Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second-largest city, is located on the western side of the state’s lower peninsula.“Grand Rapids has a variety of educational attractions to include in an educational tour,” said Mary Manier, director of sales at Experience Grand Rapids. “We have even assisted student performance groups with scheduling performances downtown at Rosa Parks Circle or the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park amphitheater. Our Experience Grand Rapids staff is available to assist with itinerary planning.”

John Ball Zoo continues to add new exhibits and experiences that appeal to guests of all ages. The zoo is a very popular stop for school groups and has many interactive experiences. Student programs include STEM classes, Wild Encounters, Zoo Explorer Tours, Twilight Tours and Overnight Adventures. The zoo offers workshops for educators on how to incorporate environmental education resources into their teaching.

Two attractions a short drive from Grand Rapids would make fun stops for a school group: Michigan’s Adventure theme park in Muskegon and Saugatuck Dune Rides in Saugatuck.

Experience Grand Rapids

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Experience highlights from President Gerald R. Ford and Mrs. Ford’s lives by visiting the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. The DeVos Learning Center provides state-of-the-art learning space for students visiting the museum. Students engage in interactive and meaningful programs that seek to instill the qualities of President and Mrs. Ford: character, integrity, public service and civic education. School programs and guided tours must be reserved at least two weeks in advance.

Grand Rapids Public Museum

Credit: Mod Bettie

“Be curious” is the tagline at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Volunteer and staff educators deliver guided education programs. The programs provide students opportunities to explore culture, history and science through tours, hands-on activities and guided exploration. Self-guided programs allow learners to explore at their own pace and can be combined with an educational program or a show in the museum’s Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium.

Grand Rapids Art Museum

Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Educational experiences for school groups at Grand Rapids Art Museum promote critical thinking and literacy skills while fostering an appreciation for works in the museum’s collection. Students engage with and discuss art in guided tours. School workshops allow students to apply skills during hands-on art making lessons. Studio workshops are inspired by art viewed on docent-led tours. The museum’s holdings include a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Credit: William J. Hebert

Celebrating its 25th year in 2020, the attraction includes Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory, which features rock landscapes, a waterfall and a variety of exotic plant selections. Explore five indoor theme gardens, outdoor gardens, nature trails, a boardwalk, sculpture galleries and a permanent sculpture collection. Educational offerings, including four school trip options, are designed to be informative and engaging. There are several eating options: box lunches from the café, a rented classroom and outdoor public eating area.

Blandford Nature Center

Credit: Experience Grand Rapids

Hands-on, natural learning experiences are offered year-round for students at the 264-acre center. Students have the opportunity to explore the diverse ecosystems by observing plants, animals, soil and water. The center has field trips and specialized programs for public, private and home-school students. Blandford Nature Center field trips are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards so that students not only learn about a particular subject matter but also learn about its interactions with the rest of their world.