MallsIf they say that “April showers bring May flowers”, then I can only imagine the kind of floral-filled days we’re going to be in for here in West Michigan next month – because it has rained a lot lately.

In fact, according to the local tv stations, we’re already 2-1/2 inches above our normal rainfall total for the month, and there’s rain forecast for almost the entire rest of the week too. Soccer fields are too sodden to be practiced or played on and severe weather has threatened or cancelled many spring sports or other activities.

The good news is that we generally have beautiful weather here during the summer months – although we do get our share of showers and storms as well. But if you find yourself vacationing in the area during times of wet or otherwise inclement weather, all is not lost! There are plenty of indoor activities to keep families busy and entertained – everything from indoor water parks to fun museums.

And, no matter which part of West Michigan you’re visiting, there are plenty of shopping opportunities too. Most local malls have play areas for kids – which are a fun (and free!) way for kids to get some of that energy out when they can’t play outside. And there are other attractions for kids at malls as well, like movie theaters, toy stores, book stores and more. Here are some of the major shopping centers that West Michigan has to offer – on a rainy day, or just any day!

Grand Rapids

  • WoodlandPlayWoodland Mall (3195 28th St. SE) has what was the very first kid play areas that I’d ever seen, and it’s still one of my own kids’ favorites even now – with giant simulated breakfast foods to climb on, slide down and jump off of. Waffles, a cereal bowl, sausage links, sunny-side-up eggs and more all form a fun and interactive play space, and there are padded benches on both sides for parents to rest, chat and keep a watchful eye out. The play area is enclosed, with two exits that can be easily seen from all seating areas.

    Woodland Mall also offers the area’s only Apple Store, a Barnes & Noble book store (always have fun kid sections), a GameStop, and a local toy store called The Toy Shelf that has a good variety of Melissa & Doug, Playmobil and other toys for kids of all ages (and has samples out to play with). The mall’s Cafe’s in the Woods Food Court offers quick meal options or you can enjoy family-friendly full service dining at On The Border, Red Robin, or Olga’s Kitchen. There is a movie theatre on the mall property, but it is not connected to the mall proper.

  • treehouseRivertown Crossings Mall (3700 Rivertown Pkwy SW) is a large, 2-story mall that offers an attached movie theatre, along with several other kid-friendly attractions. The food court (upper level) has more than just quick dining options – there’s a full-sized carousel too. And the play area (lower level) has a treehouse with 2 slides, as well as simulated flowers, toadstools and more to climb and play on. The treehouse is very large and does block the view of the exit from some of the padded seating around the edges of the space, so if your child is inclined to run, you may want to make sure to sit or stand where the exit is in plain view.

    This is my kids’ favorite local play area and we’ve spent a lot of time there. Be warned, there’s an Auntie Anne’s pretzel kiosk right next to it, so incessant begging for a snack does tend to occur, at least when we visit. This mall also has a Barnes & Noble book store, a GameStop, a FYE (For Your Entertainment) store, a Build-A-Bear Workshop, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and the second retail location for The Toy Shelf toy store. Family-friendly full service dining options include T.G.I. Friday’s, Panera Bread, and Olga’s Kitchen.

  • Centerpointe Mall (3665 28th St. SE) is a smaller mall but does have a fun play area, although I think it’s mostly aimed at younger kids. There is a treehouse structure with a small slide, plus outdoor-themed items to climb and play on and padded benches along the walls for parents to sit on. We haven’t been to this mall often, but my girls do like the variety of having somewhere different to play when we’ve been there. This mall has a Bargain Books store, Dunham’s Sports, Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts, TJ Maxx, and Minds in Motion, an independent specialty toy store. There’s also Modern Skate & Surf – which has a skate park location inside the mall as well. Oh yes, and there’s a Toys R Us located outside the mall in the parking lot. And I can’t forget to mention the Chuck E. Cheese that is attached to the mall. There aren’t really many other food options inside the mall, but there are restaurants located in outlots in the parking area and the mall is located in a large destination shopping area of town with many other stores and restaurants nearby. It’s also just down the street from Woodland Mall as well.

Kalamazoo/Portage/Battle Creek

  • BNCrossroads Mall (6650 South Westnedge Ave.) is located in Portage and offers a FYE (For Your Entertainment) store, Build-A-Bear Workshop, and more. They do not have a kid play area here (I’ve always wondered why), but there is a carousel in the food court area. Full service dining options include Olga’s Kitchen.
  • Lakeview Square Mall (5775 Beckley Road) is Battle Creek’s enclosed mall and has an attached movie theater, plus stores such as Barnes & Noble, Dunham’s Sports, FYE (For Your Entertainment, GameStop, and the Toy Barn. There’s also an arcade, a food  court and 2 full service dining options, Applebee’s and Don Pablo’s Mexican Kitchen. It’s been a while since we’ve been to this mall, but the last I knew there was a kid play area in the food court.


  • ToyShelfThe Lakes Mall (5600 Harvey Street) is located in Muskegon and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for it, because I was so thrilled to see this mall built when we lived there, and it’s the mall that we used to take our older daughters to play at when they were babies and toddlers. Store-wise there’s a Dick’s Sporting Goods, FanTOYstic Toys, FYE (For Your Entertainment), and GameStop that are all good for kids. There’s a food court, and also a Chuck E. Cheese.

    The kid play area is nautical themed, with a lighthouse, sailboat, and a bridge that my girls always loved to run up and down (especially fun in stocking feet, of course). The play area is enclosed with one exit and padded seating all the way around. The lighthouse in the center does impact the view of the exit from a portion of the seating.

  • Westshore Mall (12331 James Street) is in Holland and offers stores such as Dunham’s Sports, Chuck E. Cheese, and FanTOYstic Toys. As far as I know, there is no kid play area at this mall.
  • Holland Town Center (12330 James Street) is an ‘outlet’ shopping center that’s a very popular shopping destination in Holland and the surrounding area. I know that the Carter’s outlet in particular is a big hit with local parents. It may not be the best destination for a rainy day since it’s not an enclosed shopping center, but if you don’t mind ducking a few raindrops, it’s definitely worth a visit.

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.