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We’re all going through a lot right now, inflation is higher than it’s been in decades, and gas prices are constantly on the rise. Where can we take a break? Instead of cutting down on the fun, there are still plenty of free things to enjoy in Michigan. If you’re in the Grand Rapids area or planning a trip there, you should check out these 20 free things to do in Grand Rapids.
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First, plan to visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum Meijer Free on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The Meijer Foundation covers admission costs every Tuesday from 12-6 p.m. and Thursday evenings from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
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However, there are other ways to get a free pass, especially if your family members are active military or have an EBT card. The Grand Rapids Museum of Art is a Participating Museum Program and Blue Star Museum.
Another free thing to do in Grand Rapids is to check out the famous sculptures in Calder Plaza. Bright red, big
Alexander Calder was installed in 1969. and is part of a Grand Rapids icon. Every year, the city hosts an art festival, and the caldera is used as the backdrop for one of the main scenes in the play. There are a number of other events and activities around Calder throughout the year. It’s also a great place to have lunch in town as there are tables outside.
Historically, Calder was controversial when it was first announced. Although it costs 128 thousand to purchase and install. A portion of this cost, in US dollars, was covered by the National Endowment for the Arts – Art in Public Places.
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And there’s another historic, interesting museum a few minutes’ walk away. It is located on the lawn of the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building
By Mark di Suvero. Installed in 1977, Motu Viget is actually Grand Rapids’ “power in motion” motto. And what a fitting title for this painting, an industrial steel beam is attached as a 7 meter tire swing. Generations of Grand Rapids kids have been riding these big wheels. Bookmark and stop by on your next trip downtown!
This is the best FREE thing to do with a little airplane enthusiast! Stop by the GRR Observation Park near Ford Field to watch the planes take off and land.
I also recommend checking the airport arrival schedule so you can plan when you will arrive. We arrived on time and saw 4 planes take off! After 2 landings and two more runs – all in 30 minutes.
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The Ford Airport View Park is great for exercise tables, restrooms, and shaded areas, which will come in handy in the summer!
Ken-O-Sha Park in the southeast suburb of Grand Rapids has a nature playground, basketball court, gymnasium, paved and nature trails. The trail is 1.5 miles long and suitable for both bikes and bicycles. In fact, this park is one of the starting points for the 2.7-mile Plaster Creek Trail that runs through southeast Grand Rapids along Plaster Creek.
Ken-O-Sha Park’s nature trails are 3 miles long and wind through wooded areas. This trail is particularly interesting due to some unique features such as the “big rock”. This rock is from the Ice Age and may have been taken far away from its origin and carried by the ice until it disappeared. travel here.
Another interesting attraction is on the sidewalk – a character booster! A wooden amplifier installed in 2020 is enough to listen closely to the sounds of nature. Turn to the stream to feel the rushing water, the rustling leaves or the wind blowing.
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One of my favorite free things to do in Grand Rapids is go to an art gallery. Grand Rapids is a city full of art! The entire city center, flowing into its various districts, is a colorful sight. Some are remnants of past art awards, but many have been commissioned by local businesses and organizations. Often the walls go up, so this is a free thing to do in Grand Rapids, and you can repeat when you see something new!
The GR Kids website brings together this handy Google map with all the boundaries in and around Grand Rapids. It’s updated regularly, which is helpful!
Want a free tour of downtown Grand Rapids? Downtown GR Inc. thanks to which you can participate in Grand Rapids Running Tours. Now, just because “run” is in its name doesn’t mean you’ll run. (Although the operator organizes special trips for runners!)
Founder Caroline Cook organizes a variety of themed tours that change every month and cover topics such as history, culture, entertainment and the changes that took place during that time. For example, if you’re visiting Grand Rapids in March, there are women’s history and art walking tours. Each trip lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. All tours start at the lobby of the JW Marriott Hotel.
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People of all ages are welcome on these walking tours! If you have babies, toddlers or toddlers, you can use a stroller to make sure you keep up with the group. However, pets are not allowed on these tours.
Grand Rapids hosts many free annual events throughout the year. The most popular annual (or biennial) events are Winter World, Art Festival and ArtPrize.
First, the winter world begins in early January and lasts until mid-March. This event encourages residents and visitors to spend the winter walking around downtown Grand Rapids and exploring the many art installations. During the festival, there are also concerts and free performances in famous places like Calder Plaza and even in one of the installations. Finally, don’t miss Valiant Ice, a small week-long festival that is part of Winter World and features ice artists from all over Grand Rapids.
The next art festival will be held in June. This festival is a huge festival that connects Rosa Parks Circle with Calder Plaza. During the festival, dance groups, acrobats, art groups, etc. There are several stages for the various musical performances involved. There are tents where local artists display and sell their works. And finally, my favorite part of the festival is trying different cultural and ethnic foods! While the food isn’t free, watching the show is!
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And finally, the biggest event – ArtPrize! ArtPrize is a big draw for visitors to Grand Rapids, and tourists from all over the world come for the current biennial event held in early fall. ArtPrize transforms city public spaces and local businesses into free public spaces where art enthusiasts from around the world can view and vote. Local museums like the Ford Museum and the GRAM, which usually have a fee, are free to see the art inside. ArtPrize has 1 project featuring a series of large-scale installations across the city.
A true hidden gem in Grand Rapids is the Meyer May House. This amazing house was designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Yes, the trip is free! Built between 1908 and 1909, the Meyer May House is a Prairie-style home in the Heritage Hill neighborhood of Grand Rapids. It is distinguished by the fact that all the houses around it are built in the classic or Victorian style. It is named after Meyer S. May, who built the house and owned May’s clothing store in Grand Rapids. May owned the house until her death in 1936, when it was sold and lived in by a series of owners until the mid-1980s.
In 1986, the house was listed on the Michigan State Register of Historic Places. In 1985, the international furniture manufacturer Steelcase purchased the house, and as soon as May moved in, she began research to restore it to its natural state. In 1987, restoration work was completed and the house was opened for tours.
Tours are held every Sunday from 12:00 to 15:00. and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Each trip takes about 1.5 hours. Be sure to book your tickets online in advance as they fill up quickly.
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Another free thing to do in Grand Rapids is to visit Fish Ladder Park. Fish ladders are not only functional, helping migrating fish navigate the strong currents of the Great River, but they are also attractive. Built by Joseph Kinnebrew
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