michigan
3-hour drive from Grand Rapids
Boyne City is noted for its lakefront lifestyle with a small marina, sandy beach areas, and lots of fishing to enjoy on Lake Charlevoix. One of the best things about this small community is that there’s often great street music playing, lots of outdoor festivals, and some fantastic shopping along Main Street.
Boyne Falls, which is its own small town nearby, is named after the waterfall located just off the Boyne River. You can get there by visiting the Boyne Mountain Resort.
Take to the Hills at Bear River Valley Recreation Area | Petoskey Michigan
3-hour, 5-minute drive from Grand Rapids
The Bear River Valley Recreation Area is the perfect place for a day of play. There are unpaved trails to explore, or you can spend some time walking along the steep bluffs — best for those who are skilled climbers.
For those who want to get into the water, there are whitewater rapids located nearby and rental equipment for them. Others may want to spend some time hiking or fishing, and if you come during the colder months, you’ll want to check out the cross-country skiing.
In addition, this is a great location if you just want to walk along the footbridge, listen to the water, and enjoy a picnic.
Experience the Best Day Trips from Grand Rapids Michigan
Grand Rapids is the perfect starting point for a long day trip throughout Michigan. Whether you are heading out for a romantic day with someone special or looking for a way to get the kids out of the house, there’s much to do nearby that’s well worth exploring.
Be sure to check out the area’s best wineries, shopping centers, and parks too. There is always a park trail to explore!