The greater Grand Rapids area has more than a million residents and some of the best indoor and outdoor entertainment venues in the Midwest. Lakes, rivers, and streams provide plenty of water for local parks and other recreation. And wintertime seasonal activities abound thanks to the lake effect snow and cold weather it’s known for.
If you are coming to Grand Rapids for a romantic getaway or family-friendly vacation this winter, there is plenty to do, see, and explore. Here are some of our favorite winter things to do in Grand Rapids Michigan – perfect for getting out and enjoying this West Michigan city and its suburbs!
Experience Downhill Skiing, Snow Tubing, and Fat Tire Biking at Cannonsburg
Unless the weather outside is frightful, you can put on your favorite winter activity gear and head out for the perfect winter family activity while getting in some exercise at the same time. The nearby Cannonsburg Ski Area offers 21 runs and nine lifts to enable all-day fun for skiers of all ages, perfect for a day full of outdoor winter sports.
The nine lifts include three chair lifts, four rope tows, and two magic carpets that enable skiers of widely varying skills, experience, and capabilities to enjoy their time outdoors.
Cannonsburg holds special events for skiers of all ages and skill levels. New skiers can take lessons and more experienced ones can participate in adult race league events. There even is a ski program for young kids who are just learning how to strap on some skis and maintain balance.
Cannonsburg also has tube runs and allows winter biking and snowshoeing on various hiking trails. When you are done with your outdoor fun winter activities, the lodge offers plentiful food and refreshments.
Enjoy Grand Rapids Sledding Hills
If you enjoy snowy slopes without having to pay for admission or lift tickets, one of the many great Grand Rapids sledding hills will provide you with countless hours of family fun.
The Grand Rapids area has plentiful hills and parks alike that support wintertime sledding activities that cost nothing more than the price of whichever sled you are using. Odds are you already have one or more at home and just need some good snowy weather and accessible sledding hills.
The following is a short list of some of the very popular sledding hills that mostly are located within public parks in and near Grand Rapids:
- Manhattan Park Sledding Hill in East Grand Rapids.
- Richmond Park in northwestern Grand Rapids.
- Mulick Park in southeastern Grand Rapids.
- Belknap Park in northeastern Grand Rapids.
- Mary Waters Park in north-central Grand Rapids.
The sledding parks also enable you to participate in cross country skiing, snowshoe hikes, and wintertime bike riding. While those activities require special equipment, like oversized tires on mountain bikes, they generally are very affordable. Most people who enjoy them already have the required equipment.
Packing a lunch to enjoy after your sled rides can make for a very fun outdoor winter adventure with a picnic vibe.
Try Ice Skating at Parks and Indoor Rinks in Grand Rapids
Wintertime is the best time to strap on a pair of ice skates and try your luck at skating without falling down. If you get good enough at it, you just might find a new favorite winter season pastime.
When the weather cools enough for ice to form and last, the Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink is a very popular downtown destination for skaters and observers alike. The Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department manages and maintains the ice rink, which is open to the public as weather allows.
Other popular skating destinations include the Patterson Ice Center and Eagles Ice Center, both of which are located southeast of Grand Rapids and require a short drive to reach., Griff’s IceHouse at Belknap Park also supports recreational skating and is part of the Grand Rapids Griffins home ice complex.
Enjoy a Day on the Snowmobile Trails
Michigan is an automotive state and has many great opportunities for motorized outdoor fun throughout the year. When wintertime comes and the snow covers the ground, thousands of miles of snowmobile trails crisscross the entire state. Grand Rapids is an especially great locale for snowmobiling.
The Michigan Snowmobile & ORV Association makes it headquarters in Grand Rapids. With Lake Michigan and its seasonal lake effect producing plenty of snowfall most years, the area usually benefits from groomed snowmobile trails.
The Michigan Snowmobile & ORV Association maintains and maps literally thousands of miles of Michigan snowmobile trails that are managed and groomed by association members.
A very popular local route runs nearly 90 miles from Grand Rapids to Cadillac. You can use snowmobiles or ORVs to make the popular run, but you should check with the association to ensure trail conditions are good. You might have to pay an access fee or even join the association to use member-groomed trails that might cross over private property.
Experience Grand Rapids Ice Fishing and Fish Ladder Park
As the name implies, Grand Rapids has a river flowing through it. The Grand River and its nearby tributaries are prime spawning grounds for a variety of fish, including salmon and steelhead. The abundance of nearby lakes and streams makes Grand Rapids a true fisherman’s paradise.
Because it flows, the Grand River generally contains open water during all but the coldest of weather. So you can view a variety of fish species traversing Fish Ladder Park at the Sixth Street Dam in Grand Rapids. The ladder was built in 1974 to enable the variety of migratory fish to continue their reproductive ways. That also helps to make the nearby fishing among the best in the state.
If you enjoy ice fishing, you could venture out onto one of the many well-stocked lakes in the area when the ice is frozen and safe. Panfish are especially fun to catch and tasty to cook up after an outing on the ice.
Explore Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
If you enjoy nature walks, English gardens, and exotic sculptures, a visit to the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park offers year-round fun for all. An extended holiday theme with a light display to match makes a wintertime trip to the gardens well worth the trip.
A holiday tram provides visitors with fun rides through the indoor garden. If you have kids, you can bring them along and enjoy a walk in the children’s park.
The sculpture park and features an array of artworks that represent cultures located around the globe. It is especially fun to visit during the traditional holiday season and again during Valentine’s Day, making it one of the most romantic winter getaways in West Michigan. The combination of natural beauty and exceptional artworks make the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park a great destination throughout the winter.
Watch a Grand Rapids Griffins Pro Hockey Game
You can get a taste of professional hockey with tickets to the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins are the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. The Griffins won the AHL’s championship trophy, the Calder Cup, in 2013 and 2017. Many players who come to the Griffins wind up on NHL rosters, including the Red Wings.
AHL games are exciting and every bit awes hard-hitting as the NHL brand of hockey. And with hockey growing in global significance, the Griffins are bound to have plenty of quality national and international players. The Griffins start league play in late October and play through most of April every year. That gives you plenty of chances to plan ahead and catch some exciting AHL action while in Grand Rapids during the winter.
More Winter Things to Do in Grand Rapids Michigan
Whether you want to explore the many Michigan winter things to do in Downtown Grand Rapids – museums, breweries, shows, shopping, restaurants – or experience the unique winter things to do in Grand Rapids’ suburbs, there is no shortage of winter things to do in this West Michigan town!
P.S. Don’t miss the Grand Rapids Winter Beer Festival in February – it’s one of the hottest tickets in town!