GRCMMy kids start Spring Break this weekend, and for many reasons we’re sticking close to home this year for what has now been dubbed at the recent ‘Staycation’-themed TravelingMom twitter party, a ‘Play-cation’.

While I’m hopeful that the weather will cooperate and allow us to spend a lot of the time outdoors, the reality is that in early April in Michigan – we could get everything from 70 degrees and sun (as last year) to 30 degrees and snow. Or anything in between. But even if outdoor activities aren’t always possible, there’s still much to do that’s indoors, all around West Michigan.

One option would be to visit any of the fun indoor water parks in the area, or what is more likely in our case – will be to explore some of the many museums that West Michigan boasts, most of which are either specifically focused on children or include elements or sections that are. In the Grand Rapids area alone, there are four that I can think of offhand without even having to do a search. And only two of those are ones that we’ve ever been to before – lending an air of excitement and adventure to attractions that we don’t even have to hop on the freeway to get to.

If you’re in or around West Michigan and are looking for a fun destination for your family – whether during Spring Break or any other time, here are a few of the kid-friendly museums you can visit:

Grand Rapids Area

  • The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is definitely one of our favorites, although it’s been a year since our last visit. But my girls love the interactive exhibits that offer plenty for kids of all ages to do. From creating or standing inside giant soap bubbles, sorting and delivering ‘real’ mail, grocery shopping in a miniaturized store, or dressing up and putting on a play – to building with all sorts of different objects, exploring a day on the farm or visiting one of the ever-changing traveling exhibits, there’s always something fun to do and learn at the GRCM, especially during Spring Break. Admission is $7.00 for ages 1 and up, kids under age 1 are free.
  • I first explored the Grand Rapids Public Museum last fall during ArtPrize 2010, and fell in love with it. There’s a planetarium right inside, along with a carousel – not to mention fun exhibits that give you the inside scoop on the history and culture of the Grand Rapids area. Right now they’re hosting a special exhibit called “Bodies Revealed” as well. Located downtown, right on the Grand River, the views from the GRPM are lovely too, especially in the springtime. Admission is free for kids up to age 3, $3.00 for kids from 3 to 17, and $8.00 for adults.
  • Grand Rapids hosts the museum portion of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum, which is also the burial place of the former president as well. Although presidential history isn’t what I would normally consider to be necessarily kid-friendly, from what I understand this museum is truly a hands-on experience with interactive, video and holographic displays. Now that my girls are getting older and learning more about our nation’s history, I think that this would be a great experience for them (as well as for me). Not many cities have the distinction of hosting a presidential museum so it’s definitely not an opportunity to be missed. Admission to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is free for children ages 5 and under, $3.00 for kids from 6 to 18, and $7.00 for adults.
  • The Grand Rapids Art Museum opened in its current location in 2007 and offers a lot of ways for families view and experience art. On Saturdays they host ‘All Day With The Arts’, which includes includes hands-on art projects, kid-friendly tours and more. I also love the idea of their Free Family Activity Guides that let kids become detectives as they explore the museum’s galleries, using puzzles, riddles, etc. I see that they’ve got special activities planned for Spring Break, so I think this will definitely be one of our stops next week, especially since right now admission has dropped to $2.00 for adults and kids aged 6+ (5 and under are free).

Other West Michigan Areas

  • The Air Zoo of Kalamazoo is not your traditional zoo – there are no live animals to see, but instead it’s all about air and space flight. It’s very kid-friendly, with many rides available – including a 3-D Space Shuttle Ride, and other flight simulators. There are also over 50 aircraft on display, as well as many wall murals and exhibits. Their Super Science Saturdays offer a way to make science, math and the laws of nature more fun for kids as well. Admission to the museum is free for all ages, but there are costs for each individual ride.
  • The Kalamazoo Valley Museum calls itself a ‘participatory’ museum – a place to play, learn and create. Their hands-on exhibits explore everything from weather to an Egyptian mummy, and there’s a planetarium and theater on site as well. There’s also a Children’s Landscape, specifically for kids from age 2-5. Admission to the museum is free for all ages, and to the planetarium is $3.00/person.
  • The Coopersville Farm Museum is located west of Grand Rapids, halfway to the shore of Lake Michigan. It’s open year-round and offers a spring petting zoo during April for kids to come and get hands-on with the animals. They also have tractors and other farm implements on display, along with other aspects of farm life. Admission is $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for kids.

Deb writes as West Michigan TravelingMom as well as at Mom of 3 Girls and Just a mom’s take on things…. You can also find her on Twitter – she’s @DebMomOf3.