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Experience Grand Rapids

Key Info

1300 Fulton St W

Price & Hours

Prices vary seasonally
Hours vary seasonally

Details

Zoos and Aquariums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 3.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 3.5Atmosphere

Home to more than 2,000 animals representing 200-plus species, the John Ball Zoo is a hit with visitors traveling with kids. Named in honor of one of the founding fathers of Grand Rapids, the zoo was created after Ball's death in 1884, when he left 40 acres of land for public use to the city. Among the zoo's inhabitants are tigers, chimpanzees, grizzly bears, and 50 different frogs, toads and salamanders. There is also an aquarium on-site that houses Magellanic penguins, among other critters. Since the zoo occupies 31 acres of a 103-acre park, visitors will want to wear comfortable footwear to traverse the large facility.

Past visitors said a stop at the zoo is an excellent activity for families, especially those with young kids. Since the zoo allows visitors to bring in outside food into the facility, many reviewers suggested packing a picnic to enjoy on the grounds.

The John Ball Zoo sits about 2 miles west of downtown Grand Rapids. From downtown, you can hop on the No. 12 bus to reach the zoo, but the easiest way to get there is to drive. The zoo's hours vary seasonally, but generally, it's open from 9 or 10 a.m. to 4, 5, 6 or 7 p.m. daily. The zoo is closed for most of December, and all of January, February and March. Admission rates also vary seasonally. Adult admission costs between $11 and $14; admission for kids ages 3 to 12 and seniors 62 and older costs $9 to $11; children 2 and younger always enter for free. If you purchased a Culture Pass GR, your zoo admission is covered. Experiences at the zoo, including camel rides, the zip line and ropes course, are not included in admission and cost extra. Experiences are only available in the summer. A gift shop and several food venues are accessible on-site. For more information, visit the zoo's official website.

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#1 Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

To learn about the life of the 38th president of the United States, consider a visit to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Though he was born in Omaha, Nebraska, Ford spent much of his life in Grand Rapids. The museum showcases more than 19,000 artifacts related to the president, including items from the 1976 presidential campaign, American bicentennial gifts, and gowns and dresses worn by the president's wife, Betty Ford. Throughout the museum, visitors will learn about Ford's childhood in Grand Rapids, his time at the University of Michigan and Yale Law School, his unique ascendency to vice president and eventually his time as the 38th president of the United States. Visitors also have the chance to see a replica of Ford's White House Oval Office and the original Watergate burglar tools, among other highlights.

Past visitors were pleasantly surprised by the museum's volume of artifacts and said it's a must-do while in Grand Rapids. Reviewers also said the museum is a great stop for both kids and adults.

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