Sixty-two days — as of this writing, that is how many days of summer we have left. To encourage you to take full advantage of the rest of the season, we have compiled a list of 25 quintessential West Michigan things to do before summer ends.
1. Go to a drive-in movie
Few things hold the power of nostalgia as much as a drive-in movie theatre. The Getty 4 Drive-In in Muskegon is one of the last remaining drive-in theatres in the country and is open throughout the summer with four screens showing back-to-back films. Click here for movies and showtimes.
2. Spend the day at the beach
We are a short drive from miles of sprawling beach that adjoin one of the world’s most beautiful bodies of water. Whether you love spreading your towel among the masses at Grand Haven State Park or enjoy the rolling dunes at PJ Hoffmaster, a day-trip to Lake Michigan is an absolute West Michigan summer-must.
3. Kayaking/canoe/float down a river
Bust out your paddleboard, canoe, kayak or tube (or rent one) and enjoy one of more than a dozen beautiful rives that snake through West Michigan.
4. Enjoy ice cream from a local ice cream shop
Soft-serve, handmade, vegan — whichever way you like it, ice cream is a summer staple. Some of our favorite ice cream slinging establishments include Furniture City Creamery, Jersey Junction, Temptations, Captain Sundae and Frosty Boy.
5. Eat a Pronto-Pup
There is a reason there is always a line at Pronto-Pup: They. Are. Amazing. And if you have ever had one, you know that it is well worth the wait. Grand Haven’s signature hand-dipped dogs are served from the original stand built in 1947 on Harbor Dr.
6. Watch a movie in the park
Throughout the summer, there are plenty of opportunities to watch cinema classics under the stars. Downtown Grand Rapids is hosting Movies on Monroe, and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is holding Movies in the Park during various weekends until the end of August.
7. Take a hike
There are tons of hiking trails throughout West Michigan, from dune trails on the lakeshore and woodland trails in Grand Rapids. Check out Kent Trails, Provin Trails, Siedman Park, Rosy Mound Natural Area and Saugatuck Dunes State Park.
8. Ride a bike
Release your bike from the shackles of storage and into the freedom of summer! My City Bike App offers riders a self-guided bike tour of Grand Rapids, or if you are more of a trail rider, click here to see our list of bike trails across West Michigan.
9. Eat on the upper deck or rooftop of a local restaurant
One of the undeniable joys of summer is eating delicious food made by someone else in the sunshine. Restaurants across West Michigan sweep off their decks and open their rooftops so patrons may enjoy just such an experience. Click here for our list of outdoor dining in Grand Rapids, Holland, Grand Haven and Muskegon, or see our list of restaurants in Grand Rapids that offer rooftop dining.
10. Attend a cultural festival
Throughout the summer, festivals offer us the opportunity to engage in the educational celebration of the different cultures that make up our communities. Cultural festivals in West Michigan range from Danish to Hispanic to Greek. Click here for our list of summer festivals.
11. Do a photo scavenger hunt
Whether you are using a DSLR or simply the camera on your smart phone, photo scavenger hunts not only help you engage with your surroundings but allow you to flex your creativity and explore your city. Check out our tips from renowned Grand Rapids’ photographer Dianne Carol Burdick.
12. Go to a carnival
Relive the summer nights of your childhood under the bright lights of a Ferris wheel at one of the carnivals taking place across West Michigan this summer, such as the Veterans Home Family Carnival or the Kent County Youth Fair.
13. Attend a Whitecaps game
Is there any song more synonymous with summer than, “Take me out to the ball game”? Spend an evening at the ballpark with the West Michigan White Caps during one of their home games. Check out one of their upcoming theme nights, like Chuck Norris Night on July 25, My Little Pony Night on July 26 or Dog Night on July 28. Don’t forget your peanuts and cracker jacks!
14. Run or walk a 5K
Strap on your running shoes and hit the pavement for a good cause! Whether you walk a leisurely pace or run to the finish line in record time, 5Ks are a great opportunity to show your support for the community while getting outside. Check out the Spartan Nash YMCA 5K, Coast Guard Festival Run, GRAAHI Rhythm Run or West Michigan Latino 5K Health 5K Run/Walk.
15. Go to the zoo
No matter how old you get, a day at the zoo never does. John Ball Zoo welcomes visitors from 9-6 p.m. throughout the summer. The zoo has gone through quite a transformation since explorer John Ball donated the land to the city of Grand Rapids upon his death in 1884. Today, the zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals, offers multiple dining options and experiences, including animal encounters, a ropes course and more.
16. Tour breweries
Breweries across West Michigan are overflowing with sweet summer brews. Spend a day touring breweries and sampling the good stuff from Grand Rapids to the Lakeshore. Visit the old stand-bys, like Founders and New Holland, but be sure to check out breweries newer to the scene, such as City Built Brewing or Brass Ring Brewery.
17. See a concert in the park
Pack a picnic, claim your patch of grass and enjoy a live musical performance as a number of outdoor concert series taking place throughout the summer. Click the links to check out the line ups for GRAM on the Green, Fifth Third Summer Concert Series at Meijer Gardens and D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops.
18. Eat at a food truck
There’s a novel pleasure in eating a meal procured from a cleverly branded food truck. Throughout the summer, food tracks gatherings take place at Rosa Rosa Parks Circle, Riverside Park, Calder Plaza and more. Check out the Grand Rapids Food Truck Association’s Facebook page for dates and locations of gatherings.
19. Shop at a farmers market
Procure fresh produce from one of the many farmers markets open throughout West Michigan, including the Fulton Street Farmers Market, Grand Haven Farmers Market and the Holland Farmers Market.
Go one step further than the farmers market and spend a day picking fruit right from the source at one the many U-Pick farms in the area. Click here for a full list of U-Pick farm in West Michigan.
21. Visit a lighthouse
While you’re at the beach, visit one of the lakeshore’s historic lighthouses. Some of these sentinels of the shore — such as Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse — offer docent-led tours
22. Do yoga in a park
Yoga studios are busting out their walls and bringing classes outdoors throughout the summer. Throughout the summer Funky Buddha is holding free classes at Wilcox Park in Grand Rapids and Centennial Park in Holland, and Serene Yoga is hosting classes on the beach at PJ Hoffmaster Park for $10. The City of Grand Rapids is providing free classes at various parks throughout the city. And, if you aren’t a seasoned student of yoga, what better way to get acclimated to the practice that in the fresh summer air?
23. Star gaze
The James C. Veen Observatory is open to the public on various Saturdays throughout the summer. Along with having the opportunity to view the wonder of the night sky through the observatory telescopes, members of the Grand Rapids Astrological Association will be on-site with their personal telescopes for visitors to look through. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for children under 17 and free for children under the age of 5.
24. Get your grill on
Serious grillers count down the day until the weather is suitable to fire up the grill and for good reason: culinary science aside, grilled food seems to have richer flavor nuances. Or we just associate it with summer gatherings in the backyard with our friends and family. Pick up some ethically sourced meat from a local butcher, grab some veggies from the farmers market and get your grill while you can.
25. Spend a day at the pool
Pack some snacks, a summer read and sunscreen and saddle up to one of The City of Grand Rapids’ pools (or, if you have a friend or family member with a pool, even better!)